Best Children's Store 2015 | Genius Jones | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

Putting a word like "genius" right there in the name of your shop is a bold maneuver, but for a decade, Genius Jones has been living up to its moniker by stocking products that make Miami parents' jaws drop in amazement. The philosophy at this Design District shop is that kids' products can be both functional and beautiful. Take, for instance, the sleek white "Elephant" crib ($718): This modern piece can be assembled in ten minutes (take that, IKEA!), and when you don't need it, it can be easily disassembled and stored in small spaces. When you stare at the strollers (which range from $470 to $,1399), you'll wonder when this high level of technology came to the baby genre. But don't quake at the learning curve, because the employees are experts when it comes to demonstrating how to use the gear. Genius Jones is also a great place to find out-of-the-box baby gifts such as onesies with slogans such as "my mommy has more tattoos than your mommy," and "#dontdropme," which cost $24 each. And though the goods are for children, adults will definitely have more fun shopping here. It's truly genius.

Photo courtesy of Joshua Ceballos

With 30 years of retail greatness, this family-owned-and-operated boutique is no secret. Yet there are still those among us in Miami who have never experienced the sheer bliss of finding the perfect retro bathing suit or vintage hat. At Miami Twice, you can feast your eyes on the fashionable finds from all the best-dressed eras the modern world has ever known. Why go to that '20s-themed party in a cheap, tacky flapper getup from a chain costume outlet when you can grab a fringed frock and elbow-length gloves that will last longer than that Halloween hangover? The best kind of costume is the one that doubles as actual streetwear, and we all know the '60s will never go out of style. If you're looking for something "now," the front of Miami Twice comes stocked with airy designs every lady should own. In the middle, you can find retro items — things that look old but are actually new — and the back holds all of the real vintage gems. We don't know who the connect is, but Miami Twice has the finest and most enviable collection of garments we've ever seen. Besides the clothes, there are sunglasses, accessories, purses, shoes, corsets, knickknacks, sewing machines, boas, scarves, and even vinyl records if you need some mood music to go with that magical gown. The quality of everything is outstanding, and there's a classic costume section for those looking for a more traditional Halloween feel. But we say go all out and do it right. This isn't Forever 21, so expect to pay realistic vintage prices. Fortunately, Miami Twice has a layaway program if your wallet screams at your costume's cost.

Don't be deceived by the small size of the Bazaar Project — this Design District boutique's inventory is huge and packed with treasures that'll make the perfect gift. Yeliz Titiz, the owner and designer of the jewelry line Sura (which is sold here), is an avid traveler with an eye for unique art, fashion, technology, and home items. You'll find plenty of evil-eye charms from her native Turkey, including a large glass aqua version ($62) that makes for a distinctive wall hanging. Decorative throw pillows by French artist Alexandre MS ($90 to $175) are a stunning combination of photography and interior design. He takes photos of various scenes of beaches, mountains, and other locales and then prints the images on pillows for a unique statement look. Whether your budget is $30 or $300, Titiz's globetrotting stash of curiosities ensures you won't leave empty-handed or disappointed.

Dadeland Mall

Even though it happened more than three decades ago, the sad truth is that far too many Miamians who aren't in the know hear "Dadeland Mall" and think of the infamous 1979 Cocaine Cowboys shootout in the food court. That's tragic, because these days, Dadeland Mall is one of the finest retail establishments not only in Miami-Dade but also in the nation. Get yourself lookin' fresh at the state's largest Macy's, grab some high-end electronics at the Apple or Microsoft store, and chow down at the Cheesecake Factory or the new Aoki Teppanyaki. In the newly completed south wing, a slew of fresh options includes Tesla Motors, Fit 2 Run, Porsche Design, Urban Outfitters, Bobby's Burger Palace, Aroma Espresso Bar, and the mall's latest edition, Texas de Brazil. There's luxury galore for the high-rollin' set and myriad mall favorites like Spencer's for the rest of us. With 166 stores and a constant rotation of special events, there's always something to see and do. Being a mall rat has never been better.

Readers' choice: Aventura Mall

Miami and Versace are as cosmically linked as any designer and any city on Earth. True, the label's founder, Gianni Versace, is Italian by birth. But it was Miami where he found his muse and made his legend with a beachside villa — and an infamous death at the hands of a serial killer on Ocean Drive. So it's no wonder that the outlet of Versace Home that opened in the Design District last year is the best embodiment of both the town and the designer: rich fabrics, gilded woods, ceramic leopards, and inconceivably elegant leather couches. It's as if a Jennifer Lopez red-carpet dress exploded and reformed itself into furniture. In short, it's the perfect Miami aesthetic, a deep commitment to classic gaudy that hints at self-awareness. The pieces are all so expensive that Versace Home doesn't even bother with price tags (if you have to ask the price, you can't afford it), but a trip to the store is worth an hour or so of your afternoon anyway. There's something sublime about ogling the furniture of the ultra-rich, and Versace Home is as escapist as it gets.

That gaping, empty space on the west side of your living room has been taunting you for months: "Fill me," it says. "Fill me." Don't panic. Even if you're light in the wallet, there's a place where you can peruse acres of Lucite coffee tables, fly '80s lamps, retro-chic couches, and every other home decor you can imagine — most of it priced under a couple hundred bucks. That's thanks to the good people at the Miami Jewish Health Systems Thrift Store (once known as the Douglas Gardens Thrift Store), a mainstay for five decades in Brownsville. Items are almost always in near-perfect condition, and delivery costs only a small fee. Plus, those dollars you drop are for a good cause: Profits go toward charitable missions at the Miami Jewish Health Systems.

Between Amazon undermining brick-and-mortar book shops and major chains like Borders giving up the ghost, you might be tempted to think the era of bookstores is behind us. You'd be wrong. Bookstores aren't dead. They just need a little tweaking. A greater sense of community, perhaps, and a lower price point — starting at free maybe? And hey, a few boozy beverages on the side couldn't hurt. That's the model of Bookleggers, a monthly get-together that gathers book lovers to swap their tomes in fun locations around Miami. Founder Nathaniel Sandler (an occasional New Times contributor) calls it a "community mobile library," offering one free book to first-timers. But any good dealer will tell you the first taste is always free; once hooked, voracious readers will return again and again with books from their own libraries to trade for new-to-them novels — or, failing that, with cold hard cash. (You can buy a book for $2 at any Bookleggers get-together.) Bookleggers pop-up locations are all part of the fun. Its second anniversary was a cultural affair at Downtown Art Space; bars such as Gramps and the Broken Shaker have hosted other appearances; and for the O, Miami festival this year, it set up shop at Collins Park so readers could bring their dogs along for the ride. Try having that much fun clicking around Amazon.

Readers' choice: Books & Books

Like other postal locations, the lines are long and the pens mysteriously disappear from the counters at the Miami Beach Post Office. But instead of having to endure petulant eye-rolling and foot-tapping in line, customers can enjoy awe-inspiring art deco design. The symmetrical, cylindrical structure and large, rectangular windows are characteristic of post-Depression-era style. Inside, the forest-green art on the ceiling makes everyone glance up upon arrival (don't trip on the inoperable fountain in the middle). Along the back wall that houses the P.O. boxes, three New Deal murals, painted by artist Charles Hardman in 1940, depict Spanish conquistadors like Ponce de León and de Soto fighting Floridian tribes. Yeah, you can get your stamps here, but this post office is more like a free museum than a government agency.

For most Miamians, photography has become synonymous with selfies. Aim, filter, upload, and — bam — you're a portrait-maker! But some people, like the staff at WorldWide Foto, still hold the art and practice of photography sacred. Open in Miami since 1978, WorldWide Foto is like taking a trip to those hallowed pre-Instagram days. The no-frills store is stocked with vintage cameras and digital devices, and it's a go-to for film enthusiasts. In fact, it's one of the very few places in Miami to buy different film for that Pentax or Yashica, plus developers, toners, fixers, and other supplies. If by chance WorldWide Foto doesn't carry a certain product, the knowledgeable staff goes above and beyond to find and order it for you. They can handle questions from experienced photographers, and although it's frequented by professionals, the company fosters photography interest at all skill levels with its friendly, welcoming attitude. If you don't know how to use that charger, filter, or even video tools, you can bring in your own equipment to ask questions. Unlike shopping online, WorldWide Foto allows you to try out its equipment before buying. And though you might get that film processed cheaper at a Walmart lab, places like those don't know squat about photography. Log off Instagram for a minute, grab that Nikon, and learn something about real photography at WorldWide Foto.

Courtesy of the Café at Books & Books

The hardest part about working from home is being stuck in the same residential box day in and day out. Sometimes you need to break free, but it's difficult to find the right spot to muscle through the day's to-dos. Coffee shops are full of overcaffeinated blabbers screaming into their cell phones, and restaurants do their best to hustle you away from your table to keep customers rolling in. At the newest outlet of the Café at Books & Books, situated amid the inspiring architecture of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, none of those concerns applies. It's a restaurant, true, but it's also a bookstore. Thinking, working, creating, and meeting like-minded individuals is encouraged and celebrated here. You can sit inside and enjoy the A/C, or head to the back patio for a table, some of which even have electrical sockets right next to them — score! If you get hungry, there's a great menu of food, teas, and coffees to keep you going through the hours. Need a break? Peruse the captivating literature selections, relax in a comfy chair, and waste a few hours in the latest Murakami. The good folks at Books & Books simply want you to enjoy the space, and that's something any laptop lackey can appreciate.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®