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Best Of 2008


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Best Of :: Sports & Recreation

Best Day Trip

Be sure to pack your macaroni strainer when you set out for a day of canoeing on the Peace River. Here, it's not just the live oak trees and hawks that are the attraction — it's the camel teeth! Yes, that's right — scientists say that from the Eocene Epoch (50 million years ago) to the Pleistocene Epoch (11,500 years ago), our home turf was trampled upon by sharks, dolphins, mammoths, mastodons, and yes, camels. The limestone earth in Central Florida made a comfy resting ground for lots of their dentures, not to mention the occasional giant armadillo part and a whale ear bone or two. During your canoe ride, take some time to set down your beer (yes, you can bring coolers) to hop in and out of the boat and sift through the bottom-dirt to see if you find any such treasures. Because Arcadia is just a three-hour drive from Fort Lauderdale, a two-hour, five-mile canoe trip or a ten-mile half-day paddle can be easily done in a day. (A 16-mile trip is best enjoyed with an overnight stay; Canoe Outpost rents tents, and you're allowed to have campfires on the riverbank.) What's that, you ask? Gator teeth? Although our scaly friends do call the Peace River home (and yes, you'll probably see some), the folks at Canoe Outpost swear you can make them keep their distance by donning "gator beads" — gator-shaped Mardi Gras beads. They're available for sale at check-in.

Best Beach in Broward

The beaches of Broward County are so densely developed that it's hard to find a strip of sand that's not swarming with sunburned tourists, sand-kicking kids, and football-hurling college students. If it's privacy you prize, come to the beach by 11 a.m., when it's still cheap to park your car in Fort Lauderdale's public lot, just across from the Oasis Café on the beach side of A1A. Drive to the south end to park, near the Yankee Clipper hotel. Grab your lounge chair and start flip-flopping south. You may encounter a few hotel guests, maybe a couple residents of the high-rise condos, but the farther south you go, the more privacy you'll find. Stop before Port Everglades, though, unless you want to swim to the John U. Lloyd Beach State Park across a channel full of zooming boats and crazy-big cruise ships.

Best Beach in Palm Beach

White beaches and crystal-clear water are staples around the Palm Beach area, but sprawling Jupiter Beach kicks it up a notch. The streets and city are hidden by a thick barrier of foliage that makes it feel as if you've stumbled onto a secluded tropical island. A wide sand-stretch makes for plenty of perfect places to sun without having to plant your chair so close to some pasty tourist that you can read every word of his John Grisham novel. Jupiter Beach also allows dogs — providing you pick up a doggie bag at one of the beach's boardwalk entrances (and isn't Fido a great way to protect yourself from the pasty tourist's awkward come-on lines?). Sun? Check. Sand? Check. Surf? Check. A sense of seclusion? Check. Sunning on warm shores in solitude? Paradise.

Best Bingo
Bitchy Bingo at Lips
Christina Mendenhall

Every Wednesday evening, starting around 9:30 p.m., the she-men at Lips host the raunchiest bingo game in South Florida. If you're not up for the 7 p.m. dinner drag show, but want to get your bingo on, then slide into a seat at the bar and order up some drinks. There's no cover charge. Host Misty Eyez starts the competition by informing the after-dinner crowd that if they're approaching bingo, they'd better moan like porn stars. Otherwise, Misty Eyez won't validate the winning cards. "No silent fucks," she informs. Three games commence, with prizes like free brunch or dinner for two at, you got it, Lips. The crowd votes on which bingo patterns they want to play, ranging from the sedate "X" to the suggestive "Inside Square" — at Lips this pattern is renamed "Glory Hole" — to the self-explanatory "Cock-and-Balls." If you can take the bawdy jokes and insults, this just might be the cheapest bingo match around.

1421 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Oakland Park, 33334
Best Bowling Alley

With the charming sound of crashing pins, eight plasma-screen TVs, a video game arcade, and nightly family specials (because if a cheese pizza, soda, and two hours of bowling can't make your kids love you again, nothing can), Pompano Bowl is what sweet childhood memories are made of. It's full of families every night of the week, all wearing ugly shoes and lounging on the black couches (you know it's a good bowling alley when it doesn't have those hard plastic chairs). When bowling's appeal wanes, head over to the lounge side — the dark part of the bowling alley, with the red couches instead of black —and grab a beer or something stronger from Joey's Bar & Grill. A beer or two can only improve your game, right?

2200 N. Federal Highway, Pompano Beach, 33062
Best Coach

When FAU decided to create a football program in 1998, the first thing university officials did – before they had a single player or a football field – was hire the team's coach, the face of the program. And who was more qualified to build a team from scratch than Howard Schnellenberger, who had already rebuilt blue-chip programs at the University of Miami and the University of Louisville? The Owls didn't start playing until 2001, but the coach was not shy about his ambition: he wanted a national championship. This year, at 73 years of age, Schnellenberger, who also once coached the Baltimore Colts, proved FAU brass made the right choice. In only its third season in Division 1, the team went 8-5, winning the Sun Belt conference. The Owls became the youngest program ever to be invited to play in a bowl game, a berth they celebrated with a 44-27 victory over Memphis in the New Orleans bowl. Schnellenberger, named conference coach of the year, had done it again.


Best Day Trip: Canoeing and Fossil Hunting on the Peace River


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