Dinner Key Marina
Courtesy of City of Miami

Dinner Key Marina offers a glimpse into Miami's past, present, and future all at once. Dinner Key is the famed former home of Pan American Airways' flying boats, and the defunct air carrier's old terminal building now serves as Miami City Hall, the focal point of the lush marina grounds. In its modern incarnation, the marina sits adjacent to Regatta Park, a stone's throw from Villa Vizcaya and a short walk to the shops and boutiques of Coconut Grove's village center. For the boaters and yachties out there, the marina boasts a whopping 582 slips, 24-hour staff and security, concrete docks, and wooden finger piers. Locals and casual boaters can also rent pontoons and kayaks for hours at a time. This is a great spot to anchor down for a while.

Best Campground
Courtesy of Florida State Parks

Oleta River State Park, Florida's largest urban park, boasts 14 cabins equipped with air conditioning, beds, picnic tables, and covered porches, and bathrooms and showers are located nearby. Glampers can also find a fire pit and grill included with their amenities. Cabin rentals cost only $55 per night, plus tax and a $6.70 reservation fee. Camp with friends and explore the waters of Biscayne Bay by canoe or kayak, or go for a bike ride around the campgrounds. This slice of paradise is a safe haven for those in search of complete seclusion and a reprieve from the clamor of the city just a handful of miles away. While you're there, remember to respect the park's wildlife. If you leave your Cheetos outside after a drunken binge, you will find raccoons with orange fingers.

Best Picnic Spot
Photo by Travis Cohen

Miami has plenty of options for picturesque picnic spots, from lighthouses to mangrove hammocks. But few places are more perfect for a cross-legged sit-down meal than Pelican Island. The little spit of land in Biscayne Bay, just north of Pelican Harbor, has been through a lot lately. Some nasty storms have torn through the island over the past couple of hurricane seasons — sailboats have been tossed onto its shores, and some of the wooden structures have been torn to bits. But the boats have been removed, the structures are being rebuilt, and, all the while, Pelican Island has retained its charm. The charcoal grills scattered throughout make this spot the ideal location for a summer cookout. It's just far enough removed from terra firma for visitors to disconnect and decompress, but close enough that getting there — whether by boat, kayak, or paddleboard — with your picnic basket is never a hassle.

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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®