Maybe it's just us, but the fashion trends are starting to turn over at a slower pace. I mean, are people still seriously wearing kaffiyehs? Shouldn't those have been replaced with some other vaguely ethnic-looking garb to be appropriated by hipsters by now? African lip plates or Aboriginal-style loincloths or something? Um, maybe the trend slowdown is actually a good thing. But there's one fashion statement we've seen popping up all over a certain segment of downtown Miami: tees by Gold Saturn. David Jon Acosta, a Miami native and graduate of the Art Institute of Miami, started up the T-shirt line last year, naming it after his car — a gold Saturn. The line, which comes in girls' and guys' sizes, features a colorful mix of graphics, including a collection of pills arranged in the shape of a peach, happy mushrooms, and an artful box of cigarettes labeled Saturn Golds. The tees may not have the most recession-friendly price tag of $42, but if you're going to spend money, it's a good idea to spend it locally.

A sea cow pokes its snout above the surface as is traverses the waters along the 1.5-mile jetty that juts from Black Point Marina to Biscayne Bay. Manatees are just one of the wondrous sights to encounter at the county-owned dock and park where couples and families spread blankets on the grassy hill overlooking the boat ramps. From their elevated green perch, onlookers have front-row seats to herons diving for fish and alcohol-lubed mariners struggling to get their vessels out of the water. Regulars are the dock ghouls who fiend over the sight of a papi chulo — the guy who thought he was impressing his date with his fancy boat but is now lashing out at her because he can't get the darn thing on the trailer. Ideally located near Biscayne National Park, Black Point is open from dusk till dawn.

Now that this country has a new generation of war veterans, the danger we face is forgetting about the last one. Vietnam vets had the misfortune to be the first in our history to return to a country that was largely disenchanted with the purpose of the conflict, making the meager support they received from the government that sent them into battle all the more painful.

Since 1978, Vietnam Veterans of America has been the most powerful voice in lobbying the government for more support and is still the only congressionally recognized service organization dedicated exclusively to Vietnam vets and their families. Yet, it's still underfunded and depends heavily on your donations. The good news is that it couldn't be easier. Just go to pickupplease.org or call 800-775-VETS to schedule a day for their trucks to come to your house. You don't even need to be home; just put your donations on the curb inside of a box labeled "VVA" and they'll do the rest, even leave you a tax-deductible receipt. The motto of the VVA is "Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another," so by supporting the last generation, you'll be supporting this one as well.

It's early September, the height of alligator-hunting season in Florida. A midnight blue Ford F-150 hauling an airboat kicks up dust as it veers off the Tamiami Trail, just west of the Miccosukee casino, and onto an uneven dirt road. The truck's headlights cut through the pitch-black thicket, revealing a small, marshy inlet. Shadowy figures emerge from the pickup and lower the sleek metallic vessel into the shallows. Accompanied by two other hunters, the captain — a Miami-Dade firefighter who grew up jumping off airboats onto the backs of gators — and his crew douse themselves in bug spray, even underneath the clothed parts of their bodies. They load onto the airboat and take off into the darkness. The only illumination emanates from the light affixed to the captain's head. He navigates through the river of grass, zipping at more than 30 miles per hour, as birds fly off, startled by the piercing buzz of the airboat's hyper-rotating fan. The skipper slows down and cuts the engine as the hunters come upon a patch of mangrove. Frogs' mating calls echo in the distance. The men scan the murky water for the telltale sign of a gator: iridescent glowing eyes. All the while, they fend off swarms of mosquitoes and gnats trying to find a piece of flesh unexposed to OFF.

Best Volunteer Program (for Cheapskate Art Lovers)

Arts Connection

Arts Connection unites volunteers with various organizations that need short-term help for their arts programs. Opportunities change each month but could involve ushering, taking tickets, assisting with exhibitions, leading tours, helping set up displays, and other varied activities related to the arts. While you might not get front row tickets to the next Arsht Center production, volunteers are usually treated to free performances and other benefits once they have completed their service.

To the outside world, the glitz of South Beach is Miami, but beneath the plastic veneer, we've got ourselves one of the poorest and neediest metro areas in America. What's worse, out of the 50 biggest cities in the U.S., we volunteer the least. Even people in that other Sin City (Vegas) give more of their time than we do. Still, there's a lot of good going on in Miami, and perhaps there's no better example of that than the charity Voices for Children. Founded in 1984, the foundation recruits, trains, and supervises adults who act as representatives and guardians in court for the nearly 4,000 children who are in Miami-Dade foster care. The foundation (recently given the top four-star rating by the national charity evaluator charitynavigator.org) also helps take care of additional needs for foster children, such as clothing, eyeglasses, and educational activities. Since its inception, Voices for Children has represented more than 25,000 children.

Shark Valley
U.S. National Park Service

OK, smart guy, with your white-boy dreadlocks and stickered-up Nalgene bottle hanging off of your carabiner, let's just get this out of the way: Miami is to hard-core hiking as Aspen is to serious scuba diving. We get it. If you're looking to tackle a totally wicked 5.6-grade slope, hop the next flight back to the Rockies and leave us the hell alone.

But if you're willing to give Florida-style hiking a shot — think billowing saw grass and lush hammocks as far as you can see, with alligators slinking menacingly across your path — you can't beat Shark Valley.

Head west out of Miami on the Tamiami Trail, drive a half-hour past the half-dozen cheesy airboat rides and the Miccosukee bingo hall, and you'll see the entrance to the park on your left.

Inside, there's a 15-mile paved loop right through the heart of the Everglades, with an observation tower at the midway point offering all-the-way-to-Key West views of the River of Grass. If asphalt isn't hard-core enough for your tastes, muddy side trails cut through the swamp, where blue herons fish in gator holes and otters swim right past. Frankly, we'll take it over Colorado any day.

Ladies, here is your gym: Treadmills in the front, weights in the back, and no sweaty dudes to kick you off the shoulder press. Sorry, boys. Men aren't allowed at this blink-and-you-miss-it, owner-operated Miami Springs facility, which caters to a client base of competitive female bodybuilders. Founded by 45-year-old former fitness model and personal trainer Mari Redondo, the walls are lined with newspaper cutouts of muscular women in bikinis, flexing at competitions around the state. Inside, you won't catch girls flipping through Vogue or Cosmo while leisurely climbing a step machine. These ladies mean business. Rates are $200 per year, $60 for three months, or $25 for one month. Feel. The. Burn.

Oleta River State Park

The Oleta River is close enough to get to yet distant enough that it's pretty much the best place around to do outdoor activities such as mountain biking and kayaking. Sure, mountain biking in Florida is a lot like sunbathing in Antarctica: Nature won't quite permit it. Florida's landscape may be flat as a runway model's chest, but over at Oleta River State Park — the state's largest urban park — bikers have outsmarted old Mother Earth. Here a field of man-made dirt jumps and ramps vary in steepness and length, proving just as good for teenage thrill-seekers as they are for retirees. Add that to the 16 miles of trails for off-roading through the mangrove forest and you might find yourself stopping for a rest under a towering pine. Trails lead to the edge of the river, where canoes and kayaks carve through the glassy water. Forgot your helmet? No prob. Check out the park's free loaner system. Best to bring lunch, mosquito repellant, and a sense of adventure. You might forget you're miles from mountain country.

For those who would rather hit the water, Oleta offers the perfect spot in Miami-Dade for kayaking. Once your boat hits the water, the interminable traffic and noxious noise of the city disappear in the tree-lined streams of native plants and abundant wildlife. Oleta is part quiet escapism and part stimulating odyssey. Gently curving mangroves lead you through the river amid a wall of woodland preserves and supple hanging branches that kiss the surface of the water. Follow the widening canal and you're suddenly met with the spreading mouth of the river that takes you into open water, where anchored sailboats dot the wide expanse. One moment you're in the soft muzzle of swaying trees and the hazy green glow of sunlight poking through the foliage, the next you find yourself with the wind at your back and ocean waves gently jabbing the bottom of your kayak. You can easily lose track of time taking in the wildlife — crabs, stingrays, and a variety of birds such as ospreys, hawks, and cormorants. On quieter days, if you get lucky, you might spot manatees or a school of bottle-nosed dolphins. The park has a stand that sells refreshments and snacks and even offers kayak rentals that start at $20 an hour. Oleta is open year-round from 8 a.m. to sunset.

Venetian Way
Photo by Karli Evans

So there you are: rolling past the traffic jams, stores blasting techno music, and moms with strollers. You're biking and you're happy, damn it. And then — inevitably — it happens: Some flashy douchebag in a convertible cuts you off, reminding you why Miami can't shake its reputation as the nation's least bicycle-friendly city. But brave urban bikers, fear not. There's a safe route for you. On Venetian Way — the only of the county's seven causeways with a dedicated bike lane, a car toll, and residential speed limits — cyclists pretty much own the road. There's plenty to daydream about as you cruise: sailboats dipping between docks, an often mouthwash-blue bay, multimillion-dollar homes. Plus the route offers arguably the straightest path to the action (in either direction). Take it for a day in South Beach or a night out in the Design District. The flashy guy in the convertible will blow an hour and some cash trying to park. But once you're there, any street pole will do.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®