The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach
Photo by Dan Forer / Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton South Beach

You've had a long workweek — hell, it's been a long month. A relaxing cup of chamomile tea with honey won't cut it. It's time for the nuclear option for tense muscles. Pull out that red telephone and dial the emergency code. At the other end is the Spa at the Ritz-Carlton. From the moment you walk in, your soul will be soothed. The employees speak in soft, hushed voices just above the enchanting melodies echoing throughout the spa. In the locker room, you'll slide into a plush robe with that fierce — yet calming — Ritz lion embroidery. In the steam room or the sauna, your tense tendons will melt away while you wait for your soon-to-be-best-friend masseuse. Once those magical fingers do the tango all over your back, shoulders, neck, legs, thighs, feet, and hands, you'll be liquid. They offer various massage packages, but the most basic 50-minute deep-tissue massage starts at $165. The nuclear option ain't cheap, but damned if it's not effective.

The Standard Spa, Miami Beach
Adrian Gaut/The Standard Spa

Despite the fact that our grandparents still call it that "hippie human-porcupine stuff," Miami has bought into acupuncture big time. But even for true believers, steady hands and expertise are all-important when it comes to letting a stranger stick a bunch of needles in our skin. That's why it's so great that Lori Bell, a doctor of Chinese medicine and a Miami Beach native, brings 23 years of experience and a gentle, intuitive approach to each session. Bell's practice, which includes a gig as the in-house acupuncturist at the Standard Spa, is a mixture of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and astrology. When you walk in for a session, Bell will study you intently — from your walk to your facial expressions to your breathing. She's looking for clues into any hidden ailments and into your natural responses. She'll probe your energy levels, sleeping habits, and diet and then skillfully insert needles along your neck, back, and legs. Novice or not, don't worry: You'll hardly feel the tiny pinpricks, while a slight heat applied to your back and the sounds of rain and wind in your headphones will send you into a lovely doze. Don't tell Grandma, but you'll even feel a little stoned by the end. A 75-minute consultation comes to $165. For an extra pick-me-up, try the B-12 boost ($25).

Toute Division Botanica & Masonic
Photo by Jacob Katel

Vodou, the native religion of Haiti, has gotten quite a bad rap in popular culture thanks to Hollywood movies. But pay a visit to a legit Little Haiti botanica — Toute Division — and you just might find you like this religious practice. Vodou, built at the nexus of ancient African and Catholic rites, is really a study in the power of intent, the subconscious mind, and that which lies beyond it. Whether you're interested in an out-of-body experience or looking to build your first altar, the double-wide opening to this spiritual oasis is a portal into the next dimension. One second you're on 54th Street in the city of Miami; the next you're deep in the heart of the island jungle. But instead of tall trees and dense foliage, you're surrounded by statues great and small, racks of potions, and more powders, elixirs, and accoutrements of faith than you can count with your third eye open. The artistry of these stunning visuals are beyond belief, and the handcrafted, hand-carved, and handmade items for sale pay tribute to Jesus, Guedes, Loas, and whatever else your heart desires. The friendly proprietors will happily guide your purchase and seem to know the contents of your soul as soon as you enter their domain. Whether you seek to honor a guardian or are looking for a means to manifest fortune, fame, or love, Toute Division is the botanica that's ready to shift your thinking about the Caribbean's spiritual lifeblood.

Love hurts — but that doesn't mean it has to remain painful. Just ask psychic Nicole, who for the past 25 years has built a practice on helping customers suffering from heartache. Her spiritual counseling and love spells are designed to strengthen relationships and ease weary souls. From her charming midtown shop, nestled next to an arepa emporium and neighborhood barbershop, Nicole dispenses advice on not only intimate matters but also business and money problems, health concerns, and negative influences that sully the spirit and mind. The spiritual healer immediately sets you at ease with her warmth and attention and also offers services including palm and tarot card readings, past life regression, aura cleansing, and chakra balancing. Skeptical? Just dial Nicole for a $25 tarot card reading or one free question answered by phone for first-time callers. Prices for services vary, and you'll also discover plenty of crystals, candles, and other items at her shop to soothe your mind and body, not to mention heal that wounded heart.

There's only so much time on the same old treadmill a human being can take. At some point, the soul must rebel and head to Legacy Fit in Wynwood, where owner Manning Sumner will get you looking and feeling your best with a holistic approach. Sumner's core philosophy, "No Days Off," is an 84-day fitness road map with a no-nonsense approach to getting you in shape. A monthly group class training membership will set you back $150, or you can pay as you go for $20 per class. His "boot camp," meanwhile, will push you to your limits with a mixed schedule of sprinting, long-distance treks, and weight training. His gym even offers a pro-athlete fitness package, NFL off-season training sessions, and a wellness program designed specifically for flexibility. If all of that sounds a little intimidating, Legacy Fit is not only for the jacked-up meat heads of Dade County. Sumner's commitment to the underlying philosophy behind lifelong fitness — rather than the all-too-common Miami focus on looking hot in the mirror while doing squats — means everyone is welcome. Turn off that treadmill and run to Legacy instead.

You. This is a short story about you. You stand before the mirror and look at yourself in the buff. Where once a pale-skinned sack the color of aged notebook paper stood, now you find a glowing being bronzed for the gods. Your skin is the hue of the buttery leather of an Italian sports car. There's nary a tan line in sight. You are sun-kissed in places you didn't even know existed. Yes, you. You have gone to Miami Tan. Sure, you weren't quite impressed with the name, but once inside, you found a tidy salon with a friendly staff. There's never much of a wait for beds, and the bulbs always glow like they are brand-new. You purchased the teeth-whitening kit that activates in the UV bed as well. Your teeth are now lighter than your skin was. You have achieved optimum color all over your body. A basic bed costs just $9 plus tax (and packages start at $40), so you're still rolling in cash. You are perfect. You are invincible. No one will ever be able to hurt you ever again. Nothing stands in your way. All of your wildest dreams will come true. You will become known throughout the world, and when you die, bronze sculptures will be erected in every town square across the globe. You are bronze now, and you will be bronze forevermore. OK, maybe those last few parts are a bit much, but that is a nice tan.

Big Wash

Girl, I was straight tripping. I thought my man was cheating on me. His clothes always smelled fresh as hell — like springtime or something. His shirts were actually ironed. He wasn't wearing his socks three days in a row anymore. I'd go over to his place on a Wednesday, we'd dirty up those sheets, and I'd come back Friday and they'd be superclean. I knew his mama moved to Cape Coral to be with that new man of hers. I was about ready to call him out, like, "You gotta new side chick? Huh? Who's this lady doing your laundry all the time?!" I was getting all paranoid. So one night I followed him. Turns out he's just been hanging out at Big Wash. I know! A laundromat! But they've got a pool table in there! A video jukebox and videogames too! No wonder my man is there all the time. It's a good thing they have so many washers and dryers that you don't have to wait long for open ones, or else he'd find even more time to hang around in there.

Daddy's Cash, Inc.

Past the Cannondales and the cameras and the single Vespa that's for sale at this Wynwood pawnshop, you'll spot an object you can't find anywhere else in Miami. Actually, you probably won't notice it. "No one's asked about this since we got it a year ago," sales specialist Jonathan explains. "We used to keep buying it from this one lady to help her out, but she would always come back for it. I guess she fell on some hard times, and it's been here ever since." The object in question is a mask that looks straight out of a horror-movie costumer's closet. Although it's made of real (presumably) animal bone, it's not in the shape of any creature known to man. There are two giant eyeholes, a pair of ears, and a triangular pattern on its face. "What'll you give us for it?" Jonathan asks. "We're not even trying to make any money off it at this point." Everything else in the shop is competitively priced (a Cannondale will set you back $1,299, a 4G MacBook Pro runs $799, and that lone Vespa is tagged at $2,300). But there's no price tag on the art piece — just a great explanation for its being there. The pawnshop brokers were just trying to be nice. Imagine that.

Lock & Load
Kristin Bjornsen

If you are between the ages of 10 and 110 and are not pregnant, drunk, high, or chewing gum, you'll be welcome at Lock & Load, where both beginning and experienced shooters can giddily squeeze off rounds from a fine selection of 25 firearms, including fully automatic assault rifles such as the Colt M4 Commando, submachine guns like Israel Military Industries' Uzi, semiauto shotguns such as the Saiga-12, and handguns like the Glock 34. Conveniently (and somewhat curiously) located in Wynwood, this sleek, 14,000-square-foot range is open to members, regulars, walk-ins, and even hipsters. As general manager and former Miami Beach cop Mike Pryor likes to say: "Shoot first, and visit the galleries and restaurants later." (There's also a VIP room that can be booked for your bachelor and bachelorette parties, private shindigs, corporate events, and b-day bashes!) Signature packages include the $82.50, three-weapon "Cadet" combo for preteen enthusiasts; the $179, four-weapon "Scarface" bundle deal; and the $545, ten-weapon "Automatic Gratification" machine-gun experience. Oh, and a final tip from the pros: Avoid flip-flops and tank tops, cool kids. There's gonna be tons of hot brass flying 'round.

The floors are tiled. The walls are wood-paneled. And there are many maroon doors, all numbered, from 1 to 10. These could be the basement offices of part-time faculty members at some community college. But what's up with all that moaning? Is it the audible expression of higher minds at work? The sound of curious human creatures plunging for knowledge? Well, sorta. It's porn. This is Adult Video World. And these rooms are 50-cent-per-minute "private viewing booths," where self-educated professors of the pornographic arts are carefully analyzing 60 channels' worth of cinematic smut, refreshed on a weekly basis as part of this institution's ongoing "XXX video arcade" program. Of course, if one prefers to pursue his or her masturbatory endeavors in the comfort of a home study, AVW also boasts a library of 6,000 DVDs, catalogued according to genre — from young or old to chunky, lesbian, and classic — all available "for rental and sale at great prices!"

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®