Best Gay Bookstore 2012 | Lambda Passages | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

Inside just about any gay bookstore, you'll find a little porn. OK, maybe more than a little porn. Maybe a decent selection of porn. Fine, a lot of porn. Tons and tons of porn. Lambda Passages has got your porn; in fact, half the store is dedicated to video rental. But y'know what else it's got? Cookbooks. In its used-books section, you can pick up a few recipes from somebody's mom's gently worn kitchen guide. You can browse a selection of novels too, some of which might count as porn of the literary variety, and others so tame you don't even need to take them home in a brown paper bag. And if you swing by Lambda in search of a gift for that very special someone, you won't have to hit up Hallmark afterward; there's also a selection of snarky, gay-friendly greeting cards. Even the porn selection at Lambda is shockingly refined; amid modern skin mags, you'll find vintage issues of Playgirl and Playboy. Turns out Lambda's moderately sketchy location, right between the Wonderland strip club and the Jamboree Lounge on Biscayne Boulevard, belies its refined interior. This is a place for gay people who love sex, sure. But it's also a place where you can appreciate other stuff too.

Never let it be said that Miami is not a trendsetter. Well before pop-up restaurants and pop-up bars exploded in popularity, Miami began hosting a pop-up of its own: the Friends of the Library Annual Book Sale, which has been springing up during the holiday shopping rush for the past 11 years. For most of the year, the downtown branch of the Miami-Dade Public Library System is just an average city hub for book lending and covert napping. But for five days of every year, usually in early December, it transforms into this city's best bookstore. Tens of thousands of books, CDs, and DVDs are available for purchase, making it one of the largest book sales in South Florida. The prices reflect some killer discounts, so you can justify fleshing out your home library as well as picking up a couple of titles to wrap up as holiday gifts. And your friends and family won't be the only ones who'll benefit — sales proceeds go toward funding the library's cultural and literary programs. So when you buy a book to read, you're also helping others do the same. It's hard to get that warm, fuzzy feeling from downloading an e-book to your Kindle.

We don't know about you, but we take our personal safety rather seriously. We wear a helmet when we Segway to work in the morning, swaddle our children in cheesecloth and bubble wrap — holes for eyes, nose, and mouth, of course — and are terrified by revolving doors. So when it comes to exploring the mysterious, gaping maw of the Atlantic Ocean, we refuse to let some slack-jawed scuba instructor hold our life in his Corona-swilling hands. We shell out for the best, and the best in this case is Grove Scuba. Co-owner Bill Lamp'l is the only person in Miami who can actually train you to become a dive instructor. He's also an underwater photography fiend. Grove Scuba is a bit pricier than some other dive shops around town, but it makes up for the expense with cheap underwater camera rentals and a mind-blowing 57 dive locations in Miami and Key Largo. They include dozens of wrecks, reefs, and a statue of Jesus. Open-water scuba certification costs $475, but dive novices can try a two-dive intro course for $195. If you decide to get certified, those dives count toward it.

It's hard to pin down this joint's business model, where everything is painted garishly and music — often gangsta rap — blasts loudly enough to be heard down the block. It's as if the unique and wonderful brain of its proprietor, Ron Cater, exploded in store form. He sells skateboards and parts, including ornate and hypercolored models from skate companies such as Zero, Black Label, and Dogtown. There are new and used bicycles, especially awesome-looking, tricked-out, neon-painted fixed-gears. Then, near the back of the store, there's his Halloween costume collection. He specializes in creepy stuff. And don't forget the glass cabinet full of intense knives and swords. Cater sells everything at a reasonable price and fixes bikes and skateboards for much less than your average repair spot. He's the best part of the business — a Jheri-curled, lean white dude who will bombard you with shit talk while he fixes your flat tire for $8. Maybe Cater's business model is simply revenge. He says he opened Team Iguana Sports to terrorize his enemy, who owns the more corporate bicycle shop across the street.

Surfers are pretty loyal to their gear shops. They also like to keep those places a secret from kooks like you. So if you're a noob to hitting the glassy breaks of Miami's beaches, you'll want to find a place that appeals to your inner Johnny Utah no matter your skill level. Island Water Sports has been a South Florida fixture since 1981, and it caters to all kinds of surfers — the vets, the amateurs, and even paddle boarders and wake boarders (sorry, goat boaters, you'll have to get your kayaking gear someplace else). They have a crapload of every kind of product you'll need, like surf boards made by Channel Island and Aloha, to name a couple. They carry wetsuits from O'Neill, Quicksilver, and Rip Curl, and stock a myriad of Gorilla Grip, X-Trak, and other accessories. Pretty much whatever you need, they sell. Best of all, they have a killer staff waiting to answer any and all questions about the beautiful art of surfing. Need a tip on when and where to catch the best waves in town? They'll tell you. Because unlike condescending, snobby surf shops around town that cater to only "their own kind," the dudes at Island Water Sports actually give a crap about their customers and will steer you in the right direction with their friendly, knowledgeable advice. Then you'll be ready to play hooky from your office job, and when the boss asks if you did anything productive, you can answer, "I caught my first tube today, sir."

Attention, Magic City men: It's time to stop wearing ill-fitting suits. Your crotch should not get lost in a sea of fabric, but it also shouldn't be so tight that we can tell if you're circumcised. No, gentlemen, it's time to slap down some cash for a suit that every man should have in his closet — a real man's answer to the little black dress. Yes, you'll have to spend some serious money if you want a properly fitted suit, but it will be worth it once the ladies see you in it. Duncan Quinn's Miami outpost, located on the ground floor of the Moore Building, started out as an Art Basel pop-up in 2009. However, when Basel left, Quinn stayed. Now the store is one of three in the States (the others are located in New York City and Los Angeles). Store employees reflect the Duncan Quinn style — edgy "GQ meets rock 'n' roll"-style suits and accessories. Shirts, jeans, ties, and cuff links are available, but the real treat are the bespoke suits. Items range from $100 for a T-shirt to $5,000 for a custom-made suit. But rest assured, everything here is either designed or handpicked by the store's namesake himself.

The northwest section of Miami-Dade County, bounded by the Palmetto Expressway, Florida's Turnpike, and Interstate 75, is an urban cyclist's paradise. From Palm Springs North to Doral, you can cover 20-plus miles of rugged terrain that takes you through a suburban utopia, a concrete jungle of industrial warehouses, and patches of sensitive wetlands overflowing with melaleuca and palm trees. The die-hard riders who tackle these roads rely on the services of GM Bikes to keep their spokes well lubed and in tip-top condition. You can trust head bike mechanic Yulien Rodriguez and his crew to provide topnotch service, whether it's fixing a simple flat tire or a complete overhaul of your two-wheeler. The prices are reasonable. A new tire runs less than $30, and a tune-up is $45. Shop owner Isabel Rodriguez makes sure GM is always stocked with top-of-the line cruisers and road and mountain bikes from Giant, Fuji, Jamis, Intense MTB, and Felt, to name a few. Prices for a new cycle range from $200 to $5,000. The staff takes the time to make sure customers find a bicycle that fits their needs. And once you've purchased a new bike or fixed up your old one, join the GM folks for their weekly Saturday-morning runs to Dolphin Mall, one of the more adventurous tours in Miami-Dade.

We have a rule when choosing where to shop: If we can buy a product from an Eastern European man named Walter, that's where we go. We buy our loaves of bread from a Slovenian baker named Walter. Our pirated channels come from a Ukrainian cable guy named Walter. See the tile in our kitchen? The guy who laid it goes by Wally. We think he's from Poland. Anyway, when it came time to buy a scooter — the need hits you upon acceptance that you're never getting that promotion to Chicago so you might as well wear only shorts, learn what the hell jai-alai is, and commute on a little two-wheeled apparatus powered by a blender motor — we snubbed the purveyors of brand-new Vespas. We want a cheap and enjoyable way to flit around town, not a second mortgage. So we found Astro Scooters, where the brusque, grizzled Walter Presic showed us a neat lineup of mopeds. Their prices range from $400 to $600 — a big money saver considering they get more than 100 miles to the gallon. If your moped breaks, Walter shows up at your door with a toolbox. Oh, by the way: Unrelated to his scooter business, Walter rents tools, which is the most old-school business since, like, renting leaches. Like we said: Eastern European dudes named Walter. They'll never fail ya.

Got a quinceañera coming up? Junior's senior prom is just around the corner? Or perhaps you're forming a posse to celebrate your last night in single's land? Best let Ocean Drive Limo get you to the banquet hall or strip club in one piece while you get your crunk on. Since 1995, company CEO Richard Bennetti has been piloting limousines for every type of baller. Whether you prefer a sleek Mercedes-Benz S550 or a 24-person party mobile, Ocean Drive Limo is the place for chauffeured rides around the Magic City. The company's celebrity clientele includes Kim Kardashian and the cast of The Real Housewives of Miami, and it's the exclusive limo service of Barton G. Prices start at $90 an hour for a minimum three-hour rental for a basic limo. But we advise splurging on the Ford F-650. We're talking about a 300-horsepower steel mammoth that is a roving version of LIV nightclub. It boasts a stargazer ceiling, two laser lights, and aircraft light tubes to go along with a fully stocked bar. When you roll up in this beast, everyone will know you're a bigger Bawse than Rick Ross.

Courtesy of The Collection

Stressful credit checks, pushy salesmen — buying a car ain't fun. Unless you're flush enough to make your purchases at the Collection, that is. Located in a gorgeous Spanish Revival building on the corner of Ponce de Leon Boulevard and Bird Road, this Merrick Park institution has been supplying South Florida's exotic-car market with some much-needed class for 30 years. You can find everything short of a Lamborghini or Bugatti here — Ferraris, Maseratis, Aston Martins, Porsches, Jaguars. The Collection's brand-new McLaren showroom — South Florida's first, and one of only ten in North America — even has a Formula One vehicle on display, should you be in the market for a spur-of-the-moment racecar purchase. And with a Ferrari boutique that sells watches, shoes, and T-shirts branded with the Italian carmaker's trademark horse, the Collection is open to daydreamers too. Unlike most dealerships that cater to a wealthy clientele, the Collection has salesmen who won't treat you like a chump if you tell them you're just looking.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®