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.
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.
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."
Warning: The New Times cute-o-meter just edged into a measurement range never before seen in the history of cute on planet Earth. Right now, somewhere near Coral Gables, there's a miniature dog teeny enough to take a bath in your Earl Grey, and it's been all dolled up like a little canine Oliver Twist, and it's sitting very, very patiently while a puppy portrait painter captures this monumentally precious moment in oil on canvas. Is there anything more adorable than that? Ever? The answer is a firm, unequivocal no. Welcome to Forever Teacup, a boutique where cuddly two- to three-pound Yorkshire terriers are bred and sold to people like you — i.e., people with hearts so full of love and happiness that all they need to complete the perfect circle of their existence is a sprite-sized pup to hug. So, pay $1,000 for a Yorkie, name it something like "Mr. Twisty," and then commission one of Forever Teacup's resident artistes to paint your tiny pet into a tableaux of pink tea sets, sunshine, and cotton candy. Oh shit, girl. Cute just went nuclear.
Your dog needs a bath. No, we're not speaking generally to our entire readership; we're talking to you. Your dog smells like a rotting horse carcass. Your dog smells like the entire homeless population of Overtown emptied its bellybutton lint into a jar and allowed it to ferment. Simply put, your dog smells like the Metromover. But all hope is not lost. Take that Fidel's-beard-scented mutt to this tiny shop and you can be confident its stink will be extracted in the manner that a morbidly obese person is removed from a walk-up apartment by paramedics: expertly and with tender care. The price of grooming ranges from $35 to $60 based on size, and first-timers get $5 off. They even do all the nasty dredge-work involving anal glands and ear canals. Plus the dogs get to hang out until you arrive to pick up yours — gleaming and wearing a complimentary bandana. And then when you walk down the street with Poochie, you won't send every passing pedestrian into a puking fit.
Just admit it: In terms of brutal regular chores, getting a haircut ranks somewhere between bathing your girlfriend's nearly rabid poodle and using that toothpick-looking thing on your clippers to clean out the months-old dirt rotting under your big toenail. There's the half-hour wait under fluorescent lights, reading vintage 1997 issues of People with Fran Drescher on the cover; there's the Michael Bolton blaring through the salon; and don't even mention the awkward forced conversation with Bruno the stylist. It doesn't have to be that way, friends. Carr's of South Beach, in fact, exists just to take you back to a time when gentlemen congregated in barbershops to relax. For a meager $25, Carr's merry staff cleans up your mop top; up it to $52.50, and they'll kick in an old-time, frothy foam shave. If you haven't seen Sweeney Todd too many times, Carr's also offers a straight-razor shave for $40. They even throw in a free beer or a top-shelf mixed drink to smooth the stay. At Carr's, haircutting is no chore at all.
Face it. You've been preparing for that milestone birthday by training for an Ironman Triathlon the past six months, but the new Lolita in your life remains unimpressed. Instead she has scrounged up some Viagra for the big occasion and made an appointment for you to visit her hair colorist, who she swears will knock off a decade from that graying mug. At first, you balk and bray, having tried all of those over-the-counter rinses and hair tonics that led to an allergic reaction that gave you boils and left your eyes swollen shut. After pointlessly protesting, you accompany her to the Color Head salon in Pinecrest, where Diana Paternina treats your lip fur and mane to a soothing organic henna wash for $40. Voila! It transforms you into a Burt Reynolds ringer. Then you pop the little blue pill and begin feeling like an '80s porn star again.
It's Friday after work and you've been so busy you failed to shop for "that dress" for "that special occasion." You have also failed to retouch your highlights, wax your eyebrows, and get your nails done. These epic failures have you scrambling last minute and so stressed out your nerves are begging for a drink. Ladies, this is your savior: RikRak is a salon, boutique, and bar all in one. You can buy a dress and shoes for the night, get your hair blown and styled ($85 and up), score a manicure ($20), and sip a glass of wine while you're at it. Didn't have time to eat dinner either? Don't fret, girl. The café offers smoothies and snacks, and if you're lucky, the now-famous Latin Burger and Taco Truck might be parked outside. We all know there's nothing sexier and ladylike than scarfing down a greasy burger after a fresh French mani. Only warning: Looking pretty might cost you a pretty penny.
A gun shop is just like a hair salon. Customers will always ask for the model they've just seen on their favorite celebrity. At Lou's Police Supply, they'll want the James Bond (a Heckler & Koch .45: $1,539) or the Jason Bourne (a Sig Sauer 9mm pistol: $759), and the armory is likely to have not just a couple lying around, but a dozen, and in different sizes and colors. Ask any heavy worth his damn where he got his piece, and he'll likely say Lou's, a mainstay in South Florida for nearly 60 years owned by former cop Lou Garcia. At 30,000 square feet, this Valhalla of firepower is as close as you can get here to Travis Bickle's fantasy playground. At least 100 customers, many of them police officers, walk through the Hialeah showroom every day, looking for everything from a cardboard shooting target or a bulletproof vest to a 13-inch Hisshou military fighting knife ($229). Now, for the gunslinger who can't afford the James Bond, or even the Gunsmoke, Lou's also carries 13 brands of used weapons starting at $200. And if that's unaffordable, stick to the store's free catalogue. The 72-pager is a regular Playboy for gun owners.
When Ralph Chaviano was a little kid, his father would bring home reams of copy machine paper from the office. Pops would go down to the basement of their Brooklyn brownstone and place the packaged stacks in neat piles on the concrete floor. Whenever Chaviano completed a chore or brought home good grades, his dad would hand him a ream so Ralphie could draw cartoon characters and other whimsical doodles for as long as he wanted. Some three decades later, Chaviano's nickname, "Image," rings throughout the 305. "I get satisfaction from people trusting me with their skin and letting me draw something on them that will last the rest of their lives," he says while etching a koi fish onto a customer's left bicep. The 35-year-old artist got his break seven years ago in New York's Greenwich Village, working for celebrity tattoo artist Jonathan Shaw. Two years ago, Chaviano opened his own shop in the City of Progress to be closer to his family. In that time, he's built a steady stream of local and national celebrity clientele such as rapper Fat Joe's protégé Pistol Pete and mixed martial arts brawler Rene "Level" Martinez. "Hialeah is my home," Chaviano says enthusiastically. "I get a lot of love in this city." A good-sized tattoo will run you $150 to $200.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®