The pandemic is making things tough for hoops junkies: Outside of the bedroom, few activities involve as much close contact as basketball. The City of Miami Beach tried to give the junkies their fix, allowing the courts to open for a couple of months with three players to a basket, each shooting with their own ball. But the ballers at Flamingo Park couldn't resist the courts' glass backboards, smooth double rims or overhead lights that let games go on until midnight. Games were breaking out all over like it was 2019. And so, as of this writing, the Flamingo Park courts — and all other public basketball courts in Miami-Dade — have been ordered closed again. The yellow tape around them preserves them as a monument to a better time, when strangers of all colors and creeds could come together and argue over whether that was a foul or not.

Best Tennis Courts
Photo by Chris Malone

There are only a few places in Miami where a rogue tennis ball might find itself floating in a body of water, but Margaret Pace Park is arguably the best place to find one. The park has been popular during the pandemic because of its grassy open areas, prime location next to the water, and variety of activities available for visitors to entertain themselves with, including walking trails for socially distanced recreating. The tennis courts at Margaret Pace are situated on a quiet side of the park and offer the ideal spot for a match with an unobstructed view of Biscayne Bay.

No sport is as well-suited to social distancing as golf. You're outdoors, not sharing any equipment, and the closest people outside of your party are hundreds of feet away. And no other spot in South Florida tees up as pleasant a setting for this most frustrating of games as Miami Beach Golf Club. First opened in 1923 by Carl Fisher as a way to lure rich out-of-towners to Miami Beach, the nearly 7,000-yard course continues to attract golfers from around the world to play its 18 holes. You'll pay a pretty penny to enjoy the course's beautifully maintained grounds, but it's worth it. During the summer season, which runs through Halloween, rates are $129 per player, while peak-season rates (December 21 to April 30) will set you back $232. The course is open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call ahead for COVID-19 guidelines, such as one person per cart and no touching of the flagstick.

Best Pool
Photo courtesy of 1 Hotel South Beach

Amid oodles of day-at-the-pool options, 1 Hotel South Beach is the glistening winner. For hotel guests and staycation warriors, the oceanfront property has four separate pools scattered about: the center pool, the cabana pool, the south pool, and what should be anyone's fave: the rooftop pool. Situated 18 stories up, so that you feel like you're floating in the clouds, the rooftop pool is 21-plus, and on Sundays is open to non-hotel guests who rent a cabana. The next time you want to splurge on the cabana life, this is about as elegant, exclusive and inspiring as it gets. Adding to the pool's ambience, the attendants are super-friendly, the surrounding area is clad with trees, greenery and tasteful wooden fixtures, and the convenient rooftop bar comes with an equally dazzling view. You deserve the good life, and it's totally here.

Miami's not often thought of as a big skateboarding town, but that doesn't mean that skaters in the Magic City have nowhere to go. Cruise on over to Haulover Park near Sunny Isles Beach, where you'll find Haulover Skate Park situated next to the water. The park features a stylish and versatile pump track, with varying inclines and sharp turns meant for anything on wheels: skateboards, bicycles, and everything in between. There's also an adjacent ramp and grind rail where you can go at your own pace or test your mettle and perfect your trick skills while your friends watch with awe (or laughter). The skate park is free and open to the public from sunup to sundown (parking is $5 to $7). And if you don't have wheels of your own, there's a bike rental shack right next to the ramps.

Best Urban Bike Ride
Photo by Mike Diaz

If you already owned a bike or were lucky enough to score one during the pandemic's "bicycle boom," then you've probably avoided the chronic boredom that comes with quarantining. The key to not breaking shit in a rage during these trying times is to go outside and be active in a safe manner. For West Kendall suburbanites, the Hammocks lakes beckon with a scenic bike/jogging path surrounded by multiple lakes, mini beaches, and nature. (Although use of the waterside reprieve is technically only for residents of the Hammocks community, everyone has a cousin who lives in the Hammocks.) After a peaceful day biking the trail, unwind with a socially distanced picnic at one of the beaches. Just keep your sandwiches away from those crazy Miami ducks. For the geographically precise, the area is bounded roughly by SW 88th Street and SW 120th Street on the north and south and SW 147th Avenue and SW 157th Avenue on the east and west.

No time like the present to enjoy some fresh air, am I right? The Commodore Trail in Coconut Grove takes hikers through a bevy of scenic locations, namely Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Peacock Park, and the Barnacle Historic State Park. You can walk, skate, or bike the five-mile trail while capturing plenty of covet-worthy photos for the 'gram. The popular trail begins near Ingraham Terrace Park in Coral Gables and concludes in Coconut Grove. Once you complete the long and winding road, you'll find diverging paths. Take a left to continue down the M-Path, future site of the Underline linear park, which is being constructed below the Metrorail tracks. Go to your right to start on the Rickenbacker Trail. Or just take a beat, chill, and enjoy the leaves waving from the nearby trees.

Larry and Penny Thompson Park, located adjacent to Zoo Miami, offers 270 acres of fun for families and nature aficionados. Nestled between Country Walk and Cutler Bay, it's a quick and easy camping getaway — no need to drive hours out of the city to the Everglades or the Florida Keys. Among the available activities are biking or hiking on trails, horse riding, picnicking under shaded pavilions, and swimming in the freshwater lake; amenities include tent camping areas, 240 RV sites with water and electrical hookups, restroom and laundry facilities, and a camp store. The campground reopened in July, but on-site construction has caused temporary closures of the gazebo and pool cabanas; best to call for the current arrangements.

Deering Estate

Communing with sea cows is certainly one effective way to social-distance. But even when a pandemic isn't going on, we adore paddling around Deering Estate, one of Miami's treasured national landmarks. Drifting over seagrass beds and exploring mangrove forests in the calm company of the local manatees that hang around this historic oceanside venue reduces our stress levels, no matter what's going on in the peopled world. Kayak rentals are available daily between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.; go to the Deering Estate website for details.

Though you can't see it, the Miami-Broward border is alive and well. But there is one undeniably good reason to cross the border: Hollywood Beach and its Broadwalk. Along a two-and-a-half-mile stretch of pristine beach, the Broadwalk is lively with small restaurants, tiki bars, ice cream shops, and a brewery. Unlike South Beach, Hollywood retains its Old Florida charm. Most of the eateries are of the open-air, mom-and-pop variety. Park at one of the ample city-owned parking garages and rent a bike or simply stroll the Broadwalk, working up your appetite. Stop in for a fish dip atBonny & Read's Toucan Hideout, have a mango IPA at Hollywood Brewing Company, or eat your weight in tacos at the Taco Spot. Head north to one of the handful of tiki huts, many of which offer live music. Then, plant your beach chair on the sand to watch the pelicans glide by overhead. Save for the occasional holiday weekend, Hollywood Beach is rarely as crowded as South Beach and its family-friendly vibe is welcoming to all. EvenJimmy Buffett's tribute to blender drinks and commercialism — the Margaritaville Resort — fits in. Instead of being an eyesore, it's turned into a renewed source of energy for this seaside community.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®