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.
You smell Broward before you reach it — a whiff of brine and ambition. Broward, at least the southern bit, feels unsettled. At a certain famous Hollywood restaurant, you can maow a world-class seafood sammich or cheeseburger while sitting on a piece of unpolished driftwood and watching cockroaches scuttle up nearby trees. In Dania, a town constructed of decommissioned buoys and hammocks, you can eat Florida's most decadent ice-cream sundaes in a place that hasn't changed its décor since about 1890. (Situated in such an atavistic town, it doesn't seem retro at all.) Downtown Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale look like the products of a young architect's unwarranted grandiosity, adolescent stabs at urbanity in places that never needed any — sort of an American's answer to Dubai. For these reasons, and many more, Broward is a step backward in time — to the days when pioneers roamed the swamps; when plastic surgery was a novelty and not a rite of passage; when life was slow, and when it wasn't slow, it was lawless; and when you weren't looked at like a crazy person for speaking English.

Best Place to Do Your Laundry, Get Dinner, and Grab Coffee

Mary's Coin Laundry

Laundry or dinner? As grim a Sophie's choice as we've ever had to make. What if there were another way? Welcome to Mary's Coin Laundry. Materials: two loads of dirty laundry, lots of quarters, spare cash, ravenous appetite, preferably spurred by misguided late-Sunday-night marathon of Dazed and Confused. Instructions: Panic. The workday begins in a couple of hours, and there are exactly zero clean pants. Begin a sartorial search party. Socks should be under the bed; boxers inside the oven; pants, T-shirts, and ties in the bat-infested cave that is the closet. With duds in basket, drive to Mary's Coin Laundry. Inside the cramped 24-hour Laundromat-slash-cafeteria, take a minute to enjoy the aroma — ah, nothing like detergent and butter in the morning. Drop $2.75 into adjoining Speed Queen machines. Choose heavily soiled or normal wash? Heavily soiled. Add detergent, push Start, and let the Queen do its business. Order a choripan, $4.50. Ten minutes to go. Mamey milkshake, $3.50. Watch the clothes spin as hypnotically as the shake swirls. Extract wet load, deposit four quarters into the dryer. This is the last stretch. Get a cortadito, 75 cents. Some things aren't meant to go together. Watching television in the bathtub, sex and pastrami, dinner and laundry. Somehow you're doing it. The dryer trills. Load finished. Laundry: $6.50. Dinner: $8.75. Getting it all done in less than an hour: priceless.
Riding a bicycle is fun. Drinking booze is totally awesome. What happens when you mix the two together? Totally awesome fun! And judging from the success of the first Beer Snob MIA-Bicycle Pub Crawl, combining boozing and cycling is an indicator of why Bicycling magazine rated Miami one of its Top 50 cities for bike lovers. Nearly 100 cyclists met at Zeke's on Lincoln Road this past March 6. Their mission: Savor an array of tasty, frothy, so-sweet-when-it-touches-your-lips beeeeerrrrrr. The South Beach watering hole, famous for its impressive selection of ales and lagers at $4 each, was the first stop on a journey that included the Abbey Brewing Company near Lincoln Road, the Democratic Republic of Beers across the street from the Arsht Center, and Titanic Brewery & Restaurant, the final destination, near the University of Miami campus in Coral Gables. A ride like that requires a lot of sustenance — the kind that incorporates barley, wheat, and yeast. Of course, Miami's cyclists practice responsible drinking, so anyone who got too sloshed was encouraged to take the Metrorail or bus back home. And if you missed the pub crawl, don't worry — the organizers are planning another one for September.
Mondrian South Beach Hotel
Courtesy of Mondrian South Beach
So there you are, lounging by the pool at your fancy hotel, when it hits you: You forgot to bring your $350 gold handcuffs! You also left your $25 fake eyelashes at home! And, dammit, you didn't pack your $400 marabou feather vest! Well, don't worry your pretty little head. The vending machine at Mondrian South Beach — the glittering, chandeliered, luxury waterfront hotel on West Avenue — is stocked with all of those things. There are no candy bars or soda inside this sleek white contraption, which takes only credit cards and sits across from the hotel bar. Dubbed the "Semi-Automatic," it is also full of T-shirts, sunglasses, and best-selling novels. Oh, and the keys to a $90,000 Bentley Arnage T. (A voucher is printed and the vehicle is delivered to the hotel in minutes.) You know, just in case you left yours at home.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®