Best of Broward-Palm Beach®

Best Of 2014


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  • + Davie
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  • + Hollywood
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  • + Out of Town
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  • + Palm Beach
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  • + Parkland
  • + Pembroke Pines
  • + Plantation
  • + Pompano Beach
  • + Riviera Beach
  • + Sea Ranch Lakes
  • + South Beach
  • + South Dade
  • + South Miami
  • + Sunrise
  • + Sunrise/Plantation
  • + Tamarac
  • + Treasure Coast
  • + Unknown
  • + Wellington
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  • + West Palm Beach
  • + Weston
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Best Of :: Shopping & Services

Best Gym

Gyms can be a drag. Sure, you want to be able to fit through doors, but is it really worth putting up with all the crap you face at a gym? The guy who won't stop staring at you. The sweaty man who keeps flicking sweat into your face as he dances to Lady Gaga on his elliptical. The jungle of locker room penises (all no less than 80 years old) that you have to all but machete your way through on the way to the urinal. It's easy to see why TV and potato chips usually win the battle. But what if I told you there was a place where working out could actually be beautiful — crunches and squats all done under the Florida sun, mere feet from the salty waves of Fort Lauderdale Beach? Well, turn off the TV and throw out the potato chips (OK, have one more first), because that place exists, and it is known simply as the Gym at Fort Lauderdale Beach. What was once an oceanfront hotel on Fort Lauderdale Beach eventually turned into a gym. We can go on about the smoothie bar or group exercise classes, but what really makes the Gym special is the rooftop workout area with a panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway. Isn't that better than creepy Chad staring at you while you do jumping jacks?

3001 SE Fifth St., Fort Lauderdale, 33316
1833 Cordova Rd., Fort Lauderdale, 33316
Best Plant Guru

Some people are born with green thumbs. In David McLean's case, he was born with emerald hands. His garden — an Eden just south of downtown Fort Lauderdale — is brimming with all things tropical, lush, and fragrant. McLean is a master at growing what grows best in South Florida and is happy to share his knowledge during his popular "walk and talks" on the first Saturday of every month. Through the seasons, you'll find native tomatoes and blueberries, thornless blackberries, and Okinawa spinach for sale — all of which will thrive in your own garden with a little love (and some of McLean's advice). But if the last of your Everglades tomatoes dies in the swamp of summer, fear not. You can still get your fix at the 11th Street Annex, a restaurant literally surrounded by the garden that serves some of the edibles McLean grows. Talk about farm to table.

(After this item was printed, New Times learned that David McLean passed away June 5 at age 79. In lieu of sending flowers, please plant something native in his memory.)

Best Summer Camp

Sure, you could send your kid to a normal camp, one of those sunny compounds with a Native American name that is ironically full of white Jewish kids. There, he'll shoot arrows, erect tents, get tick bites on all areas of his body, and do all that other typical camp stuff. What fun. But do you want your kid to be just like the others — some sunburnt little thing who knows how to fashion a weapon out of a flat rock and a blade of grass? Or do you want your kid to be different? Well, the Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre specializes in different. While the rest of those smelly little terrors are busy building a fire out of their parents' antique furniture, your kid is going to be dancing, singing, and acting. Imagine it. Your own little Jean Valjean putting on one-man shows when the power goes out. For kids in grades 2 through 10, the FLCT's summer camp will teach all aspects of theater, from acting to stage design. And at the end of the program, campers put on a real live play with costumes, sets, and pizzazz for their families and friends. Send your kids to the Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre. You owe it to your furniture.

640 N. Andrews Ave., Lauderdale Lakes, 33311
Best Movie Theater
Cinema Paradiso
Photo by Eric Barton

For almost 30 years, Cinema Paradiso in Fort Lauderdale has been the home of FLIFF — the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. This monthlong fall festival is no slouch, playing films that are making their world premieres or have played only at Cannes; films that will go on to win Academy Awards and the fawning adulations of movie critics and film students. The rest of the year, Gregory von Hausch, president and CEO of FLIFF, and his team carefully curate the weekly offerings of films you won't find anywhere else in South Florida. Cinema Paradiso's home theater is tucked behind a parking garage on the south side of the New River — a spot you'd never find if you weren't looking for it. The former church was there long before most of the rest of modern downtown, and you just don't move out of a building that cool for any reason. But this year, the theater expanded to a second, more easily found location in downtown Hollywood. This new spot is located within walking distance of bars and restaurants. "It's close enough [to the original location] for us to manage and far enough to reach a new audience that wouldn't necessarily be willing to journey to Fort Lauderdale a couple of times a week," von Hausch says. "And Hollywood is kind of central to gain traffic from Dania and Miami. We do draw people from those areas for FLIFF, so we figured they would be interested." Though the second location is actually a little smaller, with 110 seats, better daytime parking allows for matinees and more screenings. With this second location, both FLIFF and Cinema Paradiso are sure to continuing growing, bringing brilliant independent film to a public overloaded with blockbusters.

503 SE Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale, 33301
2008 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, 33020
301 Plaza Real, Boca Raton, 33432
Best Hotel

There are plenty of hotels for well-heeled socialites armed with martinis and red-lipped smiles who are hunting for husband number two. But Lago Mar is designed for that well-heeled socialite after baby number two. Located just off the main A1A strip in Fort Lauderdale, the comfy hotel has the bay in its front yard and a private beach in its back. And though the accommodations may seem a bit mundane, the beach will play center stage for the Broadway-caliber play that is your Fort Laudy beach vacay. There are multiple pools where little children come to get wet and big kids can swim a few laps. Tipsy moms will drool over volleyball-playing musclemen; Grandma can try to live through one more vacation at the shuffleboard court; and hubbies will blow off some new-dad no-sex steam at the tennis courts. Probably the coolest thing about the family-friendly hotel is the Soda Shop downstairs. It'll give you a chance to gorge on pizza while your kids get high on ice cream, and Nana can talk about the old days buying soda at Woolworth's for a nickel. Lago Mar offers something you once thought impossible: a chill family trip.

1700 S Ocean Lane, Fort Lauderdale, 33316
Best Public Restroom

Girls rule; boys drool. That's the sorry lesson to be learned in the water closets of Coastars, the coffee bar at the heart of Lake Worth's South J St., AKA Little Bushwick. Owners Chris Palacio and Liz Brach figured they had a crowd of young creative types on their hands and said, Hey! Let's leave pens and crayons in the restrooms and see what our young geniuses come up with. What could be bad? But their fond hopes came half-undone. The boys sank to the occasion, rock-bottom, Greyhound-latrine style, unleashing their inner yobbos in crude and filthy texts about body parts and fluids. The girls, however, rose to the occasion, poetically and philosophically. Their walls are even now festooned with instruction and mystery and wit: "Please be responsible for the energy you bring into a room," says the graffiti. "There's gold beneath the highway." "Now something so sad has hold of us that the breath leaves and we can't even cry." "The guy at the counter is cute." Visually, symbols and caricatures are smattered through the lettering for an intricate and sprawling rainbow mash to rival a Persian miniature. Will J Street's boys redeem themselves one day and put their restroom walls to better use? Maybe. But they'll have to bring their own crayons. Chris and Liz took theirs away and scrubbed the walls clean.

12 S. J St., Lake Worth, 33460

Best Gym: The Gym Fort Lauderdale Beach


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