Haulover Beach Park
Photo by osseous / Flickr

A beach day is always more fun with friends and family, but four-legged company isn't always welcome on South Florida's shores. If your dog favors pairing a game of fetch with a refreshing swim, head to Haulover Park. From 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Fido can run free with all the other good boys and good girls between lifeguard houses 2 and 3. If your dogs aren't fans of getting sand between their toes, just take them to Haulover's Bark Park, open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset. The dog park offers parents separate sections for big pooches and little pups, waste bag stations, and water fountains for you and your fur babies.

Harry's Pizzeria
Courtesy of Harry's Pizzeria

Plenty of things can go wrong on a first date, but pizza ain't one of them. The pizzas ($13 to $17), wood-oven-roasted chicken wings ($12), and desserts such as the banana-Nutella panini ($2) at Harry's Pizzeria are creatively crafted, delicious, and affordable. The restaurant's intimate space and effortlessly cool decor give the place a classic Italian vibe with a few modern touches. It's the kind of place that feels upscale without making your wallet cry and might just persuade (or fool) your date into thinking you have good taste. Equally important is the location: It's right on the edge of the Design District, so if the chemistry is promising, you can head to the Institute of Contemporary Art up the street and continue the conversation.

Best Weekend Getaway
Photo by Mercedea / Flickr

Miami is paradise, but it's a traffic-gridlocked one. If you're looking for a weekend getaway, you're probably hoping to escape precisely that traffic — and fast. On a good day (i.e., no accidents on Overseas Highway), you can get to Key West in about three and a half hours. Many hotels offer a Florida resident discount, and if you have a medium-to-high tolerance for sweat, you can take advantage of summertime deals, when a decent room goes for around $100 a night. Start your day with a Cuban breakfast sandwich at the Cuban Coffee Queen ($7) or a huevos and chorizo breakfast burrito at Bad Boy Burrito ($11). When you need a midday break from the sun, head to the Porch, a craft beer spot that's one of the island's few indoor, air-conditioned bars, or the Butterfly & Nature Conservatory (general admission costs $12, and discounted rates are available for children and seniors). Sunsets at Mallory Square are a must, as are late-night cafecitos to break up your Duval Street bar crawl. (You can find one on almost any corner.) And don't leave the Conch Republic without at least one trip to Captain Tony's, supposedly one of the oldest bars in Florida. The beers are cold, the bartenders are zippy, and there's always someone playing guitar in the corner.

Mondrian South Beach Hotel
Courtesy of Mondrian South Beach

Situated for a picture-perfect view of Biscayne Bay, the Mondrian has that South Beach pool-party vibe you crave without the rigmarole of an invite list. The hotel's pool area is open to the public daily as long as visitors spend a total of $50 at the pool bar. Hotel guests still get first pick of the chairs, but there's plenty of space to stretch out and grab a tropical cocktail for $16 or a bucket of five beers for $30. The best day to take advantage is Sunday, when the hotel offers free yoga on the dock at 10 a.m., followed by a guest DJ playing poolside until the sun goes down.

Versailles Restaurant
Photo by Phillip Pessar via Flickr Creative Commons

Every guest who's ever slept on your couch while visiting Miami eventually wants to try some Cuban food. You already know the go-to spot: Versailles Restaurant, the pride of Calle Ocho since 1971. Yes, it's touristy. Yes, you've been there a million times. But there's no better choice for a first-timer. Accommodating enough for newbies and English speakers but authentic enough for your abuelita, Versailles can't be beat. Go ahead and order each of your guests a cortado ($1.75) and a guava and cheese pastelito ($1.10). Their lives will never be the same.

Agni Miami
Photo by Tobias Packer

Not everyone who practices yoga fits the stereotype: thin, white, female, and with money to spare. But that's the image yoga studios in the U.S. have been peddling since the practice went mainstream stateside. Luckily for Miami yogis, Agni offers an egalitarian alternative: a down-to-earth studio that embraces students of all genders, races, and walks of life. Led by co-owners Carrie Guzanick and Viviana Villagra, the studio's instructors come from diverse backgrounds and represent a variety of body types. Its hot yoga sessions aren't tainted by the Bikram brand, so you don't have to sweat about supporting an accused sexual abuser while you sweat it out on the mat. And Agni offers classes designed for students who've traditionally been left out of the practice, including low-cost "drop-in" events for just $10 and special donation-based ($5) sessions for the local queer and trans community. Agni offers more than just a place to practice yoga — it's a progressive space where yogis with open minds can find their Zen. Namaste.

As climate change and resulting flooding reshape Miami's landscape, the city is becoming increasingly reminiscent of Venice. As the sea rises, you'll want to enjoy it as you would the Italian city: in a boat. Rent a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard at Alfresco Fun and head on a five-mile loop. Enter the Oleta River, paddle out to the bay, turn left (or to port, if you want to get nautical), and then beach at Duffy's. Buy yourself lunch or take advantage of the happy-hour specials. Then get back in your boat and paddle north. Turn left again and pass through Maule Lake before heading back to East Greynolds Park. Alfresco's rental prices dip as low as $12 for 45 minutes on a single kayak. The only mildly hairy spot on this route is passing under the 163rd Street Bridge, where big boats can make a wake.

This isn't I-95, with its multiple lanes and sports-car speed demons. It ain't even Biscayne Boulevard, the scene of March's attempted hit-and-run and ensuing sledgehammer retaliation. Hell, there are even some pretty good Haitian restaurants and a Panther Coffee outpost along this stretch of NW Second Avenue. But like Sledgehammer Man, many of the drivers on this relatively quiet street are seemingly crazy. There are lines that appear to mark a bicycle route, but few motorists seem to comprehend the concept. People open their car doors without looking, and accidents happen. Cars hit bikes. Cars hit cars. Cars hit pedestrians. If you're headed to Wynwood from the north, stick to North Miami Avenue or, if you have a bike, use NW Third Avenue. It's pleasant, tree-lined, and definitely not as chaotic as NW Second Avenue.

Best Soccer Field
Courtesy of Soccer 5

Disregard the propaganda coming from Marlins Park, the fake news from Hard Rock Stadium, and the lies told at the American Airlines Arena: The biggest sport in Miami is soccer. Yes, David Beckham is still fighting through what feels like his 35th straight year of trying to bring a Major League Soccer stadium to South Florida. But if the massive sellouts for every international game held at Hard Rock Stadium don't convince you of Dade's fútbol fanaticism, slide on a team jersey and head to Kendall Soccer Park. Every corner of the 37-acre, county-owned park is packed all week with kids working on their step-overs, dads huffing for headers, and office drones blowing off steam on the pitch. To show off your tekkers, head to Soccer 5 Miami, which rents fields for 5v5, 6v6, and 7v7 games for $75 to $95 per hour. There are snacks for sale and helpful staffers who even keep a running list of solo players looking for a pickup game so they can text you whenever a team needs someone. Or just stop by and hang at the fields — somebody is bound to need an extra goalie. And you'll never know who you might spot: Last year, Becks himself popped by Kendall Soccer Park to juggle a few balls before jetting out of town.

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

Sure, there are more famous miles of Miami — Ocean Drive, Calle Ocho, the Julia Tuttle Causeway, et al. You can plow across the MacArthur Causeway and scream like you're a guest star on Entourage. Or you can stroll up and down Washington Avenue in the early morning and behold some of the truly strangest people you'll ever encounter. But for the best stretch of road, get off the beaten path and head back to an area of land reminiscent of what this place was like before the Florida East Coast Railway, Miami Vice, EDM, LMFAO's "I'm in Miami Bitch," and whatever Pitbull claims to be doing on a day-to-day basis. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is a reminder of what the Magic City could have been — a preserved stretch of land unique to Florida and Florida alone, that could have been integrated into Miamians' daily lives instead of drained, plowed over, and turned into sprawling, hot concrete. Join the many cyclists who regularly traverse this path and conclude your ride with a walk to the Cape Florida Lighthouse inside Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. Admission to the park costs only $2 for cyclists, and free lighthouse tours take place Thursday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®