Alabama Jack's

You know Card Sound Road? That cryptic stretch of asphalt on your way to the Keys? Were you ever tempted to turn your steering wheel to the left just to check it out, but because of the dirt road and lack of traffic signs felt, well, a little paranoid?

Suck it up (along with a spliff) and take a 20-minute cruise into the depths of this unknown part of upper Key Largo, passing along the way lush mangroves, snippets of sea, and rustic houseboats spotted with sunburnt fishermen. Once you hit the toll booth, you'll immediately hear the pluck of honky-tonk booming from a weathered shack of a restuarant. Park the car, let the smoke out through your windows, and walk into the 60-year-old Alabama Jack's — one of the best places in South Florida for you to simmer out after blazing.

High? No big. Most people here — an assortment of odds and ends (emphasis on odd) — won't care. Take a seat at a waterside table. Order up locally made brews such as Key West Lager and Sunset Ale and indulge your senses in the salty smell of the sea and the rowdy rumble of idling motorcycles. The sights here are priceless — fish swimming below you, tropical birds flying above you, a drunk regular spinning in circles on the dance floor at noon as a band plays "Redneck Woman."

And although Alabama Jack's has enough going on visually to amuse you, it's the king of all munchies that'll hook ya. Their conch fritters — golden, sweet, and fluffy — will keep you camped out on the wooden deck for hours ... or at least until you figure out how to concoct a bong out of all your empty cocktail sauce containers.

Hammocks Community Park

A playlist to describe Kendall's perfect place to keep the pace:

1. "Saturday in the Park" by Chicago: Just like the public park utopia painted in this bouncy, horn-heavy song, Hammocks Community Park has a similar vibe. In the parking lot, warm up your legs by taking a brisk stroll past a playground pumped full of tots. As brass instruments intensify, step onto a paved path that leads into a jungle of bleachers. As the smoky scent of grilling hot dogs slithers from the concession stand and into your nostrils, kick up a leg and stretch while you watch a baseball game.

2. "Rebel Yell" by Billy Idol: As you walk past the park and onto the jogging trail, note the "No Trespassing" sign, but try not to sweat it. You're in Miami. Do as Miamians do — regard the law as a mere suggestion.

3. "The Great Salt Lake" by Band of Horses: Embark on your jog as soon as this grandiose folk rock song starts to flourish. Trot past wide, green fields and pick-up soccer games. As you begin to turn a corner, you'll notice a lake, clear and blue, greeting you with spritzes of cool water.

4. "Cars" by Gary Numan: Because you won't see a single one.

5. "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen: With seven miles of road ahead of you, you'll feel like the very embodiment of this blue-collar poet's signature song.

6. "Swimmers" by Broken Social Scene: Dedicated to the man-made beaches that dot the trail every mile or so. Like this song, the small beaches are mellow, refreshing, and serene.

7. "Don't Stop" by Brazilian Girls: Simply because you won't want to. Regardless of the scorching heat, you'll be shaded by rows of royal Poincianas.

8. "Amsterdam" by Peter Bjorn and John: While jogging under bridges and around twisting canals that connect to larger lakes, you might think, if only for a moment, you're in Holland.

9. "Bougainvillea" by Great Southern: This romantic ballad is great for a cool-down, as you walk under overpasses drenched in the purple flowering vines.

10. "Big Yellow Taxi" by Joni Mitchell: Because unlike most former paradises in West Kendall, this one has yet to be paved and turned into a parking lot.

Pelican Harbor Park

As charming as they are, too many "nature" trips are pretentiously involved in removing you from the city and placing you in counterfeit communion with what passes for untouched land. Why bother with phony baloney when Miami has a gorgeous urban and wild landscape you can appreciate fully from the inside of a kayak? Launch yourself from Pelican Harbor Park into an emerald green wonderland populated with dolphins, manatees, and even the occasional alligator. Glide over fields of sea grass or stop at one of several postage-stamp-size islands as you paddle south toward the Julia Tuttle Causeway. Do observe signs that tell you to keep out of the bird rookeries, though, but draw close enough to enjoy the fowl cacophony. At the last island before the causeway, turn west toward Morningside Park. Either call it a day here (if you use a second vehicle), or do the return trip up the shoreline. At the mouth of the Little River, a quick detour around Belle Meade Island will let you peek at a few squawking human roosts as well. Then it's back over to Pelican Harbor and your own nest.

Best Place to Learn to Kill Someone with One Punch

The Kung Fu Connection

Kung Fu Connection

Deep within the dynasty of North Miami, Si Fu Gus Rubio imparts the ancient arts of Shaolin and Cheung Kune Pai Kung Fu. He knows the animal forms — monkey, dragon, crane, etc. — like the back of his iron palm.

Laden with stoic statuary, ancient weapons, and students of all ages breaking things with their fists, Rubio's studio looks like something out of a final scene of a Bruce Lee movie. (Yes, it's named for one.)

The whole one-punch-kill thing is not easily learned. Only a lone student of Rubio's is actually studying the iron palm technique, and he's been a pupil since age four. Short and warm, Rubio also plays bass and guitar in a band called Face of Abandon. Ask to sit in on a class. You won't be disappointed.

Brikolodge Coworking Community

How tawdry those corporate water-cooler romances. How tacky the holiday party punch-bowl hookup and subsequent Friday in the exact same pantsuit from Thursday. But a shared-office-space romance? That's hot. You won't find any Brickell law-bots in the new Brikolodge Coworking Community, just Varvatos-sandals-and-Trovata-pants-wearing freelance correspondents recently returned from a revolution in Sri Lanka; Ivy League-grad fiction writers arguing with each other about whether Sebald's style is more Proustian or Jamesian; and documentary filmmakers editing bomb blasts on their MacBook Airs. So you end up after "work" at PS14, making out with him while dancing to Santogold? Don't come in the next day. Hell, he might not even be there. His grant might have run out or someone may have assassinated the defense minister of Paraguay. It's a big world, and Brikolodge is just one small intersection on the information highway. A few years later, you might stop in to finish up that chapbook, and there he is, over by the coffee machine talking to Alphonse about the best brand of pen to use in an emergency tracheotomy. Your eyes meet and all those old feelings come rushing back. "Of all the co-working communities for creative people in all the world, you had to walk into mine...."

Rule #1: Don't name your team "Balls Deep" or "Schweddy Balls" or "Blue Ballers" or "Huge Knockers" or "Rubber Balls and Lick Her." (Though, just for the record, these names are awesome.) Rule #2: Don't be the über-competitive guy who argues calls, starts fights, and pegs girls as hard as he can to turn that oh-so-crucial second-inning double-play. Rule #3: Don't be the guy who shows up drunk, keeps drinking, and pukes into the cooler. (Though, just for the record, that would be awesome.) Rule #4: Don't be the "funny guy" — hey, look at me! — who always wears Kurt Rambis-style protective eyewear, high socks, Chuck Taylors, and short-shorts. True, every team needs that guy; just don't be that guy. Rule #5: Don't start hitting on your teammates after the first game. Rule #6: Hit on the other team's teammates after the first game to make your teammates jealous. Rule #7: Don't be the guy who has the deal locked up and then does 11 Jäger-bombs at the Sandbar, passes out in a booth, and gets dicks drawn on his forehead. (Though, again, that would be awesome.) Rule #8: If you do end up dating that gorgeous art dealer with the English accent and absolutely no athletic ability (at least with a kickball), don't make a funny reference to your team name midcoitus, such as "Who's ball deep, now?" or "I guess I have to turn in my Blue Ballers shirt." Rule #10: Jog, don't run — no one likes Schweddy balls.

Publix

Look, don't try to figure this one out; it's a fucking mystery to us all. This town is just bursting with MILFS.

Compounding this mystery is the fact that an inordinate amount of them congregate in this particular produce section. This is evidenced by the slow-moving dolts who shuffle down the aisles at the rate of about three feet per minute. They stare, mystified, at the immaculate female forms, carting their one or two or three children around like magic tricks. It's as though they just pulled them all out of a top hat.

What goes on, man? What goes on?!?

Women like air, food, and shelter. Even though they live inside, they must have exercise to survive, in order to prepare for the coming weekend's intake of vermouth. This means a good spot to find them congregating is a jogging route. The three-mile asphalt oval that wraps around the Turnberry Isle golf course is a great spot to locate females. But just because you have found the perfect fishing hole does not always mean there are fish in it! Women spend the day in different places depending on occupation, income, and temperature. Try the early evening on a Thursday. As the light reflects off the condominium towers, they'll emerge. One or two at first, then four or five, and soon there's a river of reflective sneakers and spandex. Do not find a bench and wait quietly. It's also inadvisable to follow them in your car, for this behavior is closely associated with an undesirable type of male. The best method is to suit up in a similar outfit, substituting the spandex for something more loose-fitting, and join in. An ability to run the entire oval without puking or developing full-body sweat stains is recommended, though faking an ankle injury has also been proven effective. Don't lunge or pull up alongside right away. Start a routine. Get yourself known. Do the eyebrow-nod-as-you-pass thing for a few days, and then try timing your arrival so the two of you are stretching side-by-side. When all else fails, break out your BlackBerry and talk a little too loudly about how it's the second hundred feet of the yacht that makes all the difference.

Peacock Park

Miami is flat as a pancake, a place where having a mountain bike is kind of like having snow skis. But the Grove Skate Park is proof that man can make mountains out of wood and steel. For $10 on weekdays and $13 on weekends, you can roll through 10,000 square feet of perfectly constructed transitions, including a 28-foot-wide miniramp, quarter pipes, a beginner's course, and other obstacles for the brave bike rider. The skate park is located in Coconut Grove's beautiful Peacock Park, where there are also less-dangerous nature trails to explore (as long as you don't ride over a sleeping homeless person). Because the skate park gets mobbed on weekends with young skateboarders, we recommend mountain-biking there during the week, when it is usually empty. After riding around the wooden ramps and obstacles, cruise through the Grove. There are trails that lead toward the bay or in the opposite direction, toward the bars.

Jimmy's Eastside Diner
Photo by Aran S. Graham

Sweet creeping Jesus! How did you get home? There's no way to know. One thing's for sure: You need pancakes and coffee. And a newspaper. And a place where no one is going to ask you any hard questions. So call in sick, put on a pair of sunglasses, and drive (slowly) to this fine, cheap eatery. Get the banana pancakes or the corned beef hash. They're good for what ails you. Everything is going to be all right.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®