Best Tennis Courts 2013 | Fairway Tennis Courts | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

Pop... hiss goes your racket as you return the ball to your opponent. Congrats. You brought the racket all the way back over your shoulder and finished the stroke — finally. Your tennis coach has been trying to get you to do that for months. You're no Sharapova, but you still play like hell. This isn't a court on Roland Garros French Open, but you'll be damned if Fairway Tennis Courts in Miami Beach won't be your point of starting to get there. These are clean, hard courts, newly paved and painted, and almost always available. Why? Because they're tucked away in Normandy Shores where no one seems to really know they exist. There's no cost to play either. Think of Fairway as a pristine, cost-free, hidden gem that may very well deliver you to a game at the ATP World Tour if you visit frequently enough.

The comfortable color ratio of white to blue here was awesome. Remember the day we were there in that banana-yellow kayak? We named her Leila? The temperature may have reached the high 80s, but who's counting? Our skin was sizzling. We splashed ourselves with saltwater. There was that part after the Kane Concourse bridge on 96th Street where the water's sheen blinded us through our sunglasses. We could've paddled Leila out into the sandbar in front of the kite park in Haulover. But it's so much more peaceful farther south. And it was easy to get there too. We followed Indian Creek all the way north and, when we reached 91st Street, hitched a left toward Indian Creek Lake. Ah, we were in love... So now that we've remembered all that, can you give me my damned kayak back? I know we've broken up, but that doesn't mean you have to hold onto my stuff, you bastard!

You'll really need your GPS for this one. There are no street numbers, and unless you've been introduced to this oasis of airboating, gator-watching, camping, and fishing somewhere in between the muddy outskirts of Miramar and Pembroke Pines by an avid nature lover or have driven down Krome Avenue, chances are you've never heard of this place. Once you've found the road, you'll still need to trek deeper through rocky roads and high grass to get to the actual camp. You'll know you've reached it when you find a wooden "Mack's Fish Camp" welcome sign and cabins, airboats, a stilt pavilion, fishing gear, and peeking gator heads. At this point, you'll start to wonder, "Where am I?" But when the sky starts turning shades of purple, orange, and blue and the sun fades onto the horizon, you'll realize there's no other place you'd rather be, even if you have no clue where the hell you are.

The paradise most tourists seek in Key West is actually on the way there. At the late Laura Quinn's Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center, native and migratory birds that have lost their way or gotten snagged on fish hooks are repaired and released. On a boardwalk and trail, you can walk among more than 400 species of avians, including pelicans, herons, hawks, ibises, owls, laughing gulls, and turkey vultures. For nearly 40 years, this nonprofit animal rescue has operated on monies donated by the kindest of strangers. And if you want, you can even become a volunteer. Think about it over a frosty pint of Sunset Ale at Mrs. Mac's Kitchen while you wait for a fresh order of Bahamian-style conch salad ($7.95) and a blackened dolphin sandwich ($9.95). Follow it up with a slice of homemade key lime pie ($4.95).

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®