Adventure Scuba Diving
Ted Gawronski is a man of the sea. For years he raced powerboats up and down the East Coast. Then he settled in South Florida and now runs a place he calls "the only dive shop/dive charter facility on Miami Beach." The place has been around for 16 years and provides divers with two boats: the 36-foot Temptation and the six-pack Trident. Ted and his staff offer diving instruction as well as daily trips at 10 a.m., two trips a day on weekends, as well as night dives. They travel to some of the area's most exciting dive locations, including coral reefs, a sunken oil rig, and a variety of wrecks. Among them: the Andro, a 165-foot luxury yacht built in 1910, sunk in 1985, and ripped apart by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. And prices ain't half-bad. Boat trips go for $65, and tank rentals are a reasonable $10 each. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Pine Island Nursery
Can you name 32 varieties of avocado, 39 types of mango, and six different sapodillas? Heck, do you even know what a sapodilla is? The folks at Pine Island Nursery do, and after being in business for 35 years, they are not only knowledgeable enough to tell you all about each, but also savvy enough to send you home with your very own tropical fruit tree, starting at just $30. Find everything from abiu to white sapote — 70 products in all — at the 50-acre nursery, open year-round. With Pine Island's help, condo commandos can become fig farmers lickety-split, and single-family-homeowners can grow a garden of fruit salad ingredients that would make Martha Stewart jealous. The nursery's website even dispenses helpful advice, such as which variety of dragon fruit is best for garnishing a cocktail. Yep, this is our kind of nursery.
Explore Miami on a Vespa. For $75, Grow Verde will deliver an Italian scooter anywhere in the city, let you keep the thing for six hours, and pick it up when you're all scootered out. The price includes gas and insurance. But the most unique thing about Grow Verde is its Vespa-sharing program. Are you a recent college grad who can't afford ramen noodles let alone car payments? With a "Housemates" membership, you and your roomies can split a $99 annual fee and call/text Grow Verde whenever you need a scooter. They'll deliver the Vespa and charge you a discounted rate of $49.99 for the entire day, or just $7.50 an hour. There are also membership packages for families and businesses, as well as a presidential club for big-money ballers.
Want to roll like a real Miamian, or at least the kind who pops up in hip-hop videos and furthers the stereotype of a glamorous party city? Then you need to be riding, not rolling, and it has to be on the water like in that "I'm on a Boat" SNL short. Sunshine Boating Group can make your delusions of grandeur a reality. Join the likes of Kevin Garnett, Christian Slater, Mel B, Britney Spears, and Lil Wayne, who have all been spotted here. But you don't have to be an A-lister to rent a Sunshine boat. Show off for your in-laws and clients, if only for half a day. The Miami outfit specializes in powerboats longer than 45 feet — Sea Rays, Sunseekers, Azimuts, Lazzaras — and rental includes captain and crew, fuel, and dockage fees. Half-day (four-hour) rentals of 45- to 50-footers start at $1,500, and $2,500 to $3,000 gets you a boat for a full day (eight hours). Larger vessels for full days cost $3,500 to $5,500.
Soho Beach House
This private club, hotel, and spa is located on the historic site of the Sovereign Hotel, which was entirely redesigned and expanded to include a 16-story oceanfront tower. Soho Beach House includes 49 rooms, a screening snug, two pools, and a beach club, as well as an expansive Cowshed spa and a Cecconi's restaurant open to nonmembers. Since it opened last fall, Soho has become a favorite haunt for South Beach models, so the place is perfect for ogling the scene's freshest faces. The Polaroid photo booth is a big hit with the model crowd. Another great feature can be found on the eighth floor, where the library, private dining room, and plunge bar and terrace resemble a rustic wood-cabin getaway from the roaring '20s. The Cowshed spa features turn-of-the-20th-century barbershop chairs. Annual memberships range from $900 to $2,400. Even the kiddies have to pay — children's memberships cost $250.
Carefree Lifestyle
Miami is all about appearances. So when faced with the decision to (A) drive your 1989 Volvo to the club, (B) hail a taxi, or (C) rent a fully loaded stretch Escalade, you probably pick the last. That's because getting into a South Beach club is hard enough without the right connections, but pulling up to the joint in a fancy, chauffeured whip means you're probably important — either a celebrity or someone with a bunch of disposable income ready to burn Benjamins inside VIP without a worry in the world. Renting a limo is not only awesome but also practical, because nobody wants a DUI. Carefree Lifestyle understands and would much rather you drink and be driven than drink and drive. However, what really sets Carefree apart is that it also rents yachts, aircraft, and mansions. So if you want to take your party on the high seas, there's a 70-foot Azimut yacht ready to get wet and wild, or a 192-foot Islander complete with personal watercraft, scuba gear, kayaks — you name it — to enjoy.

Best Place to Buy Knickknacks for Your Cuban Grandma

China Cabinet

It can be tough shopping for abuela. You want to give her a superuseful blender or a collector's-edition box set of ¿Qué Pasa, U.S.A.?, but you know that, at the end of the day, she'll most appreciate a pastel figurine of a pigtailed girl under a parasol walking a poodle. So quit trolling the DVD section of El Dollarazo like a cheapskate and buy her a classy gift at China Cabinet, home of high-end porcelain figurines, vases, plates, and everything else glossy and sparkly that sits in a chinera. Originally a small store inside Miami International Mall in the '80s, it expanded more than ten years ago to become the grandmother of all gift shops, if your grandmother is the type to wear a silk bata de casa while sipping a cup of sidra in fine crystal and admiring a case full of Lladró, Lalique, Disney Classic, and Precious Moments statuettes. If that sounds like a missing-person description for half your family, trust us, this will become your one-stop shop.
Sure, Victoria's Armoire on Ponce is nice, but insiders know to walk straight past, across the alley, and through the doors of an unmarked entrance for more interior and outdoor pieces, especially because this location has an adjoining sale room. This monster showroom holds about ten times the amount of merch as the main space, plus there's a discounted area that contains amazing treasures. You'll find many natural-wood tables, chairs, bedroom sets, bookcases, and such, along with woven seating, giant framed mirrors, and cool artifacts. Some are scratch-and-dent, but most are just discontinued items they want to pull out of rotation. We once picked up a copy of a Jonathan Adler urchin vase for a dollar there. (The original sold for more than $50.) If you fall in love with something broken or slightly off, the in-house carpenter can fix it or refinish it for you. See? Deals can be had in the Gables.
CB2
In a city where your furniture options amount to superpricey Design District showrooms, unimaginative pieces at City Furniture or El Dorado, or cheap, user-assembled items from Ikea, CB2 is a godsend. The store is basically a younger, hipper version of Crate & Barrel geared toward 20- and 30-somethings without the funds but with the desire to decorate their dwellings in a more unique fashion. CB2 falls somewhere between Ikea and those high-end showrooms, with pieces affordable enough you feel like you're getting a bargain without the Chinese-made, assembly-required particle board. Best part is that despite its corporate parent's high visibility, CB2 has only nine locations in the United States and just one in Florida. So while all of your friends have Ikea's Lack coffee table, your living room will look a bit more one-of-a-kind, even if really isn't.
Bargain Barn Thrift Store
Do you know how expensive it is to furnish a house or apartment? First you get that nice couch from West Elm, then you add the dining set from CB2. Sure, maybe you settle for the build-it-yourself dresser from Ikea, but you just can't say no to that amazing desk from Luminaire. At the end of the designing day, you're talking thousands and thousands of dollars, at a time when some of us can barely afford a place. Luckily, Bargain Barn is a veritable treasure chest of used furniture. Even in-the-know interior designers shop here. The selection changes often, and items are usually priced to move — $15 will get you an end table. Sure, some things here might need a fresh coat of paint or a deep cleaning, but in the end it's worth it. Plus all the proceeds go to the Miami Rescue Mission, so you'll feel extra good about saving money.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®