One of the silver linings of 2020 was the number of people who, finding themselves suddenly working from home, decided to foster and adopt pets in need. If you're looking to add a furry member to your own family, foster-based rescue Dachshund Rescue South Florida has been carefully matching dogs to their perfect humans for more than ten years. The rescue is completely volunteer-run and donation-funded, but that hasn't stopped it from helping nearly 300 dogs find their forever homes this year alone. Though they mostly take in doxies and dachshund mixes, they won't turn away any dog in need and have been known to take on cases that other shelters or rescues might assume are lost causes, from dogs with severe medical conditions to sweet senior dogs (who are often the most difficult to find homes for). DRSF keeps its dedicated community updated via Facebook and Instagram, filling their pages with stories of dogs in need, dogs making progress toward recovery, and dogs celebrating their new beginnings.

Pets Kingdom is a cozy little pet store in the suburban hamlet of Miami Springs. What the place lacks in size, it more than makes up for in friendliness and family-like atmosphere. Shop for all your pet supply needs here, including toys, food, cage liners, and — if you're one of those people whose dog has a bigger closet than your kids — cute pet clothes. While you're perusing the aisles, you'll have a chance to meet the most important member of the staff: Mocha the cat, who lives at the store full-time. Pets Kingdom also offers daycare for small, caged animals like lizards and hamsters. And come holiday time, you and Fluffy can snag a picture with Santa at the shop. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

The Dog From Ipanema
Photo by Jarbas Godoy

Your four-legged friend doesn't have to be tall or tan or young or lovely to be treated like royalty at the Dog From Ipanema. Since its founding in 1986, the South Miami salon for dogs (and cats!) has provided a pampering treatment for all who come through its doors, creating a seamlessly enjoyable experience for everyone involved. A standard full grooming will get your dog a bath, a nail trimming, and a thorough cleaning of both ears and anal glands; if you're in the mood to splurge, you can also have their pearly whites brushed for under $10.

Best Barbershop

From humble beginnings, the Spot has emerged as South Florida's number-one, er, spot for the best gentlemen's haircut experience. The first shop opened in Little Havana in 2001, and the business has since grown to 16 locations — including outlets in Brickell, Doral, Fort Lauderdale and Sunny Isles. An additional three shops (in Coconut Creek, Pembroke Pines Gardens and South Beach) are in the works. But aside from its obvious success, what makes the Spot so special? Well, services run the spectrum, including blade-edging beard service, nose, ear and eyebrow waxing, pedicures and, yes, a good old-fashioned haircut. The shops' ambiance and staff are always welcoming, too. That may or may not have something to do with the massive "GOD IS GOOD" banner that adorns every location; God has certainly been good to the Spot through the years, and the Spot continues to be good to us.

Finding a good hair stylist is like finding a good partner: You usually have to shop around a bit before settling on "the one." Save yourself time and frustration by heading straight to this Coral Gables salon, where Gabriel Samra has been offering expertly crafted cuts and color for the past ten years. A welcoming beauty sanctuary, the 4,500-square-foot salon occupies a two-story building where, in addition to precise styling and dazzling color transformations, you can take advantage of a full menu of services including eyebrow design, body waxing, and a variety of nail, lash, and bridal options. Bonus points for Samra's Instagram videos, which offer a treasure trove of hair maintenance and styling tips.

Vanity Projects
Zack Balber

Founded by Rita Pinto, Vanity Nails Project took New York by storm with its debut location on Manhattan's Lower East Side following a three-month pop-up in MoMA PS1. The next location for the art-forward luxury salon was a no-brainer, and in 2015, Vanity Projects set up shop in the Design District of Miami. The salon treats manicures as an art form and technicians as artists, as it should: Look no further than Vanity's Instagram page for proof of its excellence. From intricate designs to loud statement sets, each 'artist in residence' conjures up a tantalizing style for every taste. Perfection doesn't come cheap — a set of middle-tier nail art starts at $100, with detailed designs going for $140 and up — but you get what you pay for at this high-end atelier. Vanity Projects is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. by appointment only.

A tanning salon might not be considered an essential business, but after being locked up at home for most of 2020, can you blame South Floridians for wanting to appeal that ruling? Miami Tan is essential to its customers, who seek a quick and friendly experience in a relaxing environment. Clean beds decked out with South Beach-flavored lighting make things easy on the eyes and body, and there are multiple rooms with a variety of tanning options to choose from. Employees can tell you when the bulbs were last changed, while owner Jack Hays ensures that lockers are available for all customers — and since May, the salon has implemented changes to stay current with Miami-Dade COVID-19 guidelines. The salon is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. In the end, there really isn't any downside to spending a relaxing hour at Miami Tan. In fact, it's almost essential.

If heaven has a spa, it must look like this: an oceanside oasis full of godsend treatments to counter all of your worries. Spread across 20,000 square feet, Acqualina Spa has some of Miami Beach's most luxurious amenities: sparkling crystal steam rooms, Himalayan salt walls, refreshing ice fountains, and showers with cool arctic and warm Caribbean mists. Pamper yourself with a sound care massage, cryotherapy facial, or luxury hand and foot treatment, then spend the rest of your day on the sprawling coed oceanfront terrace, complete with a pool, hot tub and sun deck. Don't leave without browsing the on-site boutique or ordering something from the Acqualina Diet menu. Note that the spa's health and safety program currently requires all team members and guests to undergo a temperature check and don a face covering upon entering.

In 1993, biomedical engineer Jeanette Acosta was pregnant and struggling to find non-toxic products when she set out to start a no-frills, eco-friendly skin beauty clinic of her own. Tucked into a 1,100-square-foot cozy, comfortable space in the Village of Merrick Park, her one-stop shop, Skintique, focuses on highly specialized organic facials that impart a glow better than any filter. Most popular are the touchless hydrafacial, the Oxygen Vitamin (Red Carpet) facial, and the 24-karat gold collagen and diamond microderm. But don't stop at your face: Acosta's team also specializes in chakra alignment, hair removal, and a list of body treatments that will leave your skin tightened and plumped in all the right places. Skintique, which is currently adhering to all COVID-19 safety protocols, opens at 10 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Best Facemasks

While the pandemic has struck a huge blow to many small-business owners, some savvy entrepreneurs have capitalized on a new and exploding market: facemasks. In Miami, the best-face-masks honor has to go to Martha of Miami. Martha has long made a name for herself as the quintessential 305 merch seller, and her masks follow suit. If 2020's giving you the heebie-jeebies, try Martha's evil-eye mask to purge all the bad vibes from your life. Or choose from styles covered with mango, piña colada or cafecito designs. There's even a trademark "Cuban Bred" version, so everyone will know what you're about, even from six feet away. The Martha of Miami store is open from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday; all masks are $10 or under, with a balaclava-style full face cover available for $14.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®