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!"

In any neighborhood, there's always that one badass cat that's either missing a tail, has a sixth claw, or rocks some gnarly battle scar that attests to a defining life experience. That cat — everyone knows — owns the hood. So on Calle Ocho, it's best to afford the same respect to El Gato Tuerto: the "one-eyed cat" in Spanish. While it's not clear whether the eponymous feline lost its eye in a street brawl or from tainted moonshine, its compromised depth perception surely complicates driving. So, in good faith, the kind folks managing the store offer a booze-delivery service for a small fee. If you've had too much to operate heavy machinery and you want more alcohol, they understand that's up to you. They're happy to keep you safely off the streets and the liquors flowing into the wee hours. Open until 1 a.m. daily, they've curated a nice supply of crème liqueurs, craft beers, and plenty of rum for any budget — whether you're a strapped, ramen-noodle-eating college student or some bourgie accountant in a thousand-dollar suit.

The most common modus operandi for intoxication in Miami may be molly and hard liquor, but there are still those who'd rather take their time and enjoy their drink. There's scarcely a brew or barreled concoction better suited for the task than a nice bottle of vino. If you're the type who likes to peruse a sizable cellar of wall-to-wall wine in search of the perfect vintage, Old Vines Wine & Spirits is a place you need to visit. The owner of this wine store, Alejandro, has made a name for himself as a friendly and exceedingly knowledgeable connoisseur and purveyor of fine wines. The selection in his store ranges from $8 to $255 (for a bottle of Tempranillo) from various vintages and wineries and every other variation of fermented grape you could hope to find. Old Vines specializes in Spanish wine, but its selection is nothing shy of replete with international flavors, from Argentina to Australia and Sonoma to South Africa. Let the kids have their molly. Get high on grapes and let Alejandro be your dealer.

Little Havana Cigar Factory is a good place not only to buy a cigar but also to smoke one. Sure, the cigar might technically be imported from the Dominican Republic thanks to that pesky embargo. But considering it's rolled in-house by a Cuban expert and situated across the street from the old men playing dominos at Máximo Gómez Park on Calle Ocho, it's as close to a Cuban cigar as those jerks in Washington will allow. With its front door slightly ajar, the aroma of artisanal cigars will lure you into the polished-wood store. Sit on the leather sofa, enjoy a complimentary cafecito, and let the upbeat Caribbean tunes transport you across the Florida Straits. The shop carries a wide range of brands — from rare breeds such as Padron Family Reserve No. 45 Naturals at $263 for a box of ten, to a lower-key package of Camacho Criollo Figurados for $135 — and also sells pipes, humidors, and cutters, along with books, paintings, and port wine to lavishly complete any man cave. But considering the perfect tobacco-soaked vibe right here on Calle Ocho, the folks at Little Havana Cigar Factory can't promise you'll ever want to leave.

ABC Costume Shop
Photo by Kristin Bjornsen

Have any friends worth having? Chances are a costume party invitation is headed your way soon — and not necessarily around Halloween. Of course if it's off season, you might have to get crafty with your getup. No, put away the bad pun generator. No one wants to see you with People magazine pages stapled to your clothes as you try to explain you're a "man with issues." (Groan!) Let ABC Costumes help. Whether you want to transform into a pirate or a princess, an alien invader or a futuristic space warrior, these guys have got your back. Maybe you just want to show up at the next Lady Gaga concert dressed like Mother Monster, or perhaps there's a kid's birthday party in need of a beloved superhero or fun-loving clown. You can rent any costume in the store or buy one to keep forever. Rental periods are three days and two nights, or you can extend your rental for 50 percent additional charges per week. Each look offers high-quality realness for about $75 to $200, and the shop is stocked with all manner of wigs, accessories, and makeup effects. DIY is great, but sometimes you need a professional.

OK, there's technically another station about half a block south, but for the sake of all things sacred and guacamole (this nomination comes with an appetizer of nacho cheese), consider this the real last stop before entering Everglades National Park. You'll need to gas up anyway before heading down the 40-mile road that leads to Flamingo, so you might as well do it here. Pro tip: Get a café con leche at the Valero and drink it with your meal next door at Taqueria Morelia. No one there will mind. As for the food, you can't go wrong with any of the tacos ($2.15 each), although the best bets are the suadero, al pastor, and lengua. If you're in the mood for something hardier, check out the alambres: heaping plates of melted cheese, bell peppers, Mexican sausage, onion, and bacon that are served with corn or flour tortillas ($7.95 for one person, $13.95 for two). Don't forget to load up on tiny cups of heaven at the salsa bar and grab some extra diced onions and jalapeños there for your campfire cooking later on. Oh, and gas. You should definitely get gas.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®