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
Photo by Jessica Gibbs

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.

Bayfront Park
Photo by Richard Cavalleri/Shutterstock

Bayfront Park may not be the most low-key of places, but hear us out. The free lounge chairs overlooking Biscayne Bay at this iconic Miami attraction provide the perfect spot to spark a blunt. As the buenas vibras take over, watch the boats drift lazily by and the cars zip past on the MacArthur Causeway bridge (adorned with purple lights at night for extra stoner appeal). Feeling more of an adrenaline buzz? Hop on one of the many pay-by-the-hour scooters in the area — Lyft, Jump, Bird, and others are all available — and whiz around in your kushy haze. If you start to go too deep and it's bringing you down, get back up—way, way up—at the new Skyviews MIAMI Observation Wheel. This Ferris wheel in the back of Bayside Marketplace has been in the works since at least October 2019, and it now provides one of the best views in all of Miami. Light up that wood one more time at the very top as you stare out at the city's skyline and revel in 305 pride.

Whether you're an essential worker on your feet all day or a remote employee crouched over your laptop in your new home office/kids' playroom, one thing is probably true: You're feeling stiff and achy in the new normal. Finding a way to stretch it out and maybe discover a little zen along the way has never been more important. Ahana Yoga, a small studio tucked away in the Design District, has perfectly pivoted to meet the moment. Yogis of any experience level can sign up for unlimited online classes for just $20 a month or sweat it out in person at socially distant outdoor classes, which are offered for a $25 drop-in rate (with discounted multi-pack options). And each Thursday at 7 p.m., Ahana offers a free outdoor class so you can stretch your body without stretching your budget.

Best Jog
Photo by Chris Malone

Whether you're traversing the William Powell Bridge on two feet or two wheels, any Miamian who exercises knows the difficulty of conquering the Rickenbacker Causeway. Beginning at the southern end of Brickell and connecting the mainland with Virginia Key and Key Biscayne, the five-and-a-half-mile stretch of the Rickenbacker is probably the most challenging running route in the county — but also the one that offers the most reward. The view from the top of the William Powell Bridge (AKA "the tallest hill in Miami") offers sweeping views of the downtown skyline and of the deep-blue waters of Biscayne Bay. You just have to get up there first.

Martell Park
Photo by Dan Evans

Tucked just north of the Julia Tuttle eastbound on-ramp sits dog-friendly Martell Park (also known as the "Martell Bark Park" in some circles). Although the enclosed pooch playground area is small in size, it still packs a big bark. Unlike at more traditional dog parks, big and little pooches do not have separate areas here; everyone is expected to just get along. And why not? In addition to the overarching mellowness of the dogs and their owners, the park boasts a million-dollar view of the causeway and Miami Beach. A word of caution: There's not much in the way of close-in parking here, but it's easy enough to find something in the surrounding blocks. Just don't use the Taco Bell lot, or you and your pup could be hoofing it home — and paying big bucks at the tow lot.

Oleta River State Park

If you're looking for a getaway after a hard work week or just an escape from the pandemic blues, there is no shortage of things to do in Florida's largest urban park. Take an easy hike on miles of dirt and paved trails, or go for an adrenaline-fueled ride on off-road biking trails. Snorkel in the water off of Sandspur Island, or prop a beach chair in the sand and read a book. Kayak or canoe surrounded by mangroves in this 1,000-acre oasis, keeping an eye out for dolphins, manatees, herons, and turtles. Currently, visitors can expect limited hours, amenities, and capacity; see the park's website for more information.

Alice C. Wainwright Park
Courtesy of the GMCVB

In many ways, Alice Wainwright Park, at the northern end of Coconut Grove, contains many of the elements of South Florida outdoor public spaces that parkgoers love: a playground, a basketball court, picnic shelters, and tastefully placed benches. Any spot in Alice Wainwright Park is good enough to set up your picnic blanket, but your best bet is to descend into the park's "lower level," beneath a small limestone formation that's part of the Miami Rock Ridge; a grassy area sits right up against the lapping waters of Biscayne Bay, and picnic shelters are hidden in the nearby thicket of casuarina trees.

Best Cheap Thrill
Photo by Dan Evans

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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®