Best Cheap Thrill 2012 | Feeding the monkeys at Monkey Jungle | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

Everyone loves monkeys. Not those giant chimpanzees that come at you with teeth bared and rip your face off. We're talking those little squirrel monkeys with the tiny people hands and long fluffy tails. Sadly, between flinging feces and climbing on drapes, they don't make the best pets. Enter Monkey Jungle, where you're caged and the monkeys roam free. Really! As you stroll through a maze-like mesh-covered walkway, the monkeys surround you (hint: don't stand directly beneath one). They reach out their wee monkey hands and point to their mouths. You place some raisins in a metal cup (the gift shop just happens to sell raisins and peanuts — get the raisins) and — wow! — a clever primate pulls up the chain, grabs the raisins from the cup, and asks for more! You'll never tire of watching them nod their freakishly adorably humanoid heads in satisfaction upon eating dried fruit. Admission is $29.95 ($23.95 for children), but a Florida resident annual pass is only $39.95 ($29.95 for children). Considering how much time you'll spend staring at monkeys once you have one, that works out to pennies a day.

There's only one reason we admire drug dealers, Saudi princes, and Russian Internet billionaires: their choice of pets. While we're out walking the Chihuahua, they're hanging out with lions, tigers, and ligers. Sure, cleaning up after a 400-pound carnivore that could kill you with a swipe of its paw poses some unique challenges, but admit it: Hanging out with a tiger — even for a day — would be totally boss. Quit dreaming, put on your favorite red tracksuit and gold chains, and rent a tiger from the Zoological Wildlife Foundation. It's a private zoo that rents out all kinds of wild animals, from alligators to camels to leopards. The creatures come with their own handlers (who have, we assume, some kind of dart gun just in case). Prices vary by size of the animal — and how exotic (and dangerous) they are. And yes, there are cuddly tiger cubs as well as awesome full-grown specimens for rent. It just depends on whether you want to play nice or go for the full Tony Montana effect.

Dadeland Mall

Watching people is cool. Everyone does it, but because it's a mildly creepy activity, most do it in silence. That's why Dadeland Mall is perfect for the peepers. You can watch a flood of humanity to your heart's content with nearly perfect anonymity. At almost 1.5 million square feet, it's not the largest mall in Miami, but the sheer numbers of shoppers walking through the doors ensure the parade wandering past will be more diverse than the aliens hanging out at the Mos Eisley Cantina. Since President Obama just loosened travel restrictions for citizens of Brazil and China, expect to soon see an even more diverse crowd grasping at their slice of the American pie. The mall has several areas with comfy couches and chairs to kick back and watch the ebb and flow with a latte in hand. Just be sure to stay focused: Fall asleep on those couches, and security will have your ass.

Before drone strikes, cyber attacks, long-range missiles, and nuclear annihilation, wars were fought with cannonballs and other solid orbs of destruction. That mode of attack might help explain why more than 16 million bricks were used to build Fort Jefferson, and why the behemoth has never been completed. Construction of the "Guardian of the Gulf of Mexico" began in 1846; officials called it off in 1875 due to concerns that the sheer weight of all those bricks was too stressful for the tiny island and its water system, according to the National Park Service. Located about 70 miles west of Key West in Dry Tortugas National Park, the imposing structure is little more than a tropical ghost town these days. More than 160 years of storms and salty sea winds have taken their toll, but if you can get out to the small remote islands, you'll stroll around a one-of-a-kind artifact that would never be deemed feasible in these modern times.

Just north of the east-bound entrance to the Venetian Causeway is a living, lush example of urban planning at its finest. In the midst of towering condo high-rises, Margaret Pace Park is an eight-acre haven whose volleyball, tennis, and basketball courts; soccer fields; outdoor gym; running paths; covered playground; and eye-catching artistic elements stretch right out to an expanse of sparkling blue water. Load your basket with watermelon slices, sandwiches, and salads and take your pick of one of the handy picnic tables or a cozy plot on the grass. (Tip: Check your landing zone if you choose the latter option — some of the dog owners who frequent the park are less than considerate about poop scooping.) The on-site restrooms are easy to find and usually reasonably appointed. The only difficulty you might have is prying your kids' white-knuckled fists off the playground equipment when your alfresco dining is over. You might also find it hard to give up your noble status after you settle into one of the colorful mosaic "thrones" by the water. Don't forget to pack a Frisbee or football — there's plenty of field to spread out on, although chances are you'll have to share. There's always a lot of activity at this idyllic, eclectic city park.

In general, Florida's disdain for law and order can lead to some pretty scary chaos. (Just check out the assault weapon arsenal in the trunk of our Buick.) But sometimes Miami's libertarian tilt is refreshing. With few exceptions, you can pretty much let your dogs roam free in parks around the Magic City, even if it's technically illegal. And there is no greater little slice of dog heaven than Pinetree Park, a Miami Beach haven on Pinetree Drive just north of 44th Street. There are two fenced-in dog runs here, but why put Fido in a ghetto when the entire park is basically Lollapalooza for pooches? Just pick a park bench and let your dog do his thing with the butts and the sniffing and the lifting of the leg. Oh, and Pinetree ain't a bad place for humans either. It overlooks the water, and large trees make it shady and cool. Because the vast majority of dog owners in this part of town are vigilant about picking up poop, you can set down a picnic blanket without fear of finding an unwelcome surprise smashed on its underside.

Photo by osseous / Flickr

'Sup, humans. Princess the Chihuahua on the mike, here to represent the Haulover Dog Park. Yeah, you heard me. My name is Princess, mofos. You probably think that's real funny. But let me assure you that beneath the bling'ed-out collar and bows my caretakers insist I wear, I am one tough Miami bitch. Disrespect, and I'll cut you. Humans seem to think Haulover is just a hangout for naked people — which, dude, even I think human nudists are weirdos, and I am naked all the damn time. Anyway, in the dog world, Haulover is the hottest joint. The place is enormous, yo! I know Jack Russell puppies who can't run the whole way across it without panting. You've got your wet bar for dogs and humans, some picnic tables in the shade, and apart from that, it's just wide-open space. Haulover is separated into two fields, one for large pooches and one for small pups, but pretty much everyone hangs out in the big-dog section. Haulover Beach is open to canines and their humans on Saturday mornings. Man, you have not lived until you've faced the ocean head-on. I'm bein' straight here: I was born to run beside those waves. The smell of the seaweed, plus the smell of the saltwater, plus that wet-dog smell? When I turn in a circle and lie down for the last time, I hope that's where my soul goes. Whoa, man, that shit just got real.

Courtesy of Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department

Greens, fairways, sand traps, blah, blah, blah. The exact dips, bunkers, and hills vary from course to course, but for the most part, many golf courses look like pretty standard seas of grass. Of course you can get your club on at any of these spots, but for a golf course that's an experience all its own, you owe it to yourself to play the links at Crandon Golf, Key Biscayne's slightly wild island paradise. It's only ten minutes from downtown Miami, but it feels like you've ducked out of civilization, what with the mangroves, wildlife, and tropical foliage that define the course. The seventh hole is known as one of the "greatest holes in golf," demanding that you send a zinger careening over the bay. At the signature 18th hole, take a few moments to absorb the incredible view of downtown (slow-play rule be damned!). This course isn't for newbies, however. It's considered one of the most difficult (and beautiful) par 72s in the state. If you feel out of your league, you could always skip the game and simply admire the course while you chow down on some great empanadas at the Links Grill.

What's clean and green and makes you wanna club things really hard? No, it's not a wheatgrass shot infused with anabolic steroids. It's a great driving range, and the Miami Beach Golf Club has the best in the county. Conveniently located just a few blocks north of all the sunning, drinking, and dining that South Beach has to offer, this club is much more serene than the ones lining Washington Avenue. And no bouncers will hurriedly toss you into a rotten-smelling alley if you hit something. In fact, it's encouraged! But like other area clubs, this one has a strict dress code. No jeans are allowed, and collared shirts are required. If you're into grass, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are your days to boogie. If you don't mind mats, Monday through Thursday is for you. Just $12 buys you a big-ass basket of balls; $8 gets you a more modest share. And once you've worked on driving those miniature Epcot Center-look-alikes into the wild blue yonder, don't forget to fine-tune your game on the well-manicured putting green next to the range.

Take a cleansing breath, young disciple; you are among friends. Yogis and newbies alike will find a warm mat and a warmer welcome at YOGiiZA's Karma Yoga Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. Each week, gracious hosts Dawn and Mark Oliver invite tuned-in members of the community to their organic-clothing headquarters. There, open-hearted students benefit from a local instructor's karmic investment. A new class leader volunteers his or her time every week; past events have featured Arianne Traverso's AcroYoga, during which attendees learned to help their partners "fly" with grace, balance, and bone alignment, and Jennifer Pansa's Budokon Primary for advanced practitioners. Donations are welcome and, in the spirit of good karma, are often donated to animal sanctuaries or other charities. Guests are also encouraged to bring vegan or vegetarian dishes to share at the casual potluck and social, held Indian-style on the floor after class. Space is limited, so be sure to RSVP by emailing [email protected].

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®