Best Weekend Getaway
Jessica Gibbs

Picture it: Water so pure it makes Biscayne Bay look like a murky bowl of pea soup. Water so clear it makes Crystal Pepsi look like regular Pepsi. Water so fresh that — well, you get the idea. That water you're looking for exists, and it's less than a six-hour drive from Miami. Some of the most unbelievably perfect H20 on Earth burbles up from below Ginnie Springs, a private park connected to the nearby Sante Fe River, just west of the town of High Springs. For more than 40 years, the Wray family has been drawing guests from around the world to their slice of aquatic heaven. Admission costs only $14.02 for adults and $3.73 for kids, which nets you hours of soaking in cerulean water that's 72 degrees year-round. Take your pick how to best enjoy it: Float along in a kayak or a tube, or strap on some fins and a snorkel. For the truly adventuresome, the springs flow through a series of caves perfect for scuba divers to explore. Outdoor enthusiasts can camp at the primitive sites (which cost $22.43 per adult a night), and even glampers are covered: An eight-person cottage with A/C, satellite TV, and a full kitchen is available for $175 per night.

Best Rainy-Day Activity
Gilbert Sopakuwa via Flickr

It's a tale as old as time: Your snow-cursed friends plan a tropical Miami vacation weeks in advance, and then, when they finally get here, it rains the whole damn weekend. (Thanks, Florida!) Instead of opting for an afternoon matinee, save yourself a few bucks and head to a free jai alai game at Casino Miami. The facility, built in 1926, harks back to the golden age of jai alai in the '60s and '70s, when the auditorium was so packed you could barely hear the action of players with unpronounceable Basque names flinging balls around at nearly supersonic speeds. Decades later, it's still a good time: Beers are impossibly cheap ($3); your friends get a weird, authentic South Florida experience; and you might even win a little money. Games take place every day except Tuesday and begin promptly at noon (except Sunday, when they begin at 1 p.m.). And, yes, the place has Cigar City's excellent Jai Alai IPA on tap.

Best Pool
Hawkins International PR

The typical South Beach pool is a vast, sprawling body of water full of hotel-dwelling tourists so sunburned they might just dissolve in the chlorine. If you're lucky, you might get a corner of the deep end to yourself and an overpriced mojito to keep you company. If you're unlucky, an unconscious Russian man might float by, bumping you in the shoulder like a curious manatee. But Highbar, the name of the pool and bar atop South Beach's Dream Hotel, is a refreshing change of pace. Intimate and cozy yet spacious enough to lounge in, this infinity pool offers vintage vibes with a great rooftop view of the beach. Open till midnight on weekends and with 5-to-8 p.m. happy hour Monday through Saturday, Highbar is that rare South Beach pool that appeals equally to tourists and locals.

East, Miami Hotel
courtesy of Swire Hotels

Miami Beach may be where all the action is, but across the causeway, Miami's urban core is quickly catching up. The crown jewel of that revitalization is Brickell City Centre (BCC), the massive live/work/shop complex that promises Manhattan-style living in these steamy parts. Looking to experience a more cosmopolitan side of Miami? The East, Miami, located atop BCC, is the first outpost of the East hotel brand outside of Asia. (The other two locations are in Hong Kong and Beijing.) Housed in a striking Arquitectonica-designed building, East is also home to the first American branch of the legendary Uruguayan asador, Quinto La Huella, and also houses Sugar, an Asian-inspired restaurant and bar on the rooftop. With 352 rooms ranging in size from 300 to 1,800 square feet, East boasts contemporary spaces that offer a quiet retreat high above the busy Brickell streets. Room rates depend upon the time of year, but they can be as low as $200 per night if you know when to look.

Best Reason to Stay in Miami for the Summer

Miami Spa Month

Best Reason to Stay in Miami for the Summer
GMCVB

You just found out that the Icelandic-based airline Wow Air is offering dirt-cheap fights to Reykjavik and beyond, raising the obvious question that hits locals in the face every summer: Why not get as far away as possible from 200 percent humidity during hurricane season? Look, Europe will always be there, but Miami Spa Month lasts only a limited time. Similar to how the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau tempts locals to eat out in August and September during Miami Spice, Spa Month tries to entice Miamians to take it easy during July and August through special offers at some of the city's most relaxing spots. Last year, favorites such as Lapis Spa at the Fontainebleau, the Tierra Santa Healing House at the Faena Hotel, the Spa at the Setai by Thémaé, Agua Spa at the Delano, the Jurlique Spa at Mayfair Hotel & Spa, and the Spa at Mandarin Oriental offered deals on everything from top-quality massages to muscle-melting sessions in hamams and steam rooms. With some Zen-inducing treatments starting as low as $109, anyone can afford to stick around through the boiling summer heat.

Pull up an episode of Miami Vice and look past the white-linen-heavy fashion and the criminally absurd plots to appreciate, for a moment, the Magic City's skyline in the mid-'80s — or rather, the lack thereof. As Det. Sonny Crockett sits on a bench overlooking what is now the magnificent downtown and Brickell strip, behind him stand just a few squat buildings and a lot of sand. Heck, forget the '80s — just load up DJ Khaled's 2007 video hit "I'm on One." Even ten years ago, the skyline was nascent. It's easy to forget just how explosive the Magic City's upward growth has been over the past ten years. The fact is, Miami today has one of America's most striking skylines — neon and glass, spiking perfectly upward on the edge of a glittering bay. And the perfect way to appreciate it is on a drive west on the MacArthur Causeway. As you ride toward the crest of the purple-light-bathed bridge just before downtown, the condo towers along Biscayne Boulevard rise like glowing beacons of energy and self-aggrandizement. Pérez Art Museum Miami —arguably the city's modern architectural gem — sits just to the south of the causeway, framing a view that stretches down to the American Airlines Arena and Zaha Hadid's under-construction final project. Perhaps all of this will sink into the bay in 30 years, but right now, it makes any Miamian's breast swell with inspiration. Plus, the whole view is flanked by the bluest water you've ever seen.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®