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 Weekend Getaway

Less than four hours northwest of Miami, there's a piece of Florida that seems untouched by time. If you want a weekend away from high-rise condos and shopping at Target, head to Anna Maria Island. There, you'll find miles of untouched beaches, tiny restaurants serving fresh fish dip and cheap beer, and incredible sunsets, often accompanied by some dude in a floral shirt playing guitar. Check in to the Compass Hotel ($116 and up per night). It's a brand-spanking-new venture from the Margaritaville people — think of it as Jimmy Buffett-lite. The rooms are "coastal-chic," decorated in neutral shades with views of Anna Maria Sound. After your drive, you'll want to unwind, so hit the Floridays bar for a beer from one of the many breweries in nearby Clearwater and some of the best fish dip you'll ever have. Now you're ready to explore. Call the Monkey Bus, a free shuttle that takes you anywhere on the island (leaving a tip is customary, so bring some cash), and stop at the Rod & Reel Pier, where a buck gets you a beer. Try your hand at fishing or just watch the water. A short walk from the pier is Bean Point, a secluded stretch of beach where you're likely to see more sandpipers than people. Grab a seat at one of the restaurants on the Gulf side to watch the sun set. The next morning, check out the West Coast surf shop, founded in 1964. Soak up some vitamin "sea" at Holmes Beach or grab an ice cream at Two Scoops. The Island, which consists of three small towns — Holmes Beach, Anna Maria, and Bradenton Beach, isn't overrun with chains. Instead, you'll find yourself chatting with the bar owner. In these COVID-19 times, what better way to decompress and social-distance than by finding a stretch of beach that isn't overrun with people, cracking open a local brew, and listening to the sound of the waves?

Miami Beach Edition
Courtesy of Purple PR

Sometimes you just want to pretend to be a tourist on Miami Beach. The ocean, the sand, the neon lights, the food, the dancing — all of it can be yours at the Miami Beach Edition on Collins Avenue, the quintessential South Beach hotel. Inside you'll find an all-white-and-gold (but sophisticated) color scheme, and decor that easily blends over-the-top elegance with Miami tropical vibes. The Edition has all you need for a full day of staycation indulgence. Start with a facial and massage at the spa, then have lunch at Jean-Georges' Market; afterward, take a dip in the pool or enjoy access to a private slice of Miami Beach. Later, change for dinner at the Matador Room, then change again for drinks and dancing at Basement. Back in your room, sink into luxuriously soft linens and dream about your next getaway. Hotel rates vary by season, but an average night runs about $350.

Best People-Watching Spot

By now, you've settled comfortably into the daily drill: Wake up, put on the coffee, sit in front of the computer, and attempt to look like the peppy, engaged employee you've always been. But maybe you've discovered that the photo you can use in place of a video feed looks much, much better than your real face (complete with bloodshot eyes from binge-watching Netflix). Fortunately for you, there are a few people who haven't caught on yet — so instead of pretending to be engaged in the latest quarterly report, you can check out the living situations of your co-workers. Is Bob from accounting actually reading Gravity's Rainbow, or is he just trying to impress the boss? When was the last time Angie dusted? And why has Samantha painted all of her nails a different color? Just be sure to text any catty remarks directly to co-workers rather than using the could-accidentally-go-to-everyone messaging function. Not that we know anything about that.

With bar closures and restaurant limitations in place, planning the perfect first date can be tricky. The ideal venue must be spacious enough to ensure social distancing, properly sanitized and, of course, boast a killer cocktail menu to rein in those first-date jitters. At Casa Florida, you'll find all that and more. The airy patio space transports you to an evening in Key West, replete with lush foliage, bright-pink flamingo accents, and cozy seating for taking in an evening sunset with tropical libations. Spice things up with a specialty Canoe Club cocktail — crafted with Ilegal mezcal, crème de mûre, lime, and serrano and ginger syrup — alongside some broiled Florida oysters for a magical evening that will undoubtedly make a great first impression. Happy hour runs from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

Shark Valley
U.S. National Park Service

It's tough to know where to take the kids for entertainment these days. Plenty of indoor places have reopened, but maybe you're wary of taking your kids back to their favorite fun spot, regardless of mask policies and bottles of hand sanitizer in every corner. Pack up the car with plenty of snacks, water and sunscreen, and take a drive to Shark Valley in Everglades National Park. Jump on a limited-capacity tram tour ($27 for adults and $14 for kids) or go for a bike ride, if you're feeling brave enough to endure the heat. Bring your own bikes or rent them for $20 apiece. Peeping alligators, anhingas, turtles, herons, and egrets along the way never gets old, no matter your age. (Note: Though the park is open, at press time its visitor centers remained closed; best to call for current status.)

The no-frills spa nestled beneath the Castle Beach Club condominium in Miami Beach channels your grandmother force-feeding you honey and garlic at the first sign of a sniffle — and Babushka would definitely approve of this rainy-day excursion. But the traditional bathhouse, which boasts sixteen treatment rooms, proves an ideal hideaway for relaxing and rejuvenating whatever the weather. The labyrinth of treatment rooms seems never-ending, and steams and aromas pour out of every door, tempting intrigued visitors. The adventurous (or masochistic) will want to try the infamous "platza" treatment, a circulation enhancer that involves a branch of oak leaves and a practitioner with a firm center of gravity. The often-overlooked high point of the spa? The food. Shvitzing, plunging, and exfoliating can work up quite an appetite, and the spa's café beckons with a menu of authentic home-style Russian delights, including cheese blintzes, pierogi, borscht, and homemade rye bread. Make no mistake: These hearty bites are an integral part of the healing process.

Best-Kept Secret

A fun, safe, uncrowded, and socially distanced activity is what we all need after months spent cooped up indoors talking to our pets. So when the prospect of some fun in the sun comes up, a trip down south to Homestead's Fruit & Spice Park feels almost necessary. The South Dade gem boasts 37 acres of subtropical bliss, with a global selection of more than 500 exotic fruits, nuts, herbs, spices, vegetables, plants, trees, and scenic paths, plus one very special perk: Not only can you bring in a picnic, but you're free to enjoy edible fruits that have fallen from the park's trees. (Don't even think about picking them, however.) Note: Because of the pandemic, tram tours are currently suspended, and the on-site Mango Café is open for takeout only.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®