With the amount of change and new development in the ever-dynamic city that is Miami, there aren't a lot of touchstones that connect the city with its colonial past, but the Cape Florida Lighthouse acts as a beacon — both literally and figuratively — to illuminate Miami's roots. Located in Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, the lighthouse dates back to 1825, when sailors used its light to navigate around the Florida Reef off the coast of Key Biscayne. The original tower was burned down in 1836 by Seminole warriors during the Second Seminole War, but it was rebuilt in 1846 and is the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County. The lighthouse grounds provide a peek into the life of lighthouse keepers and their families, with a replica keeper's lodging and stone water well demonstrating that St. Augustine doesn't have the monopoly on old Florida colonialism. The lighthouse itself is a resplendent white tower with a black top that peeks out just above an arch of palm trees as you walk toward it from the park — a beautiful site for its historic value and its picture-perfect view. The tower is open from 10 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 2 p.m. Thursday-Monday; the grounds are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Sunday.

The best parks offer a chance to get away from your busy day and escape to the outdoors, and no place is better for escaping than Greynolds Park. The park almost feels like it doesn't exist in Miami; its wooded forests and hilly landscape make it seem as though it was plucked from a more northern state, and the park's built architecture is more reminiscent of castles and camp cabins than the wooden pavilions you see elsewhere. While other outdoor parks in South Florida rely on wide-open spaces and unobstructed views, Greynolds isn't afraid to use winding roads, diverse elevation, and dense tree cover to break lines of sight to ensure that visitors are always turning corners and discovering something new, creating an allure of wonder and mystery. Park facilities include a children's playground, bike paths, a bird rookery, and a boathouse and jetty on the Oleta River, which winds alongside the grounds and offers cool(er) riverside banks for visitors to lounge on beneath shady trees. As one of Miami-Dade County's oldest parks and a designated historic site, Greynolds Park is a beautiful spot for anyone looking to escape into a renowned wilderness. Hours: sunrise to sunset.

Whoever coined the adage about "having it all" may just as well have had Fairway Park in mind. In addition to the multiple playground-type areas, two hard tennis courts, a basketball court, and event space, a large swath of open field spans much of the park and often draws pick-up games of ultimate Frisbee, Spikeball. The park is adjacent to Normandy Shores Golf Course, far from any beach-related hustle and bustle, offering recreational opportunities for just about everyone. Fairway Park is open daily from sunrise to sunset.

Being named the best coach in South Florida sports isn't a cakewalk. There's some stiff competition, particularly with Erik Spoelstra going on 20 years leading the Miami Heat and Brian Flores stewarding a revitalized Dolphins club. This past year, however, found coach Joel Quenneville and his Florida Panthers front and center on the local landscape, tallying one of the best regular seasons in franchise history before falling to eventual back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the playoffs. Though the season didn't end as Quenneville hoped, the future in Sunrise has never been brighter. The 2020 season saw Quenneville's squad transform from an annual disappointment to an NHL powerhouse no opponent wanted to see on its schedule. The 61-year-old Quenneville, it must be said, is no stranger to winning. A former defenseman, he's got four Stanley Cups to his name as a coach — one as an assistant with the Colorado Avalanche and three as head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks. He brought that winning swagger with him to the Panthers when he took the helm in 2019. Watch out for this club in '21.

Xavien Howard was so incredibly good for the Miami Dolphins in 2020 that he nearly wasn't a Dolphin in 2021. Howard had ten interceptions last season — a performance that garnered him Defensive Player of the Year consideration, and, eventually, as a reward, a contract restructuring just before this year's preseason. He isn't just the best player on the Miami Dolphins, he's the best cornerback in the National Football League. His ball-hawking skills and knack for breaking up opponents' plans makes him a player no opposing quarterback wants to see when trying to find an open receiver. Before Howard had some help on defense, they just didn't bother. Teams avoided him. That became impossible last season, and the results were about what one would expect from Howard, who will surely be welcomed into the Miami Dolphins Ring of Honor after he retires.

Scoring 58 points for the Florida Panthers in last year's shortened, 50-game season was fantastic, but statistics don't begin to sum up what Aleksander Barkov meant to the Panthers in 2020 — and in every other season he's taken the ice for the club since they took him with the second overall pick in the 2013 National Hockey League draft. Barkov brings legitimacy to hockey in South Florida every time he takes the ice. He's a player who'd start and star on any NHL team. And in one of the weirdest seasons any hockey player, or fan for that matter, could ever imagine, Barkov provided one of his greatest performances — and one for the Panthers to build on going forward.

If there was ever a doubt as to who is the Miami Heat's best player, it was put to rest when Jimmy Butler put his new team on his back on the way to the NBA Finals last year against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Not two months later, Butler was asked to do it all over again, reporting for duty and giving it his all. While the season didn't turn out as expected, Butler provided absurd numbers: 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists a game — all on a body that was begging for rest every night. Now, rested, you can be sure Butler, Bam Adebayo, and newcomer Kyle Lowry, will be back on the court next month to right the Heat ship.

Gonzalo Higuaín is a pro's pro, the sort of soccer player Inter Miami craved upon joining Major League Soccer last year. Coming over from Europe last fall, the Argentinian native showed the sort of urgency on the pitch that made him a coveted commodity for David Beckham's group. While the goals didn't come as often as Higuaín or his new squad would have liked, his leadership allowed — and continues to allow — younger players to grow into their roles in Major League Soccer. In 2021, the goals have started to come from Higuaín, which proves his presence is beginning to make a difference, and it seems 2020 actually may have been the beginning.

The Miami Marlins have lacked swagger for some time. Losing will do that to a team. It's hard to strut around the diamond or flip bats when you're coming out on the wrong end of the score every night. Then 22-year-old shortstop Jasrado Hermis Arrington Chisholm, AKA Jazz Chisholm, Jr., arrived last September — and all that changed. Scores no longer mattered when it came to swagger. Confidence had nothing to do with the scoreboard. Marlins games were fun to watch again, even if the outcome wasn't the one fans had hoped for. A top Arizona Diamondbacks prospect the Marlins received in return in a 2019 trade for pitcher Zac Gallen, the Bahamian-born Chisholm has injected unabashed flair back to a game badly in need of just such a boost. He's worth the price of admission to a Marlins game all by himself, and he's just getting started. Once the Marlins core solidifies, watch out.

Last season he finished second in total and solo tackles to his twin brother and fellow defensive back Richard Dames, Rishard is winning over Conference USA football analysts as the top defensive player on the Golden Panthers. The redshirt junior has recorded 89 tackles, including 10 for a loss, one sack, 6 interceptions and broken up 10 passes during his three seasons at FIU. He was a big reason FIU ranked 15th nationally in defense and fourth in passing yards allowed in Conference USA. Like his twin, he's a Miami native who graduated from Booker T. Washington High in Overtown.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®