Zeitgeist Spirit of the Time
Photo by Joshua Ceballos

An antique shop ought to make you feel like you're on a scavenger hunt. Like you need to work a little —scrounging through mounds of seemingly random pieces and cabinets filled with tchotchkes organized by...what? Hidden within a plaza of antique- and interior-design stores lies Zeitgeist Spirit of the Time, a small shop brimming as much with personality as it is with treasures. The eclectic collection of paintings, crystal, knickknacks, and vintage memorabilia calls to you to find your own way through its twisting aisles. Only in a shop such as this on can you find a tasteful bust not far from a mug in the image of a busty figurine. Visitors will be greeted by Macho, the shop's mostly-poodle guard dog, who'll usher in each guest and show them around. If he likes you, that means you're a good customer. Open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

Best Furniture Store
Photo by Emmanuele Couloumy

An eclectically curated store of rare vintage furniture and home décor from the Sixties to the 1990s, Primaried Studio opened its showroom in Little Haiti early this summer, giving Sweat Records and Churchill's Pub a colorful new neighbor. Miami-raised Jonathan Sanchez-Obias decided to take his hobby of collecting furniture to full-time status once he saw the increasing demand for rare vintage home goods. "The vintage furniture market was booming, especially on Instagram, so I created Primaried," Sanchez-Obias explains. The showroom, which displays designs from Memphis style to postmodern, offers a one-of-a-kind visual experience whether you're looking to furnish your home or just window-shop. Collectors will recognize many of the rare designer names, from Giotto Stoppino to Lella and Massimo Vignelli, Vico Magistretti, Herman Miller, Ettore Sottsass, and Mario Bellini. Open Friday noon to 7 p.m., Sunday 1 to 5 p.m., and by appointment.

El Car Wash (Pinecrest)
Photo courtesy of El Car Wash
El Car Wash (Pinecrest)

In Miami, we like it quick and we like it easy, and no matter what anyone tells you, sometimes size does matter. That's what separates El Car Wash from vehicle-tidying pretenders to the Best of Miami throne. The fast but thorough wash tunnel and easy-to-use pay station make for a headache-free experience for the dirty driver on the go, at a hard-to-beat price. With 15 parking spots and more than two dozen free, unlimited-use vacuums, the Little Havana El Car Wash throws a tasty bone to those who seek to do a little detail work, perhaps on the way home from the beach carrying more beach than they brought. Each and every one of El Car Wash's 15 area locations — including the biggest car wash in Florida, next to Zoo Miami — provides free microfiber towels, glass cleaner and is outfitted with free floor-mat cleaners for those especially filthy days, and each and every El Car Wash is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. (Check out the membership program!)

Plant lovers can treat themselves to instant joy in the aisles of Midtown Garden Center. Spend an afternoon exploring the center's jungle-esque enclaves brimming with pothos tendrils and stunning succulents. Afterward, enjoy a quick bite at the garden's on-site taco shop, Tacomiendo, or snag a refreshing smoothie at the juice bar. If you're new to plants, don't fret — the helpful staff are ready to guide you to the right plant, customize arrangements, and educate you on overall care and maintenance. The center also offers delivery services and installations for those who need an extra green thumb.

Miami Beach Bicycle Center
Photo courtesy of Miami Beach Bicycle Center

The Miami Beach Bicycle Center has been family-owned and -operated since 1977. Jack Ruiz opened the store when he was just 19; since then, the bike shop has become a local institution. Bikes are in the Ruiz family's blood. While other kids went to summer camp, Jack's sons, Alex and Danny, went to the bike shop. And now they help run the place. Nearly everyone who walks in is a familiar face. The Ruiz family know and love their regulars. They make sure each and every tourist looking for a bike rental or first-timer seeking repairs walks away feeling like part of the family. Ask Alex Ruiz what his favorite part about his job is, and he'll tell you it's working with his dad and brother every day. The Miami Beach Bicycle Center offers everything from bikes and clothes to spare parts and accessories. If you need a new bike, repairs, service, or rental, stop in and see for yourself. Open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

While not as immense or thoroughly stocked as some other art-supply stores around town (note: the spray paint selection is hard to beat), i.d. art Supply & Custom Framing makes up for it with the vast knowledge of its staff. No matter whom you talk to, it seems they can help with any type of artistic or craft endeavor, offering options, advice, or solutions as needed. Custom framing — no job too big! — ups the one-stop-shopping factor. Best to come in with a plan, though, and don't dawdle. Owing to its location on Biscayne Boulevard near the Miami-Dade County Public Schools headquarters, parking can be tricky. Your best bet is to park — semi-illegally — in the painted yellow-stripe area closer to the school district building.

Aside from purveying colorful flower arrangements and gift baskets, Trias Flowers carries decades of rich history. The florist's lively tale began more than 100 years ago in Cuba. Opened on the island by the shop's namesake, Pedro Trias, the shop relocated to Miami in 1967. While the store was brought to life in Cuba, it has thrived here. And today, more than a century after its inception, Trias Flowers carries on its generational success. The shop is open daily and offers same-day delivery for all local orders. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Best Bookstore
Photo by Monica McGivern

Nathaniel Sandler wants you to read, and he has put his profits (or lack of 'em) where his literature is: His nonprofit library has offered customers one free book every single day for the past nine years (each additional book costs $2). It's an eyebrow-raising business model that often leaves patrons exclaiming, "Free?! Really?!" Really! The radical bookshop is generously funded by the Knight Foundation and has given away 40,000 books in Miami to date. Billing itself as a no-kill shelter for books, Bookleggers happily accepts book donations at its green-and-white-striped book boxes around town, at its headquarters at the Bakehouse Art Complex in Wynwood (on Tuesdays), and by appointment. In May, the nonprofit launched a new Sunday pop-up from a former shoe store at 1600 Washington Ave. in South Beach, offering sunscreen, shot glasses, beach towels, bathrobes, and stacks of free books.

Locally owned independent bookstores have nearly gone the way of the dodo. The mom-and-pop locations that remain have survived for a reason. They've built a stronghold in the community and a reputation for being book-lovers' bookstores. Come for the books, stay for the atmosphere. Big Apple Books has all that going for it and more. NPR could stage a Tiny Desk Concert here and you'd hardly know it was a remote shot. One day you might walk in to the scent of incense burning and Bob Marley playing, the next you might hear jazz or the Beatles blaring. Rob, the longtime owner, is constantly stocking his shelves with books, records, CDs, DVDs, and anything else he thinks his clientele might find of interest. He takes in so much, he doesn't have room to display all of it, so there are always boxes of yet-to-be-discovered gems scattered around. Oh, and everything is priced at $4 or less. If that's not a throwback to a better time, what is?

Museo Del Disco
Photo by Jessica Gibbs

When you waltz into a record store, there's at least a 50 percent chance you're absolutely clueless as to what you're looking for. Maybe you're just there for the experience, maybe you're looking to see if a random record calls out to you from the shelves. Either way, you might as well have as many options at your disposal as possible. At Museo del Disco in Coral Terrace, you can browse 10,000 square feet of music. It's South Florida's largest music emporium, and its spacious aisles allow shoppers the room to peruse English-language and Latin selections to their hearts' content — all while remaining socially distanced.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®