Matheson Hammock Park
Photo by Chris Garcia / Courtesy of the GMCVB – MiamiandBeaches.com
There's nothing more important to Miami's ecology than mangroves. These swampy forests provide nutrients to depleted waters, cover for endangered critters, and even build land. But unless you fish, it's hard to get up close and personal with mangroves. That's why the next time you take to the pavement for a jog, head to Matheson Hammock. This 351-acre park, located just off Old Cutler Road and adjacent to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, has a path that takes you through some of the deepest mangrove brush in the city. You can see, smell, and feel nature in the subtropics. The park is more than just mangroves, though; the trail proceeds through a picturesque picnic area complete with lakes and old coral rock shelters, and on to Matheson Hammock's atoll pool on Biscayne Bay. The path wends around the pool, which looks more like a beachfront lake filled with seawater (also an underrated sunbathing spot sans pretense), past a marina, by a boat ramp, and even alongside the best kite-surfing spot in Miami. If you feel overheated during your jog, cool off with a dip in the bay or pool, or hop into one of the public showers. There's also a concession stand. Don't forget to bring bug spray, or be prepared to run really fast, because mangroves are breeding grounds for skeeters. Parking at Matheson's entrance is free but costs $5 next to the atoll pool. Park hours are sunrise to sunset.
The more polite sectors of society might frown upon alcohol consumption before 5 p.m. But what if you combine it with physical exercise and an essentially green activity? That kind of virtuousness cancels out the points you lose for the day-drinking, right? Good thing we have the Beer Snob Bicycle Pub Crawl, an occasional Saturday group ride, usually through South Beach and downtown, that cancels out the perils of drinking and mass commuting in one fell swoop. Join your fellow two-wheeled warriors from the afternoon to early evening for a tour of fine establishments that are not only bike-friendly but also wallet-friendly. Stops on the circuit have included sudsy SoBe staples such as Zeke's Roadhouse on Lincoln — where everything is $4! — and the Abbey, as well as newcomers on the mainland, including the DRB, Elwood's Pub, and the Filling Station. Zip past all the car-driving losers burning gas, stuck in traffic, and blowing money on parking, and use the cash you save for an extra brew. And hey, let's be real — there's a lot less of a chance of getting a pesky DUI. Still, the organizers of this informal jaunt would rather the complete scofflaws stay at home. If you want to get down on this ride, you'll have to drink responsibly, bring a bike light, and obey all traffic laws — this isn't Critical Mass, so there's no corking of traffic. Other than that, sip and enjoy. Check the Miami Bike Scene blog for upcoming dates.
Miami has plenty of glitzy, high-end strip clubs where your clique can celebrate a buddy's birthday in style, but Secrets is where you go when you want to fly solo and down-low. Even the sign outside admonishes patrons: "Shhh!" Inside, it looks like one of those seedy, shady strip bars in a movie — you know, the one where the bad guys make deals and good guys unintentionally make trouble. As you get your bearings in the dark, smoky room, you're transported back to a time when strip clubs were relegated to operating outside the city limits and patrons were still ashamed to be seen in them. The girls are friendly and happy for the business; the drinks and lap dances are cheap. After a bad day at work or a fight with your significant other, you can sit at one of the worn-out tables while flinging dollar bills and knocking back shots on autopilot (without worrying about your upcoming bar tab or unbearable boss).
For many years here at New Times, this award has been like Donald Trump's hair to a barber: We had absolutely no idea what to do with it. Dwyane Wade was clearly the best player, but we didn't want to keep naming him every year. So we gave the award to beacons of mediocrity such as Mario Chalmers and Michael Beasley, and quietly melted in shame. But last summer (cue Michael Bay movie music, sounds of explosions, footage of thousands of panicked people fleeing on foot as the Cleveland skyline burns behind them), everything changed for the Miami Heat. The team was no longer a one-pony trick. It was a three-horse carriage of flames, hurtling toward Hades with a maniacally laughing Pat Riley riding bareback while holding aloft the severed head of that sorry Zen hippie Phil Jackson. Which is to say this award is suddenly relevant — and thought-provoking — again. We're giving LeBron the trophy (editor's note: there is no trophy) because he's half-gladiator, half-Greek god, half-lion, and 100 percent magnificent, arrogant, supernaturally talented asshole. Of course, now that both Wade and James have been named, we're worried about who'll get the award next year. Bosh? Is that a Dutch bath product?
Churchill's Pub
Alexander Oliva
There's so much naked flesh out on Miami streets that it takes more than just pasties, boas, and fishnets to get us excited about a burlesque troupe. Enter Hellion Burlesque with its riot grrrl aesthetic, perverse sense of humor, and capsules full of fake blood. Dancers Hellion, Ginger Bardot, and Betty Pickle might look like typical burlesquers thanks to their pin-up-girl good looks, but their routines are anything but. First, consider their range: They sashay seductively to classics, such as Edith Piaf's "La Vie en Rose," and to darker fare, such as Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus." Next, note their tricks: Pickle has been known to swallow a three-foot balloon. Then there's the blood. Their rendition of Eyes Wide Shut ended with the trio squirting blood, we hope fake, onto the pale chest of a fellow dancer. The experimental troupe performs regularly at Churchill's Pub — as if any other venue could handle their deliciously grotesque burlesque.
For old-school queens, the art of drag is all about female impersonation, but for a new breed of queens, all of those wigs, cosmetics, and sparkly costumes are meant less to signify feigned femininity than to celebrate a vision of pure fabulosity. We're talking glitter-bitch incarnate, honey. Take, for example, Leslie Quick, the alter ego of actor Danny Santa Cruz. Quick is one of the few queens in South Beach you might actually spot without a wig — or at least a full one. But even if she is proudly displaying a bald head, Quick isn't slow to accentuate with LCD-nightmare-hued makeup, rhinestones, and all sorts of imaginative getups. Quick might be bending gender in a new way, but she's not above the sacred drag tradition of paying homage to the strong female singers. She took her show "The Same Mobster" — yes, a tribute to a certain fame monster — on a tour of Miami clubs last summer.
The Awarehouse
On this night, you decide you're tired of the bright gallery lights, the soulless corridors of corporate event spaces, and the stale cigarette-scented couches of megaclubs. You go in search of the rabbit hole — a place where art freaks can wander aimlessly through a maze of exhibits, indie-electro fans can bang heads to the beat all night long in a warehouse garage, and New York City transplants can collapse on beanbags in a 10,000-square-foot garden to watch video projections like they're at a Central Park concert. You drink the magic potion and realize that Wonderland is really Wynwood and that the Mad Hatter tea party could take place only at Awarehouse. You quickly make friends with past partiers: electronic-norteño accordion players from Tijuana's Nortec Collective, funk-heavy hip-hoppers from N.E.R.D., American Apparel enthusiasts freaking over a rummage sale, and a plethora of experimental painters and photographers who love to watch disco lights roam over their canvases. Eventually you'll pine for the real world once again. But tonight you'll happily settle for life through the looking glass.
Two of Miami's finest art stars, Jen Stark and Alvaro Ilizarbe, both listed as Miami New Times' 100 Creatives, aren't just a couple of the most talented folks in town. They're also delightfully pleasant party guests. What makes someone a great shindig attendee? Let's look at the qualifications through Jen and Alvaro: (1) Sometimes when people are good, they think they're too good for other people. This is never the case with these two. They're never grouchy and always stop to say hello. (2) They always seem like they're enjoying themselves. There's never a moment when one is weeping in the corner while the other is punching someone in the head. (3) They're the first ones dancing. This is Miami, and you better get on the floor and move when you're tardy to the party. (4) At theme parties, Jen and Alvaro always dress to impress. One Halloween they arrived as dead surfers, complete with detailed makeup of exposed intestines. A sense of humor and a sense of fun — this pair will always bring these essential elements to your big bash.
Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre
Photo by Diego Pocovi
At just more than three hours long, Tracy Letts's Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning August: Osage County is ferocious playwriting at its best. Elaborate and epic in its operatic scope, the emotionally charged and darkly funny play puts family psychodrama center stage. As a result, the unflinching view of a dysfunctional family forced to deal with some thorny baggage packs a palpable punch. It boasted an outstanding cast and a mercurial performance by Annette Miller, who portrayed family matriarch Violet. Comedy and tragedy are present here in all of their forms, and Letts's characters are both complex and provocative. Actors' Playhouse pulled it off flawlessly. It's the kind of play that breathes new life into the Miami theater scene.
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Alliance Theatre Lab has quietly garnered a reputation for showcasing rising local talent — not only actors but also playwrights. In a hilarious, irreverent, and sentimental look at family, friendship, and the abandoned challenges of growing up, Brothers Beckett furthered that trend. Written and starring New World School of the Arts graduate and Alliance Lab Theatre alumnus David Sirois, Brothers Beckett laced sharp banter with the dark and sardonic humor that recalls classic sitcoms such as Seinfeld and The Odd Couple. Kevin and Brad Beckett are brothers, roommates, and best pals. But when Yale grad Kevin decides to propose to his longtime, long-distance girlfriend, jobless slacker Brad's world gets turned upside down. Just before Kevin's girl arrives for a weeklong visit, Brad does everything possible to prevent his brother from moving out of their bachelor pad and upsetting the order of things. It's a simple plot with a familiar outcome, but the blend of wit and heart shows us a glimpse of a bright future for Sirois and Alliance Theatre.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®