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
Photo courtesy of Martha Valdes

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.

Ocho Placas Tattoo Company
Karli Evans

We're not 100 percent clear on the science behind the reasons people decide to get tattoos, but if we had to guess, boredom and alcohol would be at the top of the list. Quarantining during a pandemic has brought both into our lives in a big way, so we can only deduce that Ocho Placas Tattoo Company is seeing an uptick in business. The hometown shop — elevated by the work of co-owners John Vale and Javier Betancourt, along with a cohort of talented designers — is an internationally recognized space with a strong local presence (Vale and Betancourt are also part of Miami's music, visual arts and culinary scenes). The artists at Ocho Placas go way beyond butterfly tramp stamps and 'I Love Mom' tattoos; they're well-known for their custom designs, no matter how intricate or involved. If you've got something in mind, these specialists will help you bring it to life. Not sure what you want? Tell them what you're into, and they'll put their talents to work. Check out the Ocho Placas Facebook page to see some examples of recent work, then call or go online to make an appointment. The shop is open from 1 to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

FootWorks Miami
Photo by Eileen de la Rosa

Few family businesses in South Florida have attracted the kind of cult following that FootWorks has. For nearly 50 years, FootWorks has helped get as many Miamians moving as possible, transforming from simple running retail outlet to local hub for all things athletic. The legacy was set in motion by Hans and Laurie Huseby in 1973 and lives on today through the tireless work of matriarch Laurie, son JP and the all-star team they've assembled, which feels more like an extended family than anything else. TeamFootWorks, the store's nonprofit arm, produces some of Miami's biggest road races, including the Mercedes-Benz Corporate Run, while its annual full- and half-marathon training programs get hundreds of dedicated runners excited to wake up and cover obscene distances before sunrise. Visit the store from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Whether you're an amateur cyclist who needs to mend a flat or an expert on the hunt for a custom build, the staff at Brickell Bikes has got you covered. Upon arrival, you'll meet Nugget — the resident golden-hued French bulldog, who greets you at the door. If Nugget doesn't sell you on a bike, the impressive showroom will. From simple cruisers to sophisticated road machines, the staff will guide you to the bike of your dreams — or at the very least a bike to cruise you on out of 2020. Owner Robbie Zamora features brands like Bianchi, All-City, and Fyxation. Prices start around $399 and go up — well, as any cyclist will tell you, for custom builds of the sort Zamora describes as "some cool damn bikes," prices go up as high as you want them to. If you're not ready to buy, no problem: Brickell Bikes offers hassle-free rentals that are easily booked online. And those looking to socialize with fellow cyclists (at a six-foot distance, of course) should check out Brickell Bike's social-media pages for info on group rides and Critical Mass activations.

Is there a better socially distanced activity than skateboarding? Whether you're a seasoned pro or just getting started, Fort Lauderdale's Mad Skate Shop is on a mission to keep the sport alive, even through the pandemic. The store carries plenty of familiar brands like Adidas, Thrasher, and Krooked, and its knowledgeable staff of skaters stands ready to help clueless parents. Is your kid interested in learning how to skate? The shop offers lessons to children as young as 3 at its Skate Spot area at 99 SW 14th Street in Fort Lauderdale. In addition to helping beginners, Mad Skate also supports a team of up-and-comers who are helping keep South Florida's skateboard scene on the map.

Buying a car is supposed to be exciting — but the process is notoriously anxiety-inducing. The beginning and the end are a blast, but the in-between is pure torture. Lexus of Pembroke Pines does its best to make that in-between part manageable so you can actually enjoy one of the bigger purchases of your life. Selection isn't a problem, as there are well over a thousand cars in the inventory to choose from. Customer service isn't an issue, either. And the prices can't be beat: You'll get the best deal, whether the car you're looking at is new or used. And if you don't see what you want, the dealership will find it for you. What more can you ask for? If you want a pleasant car-buying experience, start your search at Lexus of Pembroke Pines. The dealership is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®