The only way to get into a pick-up game at any number of basketball courts around this city is to either be really patient while waiting to get into a game or to anticipate someone's knee ligament exploding and then hoping his teammates choose you to play. That will never happen, because the pick-up basketball gods hate you. The best solution to this, however, is to find an out-of-the-way court, where the wait is short and the odds of you actually playing in a game are greater than the odds of you sitting on your basketball, sipping Powerade, and watching a bunch of strangers play ball. Located in the backstreets of North Miami Beach, Victory Park is where you'll find sanctuary from the three-hour wait-a-thons. It offers two courts, which are smooth, clean, and well maintained. Nestled between a playground and a few unassuming apartment complexes, the courts are well lit in the evening and have nets that are actually clean, threaded perfectly, and fully intact. Victory Park courts are open to the public from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
Courtesy of Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau
No, you can't tell what his face really looks like. And, yes, perhaps he is hiding a ring under that Freddy Krueger glove, which, by the way, he happens to be wearing on the wrong hand. But just for tonight, you can be sure that your masqueraded mate is the pick of the litter. Why? This annual event seems to attract the guys with money, honey. Tickets cost about the same as a bottle of Dom ($125 for general admission, which is more than some club thug is willing to spend on a few shots of Patrón, for sure). And just the idea that Mr. Mystery turned down a few Pimp 'n Ho party invitations to schlep all the way out to Vizcaya for a four-hour-long fundraiser is a sign that the guy's got class. As for why the gents flock to this event, well that's elementary: they know they have the best chance to meet hot chicks already willing to play dress up.
Judge Arthur I. Snyder Tennis Center
These courts, a stone's throw from the centuries-old Spanish Monastery and just a mile or so from Aventura Mall, are perfectly kept, reasonably priced, and run by the top pro in South Florida, Desi Pierre. Twelve clay courts save wear on your knees, and there are six hard courts. No waiting here, except maybe on megabusy weekend mornings. Want your racquet restrung? They do it here. Play racquetball? Four courts. The place opens at 8:30 a.m. and closes at 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Fridays and weekends, it closes a bit earlier. There's a great tennis academy for kids too. Pierre, formerly the pro at the Sheraton Bal Harbour and the Fontainebleau, was recently named the region's number one coach by the United States Professional Tennis Association. Play and you'll enjoy it. Guaranteed. Oh, and there are two paddle ball courts. Cost: $7 during the day and $8 at night.
Let's be honest: The truly genius guys are stuck inside their homes after failing to figure out how to unlock the front door. What you're looking for is one notch below, a man who's as comfortable discussing the latest Jonathan Lethem novel as he is changing a tire. We can't believe you haven't considered looking here yet, but may we suggest the University of Wynwood? Its student union, courtyard, and — heck — even parking lots are teeming with intellectuals. Young students laze about on the school's lawns, Proust's Remembrance of Things Past in hand, as distinguished elbow-patched faculty members roam the sidewalks, mulling over string theory. These guys are ready and willing to hear all about your master's thesis on German silent film director F. W. Murnau over Glenfiddich single-malt Scotch or an icy frappuccino. Naw, just foolin'. Although it does have a women's jai alai team, the University of Wynwood doesn't exist in a brick-and-mortar sense. However, its spoken- and written-word events in Miami's galleries and bars do attract the local hipster literati. Those with burly beards, geek glasses, and impractical graduate degrees flock to UW poetry readings en masse. Just bring a net and a copy of The Believer.
Say your boss just reamed you out at that bank where you work downtown. You'll resort to violence if you don't find a release. Head only a few miles north to the range at Miami Shores Country Club, where you can swing under the lights until 9 p.m. seven days a week. Or stop by before work. It opens at 7 a.m. Buckets of balls are priced at $5 for 30, $8 for 60, and $12 for 90. Bring along your mate to watch through the plate-glass windows from an air-conditioned bar while sipping a margarita or eating a fine meal. There are chipping and putting areas nearby. Monday and Tuesday, when the grass gets refreshed, you'll have to hit from a mat made of artificial turf.
In Miami, too many dudes follow the path of accused Ponzi schemer Nevin K. Shapiro and cracked-out music producer Scott Storch to woo the ladies. However, just because you can check into a W Hotel beachfront suite for a few days, rent a Carolina-blue Lamborghini Diablo, and buy bottle service at every Opium Group venue on South Beach using other people's money or plastic credit doesn't guarantee she is all into you. In fact, she and her friends will probably end up playing you into paying for a few shopping sprees at Neiman in Bal Harbour before dumping you for the next poseur multimillionaire. We suggest you show her a little of your fond appreciation for nature and the creatures with which we share the world. Pack a picnic basket with watercress sandwiches and scones, but forgo the tea for a bottle of rosé. Pick her up and take a ride on Florida's Turnpike, get off at Exit 16, head west on SW 152nd Street, and make a left when you see the sign for Miami Metrozoo at 124th Avenue. After enjoying your picnic at one of the shaded tables outside the zoo, escort your cherie into one of the county's treasures. The zoo covers 740 acres and is home to more than 2,000 animals. Two years ago, the county opened Amazon & Beyond, an exhibit that spans 27 acres and features 100 astonishing species including giant river otters, jaguars, and anacondas. Chances are that you will leave quite an impression on the fair maiden by your side. Nothing stimulates a woman's interest more than a man with cerebral curiosity.
North Shore Open Space Park
We want to work on our Charlie Crist-grade tans without having to play beach-blanket bingo in the shadows of the high-rises that dominate most of Miami Beach. In fact, many of us wouldn't mind a beach experience sans the concrete, snowbirds, and tourists that are hard to avoid on most local sands. Thankfully, there's North Shore Open Space Park, a scenic stretch of sun-bathing-worthy shores right in the middle of Miami Beach that hasn't been given over to developers. Instead, there are picnic tables, shady trees, lots of greenery, and relatively clean restrooms. Plus the metered public parking lots across the street never seem full. It might not have that certain air of manufactured glamour where the views to the west are as artificial as half the topless chicks, but sometimes it's nice to leave the Versace thong or Armani Speedo at home and get in touch with one of the few things left on Miami Beach vaguely resembling nature.
Swimming toward a feeding frenzy -- that could be you, too.
Steve Satterwhite
Swimming toward a feeding frenzy -- that could be you, too.
The best part about a second date is that the ice has already been broken, the introductions are out of the way, and that awkward get-to-know-you phase has passed. Now it's time to kick it up a notch. And you do that by going to a place that not only has great food, but also is bathed in romantic ambiance without the overwrought clichés you'll find in other fine-dining restaurants. Tucked away at the tail end of Matheson Hammock Park, Red Fish Grill features an atmosphere that is both romantic and casual. Built with authentic coral rock, the scene is lined with palm trees wrapped in white lights and speckled with the soft glow of tiki torches. The best time to reserve a table is just before sunset, when you can sit on the beachfront patio overlooking a saltwater lagoon. There you can sip a glass of Montes Cherub under a lilac sky as you settle into your evening. Start your meal with conch fritters or the seared tuna cooked with a hint of wasabi aioli. You can then dig into the pan-fried red snapper with lemon-ginger vinaigrette, or the Chilean sea bass baked with shiitake mushrooms. Leave room for the delectable homemade key lime pie or caramel flan. Then impress your new significant other by revealing that Red Fish Grill was a setting for the films There's Something About Mary and Random Hearts. After a night like this, consider your date fully smitten. Dinner is served from 6 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 5 to 10 p.m. on weekends. Entrées range from $20 to $40, and you don't need a reservation.
Enchanted Forest Elaine Gordon Park
Nicole Martinez
Sure, there are the obvious spots: Crandon Park for sun-soaked cookouts and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden for a quiet day in the shade. But this 22-acre park is the kind of untapped green space that will make you forget you live in the city. The place looks like a scene from FernGully. Located in North Miami, the park is covered in most parts by a thick canopy of trees. Don't be surprised if you see dozens of yellow butterflies fluttering about. Or a pony trotting by. Arch Creek juts through the center, attracting creatures of both the feathery and scaly variety. Here you can escape the rest of the world, drink beer in the sun, or throw a birthday party for your kid. There are grills, sheltered areas, a butterfly garden, and even horse and pony rides. Pavilion rentals are available for North Miami residents at a cost of $100; nonresidents pay $200. There is no fee for entrance or parking.
Just the Funny Theatre
So the two of you have monkeyed around at the zoo; eaten some aquatic life at Red Fish Grill; caught a movie; taken a long walk on the beach; gotten some ice cream; gone bowling, ice skating, fishing, and ice fishing (in the middle of the rink where you went ice skating); gotten kicked out of said rink; snuck back in after hours; TP'ed the place; gotten arrested together; and now, you figure, it's time to really get to know one another. That's why we suggest a main-stage improv show at Just the Funny Theater (at 9 and 11 p.m. the first Friday and Saturday of each month). Why? Well, because they're only $10 a ticket. Plus JTF's interactive shows thrive solely on suggestions, made on the spot, from the audience — so think of a date here as somewhat of a psychological inkblot test for your potential full-time ball 'n' chain. For instance, when an actor asks the audience for a color to inspire a scene, what does your date shout out? Pink? (Translation: superfemme.) Black? (Depressed.) Green? (Jealous.) Puce? (She ate paint chips as a child.) Or when the actor asks for a location, does she scream "dentist office" (masochist), "igloo" (aloof), or "Castle Grayskull" (nostalgic)? And when a game of "Love Machine" — a spoof of The Dating Game where an audience member is pulled onstage and asked to choose one of three irresistible bachelors for a date — begins, does she choose a Jewish hip-hop artist from Pinecrest? A man who thinks he's a superhero? Or does she choose you, in a romantic gesture, by busting out a roll of Charmin — and a blowtorch — and then demanding the address of the nearest ice rink? Now that's what we call armoire!

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®