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.

Tabatha Mudra
John Weber is a man who takes his wine and his words seriously. He's found his dream job at Fernanda's, running the international-food store's winery. There he oversees a good-sized collection of wines from all over the world and writes down his recommendations for customers. And he buys the rare stuff, like a case of Nuit St. George's La Perriere, a wine that comes from a red pinot grape that has mutated over the decades to produce a white wine. In South Florida you can buy it only at Fernanda's, and a bottle goes for $79.99. But Weber is no wine snob. He keeps plenty of good but cheap wines in stock, including a plethora of fine Spanish reds that start at $6.99. But what we like about Weber is that he writes accurate descriptions about many of the bottles. A wine dummy feels right at home there and learns a lot in the process. A Buena Vista sauvignon blanc, he writes, is "bursting with youthful, clean taste suitable for a picnic or a cocktail party." That's practical information. Our favorite description was of an Italian red called Bindella. Weber first tells us that the bottle retails for $24.99 but was now going for $17.99. Good so far. It has an "interesting 'berryish' quality," he wrote. "Ripe and plummy nuances of red and black fruits gently waft up from the glass." That sounded wonderful, so we bought a bottle. And damn if it wasn't berryish. There was definite wafting going on, too.
Specialty record-and-CD shops typically stock cutting-edge titles and know the needs of customers, but they can't compete on price with large chains that buy bulk -- albeit bulk of the mainstream variety. Enter behemoth Best Buy, which may lack the cozy feel of the corner record store but is nonetheless a music buyers' dreamland, offering premium prices and selection. Aisle after aisle of CDs stretches out before eyes wet with tears of joy, eyes that can lead their owner to sections for any taste: country, jazz, classical, rock, rap, electronica. Rows are also devoted to movie soundtracks and compilations. And no matter what your music of choice, you'll find the latest releases on special at $12.99; that's $2 cheaper than Best Buy's regular-price discs, which in turn are a couple bucks cheaper than the competition.
If you're going to be ostentatious, you should go for it and do it in real class. Which is why we like this place -- they'll rent you a 1952 Rolls Royce, one of the oldest for-hire limos in Broward County and one of the quietest cars ever made, too. This Rolls jumps off the company lot like a princess off a pea-bump mattress. The car is white with a burgundy interior and air-conditioned. It's a lovely, long-bodied thing with a square roof and a grill that looks regal. The company offers soda and ice, a "Just Married" sign, a bottle of complimentary champagne with glasses, and a tuxedoed chauffeur to ferry the marrying kind, all at no extra cost. If you have to, you can also rent the newer, bigger stretch limos -- eight-seat or ten-seat Lincolns -- here. But nothing beats a Rolls.
The aroma of candles, incense, and scented oil hits you as soon as you walk through the door of this quaint, crowded little shop. Indeed, boxes of candles and a rack of incense can be found amid the piles of knickknacks and accessories that spill from arrangements stacked on frilly beds with wrought iron frames and dark-stained antique furniture (in one case, an ancient Singer sewing machine and cabinet). And candleholders of every description occupy shelves next to scented soaps and modern, stainless steel burners in which to ignite pungent aromatherapy oils. But there's so much more at Jezebel: Antique hats line the soffit near the ceiling along the left side of the store, while dainty parasols and bumbershoots mirror them on the other side. New novelty items, like Virgin/Slut toiletry kits with appropriately labeled red and blue soaps, are displayed alongside vintage cocktail jewelry and newly manufactured collectibles such as Elvis lunch boxes, while freestanding racks display funny and risqué greeting cards. Near the back of the store is the clothing department, which is packed tight with racks of dresses, shoes, and a hearty selection of Hawaiian shirts.
One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. That's only a scaly bit of what you'll get at this Parthenon-size homage to the great outdoors and retail. You'll also view native fish like largemouth bass, tarpon, and snook gliding around the store's 30,000-gallon pondlike tank. The fishing and marine section of Bass Pro reigns supreme for anyone who's ever longed to land the big one. If you don't believe us, just ask one of the store patrons who stand mesmerized before television sets running pretaped fishing shows at all hours. For real. Poles start at $20 and soar up to 600 smackers for a state-of-the-art Braid trolling rod. Flats boats, Igloo coolers, global positioning systems, more than 7000 lures, and frozen bait like ballyhoo and squid lie just a credit card swipe away. If you're less interested in catching than in eating, the adjacent Islamorada Fish Company hawks dolphin, grouper, yellowtail, and seasonal Florida lobster that's shipped in daily at 5 a.m. from the Keys. Buy some to go, or feast at the in-house restaurant. Then stroll over to the International Game Fish Association museum next door and OD further on oceanic motifs and galleries devoted to fish, tackle, catches, and sport records. The museum also sports a mini four-acre wetlands, a library, and a mammoth stainless steel swordfish out front, just in case you missed the message that this place is a virtual fish funplex.
You can get Cohibas, Arturo Fuentes, and Macanudos at just about any cigar shop. It's only at the Cigar Factory that you can find a Fidel Castro, complete with the dictator's picture on the wrapper. Of course, the Fidel is a strong and brutal smoke. But does it signify anything politically? "Just a good idea to sell a lot of cigars," says the Cigar Factory's manager, Juan Carlos. But the Cigar Factory has a lot more than expert gimmickry going for it -- it has Jorge sitting silently behind a pile of tobacco, where he rolls up one sheer beauty after another. Just five months ago, Jorge came from Cuba, where he learned how to roll from the best in the world. He doesn't speak English; his cigars do all his talking for him. And in that sense, he's one of the orators of our time. Of the eight Cigar Factory brands, we tried the mild ones, Morejon y Cuesta and Cuba Habanos USA. Both are truly incredible smokes. The plump, fresh, perfectly packed tobacco made for seriously satisfying chomps, and the 'gars burned obediently, evenly, quietly, and patiently. The orange coals behaved like turtles, hiding inside the cigar, waiting for you to pull on them. Only then did they release the aromatic, smooth, damn near sultry white smoke of tobacco born of Cuban seeds and grown in the Dominican Republic. These are as close to real-life Cuban cigars as you can get (legally). Fidel can go to hell. Long live Jorge.

The big red X marks the spot for savings! And what a bargain it is. Where else in this great country of ours can you get a doorstop of a newspaper for half a buck? It used to cost 75 cents, but in a transparent effort to stanch the circulation loss north of the Miami-Dade County line, the mighty Herald can now be had for a song. Don't read it? You're not alone. But the price is very right -- the Dade edition costs a buck! So buy an issue or two and use them to line your birdcage, train your puppy, or make lots of those cool hats newspaper printers used to wear while tending to the giant presses.
Sure, there are plenty of mega-bookstore chains out there with a great selection, decent prices, and a helpful sales staff. All things being equal in those departments, however, we prefer a place that also offers a great cup of coffee and a goodly amount of sumptuous overstuffed furniture in which to lounge while checking out possible buys and sucking down said java. For such a combination, we turn to B&N, where the house coffee is that ultimate in Seattle brew, Starbucks, and comfortable seating abounds. The book selection ain't bad either.
This place has everything a used-book store should have: prices penciled inside well-thumbed covers; the warm smell of leather, ink, and paper; and books piled on blue milk crates, stuffed in shelves, flapping from racks, and strewn across countertops. The hand-painted sign above the door welcomes browsers, and Trader John's means it. You could spend an entire rainy April afternoon tackling Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury and no one would bother you -- or even notice, for that matter. The store's hodgepodge of genres includes mysteries, classics, reference books, fiction, and the occult. There's even a rare-and-collectibles section in the front offering tomes dating from the late 1890s to the early part of the 20th Century. The store's selection of vinyl records and videos is just as eclectic: Ovid's The Art of Love neighbors the Three Stooges' Jerks of All Trades in the front window display. Don't let Paco, the large gold Labrador sprawled by the entranceway, deter your rummaging. He belongs to the owner and is somewhat of a book hound himself.

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