U.S. 1 Discount Mall
This air-conditioned shopfest offers not one, but eight jewelry places that'll be pleased to pierce you anywhere. So if you don't like what the lady behind the counter is wearing or the way she chews her gum, just walk over to one of the other half-dozen piercing joints. And if you're still not too keen on the idea, you can shop around in the mall's roughly 200 booths until you work up the courage to get something shiny stuck in your ear, belly, eyebrow, or other body part. As the sting of getting stuck begins to wear off, mosey around and consider having your hair (Mohawk) and nails (black polish, please) done. Maybe even visit one of the phone kiosks for a cell with which to tell all of your friends what's in your skin.
Emilio Robba was first inspired by watching his mother arrange a handful of flowers into a bouquet. Decades later, Robba makes bouquets of his own, and he's known around the world for it. Only he doesn't grow or buy the flowers like most florists. He builds them. Christened by the international press as the "Sculptor of Flowers," Robba creates silken flower clones that are so believable you'll only realize a week later, when they're still not brown or wilting, that they're not fresh-cut. He crafts these reproductions of roses, lotuses, exotic birds of paradise, and cacti — complete with inch-long thorns — from looking at photos. He also creates flower fragrances and handmade vases. Robba sells premade arrangements for $25 to $3500, but on Saturdays you can visit his Coral Gables boutique and commission your very own sculpture. He also sells his flowers by the stem for $6 to $30.
Kerry's Bromeliad Nursery
They've got orchids that hang, orchids in pots, even orchids with names. In fact Kerry's grows more orchids than any nursery in the United States. And if you aren't an orchid person, don't worry, because Kerry's is the second largest bromeliad grower in the country, too. Want a Guzmania named Hilda or a Vriesea called Tiffanyç You can cruise to Homestead and pick them up at Kerry's cash-and-carry shop, or check them out online before you go. There's also a section on the Website about how to care for your plants. And if that isn't enough, you can e-mail the orchid (or bromeliad) grower. Not bad for Kerry Herndon, a guy who began with an ornamental plant business he started in his grandmother's back yard during high school. The Homestead native and ag businessman's flower empire now includes facilities in Apopka and Costa Rica. His plants are also sold at retailers like Home Depot and Publix. But Herndon doesn't let the success go to his head. He says of his orchids: "It's basically beautiful broccoli."
Enough with the coladas and the chain coffee stores. It's time to slow down and drink a nice cup of tea at a place owned by a local. Amate is perfect. Sit in the covered patio on a comfy orange couch or sprawl out in the bamboo-lined outdoor area. The space is a tiki-Zen mashup, but it's a welcome respite in this hardscrabble northeast neighborhood. A giant Buddha statue smiles as you peruse the long list of teas (green, black, infusions, tea with caramel, fruit infusions). They start at $2.95 (a big cup, infused tableside in a French press-like tea contraption), while larger, three-cup options run $3.95. If you're lucky and indecisive about your tea selections, the effervescent Milagro will help you choose a blend. Amate owner Emilia Pena promises to hold poetry, music, and matchmaking nights. She also stocks a small stack of games (checkers, backgammon, Parcheesi) if you're into that sort of thing. If you don't want to participate or mingle, you can always order a cup of Marrakesh mint and hunker down with your laptop: Amate offers free Internet access.
The room is alive with the flickering of computer screens and clicking of keyboards. Gamers of every age, shape, and size battle each other, as well as hundreds of others online around the world, to see who is the best at Counter-Strike, Battlefield 1942, Diablo II, and EverQuest. The three locations of E2 are powered by a dedicated T1 server and stocked with 45 PCs. Patrons can bring their own computers too. And the pricing is pretty reasonable. Rentals cost $3.75 an hour for nonmembers ($2.50 for members), and E2 also offers multihour packages and discounts if you become a member. If destroying mutants, fighting elves, and playing soldier leaves you famished, check out the concessions, where you can buy a bagel with cream cheese for $1.35 or a cheeseburger for $2.40, among other quick bites.
Easy, free, fast, reliable. Even in our wired age, those four words are seldom used to describe what it's like to hook up your laptop to a wi-fi network in South Florida. At the library you don't need to buy a $5 latte, enter a password, or have a credit card number on hand to retrieve your e-mail. And you don't have to suspiciously eye your neighbors, worried that they're sucking all the bandwidth out of a crappy connection, because the library has plenty of bandwidth and plenty of comfy chairs positioned near electrical outlets. You may not be able to download pornography (damn filters), but you can probably find a copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover nearby. Information at its most democratic.
Who among us hasn't looked at the tiny canines parading on Lincoln Road and thought, Damn, that puppy needs a toupee. Well, problem solved. A Bay Harbor Islands woman who was once the wig-master and makeup artist for The Jackie Gleason Show has begun designing hairpieces for dogs. Ruth Regina's creations attach with rubber bands and allow for pointy ears. The result: The four-legged wearer looks like a doggy Joan Crawford. Or Bette Midler. Or Veronica Lake — the sexy "Peek-a-Bow-Wow" model falls down over one of the pup's eyes, giving it a "come-hither look," Regina says. Bangs, braids, and curls are available and start at $29 per wig. Regina's main business, however, involves people. With new styles, she has helped everyone from chemotherapy patients to Judy Garland. During last year's Arf Deco pet parade on the beach, Regina designed a hot pink wig for an abused Pomeranian who was missing a lot of fur. In our book, anyone — or anything — who can bring glamour to needy people and abused dogs is pretty cool.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®