If all you want are some faux Rolexes and blingy cell phone accessories, you can stop reading now and set out for the Swap Shop. For a flea market where you can lose a whole day just looking around, check out the Redland Market Village in Homestead. Here you'll not only find staple deals such as five deodorants for $4, but also enjoy a day's worth of fun perusing the goods. The indoor market sells the expected — yellow-gold jewelry and bedazzled flip-flips — as well as the unexpected, such as double-breasted white suits for toddlers. Make sure you get around to the pet shop, where you can buy pink-eyed rats, giant blue macaws, and racing pigeons. Most of the vendors and patrons in Bargain Town are Mexican. Even the caged cockatoos sip water out of Corona bottles. Dig into the Mexican candy (chili-coated lollipops, salted tamarind pulp, peanut marzipan, etc.), sample the freshly made sharp queso blanco, and order some seafood paella. Produce stands spill over with nopal (cactus ears), avocados, and yuca. There aren't a lot of prices listed, so be prepared to know enough Spanish to haggle down the damage.
OJ Liquors
Whether you're a lush, a boozehound, a college kid mounting the next barnburner, or just an average Joe picking up the occasional liquid entertainment, where you get your hooch is one of those things that inspires loyalty. A good liquor store should be like a longtime friend, attentive and always there for you. OJ Liquors off Galloway Road on Coral Way is just such a place. Friendly owner Julian Fiuza has been in business for 16 years at his Westchester location for good reason. With this local institution offering a good selection at reasonable prices and frequent specials, it makes OJ's hard to beat. From gin to Scotch, rum (a best seller is the half-gallon of Bacardi Light for $23.99) to tequila, champagne to after-dinner cordials, and an ample assortment of vino, OJ's has everything you need, whether you're getting the party started or appeasing the inner demons that turned you into the raging alcoholic you are. What? We've seen you in action.
Sunset Corners Fine Wine & Spirits
At Sunset Corners Fine Wine & Spirits, it doesn't really matter if your wine IQ is zero. You'll feel comfortable at the down-to-earth establishment, which has operated on Sunset Drive since 1954. The friendly staff, including owners Michael Bittel and Larry Solomon plus wine and cheese buyer Jamie Futscher, will guide you through their impressive selection of wines, priced as low as $5 and as high as $2,000. Free winetastings and fun wine academy classes, such as a recent event pairing Bordeaux and hamburgers, are a bonus for those who thirst for wine — and knowledge. The store also carries 450 varieties of artisanal cheese — 75 to 100 kinds at a time — to pair with that great wine you just discovered. Chin-chin.
Sosa Family Cigars
As Freud once said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." But he might have added, "A cigar shop should not be just a cigar shop." Sosa Family Cigars provides just the right backdrop of sights, sounds, and smells for a real-life mise en scène that encapsulates the essence of Little Havana. And you don't have to brave damp, blistering heat to take it all in. Simply step into the cold but cozy store across the street from Versailles and peruse the wide selection of cigars lining the walls (ranging from a good but cheap $4 stogy to a $27 Padrón Aniversario). Then light up, plop down on the plush leather couch, and watch a competitive game of dominoes or engage in an old-fashioned political debate. Words fly, smoke swirls, and someone is bound to drop by with a coladita from across the way. Life doesn't get more Cuban than this.
It's not often you'll catch this publication praising local municipal works. Miami-Dade's public transportation system, for example, makes Havana's '50s-era buses look like Japanese light rail. And earlier this year, New Times lambasted Miami Beach for spending $5 million on citywide free Wi-Fi that didn't work. But to give credit where it's due, we'll be the first to admit the newly installed network on the downtown-encircling Metromover is fast and reliable. And because the elevated tram is free, it's a pretty handy alternative to shelling out cash for Internet time at FedEx Office, if you don't mind traveling in circles or surfing the web next to a drunk homeless dude.
There's no denying looks matter in South Beach. But we think that applies more to the interior design of establishments than people. For instance, a restaurant could serve the most brilliant cuisine on the Beach, but if it's done in a white-walled room with folding chairs, that restaurant won't succeed. A hotel might be known for hideous service, but if it boasts a breathtaking lobby and well-designed rooms, it'll still be booked solid. Of course, your looks — and health — matter too, and if you're going to get in shape, why not do it in one of America's most beautiful gyms? David Barton Gym at the Gansevoort, designed by William Sofield, infuses a mix a Moroccan and Asian flair. The stunning metal roof above the reception and weight machine areas lets in beams of natural light, while the rest of the gym could double as a nightclub. Plus the equipment is top-of-the-line, and the staff couldn't be more pleasant. It might run you a bit more for a membership here than at some strip-mall gym, but if you want to build a body even half as aesthetically pleasing as this place, it's worth it. Besides, with this kind of grandeur, you'll actually look for excuses to work out.
Let's get this straight. Pole Dance Miami is not a stripper school — perhaps to the disappointment of the patrons of the barbershop a couple of doors down in this nondescript Miami Lakes strip mall. Still, it takes its pole art seriously. While most dance studios throw in the occasional novelty class for giggling housewives, Pole Dance Miami is all pole, all the time. Not that any of this sacrifices fun — various themed classes, after all, boast names such as "Bootylicious," which, as the name indicates, involves frequent, vigorous shaking of the posterior. Most important, though, all of this wiggling, jiggling, spinning, and climbing seriously whittles you down and builds pure strength, thanks to the constant hoisting of your own body weight. (Stilettos add some resistance too). Unlike most similar dance studios, here you can drop in for a single class ($35) whenever you want, although prices drop when you buy class cards (five classes for $150, up to 20 for $400). In fact, for the dedicated pole addict, there are even unlimited memberships ($190 a month). And despite that disclaimer at the beginning, with the way the economy is going, it doesn't hurt to learn a few more potentially marketable skills, right?
X-treme Rock Climbing
Rock climbers from Miami are a lot like surfers from Omaha: shit out of luck. Northern getaways are one thing, but in a city with topography that looks more like a potato latke than a food pyramid, you also need a good gym. Thank God for places like X-treme Rock Climbing, a 14,000-square-foot warehouse with the tallest walls in Miami-Dade. Routes are marked for all levels of expertise, including a cave for the crazy spider monkey set. Employees — who tend to be superlean and full of energy — frequently re-route walls so there's something new for everybody. Equipment is available to rent for reasonable prices ($5 climbing shoes, $3 harness, $1 Balay device), and first-timers can take a class to get comfortable. Members enjoy free yoga, a fitness center, and wireless Internet along with a sense of community. Girls should check out Wednesday ladies' night for $7 — by far the best one-time deal in South Florida — and almost always a lively evening at the gym. Try a seven-visit punch pass for $76 or a monthly membership for $45. It's cheaper than, well, moving to Colorado.
Air Traffic Control
Staying fly means knowing where to find a pair of dope kicks. Check in with the flight navigators at Air Traffic Control, where you're sure to walk out with sneakers that will allow you to move up the hipsterati social ladder. From iridescent Nike Dunks to patent-leather fluorescent Bathing Apes, ATC stocks designer sneaks for every baller. And you better be balling to shop here, considering prices range from $50 to $1,500 for one pair. Of course, if you need a few extra Benjamins to cover the rent this month, take your unworn sneakers to the shop and sign up for ATC's consignment program. The store will take care of selling your kicks for an 80-20 split on the sale. You keep the 80 percent.
Miami Fly
You will sweat profusely. You will regret never having made a will. And you might very well barf. But once you're back on the ground, you'll hanker to get up in the air again. To actually fly a small plane bears no relation to the experience of sitting on a commercial airliner. You finally begin to fathom: I'm doing something I am genetically not supposed to be doing, and it feels incredible. Eusebio Valdes, the one-man show who owns and operates Miami Fly, has been taking jittery amateurs into the clouds for more than 27 years. An hourlong class costs a reasonable $140, including all expenses, and it takes about 40 hours to become certified as a pilot. His Cessnas are low-tech and sort of resemble '70s-era Buicks on the inside, but they're completely safe — he's never had an accident. The Kojak-domed Spanish native is a watchful and careful copilot who's full of Mr. Miyagi-esque nuggets of wisdom. Our favorite: "There are no dangerous planes, only dangerous pilots."

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®