Best Of :: Sports & Recreation
It's been maddening, right? Every day feels the same, an endless loop of Groundhog Day without the witty banter of Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. And no Punxsutawney Phil, for that matter. When neighbors meet in the street or the elevator, the most common response to the "How are things going?" question seems to be, simply, "Surviving." But there's a way to break up the day, one that costs essentially nothing: going for a goddamn walk. Depending on the day and the mood of whatever city manager's domain you happen to be in, walks might be masked or unmasked, but it's a freeing experience either way. Hell, it's even good exercise. This being the subtropics, morning might be the best time, but for the hair shirt-inclined, nothing quite beats a noontime walk. Although your clothes will quickly appear as though you've run headlong into Biscayne Bay, the combination of sun, sweat and exercise will have you feeling like a new person, ready to take on the next endless Zoom meeting.
Amid the 305's hustle and bustle, it can be hard to find any peace of mind. Seems like just about every nook in our city comes packaged with honking horns. Good thing, then, that we've got Biscayne Bay, where you can easily get away from it all. Whether you're upright on a paddleboard or sitting in an inflatable kayak, the journey from Miami Beach or Miami to Monument Island (AKA Flagler Memorial Island) is a unique mile perfect for the age of social distancing. Embark from Purdy Marina or Margaret Pace Park on the mainland; depending on the current and the wind, the trek to the uninhabited island can range from laid-back to strenuous. Afterward, you'll be appropriately reinvigorated or worn out; either way, you'll be reminded of how very special this city is.
For more than 70 years, Haulover Beach has offered a multifaceted escape for locals and visitors alike. The 177-acre park, situated between Sunny Isles Beach and Bal Harbour, first opened to the public in 1948, and over the decades has become a beloved destination. Among its diverse offerings are the 150-plus-slip Bill Bird Marina, an expansive dog park (Fido loves the beach, too, y'all!), a skate park, and fishing spots with beautiful blue vistas of the Atlantic. Any description of Haulover would be incomplete without mentioning the sandbar, an uber-popular boater hangout in the intracoastal just off the park's southwestern shore. Last but not least, the park is home to Florida's oldest and perhaps best-known nude beach. If you leave Haulover Park bored, well, that's on you.
Black Point Park and Marina sits in that perfect sweet spot between beachside marina and the kind of natural forested park that is endemic to South Florida. Located at the mouth of Black Creek in Homestead, the boat launch feeds directly into Biscayne Bay, and the park itself is adjacent to Biscayne National Park. Vessels large and small leave from the marina daily, mostly manned by locals and vacationers looking to take advantage of one of Miami's most beautiful vistas. But whether you're in a boat or on foot on Black Creek Trail, you're looking out on a beautiful ocean bordered by lush green treetops. For their part, the creek and walking trail are bordered by natural species of trees and plants along small waterways that keep you connected to Florida's roots; you'll also find plenty of good fishing spots along the way. Keep the chill vibe going at Black Point Ocean Grill, which offers waterfront dining for more of that gorgeous view.
The long stretch of road that winds through Little Havana in Miami affectionately known as Calle Ocho (Eighth Street) has undergone a change over the years — not the kind of change that makes you want to avoid it, but rather a kind of beautiful metamorphosis. Calle Ocho will always retain its Cuban flavor — you'll find some of the city's best Cuban restaurants here — but its evolution has attracted visitors from near and far. Think of it as Miami's very own picturesque Main Street. It's a great place to take out-of-town friends and family for a foolproof Miami experience. Forget South Beach. Take your visitors to Calle Ocho and watch their eyes widen and their mouths drop. Take them to dinner at chef Michelle Bernstein's Cafe La Trova before heading to Ball & Chain for specialty cocktails and a night of dancing. During the day, walk around and take in the street art and the viejitos studying their games at Domino Park. For a well-rounded Cuban-themed tour, stop by the Cubaocho Museum, then enjoy a cigar from one of the many vendors along the way.
Built in 1913, the Lyric Theater was the heart of a bustling entertainment district in Overtown known as "Little Broadway," where such legendary artists as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, and B.B. King graced the stage. As the sole surviving symbol of that district, the theater has undergone extensive renovations over the years to cement its place in Overtown's history. In addition to still hosting talent, Miami's oldest theater also houses an extensive archive of historical records, photos, and artifacts related to South Florida's Black history. The theater was acquired by the Black Archives, History and Research Foundation of South Florida in 1988 and added to the National Register of Historic Places the following year. We may not be able to sit in for a live performance right now, but the foundation launched a #SaferAtHome virtual series with various speakers and fun events like "Jeopardy Noir" to put your knowledge of Miami's Black history to the test.
Heading into his fifth season, DeVante Parker was a bit of a mystery for the Miami Dolphins. Although he'd shown glimpses of dominance on the field, he was often hampered by injuries, bad coaching, bad quarterback play, or a combination of all three. But then Parker took off, demonstrating why the Dolphins had picked him so high in the first round of the 2015 NFL draft. He caught 72 passes for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns last season, earning himself a new contract and a chance to continue proving that he's a Pro Bowl-caliber player. Having dealt with so many changes since his 2015 start, he's sure to benefit from stability in both the coaching staff and the quarterback room this season. If his stellar 2019 is any indication, the sky is the limit for Parker.
With Dwyane Wade hanging up his sneakers after a long and fruitful career, the Miami Heat needed a new franchise cornerstone to step into the fold. Most believed that man would be Jimmy Butler after he signed with the Heat in free agency during the offseason. No one expected Bam Adebayo to be an NBA All-Star so soon, but that's exactly what happened. Bam has averaged 16 points, ten rebounds, and five assists in his third NBA season, far surpassing expectations for a team with so many offensive options. He's already one of the best centers in the NBA, and he's barely old enough to legally buy a beer. It's become nearly impossible for the Heat to replace what Bam brings to the court when he's missing from the lineup or in foul trouble. He's quickly become the team's rock and, undeniably, its best player.
In his third season at Miami, DeeJay Dallas transformed from part-time weapon to full-time leader. Throughout his career with the Hurricanes, Dallas was one of the best players on the field, but in 2019, he truly stood out. Ten total touchdowns and a combined 800-plus yards from scrimmage in ten games doesn't tell the entire story. Dallas came up big in the clutch more often than not; from sealing games when the Hurricanes needed it to breaking a big run against Florida State, he was Miami's own "Mr. Dependable." His play didn't go unnoticed by the NFL, either: Dallas was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL draft. Whenever the Hurricanes next take the field, DeeJay Dallas will be missed.
The Miami Hurricanes basketball team had its ups and downs last season, which made the efforts of senior guard Dejan Vasiljevic even more essential. Vasiljevic averaged 13.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in 2019, his final season in Coral Gables, and led the team as they fought and clawed their way against ACC competition. The Australian native might not be the flashiest player who's ever stepped on the court for Miami, but he's one of the most dependable leaders the Canes have seen in recent years. And while his college career is at an end, his playing days aren't: Vasiljevic signed a three-year deal in July with the National Basketball League's Sydney Kings.
Inter Miami was a blip on the radar in 2020, coming and going in the blink of an eye. Before the season was even a handful of games old, the coronavirus ended it. Then the MLS resumed in Orlando for a tournament that gave Inter Miami little chance to grow together as a team. Looking ahead, Rodolfo Pizzaro will undoubtedly be a part of that growth, as he was the best player in Inter's inaugural season. When Pizarro left Mexico's Monterrey, his club team, for Inter Miami, he was an instant star. He lived up to that status when he scored Inter's first goal in a 2-1 preseason loss to the Philadelphia Union. Pizarro would also score Inter Miami's first official goal in a 2-1 loss to D.C. United in the club's first real game. Not winning a game in 2020 was a tough pill to swallow for Inter fans, but knowing that a player of Pizarro's caliber plays professional soccer in Miami now makes it a lot easier to be patient.
Brian Anderson rakes, which is why Miami Marlins fans call him as "The Groundskeeper" — and in 2019, Anderson definitely cleaned up. The Marlins third baseman swatted twenty home runs and drove in 66 runs, all while batting a respectable .261 in 459 at-bats. For a team that struggled to find its way in the win column for much of the season, Anderson gave the Marlins a fighting chance on many nights with his timely hits and stellar play, and he quickly became one of the team's leaders. After trades and roster turnover, the Marlins needed some familiar faces to step up and show the younger players how the pros do it. In 2019, Anderson was the Marlins' best player, but even more important, he taught the team's future stars how to play the game right.