Mandarin Oriental Hotel

Over the years, we've devoted this category to the municipal shithouses of Miami-Dade — bathrooms on beaches and in museums where the toilets seats are not guaranteed to be free of seven strands of hepatitis. But let's face it, unless you're clearly a vagrant — and if you are, you probably already have your favorite porcelain throne picked out — hotel lobby bathrooms are always a more pleasant option. A clean bowl, free of clogs and ancient floaters; Kenny G piped through overhead speakers; the ubiquitous vase of potpourri-smelling reeds; a discarded USA Today sports section awaiting your perusal — it's the ultimate bowel-movement experience. And the finest hotel lobby bathroom in all of Miami is on the third floor of Brickell's Mandarin Oriental, among the corporate conference rooms. Expansive, usually empty and elegantly minimalist — with a nice bamboo-and-oranges Asian theme going on — this is a restroom where you can feel elite dropping a deuce without dropping a dime.

It's Saturday night, the league-leading Boston Bruins are skating in Sunrise, and as shot after shot after wicked shot ricochets off the Panthers goalie, the BankAtlantic Center shakes louder and louder each time the distorted chords from Blur's "Song 2" cue up:

Blur: When I feel heavy metal!

Crowd: Vo-kouuuun!

Blur: When I'm on pins and needles!

Crowd: Vo-kouuuun!

Blur has been making a big comeback this year in South Florida thanks to Tomas Vokoun, the acrobatic Czech net-minder who has anchored a suddenly stingy Panthers D.

As the Cats have clawed their way up from a decade in the cellar, no one has carried the team further than its second-year goaltender. Vokoun leads the NHL in shutouts and is second in save percentage, stopping 92.6 percent of the pucks fired his way. And he's only been getting better down the stretch, as the Panthers swim the unfamiliar waters of playoff contention.

Cue up that Blur again, would ya? Woo-hooooo, indeed.

Located along a lush stretch of Old Cutler Road and concealed by banyan and mangrove forests, Hammock Oaks is undeniably idyllic, if exclusive. It's essentially a gated wonderland of big-money Miami mansions, massive free-form swimming pools, and private grass tennis courts. So indulge your inner Gatsby and loiter a little bit while walking, running, or biking through the affluent enclave. But don't linger too long because there remain a number of awe-inspiring places where the common people can freely congregate. Start with the Fairchild Tropical Garden, featuring a fruit pavilion, palm glade, and vine pergola—plus large-scale outdoor sculptures by art stars such as Roy Lichtenstein and Dale Chihuly. Then, move north to Matheson Hammock Park, an amazing 629-acre expanse of public land. There are manmade lakes everywhere, including the park's legendary saltwater lagoon, and the forest is so secluded in spots that civilization seems an incredibly remote idea.

Boxing is a sport as much about entertainment as it is about fighting, which is the real reason Muhammad Ali is considered the greatest of all time. Some fighters have the charisma and story line that make people queue up to watch them in the ring, and others simply go to work. Glen Johnson is the latter. Even his manager calls him a "lunch-pail champ." For the past 20 years or so, the Jamaican-born Miami resident has quietly been going about his work, racking up nearly 50 wins and an IBF light-heavyweight championship along the way. His brightest moment came in 2004, when he knocked out Roy Jones Jr. — long considered the best fighter in all of boxing — at the FedEx Forum in Memphis. Still, Johnson is hardly a household name, and even now he has to convince promoters he'll be a draw if they put him on a title card. The 40-year-old's biggest fight left is against time. In April 2008, Johnson lost a controversial decision to WBC champ Chad Dawson (a Showtime viewers' poll immediately after the fight showed 80 percent thought Johnson won), and ever since then, Johnson has been arguing he deserves one more shot. His February 2009 victory over Daniel Judah at Hard Rock Live just might give Johnson that chance.

Summary of the short film, "A Perfect Day in MiMo": Timmy wakes up in Motel Blue, fond memories of his visit to Boulevard. Where is that smell coming from? Oh, right! He brought the stripper back to his room! Quietly, Timmy puts on his clothes, leaves a $20 bill on the nightstand, and sneaks out. The Miami sun is out, and a cool breeze is blowing off of the Little River, making him hungry for pancakes, fresh fruit, and a stiff latte. Luckily, Uva 69, the Vagabond Market, and Jimmy's are all open. Afterward, Timmy strolls down the sidewalk that should have trees dug into it any day now on his way to Legion Park, where he runs some full-court ball and bathes in Biscayne Bay. Too snobby to get back into his old clothes, Timmy buys some new threads at Julian Chang and then catches a couple of innings of the Florida Marlins game on the flat-screen TVs at Kingdom. Lunchtime! Nothing like a hot dog from Dogma before doing some renovation work on the Shalimar Hotel and sitting outside the Kubik lot wondering why no one has done anything about this eyesore. But you know what's not an eyesore? That Coppertone sign! Timmy could watch that dog tear that little girl's bathing suit off for hours. Too bad he's got cars to wash at Metro. Thanks for the tip, Mrs. Johnson! How'd you like to meet me at Michy's for some seafood linguine? And then maybe afterward we can have an affair in an empty apartment above Balans? Awesome! I'll go get a haircut at the Chop Shop and pay my pimp at the Sinbad. Drinks at Red Light and then it's back to Boulevard. Nighty-night, Timmy. You can do it all over again tomorrow.

Wiber Marrero, who is a personal trainer at Intense Warehouse Fitness in Kendall, popped his MMA cherry last December at the American Airlines Arena during the Mixed Fighting Alliance's There Will Be Blood promotion. The former Army Ranger, who boasts black belts in jujitsu and kickboxing, dropped opponent Ronald Peña with a wicked roundhouse kick to the head 23 seconds into the first round. The chiseled brute's impressive KO sent Peña to the emergency room with a broken jaw and a handful of teeth.

Every basketball court has its own personality. There's the court filled with dudes who call a foul if you so much as breathe on them, the court with the And 1 wannabes, the court with the old men with knee braces who shoot inexplicably well from beyond the three-point line, the court that tears off all the flesh from your hands and knees if you happen to stumble, the court where the only way you can get in on a game is by knowing someone or having someone on the court sprain an ankle or tear a knee ligament. Then there are the courts at Flamingo Park. On any given day, this place can take on any and all of the above characters, and no one overstays his welcome. The courts are smooth and clean, and the atmosphere is always alive. Well lit and always buzzing, it's a great place to catch a pick-up game in the evening. And with a beach breeze gusting in during the day — not to mention the park's swimming pool just a stone's throw away — it's the ideal spot to play when the sun is out.

Located in the heart of South Beach, it is a short walk from Collins Avenue and Lincoln Road and is always filled with soccer games, racquetball enthusiasts, tennis players, folks walking their dogs, and beautiful people. The eclectic mix of ballers and overall SoBe vibe is what makes playing ball at Flamingo such a trip.

Miami Marine Stadium
Claire Nelson

Picture this: A major American city. A dilapidated but beloved sports facility. A stadium that's fondly remembered for its world-class sporting competitions, thrilling rock concerts, and noteworthy presidential appearances. One that has been praised for its architectural beauty and drawn spectators from the four corners of the earth — but is at this very moment in danger of demolition. It's too late for the Orange Bowl and Bobby Maduro Stadium (and maybe even Hialeah Park), but the city of Miami could finally do the right thing by preserving Miami Marine Stadium. Maybe city leaders don't understand the value of this elegant 1964 Modernist masterpiece or its stunning bayside location, but the people do, and the people have banded together as Friends of Miami Marine Stadium to save their facility. Step one in the restoration game was completed last year, when the city's preservation board conferred historic status on the building. That alone won't save the aging edifice, which was badly damaged during Hurricane Andrew, but it can open the faucets to grants, tax breaks, and other inducements that could convince politicians to want to "take credit for rescuing" the stadium.

Surfside Tennis Center

Like sister pastimes golf, polo, and hedge fund fraud, tennis has always been rank with the stink of exclusivity. But although guys named Nigel who tie their sweaters around their necks usually play tennis, once you take the sport out of the country club, it can be as accessible as a game of hoops. All you need is a $20 racket, some dirt-cheap balls, and a place to play. There are larger public courts in Miami than the three-net Surfside Tennis Center (and certainly more exclusive ones), but it's tough to beat the spot's availability. During the week, klieg lights blast the courts, keeping them open until 10 p.m. Perhaps Surfside residents take their game to private clubs, because there's seemingly always a free court. Stop by the administration shack and ask about upcoming no-cost clinics. One tip for tennis newbies: Remember the model number of your ball and try to use only that one. Players get testy when you use their balls, even though the specifications are usually identical. Snobbery can be a tough habit to break.

Coppertone sunscreen's advertising was probably responsible for more tourism in Miami than the sun itself, so it's only fitting that the company's iconic sign is back in public view. You know the one: the little dog pulling the bathing suit off the girl. Somehow that strange combination of innocence, fun, and naughtiness became emblematic of Miami itself, and seems about as inseparable from our identity as the Citgo sign is with Boston. How such fantastic pictorial mythology got stuck in a warehouse for so long is a mystery to us, but thank god for Antolin Carbonell, an Upper Eastside tour guide and historian, who spearheaded the effort to find the sign a new home in the MiMo district. You can find the Coppertone girl (modeled after the granddaughter of company founder Charles E. Clowe), locked in her Sisyphean battle to keep her trunks up, on the north-facing wall at 7300 Biscayne Blvd., just two giant toddler steps from the Vagabond Motel, whose original sign was also made by the Tropicalites company. She must feel right at home.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®