They came by the dozens March 1. They rode $5,000 titanium road bikes and rusted beach cruisers, über-hip monochrome fixies and rented Citi Bikes. And huge grins crept across their faces as they pedaled past the bayfront and — at last — back onto the gently arcing bridge that marks the eastern boundary of the famed Venetian Causeway. For nearly a year, the historic link between South Beach and downtown Miami had been closed while crews worked to repair a decaying bridge, leaving cyclists with a Sophie's choice of dodging high-speed traffic along the MacArthur and Julia Tuttle causeways if they wanted to make the journey. But now the Venetian is back, and so is the crown jewel of Miami bike routes. A fully marked, separated bike lane takes cyclists through the mansion-studded Venetian Isles, past turquoise waters and gleaming yachts. Whatever kind of bike you're rocking, it's worth hopping onto and cruising across the Venetian. And enjoy it while you can — it will close this fall for several more weeks of repairs. And enjoy it while you can — it will close this fall for several more weeks of repairs.

Changes in Miami's landscape are often dramatic. Lincoln Road was once a slum. Wynwood was neglected and crime-infested. And Northeast 79th Street at the northern edge of the MiMo District was a derelict stretch of blighted buildings. Lincoln Road is well on its path toward becoming the next Bal Harbour, and Wynwood is a global hipster enclave, but 79th Street's rejuvenation has been quieter and more remarkable. Beginning at the former immigration building on Biscayne Boulevard at NE 79th Street, where a 324-unit development including a hotel is underway, and continuing to the glorious JFK Causeway, which spans the bay, a line of restaurants and bars has recently sprung up like sprouts in spring. The old dependable is Boteco, a delightful Brazilian joint where you can get some feijoada and dance the samba. The old dependables are Boteco, a delightful Brazilian joint where you can get some feijoada and dance the samba, and Mina's Mediterraneo, a classic Middle Eastern place that has a great brunch and live music too. Then there's Tap 79, where the beer is fresh and exotic. A new bar, the Anderson — run by the mad geniuses behind the Broken Shaker — slings first-class cocktails. Then there's Marky's Gourmet/The Russian Store, where you can get everything from chocolate to fine caviar, and Schnitzel Haus, the kitschiest spot in town for a legit German meal and a towering glass of Hefeweizen. After eating, head across the bridge to Pelican Harbor, where you can boat or just live the nautical life.

Unless you're willing to fork over heaps of cash to a valet attendant, parking in Mid-Beach is a Category 5 headache. Thanks to the combination of hot spots like the Fontainebleau, Soho Beach House, and the Confidante, a rush of cars always seems to be hunting for an elusive street parking space. Snagging one in the dead-end roads east of Collins Avenue feels like winning the parking Powerball. When you tire of driving in circles, make the wise choice and take a left to Charles Garage at 43rd Street and Collins Avenue. It's definitely not the cheapest parking — the first hour costs six bucks — but it almost always has spots because everyone tearing along the curve to Indian Creek Drive tends to forget it's there. Except for busy weeks like Art Basel or New Year's Eve — which are times when you should avoid driving on the Beach anyway — you can always save yourself some driving pain by pulling inside. And just in case you're thirsty on your way out, the parking attendant sells refreshments in addition to collecting your parking fee.

Joan, an instructor at Corpo Yoga Studio, is a goddess. Her hair color seems to change every week. Most recently, it was cotton-candy pink, an ode to her heart chakra, no doubt. During class, she listens to everyone's bodies, adjusting each sequence to whatever she feels is necessary in the room. None of those bodies should be too stressed by the price of her class — a drop-in costs just $20 at Corpo, and a 20-class package is available for just under $300. Sometimes Joan leads impromptu headstand sessions, where students partner up and take turns trying to achieve the illustrious pose. While some yogis might be severe in their asceticism, Joan encourages laughter. Falling and disruption are just as essential as meditative silence, she insists. Acceptance is key. As everyone lies in shavasana, Joan circulates like a peaceful fairy, dabbing temples and foreheads with light lavender oil, awakening third eyes and emanating clarity.

Readers' choice: Hot Yoga House Miami

Crandon Park Tennis Center
Photo by Richard Cavalleri /

Sorry to break it to you, fanboy, but it's highly unlikely you'll ever shoot on the same basket Dwyane Wade has dunked on or throw a football on the same field where Tom Brady once scored a touchdown. But in Miami, you can actually practice your backhand on the very same courts where Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic have played. For two star-studded weeks every year, the best tennis players on Earth descend upon Crandon Tennis Center on Key Biscayne for the Miami Open. But for the other 50 weeks, the same courts where pros vie for million-dollar prizes are open to any hacker with a racquet and the $7-to-$13-per-hour the courts cost to rent. There are 26 hard courts, including eight with lights. There are also six clay courts, two of which are red European clay, as well as two grass courts if you want to pretend you're at Wimbledon. Though you're more likely to see an egret or heron flying overhead in this scenic locale across the bay from Brickell, you might also stumble across Grand Slam champions Andy Murray or Juan Martin del Potro, who often use the site for training.

Miami Soccer Station
Courtesy of Miami Soccer Station

Some people seek spiritual renewal in a soaring, stained-glass cathedral, others at a stark Baptist altar. For another class of Miamians, they don their knockoff Barca kits, strap on their $45 Adidas cleats, and head to church every week on the soccer pitch. Just like any houses of organized religion, those pitches vary from the ostentatious — full fields of natural emerald grass — to the humble scraps of bumpy turf in a badly maintained park. Miami Soccer Station falls somewhere in between. In a small lot off NW 79th Street, affable Colombian owner Rafael Garzon — who owns multiple fields in Bogota — built two five-a-side pitches that are perfect for an after-work kick-around or a weekly competition among neighborhood friends. The fields cost just $100 to $120 per hour (which translates to a reasonable $10 to $12 per player if you don't have subs), and there's an air-conditioned break room with Gatorade for sale when the Florida heat gets you down. Garzon even built a foot-volley court in front where players can keep their skills sharp between games. For all local Messi worshippers, it's a welcome spiritual way station.

Readers' choice:

Nautilus by Arlo
Courtesy of Nautilus, a SIXTY Hotel, in South Beach

For years, the Nautilus Hotel has hidden in plain sight. That's no fault of the hotel, a Morris Lapidus-designed gem in the heart of South Beach. It's just hard for any place to stand out when it's within two blocks of international celebrity hot spots such as the Delano and the Raleigh. But it's finally time for the Nautilus' own moment in the SoBe sun, thanks to a recent revamp under the Sixty Hotels group. And among the Nautilus' most striking deco details is its enviable pool deck. Architecturally simple, it's elevated by lush greenery that only augments its unembellished beauty. In the center is a 1,890-square-foot heated saltwater pool, perfect for doing a few laps or simply relaxing along the edge. An underwater sound system provides tunes for those who need a little encouragement while pulling out breaststrokes. Lounge chairs and cabanas along the gorgeous teak deck are available to rent, but the best spot is at the pool bar toward the back, where great tropical cocktails are on order. And the beach is only a few yards away in case you need to take the edge off the tropical heat. Daytime visitors can take a dip in the pool by renting a daybed ($150 weekdays and $250 weekends) or a cabana ($250 weekdays and $350 weekends).

Faena Hotel Miami Beach

The Feana Hotel Miami Beach officially opened its doors during Art Basel Miami Beach 2015. And even amid a global art festival built to make headlines with audacious shows and eye-catching works, Faena somehow stood out. The 24-karat-gold woolly mammoth skeleton by artist Damien Hirst in a glass case in the backyard didn't hurt. But the Faena's attraction goes well beyond its considerable art collection. The hotel drips with fascinating details, from the deco-inspired Saxony Bar to the funky indoor-outdoor feel of Argentine restaurant Los Fuegos to the first "South American-inspired spa" in town, Tierra Santa. Faena has immediately brought something resoundingly different to Miami's glut of always-revamping hotels. And there's more to come at this sprawling property. By the time Alan Faena and business partner Len Blavatnik have finished building their beachside utopia, it will include Faena House, Faena Forum, Faena Versailles, Faena Bazaar, and the Casa Claridge's guest houses. Miamians will be able to plan a staycation at the hotel, live in a condo at the House or the Versailles, see performances in its theaters, and even have office space in the Bazaar.

In a city where history is constantly torn down and replaced by luxury condos, the Curtiss Mansion & Gardens is an enduring success story. Located in Miami Springs, the estate was home to Glenn Curtiss, the aviation pioneer and codeveloper of Miami Springs, Hialeah, and Opa-locka, from 1925 until the time of his death in 1930. Designed by Martin Luther Hampton, the same architectural mastermind behind Miami Beach City Hall and the Congress Building downtown, the mansion, like Miami Springs, was constructed in Pueblo Revival style. Though Curtiss lived in his two-story Miami Springs residence for only five years, 500 Deer Run continued to pave its way through history long after his death. His wife, who eventually remarried, lived in the mansion until the late ’40s with her second husband, who was mayor of Miami Springs from 1942 to 1944. Through the years, the property would bear the name “Miami Springs Villas.” It would later serve as a training base for the crew of Eastern Airlines and Pan American World Airways. The mansion was sold again in the late ’70s. Even though it was designated a local historic site under the City of Miami Springs’ History Preservation Ordinance in 1987, the building was abandoned for years, falling victim to vandalism and arson. At one point, the structure was held up by only pillars. But the property was donated to the City of Miami Springs in 1998, and the nonprofit Curtiss Mansion Inc. was established, symbolizing the beginning of a long restoration. In 2012, the Curtiss Mansion, carefully rebuilt to resemble its original 1925 condition, reopened its doors, proving that in spite of all the bulldozers, Miami still cares about preserving its history.

Readers' choice: Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

Bill Baggs State Park
Courtesy of Florida Division of Recreation and Parks

Sure, almost every born-and-bred 305er grew up going to the beach at el farito (AKA Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park), but you’d be surprisingly hard-pressed to find a Miamian who has toured the Cape Florida Lighthouse. And as one of the oldest lighthouses in South Florida, Cape Florida has a fascinating history — not to mention one of the best views of Key Biscayne, Stiltsville, and beyond. Built in 1825 as a 65-foot structure, the lighthouse has survived everything from hurricanes to attacks, including one by the Seminoles during the Second Seminole War in 1836, which resulted in a fire that nearly led to the lighthouse’s demise. Later, Confederate sympathizers destroyed its lamp and lens during the Civil War in 1861. While Cape Florida was abandoned and decommissioned several times over the years before being rebuilt, relit, and eventually raised to 95 feet, it has served several functions throughout the decades. Among them, it was used as U.S. Signal Station Number Four during the Spanish-American War and, most notably, was part of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, where hundreds of black Seminoles escaped from Florida to the Bahamas. Sure, Cape Florida’s history is interesting itself, but nothing beats the spiraling 109 steps to drink in the views of the Magic City from the top. And luckily, you can experience it free Thursday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®