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 Not-So-Cheap Thrill
Photo by Gabriel m / iStockPhoto.com

There's no shortage of ways to spend some serious cash in Miami. You could charter a yacht, rent a Lamborghini, or order bottle service at an exclusive club. But if it's a thrill you seek, nothing compares to zooming 40 feet above Biscayne Bay with Miami Flyboard. For $129, you get a half-hour on a Flyboard that mounts to your feet and shoots water out below, lifting you high above the bay. Get a full hour for $229. Learning to fly is easy, the company says, and you should get the hang of it in no time. Then maybe you'll be ready to move on to the Hoverboard, which uses the same setup as the Flyboard and goes for the same price but more closely resembles wakeboarding, snowboarding, or Marty McFly's hoverboard — except this one glides over water.

Best Day Trip
Photo by Diana Robinson / Flickr

Naples has a well-deserved reputation as a play place for the old and wealthy. But it can also provide a welcome break from the general chaos of Miami. Make the snore-inducing drive across Alligator Alley, and you can spend the day lounging in the sugar-soft sand of the city's much quieter beaches. Head to the downtown strip of Fifth Avenue South to shop at the district's many clothing boutiques, drop by Naples Paddleboard to rent a kayak or paddleboard (rental prices start at $30 per hour), or hit the Naples Beach Brewery to sample the local beer. Grab dinner at the beachfront Turtle Club (be sure to try the $15 famous oysters "Turtlefeller"); then make your way to the Naples Beach Club to take in one of the best parts of Southwest Florida coast: the sunset.

South Pointe Park
Photo by Bruno Fontino / Courtesy of the GMCVB – MiamiandBeaches.com

If a public bathroom is noteworthy, it's usually for all the wrong reasons. Not so at South Pointe Park. The rooftop of these restrooms offers a million-dollar view of the water, complete with shaded lounge chairs. Inside, the facilities are sleek and clean, which is about all you can ask for in a restroom that probably gets used hundreds of times a day. Sure beats peeing in the ocean.

All-day rain is rare enough in South Florida that when it happens, it's tempting to just lie on the couch binge-watching trashy TV and mainlining potato chips. Next time it pours, head to Glitch Bar instead, where you can lounge on its couches while playing Mario Kart. Located in Flagler Village, AKA Fort Lauderdale's mini version of Wynwood, the bar has all the classic arcade games you remember from childhood: Donkey Kong, Mortal Kombat II, Ms. Pac-Man, and others. It's stocked with more than 100 bottled and canned beers, plus a cocktail list that includes game-themed drinks such as the Yoshi mojito.

Best Reason to Stay in Miami for the Summer
Photo by Amadeus McCaskill

Summer can be brutal in South Florida. While the rest of the country celebrates the first warm weather of the year, it's so hot down here that you need a shower after a short walk from your car to the door. But at least we get mangoes. All summer long, trees across South Florida are heavy with the delicious tropical fruit, and there's no bigger celebration of that silver lining than the International Mango & Tropical Fruit Festival. For the past 25 years, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden's fête has been all mangoes, all the time. This year's July 14 and 15 event ($25 for the general public and discounts for children and seniors) will include cooking demonstrations, a tropical beer garden, and a display of the largest mango and tropical fruit collection in the world. Thanks to Fairchild, you can try them all, no backyard tree necessary.

Whisper Cocktail Lounge
Courtesy of W Miami

The elevator ride up to W Miami's WET Deck is a long one. Perched 50 stories above the Magic City at the top of the W Miami Hotel, this nightlife spot boasts seemingly endless views of the skyline and Biscayne Bay. The rooftop Brickell establishment has previously been called Club 50, but it's always been known for its unbeatable panorama. Inside, find floor-to-ceiling windows, and outside, a terrace with the highest pool in Miami awaits. Grab a cocktail and hit the dance floor, but fair warning: You might find it hard to look away from the windows.

Freehand Miami
Adrian Gaut

A private room for around $120 a night in the middle of Miami Beach? Believe it. When it comes to fashionable hospitality on a budget, the Freehand, located in the historic Indian Creek Hotel, more than delivers. Central location? Check. Clean rooms? Check. Award-winning bar? Check. A block from the beach? Check. A restaurant worthy of the hype? Check. Don't let the hostel environs scare you away. Yes, there are shared dormitories, which go for as low as $20 a night during the summer, but if you're wary of that arrangement, private king and queen suites are also available (from $160 to $190). If you're heading to Miami Beach or planning a staycation with a group of friends or large family, consider the quad rooms or bungalow spaces (around $200) that offer bunk beds with privacy screens for when you've had enough of the dad jokes. And don't worry: Both the quad and Super 8 dorm-style rooms have en suite bathrooms — in fact, the shared Super 8 spaces have two — so you have to fight for shower time only with your roommates and not the entire floor. The Freehand's outdoor spaces are the hostel's best feature. The James Beard Award-nominated Broken Shaker spills into the courtyard and small pool area, which though not as impressive as some of the water features at nearby luxury hotels, still draws its fair share of beautiful people taking in the Miami Beach sun.

The Ancient Spanish Monastery
Courtesy of the Ancient Spanish Monastery

North Miami Beach became a city in 1926, but one of the buildings within its limits today was first erected almost eight centuries before the city existed. Construction on the Monastery of St. Bernard de Clairvaux, also known as the Ancient Spanish Monastery, began in Sacramenia, Spain, in 1133 and was completed in 1141. Cistercian monks occupied it for nearly seven centuries. Nineteenth- and 20th-Century media giant William Randolph Hearst purchased the monastery, which was then dismantled stone-by-stone and shipped to the United States, where it lay in wait inside a New York warehouse for another quarter-century before being rebuilt in South Florida in the mid-'50s. Today the ancient structure serves many roles, as an Episcopal church, a unique tourist attraction, and a venue for special occasions such as wedding receptions. Tours of the monastery are available most days from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (admission costs $10, with $5 discounts for students and seniors). Availability is dependent upon whether the venue is booked for a special event. Updated hours can be found on the Ancient Spanish Monastery's website.

Best Team President
Courtesy of the Miami Dolphins

It's been tough to be a Miami Dolphins fan over the past decade or so, but there's one unquestionably bright spot in Davie: Tom Garfinkel. He was promoted to vice chairman only a couple of months ago, but he should be lauded for the strides the organization has made since he arrived in Miami in 2013. Under Garfinkel's watch, the Dolphins undertook a $500 million renovation of their Miami Gardens stadium, secured a $250 million naming-rights deal for the venue with Hard Rock, boosted ticket sales that had been lagging since Stephen Ross purchased the team in 2009, and lured high-profile events, such as the El Clásico soccer match, to the stadium. Garfinkel is also accessible to fans on social media and routinely posts beautiful photos of the game-day environment.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®