It's the day after Thanksgiving! What should we doç We could eat turkey sandwiches and draw cartoons. Or go to Wal-Mart at 5:30 a.m. and jostle Christmas shoppers.... Hey, I know! Let's put on our FBI polo shirt and fatigues. We can pretend our fake machine gun is real. Then we can barricade ourselves inside the newsroom of El Nuevo Herald and proclaim ourselves editor! The mayor, the police chief, the FBI, CNN, the local news media, and various SWAT teams are probably bored as hell. They'll love it! Whyç What do you mean, "why"ç
The future is now! Well, almost. Somewhere along the way, the Jetsonesque future that baby boomers envisioned disappeared. Instead of personal space ships, we got the Segway. Instead of Rosie the Maid, we got the Swiffer Sweeper. Instead of incredibly tall, funky-looking skyscrapers ... oh, we did get those, and we also got living quarters under the sea. Though it's not the quite the Taj Mahal of futuristic sea labs, Jules' Undersea Lodge is probably the only chance you'll get to sleep with the fishes — the easy way. Basically this is a completely submerged hotel — even the entrance is underwater. It also doubles as an artificial reef, so there is guaranteed sea life to observe through the large windows. As well as the usual hotel amenities, they have a chef, and offer scuba instruction so that novice guests can enjoy the facility to its fullest. Maybe you'll even meet a mermaid and robotic dolphin and invite them over to watch TV.
St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church
He was born Alberto R. Cutié in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Cuban parents. An imposing presence at six feet tall, the 36-year-old sports a thick head of closely cropped black hair and blemish-free, tanned skin. When he smiles, his piercing blue eyes sparkle affectionately and his lips part to reveal a gleaming row of pearly whites. But it's not his classic good looks that draw in the crowds. It's his no-nonsense, flexible take on the Almighty. See, the mild-mannered, witty, and humble Cutié is a celibate priest who leads the congregation at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Miami Beach. And he's a favorite among congregations both here and overseas — he hosts a popular Spanish-language TV show that airs on Telemundo, and a spot on Radio Peace, which broadcasts nationwide as well as in every country in Latin America. He doesn't shove narrow-minded opinions down your throat; he doesn't point fingers, yelling "sinner"; and he doesn't think gays should burn in Hell. Simply put, at a time when organized religion is drowning in a man-made sea of scandal, Cutié is a breath of fresh air. Not to mention easy on the eyes.
Sometimes the best stargazing happens only in the daytime. The closest star to Earth is, of course, the sun. Its blinding light hides a spectacular show that gracious members of the Southern Cross Astronomical Society (SCAS) reveal for free once a week with their specialized equipment. Flares, sunspots, and prominences regularly dance across their viewfinders, but that's not all a budding astronomer can see in the daytime. The recent comet McNaught was only visible to skywatchers in the northern hemisphere during daylight hours, and there is usually a planet or two that rewards a little attention from snooping telescopes.
It's not so much that time forgot Chokoloskee. It's more like Chokoloskee forgot time. A magical little community of stilt houses and trailers spanning out from a postage stamp-size downtown, Chokoloskee is just south of Everglades City on the far end of the Tamiami Trail. It sure feels like the far end of something, what with the literary ghosts (Peter Mathiessen's Bone by Bone is set here), and distinctly unhurried pace (golf carts are a common mode of transport). Little more than a sandy rise amid the Ten Thousand Islands wilderness, this is the west coast's most southerly community. No hurry here; just hang out in front of the "Chokoloskee Mall," basically a general store and post office; have some clam chowder at Big House Coffee and soak it all in. Shake off the stupor with a paddle — there's easy access to the Gulf Coast Visitor Center, and gorgeous nearby canoe/kayak routes such as the Turner River and the Wilderness Waterway.
People come and go, but Michael Patrick disappeared — and then reappeared, a day later, in handcuffs. The escape artist, who performed escapes at the Key West Sunset Celebration for fourteen years, announced last Halloween night that, in honor of the 80th anniversary of Harry Houdini's death, he'd be departing from the regular program of straitjackets and ropes. He then dove into the ocean and, as far as anyone present could tell, never came back up. Together, cops and the Coast Guard assembled a team of divers, boats, and helicopters to find Patrick's corpse. When they finally found him, alive and well, outside his apartment the next afternoon, they threw him in the county jail and fined him $60,000. Patrick, embittered by the experience, says his next escape will be to get the hell out of Florida.
Fate has chewed you up, spit you out, and left you battered and bruised in the parking lot of the Florida City Wal-Mart Supercenter. You've lost your job, your girl, your car, and your reason to live. You have $3.85 to your name. And then, like an angel out of a Jimmy Buffett song, you see the faint bright silhouette of the Julia Garcia Transit (JGT) bus roll into view. This is your chance to hightail it to the Keys and make a brand-new start, full of cheap beer and shellfish. Sure it'll take four-and-a-half hours to get to Key West, because the bus makes every conceivable stop along the way, but it's all you've got left in the world. And, man, are they dependable. JGTs leave seven times daily, seven days a week, beginning at 5:15 a.m. and ending at 11:15 p.m. Ask the person next to you to wake you up to catch the Keys shuttle, which you can catch at the end of the JGT line in Marathon, in the parking lot of the Brass Monkey Liquor Store. Everything's gonna be all right.
It seemed likely that the appearance of Prince at Dolphin Stadium during the big game would be worth watching. It was. Not for the tiny titan of tuneage's medley of unlikely covers and "Purple Rain," which must have seemed clever at the time because, in Miami's special "please-don't-ever-bring-the-big-game-here-again" way, Super Sunday was supersoaked by a drizzle that began before dawn. Despite the nonstop cloud juice, Dolphin Stadium looked like Friday night in Baghdad, thanks to a spectacular fireworks display. Bombs burst in midair, rockets glared red, and it seemed as if all of Miami Gardens was one big Molotov cocktail. Musta scared the bejeezus out of the Artist Formerly Known as Famous.
Bimini, a tiny island where Ernest Hemingway once drank, has great snorkeling in gin-clear water, excellent fishing, and friendly Bahamian locals. Hotels are cheap, too. But how to get thereç Although it's only 50 miles from downtown Miami, Bimini is not easily accessible. Flights leave from Fort Lauderdale, but not daily, and prices are $200 and up. That's pretty expensive for such a short trip. Solution: Take the ferry. The M/V Bimini Breeze sails daily from the Miami River. The 86-foot long, Swedish-built ship carries 49 passengers and 20,000 pounds of cargo, and arrives in Bimini in just over three-and-a-half hours. The journey is idyllic: You begin by motoring slowly down the Miami River, past the fishing boats and construction crews. Gawk at the cruise ships and the traffic on the MacArthur Causeway and, within minutes, you are in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Sit back, enjoy a beer and a hot dog for $5 or less, or eat your own food. Go up on deck and smell the salty air. Say hi to the ship's captain and owner, a friendly Norwegian guy named Kjell. Fantasize about being a pirate. As you get closer to Bimini, the water becomes impossibly blue and clear. It's an unusual and cheap weekend adventure — round-trip fares on the ship start at $150.
Skydive Miami
Bored with lifeç Need to inject your miserable existence with a dose of daringç Nothing screams, "Holy shit I'm alive!" like stepping out of a perfectly good airplane 13,000 feet above the ground. It's not for the faint- hearted (or the light-walleted), but if you yearn to embrace the adrenaline junkie within, Skydive Miami is a must. For about $320 the team of certified professionals that runs the school will educate you on how not to get killed, dress you in the proper equipment, take you high into the sky, and even tape your fall from grace (it's $249 without the DVD). That way, when your kids tell you you're a boring loser, you can whip out your your custom-made movie and prove to them that you, too, were wild in your day!

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®