Best Hurricanes Football Player
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Freshmen don't have the sort of season Tyler Van Dyke had in 2021. In fact, they usually don't have a season at all. But after D'Eriq King was lost to injury, Van Dyke entered the NCAA football chat and shone — to the tune of 26 touchdowns and a scant six interceptions. His stellar play earned the Hurricanes QB ACC Rookie of the Year and ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, but more important, Miami New Times' annual "Best Hurricanes Football Player" nod. It just keeps getting better for Tyler. Each step, progressively upward. The only college accomplishment remaining for Van Dyke is a Heisman Trophy and a top ten selection in next year's NFL draft — and he's a decent bet to do both.

Best Marlins Player
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

One of Major League Baseball's best pitchers in 2021, Sandy Alcántara posted a 3.19 ERA, a 1.075 WHIP, and notched 201 strikeouts across 205-plus innings — a performance that earned him a new, five-year $56 million contract.Truly a special 12 months for the Marlins' best player! It's no secret they're a franchise in search of an identity, and as of now, they are known for dynamite pitching, led by Alcántara, mixed with a generous and colorful splash of Jazz Chisholm vibes. If the Marlins are to compete over the next half-decade, Sandy, who has yet to turn 27 at this writing, will factor strongly in their success.

Will Manso joined WPLG in 1999 and has been a mainstay ever since. In recent years, his local legend has only continued to grow. Now WPLG's sports director, he also mans the sidelines for Miami Heat telecasts on Bally Sports. A graduate of the University of Miami, Manso brings to the airwaves a calm, cool, and collected vibe that, coupled with his talent and knowledge of all sports, makes Miami fans feel like one of their own is on the scene. Known for interacting with viewers and fans on social media, Manso is exactly what all towns ought to be looking for in their sports department: down-to-earth coverage that covers all the angles and doesn't take itself too seriously.

Miami Herald veteran sportswriter and columnist Barry Jackson covers everything, everywhere, all at once. If there's a press conference, he's likely there, even if two are happening at the same time — one in Sunrise, and another in Miami. It could be Photoshop, but it's probably just Barry being Barry — the hardest-working sports reporter in Miami. While many are covering the games and the players, Barry is covering the stories. He's on top of the scandals and scores alike. Sports coverage is that much better for having Barry Jackson manning the sports desk at the Herald.

Some people need no introduction, and when EReid walks into a restaurant in Miami, he's one of those people. Since the first ball was dribbled at a Heat game in 1988, Eric Reid has been there to take in the action and relay it through our television screens. Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro weren't even born when Reid first hit the airwaves. We all owe a debt to the man for keeping the Heat on high for three decades and counting.

Best Team Owner
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The best sports owners are only heard from when they're hoisting a trophy or introducing new players or coaches at a press conference. No one wants to hear from the billionaire that owns their favorite team unless there is good news, or a change being made. Vincent Viola, unlike many of his peers, could walk into the food court at Sawgrass Mills Mall and not be recognized. Hopefully, that changes as the Panthers win multiple Stanley Cups over the course of the next few years. But for now, it's just a sign that he's done his job in the shadows and let Bill Zito and his team do their jobs. The success, along with side-stepping in-season drama, is enough to claim he's had the best year of any sports owner in South Florida.

Matheson Hammock Park
Photo by Chris Garcia / Courtesy of the GMCVB – MiamiandBeaches.com

A tunnel of arching ficus trees down Old Cutler Road leads to an inconspicuous parking lot across the from Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and Matheson Hammock Park. Since both are landmark attractions, the bumpy unpaved lot might seem like overflow parking. It isn't. A short, shaded trail starts in the southwestern corner and winds through a tropical hardwood forest, past ferns and sinkholes, and opens to acres of grass fields speckled with curious limestone structures and towering royal palms. It's a popular spot for joggers and dog walkers, but diverge from the beaten (and paved) path to the remote and picturesque picnicking spot of your choosing — whether beside a pond or beneath a royal poinciana tree. There's nowhere as picturesque yet devoid of influencers in all of Miami. (We can only hope it stays that way.)

South Pointe Park
Photo by Bruno Fontino / Courtesy of the GMCVB – MiamiandBeaches.com

A grown-ass man walks across the green grass holding an ice cream cone. He happily licks the melting sweet cream as he looks for a place to sit. Nearby, a young girl does cartwheels across the park while her mother applauds from her seat. A tarot card reader sets up a small table and a pair of chairs by the sidewalk. His glittery tablecloth billows with each passing breeze. You never know what you'll see — or hear — at South Pointe Park. Its proximity to the Atlantic and stunning views of the Port of Miami make it an ideal people-watching spot any day of the week. If it's a front-row seat for the South Beach carnival sideshow, that's all happening a little way to the north; by all means check it out. But South Pointe is...not that. The doings here are subtler, not so cartoonish. Nearly every Sunday, a group of yoga enthusiasts gather here to practice their acrobatics. They tie ropes between trees and balance as they walk across. Engaging your core never looked easier. If you're lucky, a local band might turn up for an impromptu jam session. Your eyes will be satisfied within minutes.

Best Reason to Stay in Miami for the Summer

A.C.'s Icees

A.C.'s Icees
Photo by Nicola Haubold

Anyone who's spent a summer in Miami gets it: The heat can be unbearable. But there are things that can lure even a diehard thermophobe out of their air-conditioned indoor comfort. Like frozen lemonade from A.C.'s Icees, whose proprietor, Allan Cohen's, has been cooling off Coconut Grove residents and visitors since 1978. Hasten to David T. Kennedy Park any day from 11 a.m. till 5 p.m., and you'll spy the beloved A.C.'s truck serving up its delectable frozen treats in three flavors: cherry, piña colada, and good old lemon. As you sip your heatstroke away through your spoon/straw, have a seat in the park, relax, and chuckle at the panting dogs. (Be sure to bring cash, though; A.C.'s doesn't accept credit cards.)

Chasing that high on the cheap, legal, and low-key? Alcohol not cutting it? Kava and kratom teas may be your answer, and the best bar that serves them in Miami is Syndicate Wynwood. There are different strains and types available depending on your preference, ones that can leave you feeling relaxed or even euphoric, and none priced over $20. You can ride your buzz exploring the venue, but Wynwood's art scene welcomes your expandable mind as soon as you step outside. Go wander, find a cheap bite to eat at the Taco Stand, Zak the Baker, or the Salty. If you prefer to stay put, Syndicate offers plenty of seating, not to mention board and card games to play with friends. Dogs are considered regulars at the venue, too. Syndicate is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 3 a.m. for you to enjoy, as they like to say, "all the buzz, none of the booze."

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®