Best Rural Bike Ride 2009 | From Hobie Beach to the southern tip of Bill Baggs State Park and back | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

OK, so there are few moments on this route when you can't see high-rises, and it includes a street called Sewage Plant Road. In Miami, rural is a fuzzy term, and this beginner-friendly bike ride will allow you to escape the urban bustle, clear your head, take in some beautiful views, and maybe see a raccoon or two. It's lifted from the route portfolio of the Everglades Bicycle Club, and members pedal it every Wednesday evening. Begin at the Hobie Beach parking lot and make your way southeast. Turn around when you reach the town of Key Biscayne, or if you're cool with spending a dollar on an entrance fee and adding four miles to the ride, go all the way through Bill Baggs State Park, to the southernmost tip of the island. On the way back, take a ride through the Virginia Beach loop, and if you time it right (with minimal stops, this route should take an average biker a little more than an hour), you'll catch a sunset over the Miami skyline from that postcard-perfect vantage point. Oh, and if you want to make this ride an all-afternoon thing, stop at Jimbo's Place on Virginia Key and have a few dirt-cheap beers over a game of bocce ball. That's not part of the bike club's official route, but we like alcohol with our exercise.

Your weathered Nike cross-trainers bounce off the broken concrete along a two-mile stretch of battered sidewalk. Your heart beats rapidly, you take deep breaths, and your legs churn hard as you race along vestiges of Miami's past and future. Old structures such as the Bacardi buildings hark back to a day when the boulevard was a desolate landscape. But farther south, gleaming glass condo towers such as 900 Biscayne Bay and 10 Museum Park herald Miami's new era. Shadowy silhouettes of homeless vagrants, drifters, and crack hoes have been replaced by 20-something hipsters dining at outdoor tables at Bin 18 and Bengal Modern Cuisine. You jog into the heart of downtown, past more shiny buildings, marveling at the number of units that remain unoccupied. You reach the foot of the Brickell Avenue Bridge, make a U-turn, and head back toward NE 36th Street. You make a brief pit stop at Mr. Lou's Food Store, a tiny market that has outlasted storefront churches, an IHOP, and the real estate crash, for more than two decades. Lou is not around anymore, but his son Junior still knows how to turn on that bodega charm. This is Miami, son, and after this jog, you feel like you own the city.

Best Leisure Activity Other than Clubs or Movies

The Flying Trapeze School

Gravity has been threatening your chances of coasting away into the skies forever, meaning kissing the clouds and tasting the air that only birds breathe have all been relegated to moments in your dreams, or while on psychedelics. But there is a place in Miami where you can fly without tripping out on shrooms — at the Flying Trapeze School at Bayfront Park. The folks here will help you put "I believe I can fly" into perspective, one harness at a time. Yes, there are harnesses and even a safety net, so your knees can stop trembling now. For just 40 bucks per two-hour class, you can coast from pole to pole and rest assured that a seasoned pro is on the other side to grab you. The instructors are professional flying trapeze artists and more than capable of catching you in whichever awkward position your body might twist. Not so sure if you're quite ready to defy gravity? The Try N' Fly is just $10. Classes are available Wednesday through Sunday, so if you punk out, you'll have many chances to redeem yourself.

Contrary to popular belief, not every sacred place in Miami-Dade has been paved, flipped, or foreclosed on. Just off Biscayne Boulevard in North Miami is Arch Creek Park. Named for a limestone arch on the site, these eight acres of natural and historic preserve have attracted people for centuries — whether it was Native Americans snacking on conch or early pioneers milling coontie roots. Fortunately, much of the park is as it was before Miami blossomed around it. Even better, it seems that not many more humans visit the creek than did a hundred years ago. The public can still peacefully commune on a nature hike or reach out to the city's past during a ghost tour, archaeological dig, or other laid-back activities. There's even an onsite museum that will help visitors understand the importance of this unique gem.

A beach is a beach is a beach, but don't tell that to half the people who frequent some of Miami's more popular shoreline. There's the beach meant for showing off your latest gym/elective surgery achievements in the tiniest spandex. There's the beach for families with six kids all in water wings. There's the beach for teenagers in Kendall to drive to while armed with digital cameras for Facebook pics and radios blasting La Kalle. Whichever it is, everyone seems overly excited to be at the beach, like it's some sort of exclusive event and not a mound of waterside sand.

For us, though, a beach is nothing more than a place to sleep off a hangover and avoid vampire skin. After weeks spent in a cubicle, and most weekends sleeping well past noon, we set the alarm extra-early once a month to make sure our skin tone doesn't become translucent. It's practically a civic duty to keep up a base tan in this town, but we're not one for proper man-scaping and we tend to get annoyed by impromptu beach jam sessions or volleyball games. So we cruise the northern parts of Collins Avenue until we come upon a cheap parking spot. More often than not, that's in Bal Harbour (metered parking behind the strip mall at 95th Street and Harding Avenue). Most time here, for us anyway, is spent passed out, and there's nothing that really gets in the way of that. It's just a beach and that's all.

Photo by Matthew Dillon/Flickr

Have you ever spun a nine-ton coral rock gate with one finger? Do it on weed. Super-genius Ed Leedskalnin drilled a perfect eight-foot hole through an 18,000-pound block he moved by himself from Florida City to Homestead; then he centered and balanced it on an iron shaft and truck bearing just so you can spin it in circles. He built the castle as an undying tribute to the 16-year-old girl who dumped him the day before their wedding, and it's there for your enjoyment. Professional burnouts everywhere compare it to Stonehenge and the pyramids of Egypt. Ed worked day and night by himself for 28 years constructing it all using the powers of weight and leverage. He was five feet tall, weighed 100 pounds, and claimed he knew the secrets used to build the ancient pyramids and that you could learn them too. Button pushers, beware — items marked "Do Not Touch" are magnetically booby-trapped. You'll feel it later. Coral Castle is a world-famous mystery destination. See it yourself for $9.75, and group discounts are available. Bring your own weed.

Everything about going to the Mandarin Oriental feels exotic and otherworldly. It begins when you drive over the Brickell Key Bridge. Lapping waves, expensive cars, uniformed valets, and security guards are everywhere you look — it ain't hard to tell you're visiting an oasis of luxury, mere minutes from the teeming center of the city. The majesty of this five-star spa feels like escape enough. But thanks to the Kundalini Journey, a truly unique spa experience that harnesses the power of aromatherapy and advanced massage techniques with gemstone therapy, you can travel without moving.

You're guided past a row of opulent massage rooms — each overlooking the aqua bay and glittering buildings of Brickell. "Are you ready?" your massage therapist asks as she reveals the special place where your journey shall begin. Cool and dark, save for a glowing blue light that shines from under the massage bed, the space draws you into a new world. Soon you're asked to visualize a happy place and enter the portal in your mind. During the Kundalini Journey, your mind and spirit go traveling far, far away while your body is pressed, prodded, and pampered into a state of complete muscle- and mind-draining bliss. At the end, you emerge refreshed, rejuvenated, and thanks to the healing power of crystals, emboldened with a new outlook on life. A two-hour "journey" costs $340. Believe us, it's worth it.

It's tough to choose 'cause they're so damn... ritzy. But if pressed, we'd have to admit the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne is our favorite of the hotel chain's South Florida locations. That's in no small part because of the spa, which is as plush and visually pleasing as one might imagine the Ritz-Carlton's largest South Florida hotel spa to be. But for the best not-so-cheap thrill, the enclosed sumptuous treatment suites, impressive changing areas, and steam rooms are simply not enough. An indulgence that's truly magnificent calls for an even more expansive backdrop: the Atlantic Ocean.

The couple's oceanfront massage is a guaranteed aphrodisiac and an experience you won't soon forget. You and your sweet thang are led hand-in-hand to a hidden gazebo — behind the hotel's charming Cantina Beach restaurant and far from the enormous conference rooms — nestled in a private green space overlooking the water. Two professional masseuses instruct you to disrobe and lie facedown while they minister to your bodies' every grievance. The crashing waves and salty breezes remind you how lucky you are to call Miami home. You emerge from the experience elated, a little light-headed, and primed for an evening of relaxation and romance. The cost for this experience: $370. Or you can have an in-room couples' rubdown for $330, but what fun is that?

Once the clock sails past midnight, the downtown crowd couldn't care less about what other party sets (i.e., stodgy SoBe and boring Brickell) would deem PC. And once it's after 4 a.m., everyone is so wasted that Barack Obama could walk into the club and no one would flinch. Well, maybe they'd ask him why he doesn't make cocaine legal and then go back to their partying. Everything about 90 Degree just begs for a healthy dose of late-night tomfoolery. It's a beautiful space, and everyone secretly desires to muck up something that's so sophisticated. Every Friday from 2:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. (well, technically early Saturday morning, but hey, it's called Insomnia Fridays), you can party alongside other drunken insomniacs who are definitely not making it to Saturday church service. Or are they? If you leave the club at 7 and hit Denny's by 7:15, you can totally be functioning and worshipping your Lawd by 8:30. How sweet it is.

Poplife, Gen Art, and even the New Times have hosted parties here. Why? With retro knickknacks, an AstroTurf patio floor, and an indoor swimming pool and hot tub, it feels more like partying at your friend's awesome warehouse-style loft than an actual production studio, which might be because the owner once called the place home. Still, this spot in the Wynwood Arts District is perfect for that possibly illegal rave, off-kilter art exhibition, or industrial-chic list-only party you are looking to have.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®