The Miami River is one of the most underrated beauties the city has to offer. Sure, it's a faded, grungy beauty, but beneath Miami's sheen of glitz and glamour, the river remains a secret flowing artery. The best way to see it is by bike: Start at Bicentennial Park, or anywhere else downtown, and take NE Sixth Street west — through some of what's left of historic Overtown and under the interstate that largely obliterated it — until you get to the river. Turn right and follow it south along NW North River Drive, and take in the tugboats and barges laden with cheap goods bound for the Islands. The road will curve to the west and become SW Third Street — just keep on going until you hit SW Second Avenue. Make a right, head south across the bridge, and continue until you hit SW Seventh street, where you will make another right (this is the boring part). At SW Third Avenue, though, the trip gets better. Take it north to José Martí Park, a quirky and surprisingly scenic little spot that offers a nice behind-the-scenes vista of the river, as well as tables where you can sit, drink whatever you've got in that bottle, and enjoy life a bit. When you feel like it, make your way to SW Fourth Avenue, which becomes — behold — NW South River Drive. Follow the river, observe the homeland security warnings, and see if you can get in trouble for taking pictures of the tugboats (apparently it's a form of terrorism). Continue as long as you like up the river; in a perfect world, you'd be able to cross back to Miami via the bride at NW Fifth Street, but it's out of commission indefinitely, so turn around when you feel like it and head home.

Front Porch Cafe

There are no maître'drones herding tourists in from the sidewalk. No overcooked lobster sits under plastic wrap at the door. And most important, there's nothing over $20 on the menu. Everyone knows that Front Porch Café offers one of the best brunches on the Beach, but the eatery is often forgotten about at lunch and dinner. Almost all the fresh, homemade entrées are under $15. Try the sushi-grade tuna encrusted with sesame seeds and served with orange ginger sauce — just $14.95. You don't have to walk inland to eat after a day at the beach. Stick around, enjoy the view of Lummus Park, and take another bite of that chicken caesar salad wrap (less than $10).

Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge

So you want to get the hell outta Dodge, but you can't afford a plane ticket to a faraway kingdom. No worries, mate — pack up your camping equipment and head down to Big Pine. For more than 30 years, the lodge has been a home away from home for those who want to get away from home. Why? Is it the amply sized campgrounds, complete with rustic-style or fully hooked-up sites? Is it the RV sites and the clean public bathrooms? Is it the proximity of both Key West and Islamorada for dinners followed by debauchery? Perhaps. But we also attribute it to the key deer, the adorable, nearly extinct, dog-size critters that have put Big Pine Key on the map. The deer aren't afraid to walk right up to you for tidbits. You aren't supposed to feed them, of course. But if you don't, the cute little bastards might just dig through your garbage bag when you're not looking. Less than an hour's drive away, Big Pine is a perfect escape from Miami drivers, violence, and intensity.

Biscayne National Park

Alma, where are we?

How should I know? You're the one with the steering wheel, Max.

Well, we were just driving through Miami Shores on our way to North Miami; it seemed simple enough.

Then you took that shortcut.

That was because of all that traffic on NE Sixth Avenue, especially the buses.

Well, which way did you turn, Mr. Adventurer?

Right. You notice all these grassy medians?

Yes, they're so pretty and peaceful. And shady. Where's the map?

Whoa! Look at that green open space! Is that a park or something?

I don't see a sign. Just looks like a regular street.

A regular street with an extra-wide median the size of a small park. Hey, there's another one!

I know. They're all over the place. Watch where you're going! Where's the map?

It's around here somewhere ...

Remember the speed limit is 25 miles per hour. There are people and kids and dogs walking all over the place.

Here's the map. I better look at that thing. Let me find a spot to pull over. I notice there aren't any cars parked in the street.

How about up ahead, next to that log cabin?

Good idea. What is this place, a restaurant?

"Biscayne Park Police Department." Wow, they have their own police department!

Okay, here it is on the map, northeast of Miami Shores, south of North Miami, and west of the railroad tracks. Now I know where we are. See here on the map?

It's even shaped like a jewel!

Wynwood Gallery Arts District

As if free bottles of Yellow Tail and Bacardi weren't enough for those sexy single ladies out to prowl, how about some really nifty contemporary art? On the second Saturday of every month, both Wynwood and the Design District light up as art galleries open their doors with open wine bars and funky DJs mishmashing Flock of Seagulls with Rick Ross. Best of all, every single, bearded, black-rimmed-glasses-wearing hipster male who reads 19th-century Russian novels will be out and about on this faithful night to, you guessed it, meet you, you hot, single sex kitten! Free booze and weird art bring out the best of single men this city has to offer. So what are you waiting for? Crank out your red lipstick and Lucite heels and go get 'em, tiger! Oh, and did we mention the free booze?

UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

Technically called Smith Commons, this cafeteria bar might be the cheapest and most sweetly situated watering hole in Miami. Located at the rear of the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School campus and protected by an often-unmanned guard gate, it's a little hard to reach. And it's open only Thursdays and Fridays. When you arrive at the campus, just follow signs for "The Commons" all the way at the back of the school. Walk down the hallway (lined with stuffed sharks) and make a left at the awesome fish tank. The bar is at the back of the cafeteria. Pints of Colorado microbrew go for about $3. The patrons are smart and congenial, so don't bother coming if you're a stupid jerk. Enjoy your beer outside while overlooking the marine school's unspoiled beach and view of Key Biscayne's undeveloped shore. The sunsets are beautiful, and there's a small service window so you don't have to go inside to get another round.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®