Does this sound like you? You were bar or bat mitzvahed a decade or two ago, and you've basically never set foot in a synagogue again. Well, you're definitely not alone. But now you can commiserate with others just like you (couples and singles in their twenties and thirties, most of whom grew up in Reform or Conservative homes) at Friday night Shabbat dinners, held at various Boca Raton restaurants every six to eight weeks. Says Pam Pardo Plotkin, one of the founders of Shabbos For a Novice, "We're trying to spark a little Yiddishkeit -- a little Judaism -- in a Jewish person." You'll light the candles, say the blessing, sing a few songs, slurp a little chicken soup, drink a little wine. And if you're single, who knows? The next time you set foot in a synagogue could be for a wedding -- your wedding. (Your mother will be so pleased.)

This shop's big-ass collection of poodle skirts alone makes it the heavy hitter of recycled threads. Stitched to the front of long and flouncy fabric, the little yippers' likenesses come in sequins, felt, rhinestones, and lamé. Venture farther into this jam-packed shop, and your hankering for the hard-to-find and one-of-a-kind is satiated with stuff like faux leopard fur, red satin circus tutus, mahjong-tile bracelets, glittering Mexican sombreros, pink-feathered cancan pants, rubber masks, and the back glass of long-gone pinball machines. And that's just for starters. For those chained to their computers, some wares can also be purchased online via and, but we recommend the live experience. What good is thrifting unless you get that sensory experience by running your hands all over such cool stuff?
We don't know if Pride French Cleaners can get that wine stain out any better than other dry cleaners. It's not magic owner Dhansukh Tailor is selling, it's old-fashioned, neighborly customer service. D, as his customers call him, greets you with his dazzling smile, a hello, and a joke, and he has even been known to give discounts to customers who get parking tickets while waiting on their clothes, not to mention impromptu neck massages to the stressed-out, all while Dr. Laura preaches on the radio in the background. A Hindu, Tailor also loans out books on metaphysical healing and teaches meditation for free nearby. Oh, and the cleaning is cheap and satisfactory. But Tailor makes you feel so special -- he treats you like a friend, not a client -- that's almost beside the point.
Ready to expand your knowledge? Get to Bob's. The store with the mundane name has plenty of the standard, benign fare like TV Guide, Time, and the world's newspapers along with the best-selling, schlocky books like The Celestine Prophecy. It also has trade books on everything from architecture to rare German coins. It's the other stuff, though, that makes Bob's a great place to go, the exotic items that are usually caught and disposed of by mass-marketeers. After all, who wants to read some self-serving crap about a rich and famous celebrity when you can check out The Big Book of Losers, which contains the "pathetic but true tales of the world's most titanic failures"? They have Playboy, but doesn't The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex For Women sound a little more interesting? For do-it-yourself drug users, there are books on cultivating marijuana, making amphetamines, and an opus on mushrooms titled Psilocybin Production. For all you wacky neo-Nazis, there's Mein Kampf. And for the serious aspiring terrorist, there's Sniper Training. Fetishists also have a wide selection from which to choose, including a collection of pictures of nude women holding baguettes. You get the picture.

The draw is the price: $3. The last time we saw a haircut that cheap was way back in our childhood days when we'd pass a hand-painted sign on the side of some dirt road advertising a crew cut for a couple of Washingtons. If you're really feeling the need to be pampered, settle in for an old-fashioned hot shave. The extravagant price: $5. Granted, the Florida Barber Academy is not for the faint of hair. You're rolling the dice with a student barber who may have about as much experience cutting hair as your mother did when she sat you down in front of a mirror as a kid and butchered your golden tresses. There are bound to be a few sliced ears and crooked bangs. The students are closely supervised, though, by experienced barbers, and the old hands don't hesitate to step in when things get, well, hairy. Another nice perk is that the student shop is open every weekday until 10 p.m. Still not convinced that the Florida Barber Academy is for you? Try this: All of the (admittedly meager) profits go to programs that help feed the homeless.
How many heads of hair has Joseph Dixey, proprietor of Gateway Barber and Stylist, cut? By his own estimate, more than 200,000. When he started out in New York City more than 40 years ago, barbers still dressed all in white and would give you a trim for under a buck, with enough change left for a draft on your way home. Barbers still used hand clippers and believed singeing hair was a smart idea. For the last six years, Dixey has plied his trade in the Gateway Shopping Center, where, at $15 a haircut, his services are a little more expensive than those at the average barbershop. But the extra coinage is justified by the reassurance that you'll never walk out wondering if you can show your face at work the next day. If you feel the need for additional pampering, try the $25 hand shave. It's a meticulous, old-school process that involves three razors, numerous hot towels, cocoa butter or lemon cream, and too many other steps to name. Dixey is one of the few in town who bother anymore. Still not convinced? Take a gander at the silver medal that sits on a shelf. It's from the 1979 "Coupe du Monde de la Coiffure," which apparently is the World Cup of hair-cutting. Dixey, representing the United States in the 33-country competition, placed second in men's hairstyling.
It seems odd that such a cozy oasis could sit just a few yards from Federal Highway's constant truck-rumbling and horn-wailing. Leave the concrete carnival behind, scoot up a pebbled sidewalk, and enter Massage Therapeutics Spa. Water pings along the plateaus of a tabletop stone fountain, and flowers, terra-cotta pots, and a mammoth brass sun welcome visitors seeking refuge from workday deadlines and office schmoozing. This full-service spa offers everything from algae and mud body wraps to aromatherapy and facials. But the sweetest deals here are the spa's massage specials. Sixty bucks buys you a brief but fortifying eucalyptus steam bath and an hour's worth of a full body massage, complete with dim lights, scented oils, and New-Age flutes cooing from hidden speakers. Get ready to float out the front door afterward.
Looking for good prices on your favorite CDs? Look elsewhere. The DJ Store is a one-stop shop for devoted turntablists. Here they can find the latest dance mixes on vinyl and CD, plus mix tapes and CDs by upcoming local jocks. And the shop offers just about anything else a DJ might need to ply his or her craft: entire setups of turntables, mixers, and microphones, as well as accessories such as replacement needles, headphones, and DJ bags for carrying plastic and gear. Demonstrations and impromptu jam sessions are commonplace, creating both a party atmosphere and good networking opportunities for local mix-masters. No need to put a spin on this place -- it speaks for itself.
CDs, being the semi-indestructible medium that they are, have a lot more cachet as recycled music than records or tapes ever did. Plenty of savvy entrepreneurs out there have picked up on this fact and are now wheeling and dealing in preowned CDs. And while CD Warehouse has a misleading name (its locations are actually rather small, individually owned retail outlets), what sets it apart from the other shops is its great system for putting music lovers together with long-lost discs. Need a copy of that old Ted Nugent or Prince favorite but don't want to shell out for a brand-new copy? Ask nicely and a CD Warehouse staffer will plug your name into its computer database along with your wish list. When a copy of the album in question is brought in for trade by another customer and the title is entered into the computer, someone from the store will actually call you and tell you it's there if you're next on the list. You then have two days to pick it up before it goes out onto the shelves. The only problem is that the computer systems at the various stores -- in Fort Lauderdale, Davie, Pembroke Pines, and West Palm Beach -- aren't networked, so you have to request a title at each one to increase your odds.
The digital age has brought the hottest gaming technology right into our homes, so who needs an arcade these days? The truth is, some technology is still just too expensive for Joe Consumer. That's what gives the Escape an edge. The 132,000-square-foot fun zone boasts a megaplex cinema, four theme bars, a restaurant, billiards, and shuffleboard. Old standbys such as air hockey and pinball are in the lineup alongside racing and fighting video games. But virtual-reality rides set the place apart. Beneath the escalators sit the two Max Flight simulators, which for $5 a pop let riders buckle in and create their own virtual roller coaster ride, complete with 360-degree turns delivered with stomach-churning reality through the magic of hydraulics and computer simulation. Across the way in the Star Theater, roller coasters are also popular. Viewers strap into seats in a darkened room in front of a full-size movie screen and enjoy a haunted roller coaster ride in Superstition, with Elvira hosting while computer graphics whip your mind through hairpin turns and over precarious ledges and motorized seats make your body believe it. Similar scenarios play out in Kid Coaster and Smash Factory, and in Speedway viewers find themselves at the wheel of a racecar. The movies, $5 each, run throughout the day. Watching all of them can get expensive, so opt for the wristband -- $6 to $12, depending upon day and time -- which allows you unlimited rides and shows.

Best Of Broward-Palm Beach®

Best Of