Best Hotel 2013 | Biltmore Hotel | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

This place has it all: gargoyles, a haunted floor, and a room where a mobster murder allegedly took place. The enormous pool plays host to rows of beautiful Roman-style statues of women who look like the Venus herself. Access to the fitness center for those who have not booked a room costs $35 for the day, starting at 5 a.m. and continuing into the night. It includes access to the gym, sauna, showers, and lockers. More than 100 weddings are curated by the staff of the hotel every year. A stroll through the halls often yields at least one blushing bride posing for her bridal shoot. Some of the best-kept secrets of the legendary hotel are private poolside cabanas, finch cages scattered throughout the main lobby, a culinary academy, great mojitos, and high tea time, which is held during two seatings each day for the bargain price of $25. To truly capture the essence of the timeless establishment would take far more than a couple of hundred words. It is everything you don't expect from Miami but should.

Wood Tavern photo

Everything about Nordstrom is extravagant: A-list-celebrity-worthy designer shoes, Dolce & Gabbana handbags, a gourmet café, and marble floors all make you feel like a million bucks. So it's no surprise the restrooms are on par with the department store's opulence. The one that stands out is the ladies' room on the second floor. The exterior might look like a typical lavatory, but the interior lounge is, um, bursting with luxury. We're talking leather couches, wing chairs, a wooden center table, modern full-length mirrors, ceiling lights that cast a golden glow, and a subtle scent of floral freshness. This is what royalty must feel like every time they visit the loo.

It's easy to turn a blind eye to those Miamians who are struggling a bit more than the rest of us. But helping others is good for the soul, so get out of your brand-new condo and put some effort into helping those in need. After all, Miami isn't exactly known as a charitable city, so you should do your part to change that perception. A great place to offer help is at Overtown's Lotus House, where you can put in volunteer hours helping women who find themselves homeless due to domestic abuse, medical or mental illness, disability, or economics. The house, which is already receiving aid from titans like art collector Martin Margulies, offers these women and their children a much-needed oasis in Overtown, one of the city's poorest neighborhoods. You can also help by donating unwanted clothing or furniture or by simply shopping at the Lotus House Thrift Store in Wynwood. All proceeds from the store help fund the shelter and its services, which include health care, job training, counseling, education, and meals. What you get in return is the priceless feeling of charitable giving.

The Everglades is a dumping ground. Not just for garbage but for living things. People drive in and toss unfixed lab mixes, matted shih tzus, and fluffy puppies out of their cars and into the wild. Mother Nature is unkind to these pets. They're hit by cars, devoured by mosquitoes, infested with fatal heartworm infections. But the 100+ Abandoned Dogs of Everglades Florida cleans up the horrors that South Floridians leave behind. Its members trek through the sawgrass and concrete of Miami on regular rescue missions, armed with food, medical supplies, and crates. They deal with dead dogs, starving puppies, gruesome injuries — the worst scenes imaginable for animal lovers. But most important, they save lives. They scoop up the innocent pets that people throw away like so much trash and give them new life. They've rescued well over 700 dogs and more than 40 cats, all otherwise doomed to die. These are real-life animal heroes. Email them at [email protected].

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®