One of the greatest joys of running in Miami is experiencing the astounding natural beauty. It inspires you run a little faster or farther. If speed in a wonderland is what you're after, Brickell Key is hard to beat. The jogging trail surrounding the southern island runs about a mile, and each step of the way, you look over fabulous bay views and extravagant yachts. If you're lucky, you'll glance a dolphin or manatee. The smell of salt and the aroma of flowers wafting in the breeze is a lot nicer than the smog of traffic across the bridge. It's an especially welcome respite during the summer. At least half the time, you'll be in the shade. After your jog, there are juice bars and restaurants — even spas if you want to treat yourself. But getting the blood pumping in a place as serene and scenic as this is good enough on its own.

Wake up early on a Saturday. Load your Schwinn with a water bottle onto the car. Then head south. Park at Larry & Penny Thompson Park, just south of Zoo Miami. Opened in late 2012, this paved path hugging the Black Creek Canal begins at SW 137th Avenue amid empty fields, winds through subdivisions, and crosses South Dixie Highway. After nearly seven miles, you'll pass one of the county's largest landfills. Not sold? Well, surprisingly, you don't even notice the landfill on this path. The breeze generally blows away the smell, and the view of water and trees is breathtaking. There's no traffic, and the pedaling is smooth. Along the way, you'll spot bright birds and ducks, maybe an iguana or two basking in the sun. The 8.5-mile route finishes at Black Point Park & Marina, on Biscayne Bay, where there's a good chance you'll spot manatees. Even if you don't, you can still grab a great burger or fresh seafood at Black Point Ocean Grill. After this ride, you'll be hungry — and you'll never look at this little section of Miami-Dade the same way again.

miamidade.gov/parks

Palm Island Park

Thousands of Miamians drive past them every day. Almost nobody knows they're there. The tennis courts at Palm Island Park, three hard courts with lights, are just a stone's throw from the MacArthur Causeway but a world away from the big city. Tucked into a quiet residential neighborhood, the park is lush with mature green palms and a well-kept lawn. Just a few feet from the north bank of courts lies that famous Miami blue — Biscayne Bay. Best of all, the tennis at Palm Island is 100 percent free. Just don't be surprised if you have to wait a few minutes during peak hours. Miami's best-kept tennis secret isn't totally secret, after all.

Readers' choice: Crandon Park Tennis Center

The fields are neat and the ambience is friendly, but Wynwood Soccer on NW Fifth Avenue at 22nd Street, also offers a rare gritty charm. Bright-green turf abuts walls filled with colorful street art. Nearby open space affords urban twilight vistas. For the moment, the surroundings are still more industrial than industrial-chic, but within a few years, to be sure, Wynwood Soccer will have new, more upscale neighbors — designer retailers, slick galleries, and brunch spots. These fields, two outdoor and one indoor, offer a great chance to visit a still-open pocket of a fast-changing neighborhood. The facility, opened last year by a group of Colombians and Venezuelans, also offers summer camps and match screenings. Whether you're a soccer fan or not, check out the only local fútbol facility in the shadow of I-95. Wynwood Soccer, true to its neighborhood, is cultivating something cool. It's open weekdays from 4 to 11 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Outdoor fields cost $100 per hour; indoor, $80 per hour.

Readers' choice: Kendall Soccer Park

Buckle those seat belts, kids, we're going for a drive. No, not to Chuck E. Cheese's. Your father still hasn't recovered from that last bout of salmonella. We're off to see Miami in all its glory. There was a time, you know, when we were so segmented, when all the crazy parts of this town rubbed right up against each other. That's why we're cruising onto NW North River Drive — in just one mile, we'll see many pieces of this town. You kids listening? Stop hitting your sister! Look, there's the first piece: As we pass under I-95, notice the colony of homeless folks living alongside the Miami River. Yes, it is sad, but it's part of life here, kids. Now we're headed north: Look to the left — it's the beating, blue-collar heart of our seafood business. At Garcia's and Casablanca fish markets, you can get the catch of the day right off the boat. Speaking of which, take a gander at the river out there — drink in that mix of rusted-out trawlers, net-choked fishing boats, and barges trucking by. That's some legit old-school Miami, kids! But that's not it. Pay attention as we round that curve. See all the Bentleys and Beemers waiting for the valet? It's Seaspice, the swankiest spot in town. Yep, those are big boats out there, son; those are megayachts. And there you have it, kiddos — Miami and all its weirdness in one easy drive. OK, OK, we're hungry too. No, we can't afford Seaspice. Let's bust a U-turn and get some conch fritters at Garcia's.

They say life is a series of checks and balances and that nothing is perfect. The price we pay to live in a world-class tourist destination with a growing population is traffic — lots of it. Sometimes the car you love turns into a hellish prison. Even that borrowed Porsche Cayenne can become a gilded cage of doom. Of all the twisted highways and byways, there is no piece of asphalt more maddening in Miami than the stretch of South Dixie Highway from the end of I-95 to SW 27th Avenue, the entryway to Coconut Grove. Or should we just call it the gateway to Hell? You swoop down off the interstate and then, abruptly, come to a complete standstill. It doesn't matter what day or time. You're not going anywhere. This stretch of road that should take, oh, five minutes to traverse, can take a half-hour, 45 minutes, six months? And that's on a good day. Just try this route on a festival day (and there are oh so many festivals in Coconut Grove) or when it rains, and you're in for a world of hurt. Why is this road worse than every other in Miami? It could be the confusion that occurs when the interstate just ends. It could be that it seems like the only route to all points south like the Grove, Coral Gables, and South Miami. Mix in bad drivers, lost tourists, and a heavily populated residential area, and you have the road to perdition. So you have a choice to make: Never, ever go south of Brickell again (which sucks when you want a burger from Shake Shack), or simply avoid South Dixie Highway and take SW Eighth Street west to 27th Avenue and hang a left. You'll thank us for the tip.

Miami Beach Edition
Courtesy of Purple PR

Walking through the main entrance, you're instantly hit with all-white everything: from the marble floors to the couches to the reception desk to the random pool table in the center of the lobby. The decor is reminiscent of Miami Vice mixed with a bit of Kanye West — but somehow it works. Once you're whisked up the elevator, you arrive in a hall of plush carpet and rows of doors, one leading to your personal restful paradise. The guest rooms are every bit as sleek as the lobby. Then there's the dining and entertainment. The Matador Room serves delicious lunch and dinner, and if you don't want to venture off the property to find some fun, a bowling alley and a posh nightclub are on the premises. It's safe to say the Miami Beach Edition oozes with Miami essence (yes, that's a thing). Rates vary by day and season, but you can find a room for about $400 per night.

Readers' choice: Fontainebleau Miami Beach

Kendall Ice Arena

Thanks to a million and one romantic comedies, ice skating holds a special place in popular culture. From Blades of Glory to Serendipity, countless flicks have immortalized the frosty charm of a skating rink and the weirdly aesthetic appeal of a lumbering Zamboni. Sadly, Miami doesn't have a Rockefeller Center, a frozen pond, or even a college ice hockey rink. It does, however, have Kendall Ice Arena. The neighborhood rink, a local fixture since 2000, offers open skating every night (hours vary), so you can bring a Tinder match anytime for a charming yet dirt-cheap date. Admission usually runs $8, plus $3 for skate rental, which is less than a drink at most Miami Beach bars. If you head there Friday or Saturday night when the DJ is spinning, you'll be transported back to your teenage years. Just be sure to dress for 2015, not 1997, or the tween mob may chase you back to Contempo Casual where you belong.

Homestead-Miami Speedway

Dreaming of winning the lottery and buying that yellow Lamborghini parked outside the club? Thinking of renting one and tooling through Miami Beach? What good is 510 horsepower on Ocean Drive when your Toyota Yaris can't even reach its full potential there? So try this: Take a Lambo for a test-drive on the track at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Certain days, the 1.6-mile professional track is open for amateurs to take their dream cars out for a spin. For about what you'd spend on bottle service at Mansion ($549), Miami Exotic Auto Racing will let you take a Lamborghini Gallardo out for six laps. Lambos not your thing? There are also Ferraris and Audis. Before you get behind the wheel, you'll be given instruction; taken out for a lap with an instructor, who will go over all 11 turns and two straightaways; and be fitted with safety gear. Then she's all yours. It's just you and her V10 engine doing zero to 60 in four seconds. Just try to keep your Yaris in second gear on the way home, OK?

miamiexoticautoracing.com

Miami isn't an easy place to raise kids. Although the city is lovely, the club scene ain't family-friendly. Yet you must keep your kids entertained or they'll turn into screaming balls of terror in your house. That's where Miami Children's Museum comes in handy. The museum has a wide array of permanent exhibitions meant to spark curiosity and instill a lifelong love of learning. Interactive exhibits include a child-size supermarket, a cruise ship, a climbing wall, and even a music studio for your budding American Idol. And if that isn't enough to keep a tiny person entertained, he or she can learn to swab the decks at the museum's Pirate Island exhibition, on view through September 6. Miami Children's Museum wears them out, engages their imagination, and gives you that smugly superior feeling that all parents crave. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. General admission is $18, Florida residents pay $14, and museum members, military personnel and veterans, and children under 1 get in free.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®