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Best Of 2012

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Best Of :: Shopping & Services

Best Road to Avoid

In the early days of videogames, things were pretty simple. You stayed still and shot asteroids zooming past you. You went back and forth across the bottom and bounced a dot at bricks. Or you were a frog navigating across a busy roadway, trying not to get squished. Perhaps it is this deeply buried societal memory of Frogger that explains why Sunrise Boulevard is so goddamned @#$%^!@#^! Why, fellow citizens? Why?! Despite the heavy traffic here, pedestrians wade out into this relentless tide like unwary tourists into a rip current. Have you no care for your own welfare? Have you not eyes to see? And you seem so annoyed by the cars on the roadway. You give them angry glares. You press close to them, practically brushing the door panels with your knees, as they fly past. If they try to pause instead to let you cross, you stop and angrily wave them on, yet as soon as they start to move again, so do you. Sometimes, you bang the hood as you cross paths just to say "Hello." There is a traffic light every ten feet, and they are timed with frightening precision to make sure that drivers stop at every single one — sometimes twice. So why, dear walker, must you push that crosswalk button, only to slowly — so slowly — cross in front of moving vehicles so that by the time the light turns red and cars stop, you are long gone? Perhaps instead of more traffic lights or red-light cameras, the city should install large speakers every 20 feet and play the classic Frogger music. It surely won't stop the jaywalking, but it will make it much more fun.

Best Place to Spend a Rainy Day
Sawgrass Mills Mall
Photo by Chung Lun Chiang/Flickr

Millions of years from now, when archaeologists are trying to figure out how we lived circa 2012, they need only unearth the site of the Sawgrass Mills Mall. Our entire culture can be deduced from a Marshalls, a Best Buy Mobile, and a SuperTarget, plus a 23-screen theater with IMAX and some fossilized Chick-fil-A. Although the mall is a legendary draw for tourists — easy to recognize because they're pushing three shopping carts apiece — we locals would go mad and broke if we came here habitually, because the place is so massive that it triggers sensory overload. But once in a great while, when the skies are gray and you've gotten a good night's sleep, come here to shop — and shop hard. While the prices in many shops aren't hugely discounted, you sure as hell can't beat the selection. Among the 350 stores are a TJ Maxx, a Burlington Coat Factory, and a Bed Bath and Beyond — seriously, it's like Sawgrass Mills eats a box store every morning for breakfast. Be strategic. Try not to get sidelined by the tower of gumball machines or the SpongeBob pajama seller, and save your energy for the real deals at Last Call by Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom Rack.

12801 W. Sunrise Blvd., Sunrise, 33323
MAP
954-846-2350
Best Yoga Studio
Anuttara Yoga Shala

Sincerity is an increasingly endangered species. When someone earnestly tells you to "prepare to rule the world" after performing a few hip-opening stretches, its tempting to roll the eyes or, at the very least, stifle a laugh. But just one muscle-melting session inside this cocoon of a studio will cure that cynical knee jerk. Pick a class — seriously, any class; all of the instructors are fantastic — and see what you've been missing at your atmosphere-free corporate gym. Hot or warm, Vinyasa or raja, easy or seemingly death-defying, this recently expanded space caters to yogis of all ilk. Don't try to fight it: The passion and positivity exuded by the staff and classmates are catching. Just get your ass in the studio, chant a few "oms," and admit that you actually like feeling this good.

620 SE 10th St., Deerfield Beach, 33441
MAP
954-322-9642
Best Massage

Once upon a time, massages seemed like fairy-tale creations available only to Condé Nast-reading, spa-going rich men and their trophy wives. But then a friend tipped us off to this cool studio that puts massage in reach of us little people. Owners Frank Velaz and MaryLou DiNicolas use massage to alleviate real injuries — from accidents, sports, baby-making, stress, and carpal tunnel — so they accept insurance. One arm of the business caters to pregnant ladies whose backs are aching from the baby weight; specially designed massage tables have cutouts that make room for a big belly and two bloated boobies, and MaryLou doubles as a doula. The therapy is not just physical but emotional too. They'll talk like new best friends if you're chatty and need to vent, but if you're jonesing for some quiet time, they'll shut up and let the darkened room and aromatherapy work their healing magic. Thai massage, couples massage, cupping, and yoga classes are all in their repertoire too.

4450 NE 20th Ave., Fort Lauderdale, 33308
MAP
954-249-9176
Best Place to Ditch the Kids
Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale

When it comes to finding safe activities for kids, parents are in a major bind these days. What's that, you say? Go to the beach? In this 100-degree heat? Snoogums will get a sunburn. The indoor play place? Those rackets charge $20 a pop. A private babysitter? Sigh... they're probably pedophiles. There is an oasis in this swamp of iniquity. At Calvary Chapel's flagship 75-acre campus in Fort Lauderdale, there's a massive playground with a state-of-the-art seesaw, an athletic field, and an entire skateboarding park. Four on-site eateries include a gourmet restaurant with table service (try the portobello steak; it's divine) and a Starbucks-like coffee shop. Should you want to explore this resort-like paradise sans kids for a while, browse in the bookstore or take a Tae Bo class at the sports complex — or catch the sermon; that's an option too. While you do, young'uns can be dropped off for free childcare. Infants and toddlers play with toys, albeit biblical-themed, in the nursery, and school-aged kids act out plays in the theater. Sure, your precious pumpkin might come home with a little Jesus on his play clothes, but is there really any harm in it? Just make sure the kids don't get too addicted... next, they will be asking you to shell out $2,550 so they can spend spring break with the high school missionary team in Uganda.

2401 W. Cypress Creek Rd., Fort Lauderdale, 33309
MAP
954-977-9673
Best Human Advertisement

The folks who don Statue of Liberty costumes and dance the day away for all the cars on Hallandale Beach Boulevard are so reliable that they should be reference points in local traffic reports. Jesus Abikarram, manager of Liberty Tax Service (get the costume reference?), says he employs a steady flow of dancers on the sidewalk from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. during tax season, rotating them through four-hour shifts. All the dancers have their own approach to get through a shift. One, who wished to remain nameless, was jamming the Bee Gees and lip-synching into a water bottle on a warm March day. "I get a lot of honks and a lot of whistles," he said. "I get a lot of middle fingers too."

600 W. Hallandale Beach Blvd., Hallandale, 33009
MAP
954-454-2080
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Best Road to Avoid: Sunrise Boulevard, between Federal Highway and I-95, Fort Lauderdale.

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