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.
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!
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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®