Best Festival 2015 | Coconut Grove Arts Festival | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

The Coconut Grove Arts Festival has been a part of Grove culture for 52 years. Fifty-two. CGAF, as it is charmingly called, is beloved by Coconut Grove residents and tourists alike. The festival takes place every year in February, when it spills over McFarlane Road, South Bayshore Drive, and Pan American Drive. Bringing together all aspects of the arts — music, literature, artwork, handmade crafts, and even food — CGAF is designed to entertain all ages. And this past year, New Times organized the fest's music showcase, which, well, rocked. (We know, modesty is one of New Times' strong suits.) The dates for CGAF 2016 have already been announced: February 13, 14, and 15. Where else can you get so much entertainment for so little ($15 per day)?

Readers' choice: Art Basel Miami Beach

Best Reason to Stay in Miami for the Summer

Miami Spice

Miami summers are pretty disgusting. Walk outside from June to September and you instantly feel like some invisible giant dumped a damp, warm mop on your head. No amount of showering can rid you of the feeling that you're a sweaty, stinky mess. Then there's the constant threat of a killer hurricane that never comes — the tropical version of the Cold War. Miami turns into a no man's land, with only mad dogs and tourists going out in the scorching midday sun. There's only one thing to do: Seek shelter inside one of the Magic City's air-conditioned restaurants. Luckily, Miami Spice, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau's way of preventing a mass exodus to cooler destinations like Asheville (or Anchorage), is implemented, much like an emergency nonevacuation system. The program, which runs from August 1 through September 30, allows you to chow down on three-course lunches for $23 and dinners for $39 at some of Miami's schmanciest restaurants, such as Hakkasan, Azul, and the Cypress Room. These are places that cost hundreds of dollars for dinner any other time of the year, but you, a savvy yet broke gourmand, get to enjoy these top critics' picks for pennies on the dollar. Coupled with the fact that some of these restaurants are booked solid in season, this is one helluva deal. Wonder how you'll get through July? Just peruse the menus of the restaurants where you want to dine — in the comfort of your refrigerator.

"Irregardless," Aimee Carrero drawls, her head and torso wrapped in towels, her wrists covered in gaudy bracelets, her long nails lacquered, "I don't care." No sketch better encapsulates the stereotypical Miami girl. The proof is in the more than 2 million views Carrero and her crew earned for the equally brilliant video surrounding that sublime moment — the viral hit "Shit Miami Girls Say." That clip may have been most South Floridians' introduction to Carrero, a 26-year-old Dominican-born, Miami-raised actress, but she's spent the past two years proving that her chops go way beyond perfecting a Dade County accent. Carrero broke into the biz with guest spots on shows such as The Mentalist and Hannah Montana before turning heads with a four-episode run on arguably the best drama on TV these days, The Americans. Now she's poised to blow up. While doing a regular gig on ABC Family's Young & Hungry, she'll star alongside Vin Diesel in a popcorn-time, big-screen thriller later this summer, The Last Witch Hunter. And in 2016, she'll break barriers as the voice of Disney's first Hispanic princess on the TV show Elena of Avalor. You may not have joined the cult of Carrero yet, but it's basically inevitable.

Rapper Iggy Azalea may be Australian by birth, but when she moved to the States at the age of 16, she lived in Miami first. The Magic City influenced her Southern hip-hop sound, and ever since she rapped the lyrics "No money, no family. Sixteen in the middle of Miami," we've been claiming her as a local. Iggy made it big in 2014 when The New Classic climbed to the top of the charts. The album produced five hit singles and garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album, but the rapper has been a lightening rod of controversy. In a single year, Iggy has had beefs with Nicki Minaj, Snoop Dogg, and Madd Mary. Then there was the time when rapper Azealia Banks, herself no stranger to controversy, accused Iggy of appropriating black culture, a criticism that many music critics had already leveled at the white rapper's faux-accent and persistent unwillingness to acknowledge that rap was built on the experiences of impoverished minorities. But Iggy dug in her heels and insisted she's "the realest." If one thing got Azalea angry this year, it wasn't other rappers calling her out; it was Papa John's. On the heels of losing the Grammy, Iggy took to Twitter to blast the pizza chain for its business ethics and lack of respect for customers' personal information. Not long after, Iggy quit Twitter (but eventually returned). Despite her bumpy year, Iggy continues to churn out hits. That's because she's the "realest."

Usain Bolt better not look back — Jamal Walton is gaining on him. Walton, a 16-year-old who runs for the track club Miami Gardens Xpress, has broken Bolt's records in the 400-meter dash. A student at Saint Thomas Aquinas High, Walton is from the Cayman Islands and has already competed both nationally and internationally. He ran about 47 seconds to best Bolt's under-16 record at the CAC World Youth Championships in Mexico and the Jamaican champ's under-17 mark with a similar time at the CARIFTA Games. "He floats," says Xpress coach Darius Lawshea.

This Miami Dolphins linebacker may yet save his career. But after a third NFL substance-abuse violation, the University of Oregon grad was banned for the entire 2015 season. The Fins chose him third overall in 2013 and handed over to the Raiders the 12th and 42nd picks. What have the Dolphins gotten for it? Forty-six tackles, three sacks, and one start in two seasons.

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado's stentorian bass echoed from radios around Miami last summer. Speaking confidently in Spanish, the ex-radio journalist made a simple promise about a contentious upcoming vote on whether to let a developer erect a massive, paper-clip-shaped tower overlooking Biscayne Bay: "Taxpayers win without putting in a cent." The ads carried the day. Voters approved the tower, and then, in October, the truth emerged: Taxpayers would be putting in a lot more than a cent. In fact, they're on the hook for about $9 million in subsidies for the project. What gives, Tomás? The mayor quickly backtracked after the news broke: The subsidies would come from county taxes, he said, and he was never told that the developer had hit up the county for money. But then again, the city's mayor apparently never asked. That left him with only two options to explain to voters: Either he didn't understand a deal he backed in radio ads, or he lied.

Most politicians don't shine smack in the middle of a racist Twitter scandal. But then again, state Sen. Dwight Bullard isn't like most politicians. True, he was born into the political game — his father, Edward, was a state rep from 2000 to 2008, and his mother, Larcenia, served in the state house from 1999 to 2002 and then in the senate until 2012, when he won her seat. But Bullard has always been a blunt-speaking guy. That trait may come from his true profession: He's a no-nonsense teacher at Coral Reef Senior High School. That's why, when he ascended to the head of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party last year, he didn't tiptoe around his views on marijuana reform. He backed full-on legalization for recreational use. And in the session this year, he filed a bill that did just that. The GOP didn't let that legislation go anywhere, but Bullard played a leading role in the debate over faulty high-school testing reforms and in Ferguson protests in Miami. Then there was that racist tweet. It came from Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, who made fun of a typo in a Democratic lawsuit by suggesting Bullard and another veteran black senator, Arthenia Joyner, were to blame — even though many white senators played far more visible roles in the piece. Bullard responded to Gaetz's remark by calmly dismantling it: "Drafted by a former bar association Pres and civil rights icon," he tweeted, referring to Joyner, "and spell checked by a HS teacher #winning." Winning, indeed.

Miami has a constant supply of people scheming to gain money and social status at whatever cost. Most of them fail and go back to wherever they came from, but when they succeed, they almost certainly see their apocryphal accomplishment burn down in a blaze of shame. But few have as much gall as Haider Zafar. The man hustled three Miami Heat players out of hoards of cash and scammed the team into giving him a three-season luxury ticket package to Heat games worth $1 million. To pull off the scheme, Zafar posed as a member of a wealthy Pakistani family and cultivated connections with the Heat front office by pretending to be able to afford the pricey ticket package. He then used those connections to meet Mike Miller, James Jones, and Rashard Lewis. Zafar promised he would investment millions to support the players' business deals but said the money was tied up overseas. He also offered investment opportunities but gave the players only days to decide. He ended up bilking a combined $7.5 million out of the players, never invested money in the their businesses, and never paid for those tickets. He'll now spend the next six years not at Heat games but behind bars.

Journalists' inboxes are filled with generic news releases from faceless PR reps who couldn't give a damn about the city or what they're shilling. That isn't Jessica Wade Pfeffer. She doesn't rely on no-name emails BCC'ed to everyone in town. Pfeffer does the unthinkable: She reads reporters' stories and sends them descriptions of events they might actually be interested in covering. Her personal touch is a bit surprising in the era of carbon-copied emails, and that's likely why Pfeffer has been so successful, earning high-profile clients such as the Miami Dade College Miami International Film Festival, New World Symphony, and the Miami Dance Festival. Pfeffer is smart and enthusiastic about her clients — and it shows in her work.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®