Burt Reynolds & Friends Museum
Look, how you spend your free time is your own business. But if you're planning to use your next day off to snorkel in the Upper Keys or ride your BMX through Flamingo Park, we're going to just say it: We think you're boring. There's a town just an hour and half north that's named after a planet. And as if that weren't enough of a draw, Jupiter is home to a museum celebrating the most virile man to succeed in Hollywood, Burt Reynolds. That's right — the mustached man is a Florida boy. He graduated from Palm Beach High and played football for Florida State University. The Burt Reynolds & Friends Museum started as an acting studio and dinner theater. It now houses film stills and memorabilia from Reynolds's illustrious career. He had starring roles in Deliverance, Smokey and the Bandit, and more recently Striptease and Boogie Nights. Reynolds was even asked to fill Sean Connery's shoes as the next James Bond. But he realized he could never pull off the well-coifed, martini-swilling hero. His brand of manliness was too steeped in Americana: dirty fingernails, faded blue jeans, and the musky BO of a hard day's work. Gawk at the Bandit's black Trans Am and his sheriff boots from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. But the museum's pièce de résistance is the infamous canoe from Deliverance. This time, it'll make you squeal with delight. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday, and admission is $5.
Hard Rock Stadium
Michele Eve Sandberg
For all of those jazzy people in SoFla searching for a little musical healing, look no further than Jazz in the Gardens. Forget the pot-smoking, drunken hot mess that is every other music festival in MIA. JITG is an arena where megamusicians come to spread their melodic wings, and mature concertgoers come to watch them fly. Celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, Jazz in the Gardens has grown to become one of the most highly reputed festival events in the nation. Last year's festivities hosted nearly 40,000 attendees who enjoyed performances by Kenny G, Babyface, Frankie Beverly, Roy Ayers, Erykah Badu, and a slew of other world-renowned artists. This year's fest included performances by Mary J. Blige, Robin Thicke, John Legend, Boyz II Men, and Jon Saxx. The festival, which takes place at Sun Life Stadium, also includes a variety of great food and merchandise vendors from around the world. Tickets range from $55 for one-day general admission to $145 for a two-day prime reserve slot.

Best Leisure Activity Other Than Clubs or Movies

Palmetto Muzzle Loaders

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If you spend all of your spare time secretly polishing 300-year-old firearms, dressing like an authentic Appalachian mountain man, and hiding in your neighbors' bushes, there's a club for you. It's called the Palmetto Muzzle Loaders. For more than 50 years, the members of this antique gun group have been getting together to celebrate their shared love of early America, the Second Amendment, and frontier fashion. Mostly, the Muzzle Loaders do the obvious: blast off rounds from their fine collection of forefather-approved pistols and flintlock rifles. But every brother and sister in good standing also handcrafts his or her own buck-skinner gear (leather shirts, knife sheaths, moccasins, etc.) and takes part in the re-enactment of primitive living conditions, i.e. getting lost in the woods for a weekend to see if he or she can make it to Monday alive. So you wanna join? There are only two prerequisites for new prospects: Get your National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association membership, and pay your yearly $20 club dues. The Palmetto Muzzle Loaders meet every second Sunday at the Trail Glades Sport Shooting Range for a day of gun games. Be there in your best bearskin vest.
Let's face it: Sometimes Dade denizens need to visit our dull Caucasian neighbor county to the north. Until this year, that usually involved a gas-guzzling trip on traffic-clogged I-95. It still does — but now the Miami-Dade and Broward transit agencies pick up most of the tab. The 95 Express Bus makes rush-hour trips from five locations in downtown Miami to eight stops in Broward, stopping as far north as Fort Lauderdale. The brand-new vehicles travel along express toll routes and cost $2.35 per one-way trip. There's only one catch: Once you're in Broward, you have to figure out why in hell you wanted to go there in the first place.
Miami Seaplane
Air travel has really gone to shit. You're either waiting in lines or on the tarmac, paying for the luxury of bringing luggage, forced to go barefoot, or just merely uncomfortable as a brat kicks out the beat to "Single Ladies" on the back of your seat. Really, jetpacks can't be invented soon enough. Until then, recapture the thrill of flying by chartering a private sea plane. For $350 a ticket, you can soar over the Everglades, swooshing safely above alligators and snakes while not disrupting the soft river of grass or slicing up any manatees. Or get a tour of Miami and Fort Lauderdale's coast from Boca Chica to Port Everglades. You'll spy swarms of sharks and posses of dolphins, maybe even a homemade raft or two. Coastal and beach tours cost $225. The most affordable trip is the $150 skyline tour, where you'll get a bird's-eye view of downtown Miami. Fall back in love with the city as you see it from its most attractive side. The best part: The drug dealers, swindling politicians, crooked cops, and armed high-schoolers look so tiny from up there.
Kennedy Park
Courtesy of the GMCVB
Your typical gym is crowded at rush hour, smells of antiseptic, and plays a rotating soundtrack of groaning jocks and bad house music. It's pricey too. Commissioner Marc Sarnoff should know. He works out at Coral Gables' Equinox, which, for a base rate of $129, could probably keep a few of those laid-off city employees on the ledger. So in November, he used some of his quality-of-life funding — nearly $30,000 — to create the antithesis to Equinox: an outdoor gym. Located at Kennedy Park, a jog away from city hall, the gym is equipped with all the basic workout gear: a couple of sit-up benches, a leg press, monkey bars, and several elliptical and rowing machines. Out in the open, the Crayola-green equipment is constantly in use, seven days a week. It's not hard to see why. The only shrill noise you're likely to hear is kids playing or the occasional Frisbee zipping by. And there's a bonus: Sarnoff still works out at Equinox, so you won't have to see him doing squats on an otherwise beautiful afternoon. Open since November, the gym has been so popular that Sarnoff wants to install similar ones at Margaret Pace and Legion parks.
Paris Theatre
The 1940s structure nestled in South Beach's "seedier" area is perhaps Miami-Dade's most luxe spot to throw a party. Just ask Cartier, Range Rover, and Swarovski — they've all used the film/photo studio and event space to launch their brands. What started out as a movie theater became in 1992 a flexible space, converted by owner Eugene Rodriguez. Since then, it has hosted some of the city's premier parties and events, including the Leather & Lace Ball during Super Bowl XLIV and Diesel U:Music with Santigold and Kid Cudi. The stark-white space is easily adaptable to any kind of bash, and with a recent zoning change that allows the space to hold theatrical events, this should be a busy year for Paris.
If you live in Miami and you're not the type to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Elián saga by screaming and burning photos of Castro and Janet Reno outside Versailles, there's a good chance you're pretty cynical about Cuban rights activism. And who could blame you? Enough hot air comes out of Calle Ocho's daily coffee-counter arguments every afternoon to power a transatlantic flight. That's why Raices de Esperanza (or "Roots of Hope" for the gringos among us) is so refreshing. President Felice Gorordo, a 27-year-old Miami native, cofounded the group while he was a student at Georgetown with the simple goal of opening a dialogue among young Cubans about how to better their lives. Now the group has 3,000 members at 55 universities and sponsors an annual conference to foster communication and support emerging bloggers such as Yoani Sánchez. Gorordo's brand of activism won its biggest victory yet last September, when Colombian pop singer Juanes announced a concert "for peace" in Havana's Independence Square. Miami's hardliners raged, stalking Juanes at his Key Biscayne home and smashing his CDs in Little Havana, but Gorordo took a different tack. "Let him go, and we'll judge when he comes back," he said. "It's worth a shot." Sure enough, the Juanes show drew hundreds of thousands of Cubans, and he used the stage to preach freedom. Most agreed the concert bettered the cause for human rights. Raices de Esperanza's embrace of dignity, innovation, and communication prevailed over screaming and empty posturing. That's a revolution we can all get behind.
Everyone smokes in cemeteries. It's an age-old rite of passage for any pothead. You toke, take a seat on someone's grave, and let your chemically deranged brain trip on the exasperating enigmas of human existence. The Neptune Memorial Reef, however, is some genuinely next-level shit. Located three and a quarter miles off Key Biscayne, the reef is an actual underwater necropolis where real-deal dead people's cremated remains lie encased in enormous concrete vessels shaped like giant seashells, starfish, and chunks of coral. With plans to eventually occupy 16 acres of ocean floor and house 125,000 human bodies, this deep-sea burial ground is still in its early stages. Right now, there are only 1,200 plots covering approximately one and a half acres. But even so, the whole thing looks like a mythical sunken city filled with architectural ruins (arches, columns, gates) and gargantuan, algae-encrusted sculptural monuments (a five-ton lion, for example), all of it populated by weird sea creatures including tangs, triggers, eels, and stingrays. Find this stoner mecca by boat, or ride there on Poseidon's thigh — the GPS coordinates are N25° 42.036, W80° 05.409 — then sink 45 feet to the ocean floor. A cremation and Neptune Memorial Reef placement package costs $4,000. But it's totally open and free to divers. So get your scuba certification. Hit that spliff. Touch the afterlife.
Miami Children's Hospital Foundation
When children get sick in South Florida, there is only one hospital dedicated to accommodating every one of their pediatric needs. In order to keep this inspiring medical facility running, a charity was developed. Today, Miami Children's Hospital Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose only mission is to create awareness and generate funds for Miami Children's Hospital (MCH), the only licensed specialty hospital in South Florida exclusively for children. MCHF hosts various events each year to keep donors, patients, families and the community in touch with the foundation and the hospital. Although the majority of its programs are conducted at the grassroots level throughout the year, MCHF concentrates on two annual fundraising events: its Diamond Ball, which raised nearly $2.5 million last year, and the Hugs & Kisses children's fashion show, hosted by the MCHF's community council. MCH, a 289-bed, freestanding facility, is renowned for excellence in all aspects of pediatric medicine, with several specialty programs ranked among the top in the nation. MCHF continues to keep Miami Children's Hospital and stays true to its mission of ensuring that all children, no matter where they live or their economic standing, are able to receive the best medical care possible.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®