Best Weekend Getaway 2015 | Bimini via the Bimini SuperFast | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

Politicians love to mention the mere 90-mile distance between Florida and Cuba. But there's another, lesser-known island neighbor that lies even closer to our shores: the Bahamian isle of Bimini. Once a sleepy fishing community, it now boasts a full-service resort with a casino, megamarina, and Hilton hotel — all just 53 miles away. If you're getting there via the Bimini SuperFast — billed as "the fastest cruise ship in the Americas" — it'll take you two to three hours. And in that time (a little more than half what it takes to get to popular road-trip destinations like Key West and Orlando), you can test your luck at the casino with table games and slots, dig into a meal at any of its six restaurants, and get drunk enough to dance to live bands. Embrace the vibe! You'll be rewarded with a weekend of lounging in infinity pools, snorkeling through turquoise waters, and generally living the Bahamian dream — all for a fraction of the cost of flying to any other nearby island.

If you grew up going to Walt Disney World, that Swiss Family Robinson attraction had a powerful effect. There's something about a treehouse that's magical, reminiscent of the years when your vivid imagination made everything seem possible. At Little Haiti's Earth 'n' Us Farm, you can hide out from the soul-sucking daily grind and take to the trees. One of Miami's most precious hidden gems, it includes a community of peace-loving, plant-eating residents. There's an organic garden, a cadre of rescued animals, and a genuine treehouse, available for rent via The arboreal abode sits on the third level of a pithecellobium tree. It's accessible via a narrow staircase to the sky. With mosquito netting over the bed, fans instead of A/C, and the pleasant sounds of farm life below, it's like escaping to the Amazon. There's even an outdoor shower and an open-air community kitchen, so you can leave Patrick Bateman at the office and embrace your inner Tarzan. Plus, it costs only $65 a night (with a two-night minimum stay), so frequent escapes are affordable.

Dog owners love to brag about how often they take their babies to the park. Though that canine activity is certainly important, we all know the real reason to go to dog parks: It wears your beast the hell out. The consistent pool of playmates at Blanche Park ensures your dog will be maniacally happy, full of energy, and ready to collapse in the car. A small fenced-in area in Coconut Grove, it is a nice respite from other doggie hangouts. While not as expansive as say, Tropical Park's Bark Park, Blanche has a tidier setup. The water station is easily accessible, the waste posts and garbage cans are plentiful, and the Astroturf foundation guarantees a cleaner dog on the way home. Some pups may prefer real grass for all that rolling around, but at least there's no risk of your dog going puddle diving here. Miami's regular downpours ensure that every other park in town gets a good helping of mud. Additionally, this park gets weekly cleanings and is restocked with tennis balls for those fetching types. Adding to Blanche's appeal is its people-friendly atmosphere. There are plenty of benches, shaded tables for groups, and generally sociable crowds. If you're the solitary type, Blanche might take some getting used to — these folks love to talk about their dogs.

Paddle through the mangroves out to Biscayne Bay and you'll enjoy a wonderland of sea life, weekend boating weirdness, and tiny islands where you can stop and take a dip. You'll see the scenic side of Florida International University's north campus and impressive sailboats moored, waiting for big wind. But rather than go solo, try one of the Blue Moon Outdoor Center's social kayak tours. You can enjoy sangria before sunset and then kayak under the stars on the Oleta River ($50 per person). Alternatively, on full-moon nights, these tours depart later in the evening — kayak for an hour to a private beach, roast marshmallows, and even sing around a bonfire ($50 per person). If you aren't looking to meet strangers but still want to kayak in a pack, you and your friends can schedule a private guided 1.5-hour inside-the-park beginner tour ($75 per person) that touches on local history as well as the park's fish and other animal species. Finally, the Blue Marlin Fish House Tour ($75 per person) begins with a ride through the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and Oleta River, continues along a 4.5-mile trip, and ends with a delicious lunch at the restaurant. The Blue Moon Outdoor Center is open seven days a week.

In this city of snarled traffic, high-rise apartment towers, and around-the-clock hustle, it can be difficult to find peace. Luckily, there are still at least a few green patches, like E.G. Sewell Park. The ten-acre Little Havana public nature park, named for an early-20th-century Miami businessman and mayor, is hidden so well even many longtime residents don't know it's there, tucked along the shore of the Miami River to the west of NW 17th Avenue. If you have little ones to look after, the park has an upper section with a playground and benches. If you're pining for something scenic, the lower section sits on the waterfront, the perfect hideaway in which to lounge on a warm afternoon. At Sewell, amid the chirping birds and soft river breeze, you'll forget you're only minutes from a traffic jam. Take a picnic and spread out on an expanse of some of the greenest grass in Miami, stroll under the soaring palms, and watch the boats glide by on their way out to sea. But most of all, relax — this is Miami, after all.

Jessica Gibbs

It was only a few years ago that Museum Park — the place formerly known as Bicentennial Park — was a collection of patchy sod and urine-soaked dirt. But thanks to the opening of Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) and the impending opening of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, the park received a much-needed face-lift. You'll find some of the greenest grass in the city center and ample walkways that hug the edge of the park and give you a clear view of Government Cut and PortMiami. But don't stare at the bay too long. There's plenty to see around the park: Joggers, pet owners, museumgoers, and downtown residents take advantage of the green space. Unlike at the much busier Bayfront Park a couple of blocks away, here you can easily lose yourself in thought as you watch people stretch their limbs before they go for a run. You'll see French bulldogs chase balls and well-heeled ladies emerge from PAMM to take in the view. On a crisp Miami day, you can easily hang out at Museum Park for hours. When the temperature rises, take a seat on PAMM's veranda as the breeze blows in from the bay and the overhang shields you from the sun.

Readers' choice: Lincoln Road

Trump National Doral is unlike any other exclusive 18-hole course in the Magic City. It's the home of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship. That, of course, takes place on the 7,000-plus-yard Blue Monster, which was inaugurated in 1962 and was recently renovated by Gil Hanse, the architect who designed the 2016 Olympic golf course in Brazil. But you don't have to be a professional golfer to join in the action. There are three other courses to choose from, including the Gold Palm, for all levels of putt-putt players; the Red Tiger, where most corporate tournaments go down; and the Silver Fox, which offers three of the toughest starting holes in the sport. Membership levels range from corporate to junior (for golfers 35 and younger) to social to full golf. They include access to the clubhouse, the resort spa, tennis courts, and Royal Palms pools. Depending upon which category you purchase, you may also receive a WGC-Cadillac Championship package. Joining the club isn't cheap, but what else would you expect from one of the globe's most powerful entrepreneurs?

Finding affordable parking — heck, any parking — in Miami Beach is a strategic and risky game. The goal is to optimize price, location, and availability, which alone would be difficult — even if you didn't have to try your damnedest not to run over jaywalking tourists. Next time you're circling around South Beach, distressed by this eternal quest, consider the following rules: ( 1) Stick to City of Miami Beach parking (lest you get hustled by an independent lot with a history of towing problems, or fork over a flat rate that'll cost you more than your dinner). (2) Shoot for a spot near Lincoln Road. Anything near SoFi will already be taken. Sorry. (3) Try the Pennsylvania Avenue Garage. Everyone knows about the 17th Street Garage — the behemoth across from the Miami Beach Convention Center — but few people realize that the adjacent Pennsylvania Avenue Garage, a fraction of the size, is much better. When it's a big holiday or festival weekend and Ol' Faithful is somehow already full (all 1,460 spots — we will never understand it), turn onto Pennsylvania Avenue and continue straight past gluten-free haven Oolite. Then make a left onto Lincoln Lane North (the alleyway behind Lincoln Road). To your left, directly across from H&M, you'll find the easily obscured but oh-so-magical word: "entrance." Tons of the 550 parking spaces are almost guaranteed to be open because few people realize that the 17th Street Garage's scaled-down, younger cousin is even there. The cost for parking is $1 an hour for the first six hours, which is a miracle in South Beach. And the location is perfect if you're catching a performance at the Fillmore or New World Center. It's also within walking distance of anywhere else between Alton Road and Collins Avenue you might wish to go. You can even walk to Ocean Drive to enjoy a giant frozen margarita.

Hialeah is more than agua, fango y factoría. In fact, the City of Progress is home to 515 acres of the great outdoors. From extreme watersports to mountain biking to a petting zoo, there's never a shortage of things to do at Amelia Earhart Park. For adrenaline junkies, there's the Miami Watersports Complex. Located on the park's 90-acre freshwater lake, MWC offers all sorts of wakeboarding, water-skiing, and kneeboarding. On a not-so-intense level, el parque also has less extreme water attractions like paddle boats and lush biking trails for beginner, intermediate, and advanced riders. Animal lovers can feed goats and pet cows at the Bill Graham Farm Village and even take a hayride. With pony rides and the slides, swings, and balance beams at Tom Sawyer's Play Island, kids can run around for hours and burn off their energy until it's time to grab a soda from the general store across the Farm Village. There are even two giant hills that provide a bird's-eye view of Hialeah. With all of that nature, you might forget you're in La Ciudad Que Progresa.

Readers' choice: Oleta River State Park

The history of the swimming pool dates to the third millennium B.C., when the Great Bath was built in what would become Pakistan. Since then, pool technology has improved greatly thanks to breakthroughs like chlorine, filters, water jets, and pool skimmers. But perhaps the peak of pool technology is the lazy river. The history of the lazy river is sadly underdocumented, so we don't know who to credit with its invention. All we can do to honor that legacy is, well, sit in giant tubes as jets propel us along manmade rivers at leisurely speeds. Luckily, we can do that at McDonald Water Park in Hialeah. The oblong loop traverses the northern end of the park, and riders pass lovely palm trees and under walking bridges and arches. For the laziest among us, that will be enough. But the park also features a wave pool and splash pond for those who have not reached maximum amounts of chill. Admission costs $10 for adults and $7 for children; Hialeah residents get in for $5 (adults) and $3 (children).

Readers' choice: Venetian Pool

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®