Best Mile of Broward County 2004 | Hollywood Blvd. between City Hall and Young Circle | Subtropical | South Florida
Best Mile of Broward County Hollywood Blvd. between City Hall and Young Circle Wings n Curls and Burger King; billiards, spas, and realty

CPAs for income tax; suitcases for luggage racks

Firestone glows neon red; wheelchairs and Murphy Beds, limos and Argentango; karate and aikido...

Subway, Kodak, Papa John's; dinette sets and Fancy Paws. World World Corp. is fun to say; as is Ginger Bay Café...

Sushi and upholstery; Melina's has lingerie

Zombie Café, magic shops; it's even where the Greyhound stops, Harpoon Harry's, Texaco; check cashing, OXXO.

Young people come out at dark; tykes dig Annivers'ry Park

City Hall to A1A reads like a mismatched Yellow Page with nothing cooler there to see than Young's huge, gnarly baobab tree.

Best People-watching Worth Avenue, Palm Beach See Dick leave his mansion in a blazer, a bow tie, and velvet slippers! See Jane in her Botox and new nose! See Spot drink from the Spanish-tiled "Dog Bar" (water fountain) that's built into the street. See Don King, Rod Stewart, Rush Limbaugh, Jimmy Buffett, Donald Trump, and Venus and Serena Williams flit from Tiffany to Nieman Marcus to the yacht broker's office. See the pale little tourists who haven't realized that jeans and fanny packs in Palm Beach are wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong! Readers' Choice: Las Olas Riverfront
Best Scenic Drive Riverland Road between State Road 7 and Davie Boulevard Apologies to the good people of this central Broward neighborhood, for they don't deserve gawking motorists puttering around their sleepy side streets. They clearly have invested well in old, varied houses. And they have resisted the conventional temptation to eradicate all vestiges of nature along the way. They have let their 40-foot live oaks ease and stretch and rise and billow above beds of Boston ferns in front lawns. They cherish shade, drawing it from sleek sabal palms and bristly Norfolk island pines and banyans overhanging slender streets. They have fostered massive royal palms and gumbo limbos and cypress trees in an unassuming jungle that would make a landscape architect swoon. This is a neighborhood engulfed in overgrowth yet untouched by overdevelopment. Proceed with care.

If those dumb-ass kids from Bully had known about this place... well, Brad Renfro never would've had occasion to steal that boat, put it that way. Trust me, this is the place. Unless you own an airboat, this is as remote and inaccessible as it gets. Take Alligator Alley (I-75) west. Go past the Miccosukee Reservation into Collier County and exit at Highway 29. Go south about 14 miles to Wagonwheel Road until you reach 841. Go north on 841 about three miles until you reach 837. Turn right on 837 and go about three miles to 839. Turn north on 839 and proceed on what is one of the most desolate and unforgiving patches of pavement in all of South Florida -- a place where, should you run out of gas or break down, you are most certainly fucked. This road actually passes back up underneath Alligator Alley (though there is no way to access it) before it just disappears in a morass of muck and sawgrass. You're in the East Hinson Marsh, somewhere north of Deep Lake Strand. You're outnumbered by alligators approximately eleventy-zillion to one. It gets so dark at night. Anywhere around here will do.

If bombs start falling or an asteroid strikes Topeka, it may be time to head to Peanut Island. The man-made stretch of sand between Palm Beach and Singer Island hides a presidential bomb shelter built in 1961. The Secret Service built the shelter during the Cold War. Then-U.S. President John F. Kennedy's aides figured he could make it to the state-of-the-art hole in minutes from the former Kennedy compound on Palm Beach and continue to run the country via radio technology. The plan was to save the Kennedys so that Teddy could repopulate the Earth in the event of an attack, so you can bet it'll save your sorry ass when the sky starts to fall. The Palm Beach Maritime Museum conducts three tours daily of the shelter. Cost: $7 per adult, not including the ferry ride from Phil Foster Park to Peanut Island. Hell, it'll be even more of a bargain in the near future: The place is undergoing a major renovation into a county park. There's a presidential seal on the floor of the shelter that was installed in 1997 but no sign within the shelter of the Kennedys' charm. So if you plan to ride out Judgment Day here, bring your own board games.

So you're feeling stuck in the city. Unable to think because of the swarms of people, cars, and corruption. Well, get thee to America's most famous watery park, where you'll be able to feel the kind of isolation that most of South Florida only dreams of. And try it in the summer, when even veterans often avoid the Glades. Rooms go from $68 to $98 a night, and whole families can stay in cottages with kitchens for $92 to $138 plus tax. You'll be able to paddle a canoe and leave all humanity behind on the bay. You can take boat tours too. And if you want to venture into the river of grass, try the back-country boat tours. If you must walk, rent mosquito netting. Though the restaurant is closed during the summer, you can bring your own food. And boy, is it romantic. Or head into Homestead, enjoy some tipico Mexican chow, then drive across town to Biscayne National Park, where you'll find some of the best snorkeling Neptune could have imagined. Readers' Choice: Key West
Forget Las Olas and Fort Lauderdale Beach. Give those out-of-towners a taste of the real grit-in-your-teeth, mosquito-in-your-ear, 'gator snappin' Florida. Here's the Sunshine State without the convention-and-visitors-bureau crapola. The village is a little bit of modern-day, Native American life in a clearing in the middle of the Everglades. Sure, there are guys who wrestle alligators for your entertainment (look for scars on the rasslers' faces, if you doubt the danger) and air boats to take you skimming through the marshes. There are foodstands with fry bread and Indian burgers, too. But the centerpiece is the village's classy Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum ($6 for adults, $4 for kids), with artifacts, full-size models, and a mile and a half of boardwalk nature trails that give you the up-close skinny on the wilderness that's ready to move in when your back is turned. On your way out of town, pull over to the side of the road, turn off the motor, and watch the surface of the still water that laps against the berm. Those log-like things floating out there -- those are alligators ready to snap. (Take I-75 to Exit 49, drive north for 17 miles.)

You gotta love a hotel that encourages you to get busy between its luxurious sheets. The Chesterfield offers a "Sex, Body, and Soul" package that includes a one-night stay, a bottle of massage oil, chocolate truffles, bath salts, a spa treatment, and -- dig this -- energy bars. It also comes with "a romantic book that offers ways to maximize you and your partner's enjoyment of each other," according to the hotel's website. Uh, could the title of that book possibly start with a "K" and end with an "ama Sutra"? Of course, you'll have to pay for this fabulous service. The intimate, English-style hotel -- located just two blocks from chi-chi Worth Avenue -- rents rooms for $200-plus a night, and the aforementioned package costs $395. During the summer, however, when the hot, hot weather sends plastic surgery survivors scurrying, you can check in for just over $100. Hotel guest or not, you simply must come hang out at the bar. The Leopard Lounge is campy and classy at the same time. Decorated from its leopard-spot carpet to its hand-painted ceiling, you're not sure whether you've wandered into a fabulous mansion or into a velvet painting. Every night of the week, a jazz band or Spanish guitarist plays. Elegant ladies dance with cigar-smoking men in dinner jackets while the bartender (in his leopard-print vest and red bow tie) mixes another round of martinis. This is the life, man.

By the age of 5, most South Floridians would rather watch their television flicker than have a close encounter with nature. But perhaps because of the popularity of Lord of the Rings, it "Ent" impossible to get those kids interested in the gigantic Lofty Fig at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. How could they resist the opportunity to hang out with the shaggy monster that so resembles their beloved Treebeard? The 70- to 85-year-old giant -- like those pesky invasive Australian pines that got hacked away a few years ago -- is non-native, according to rangers at the park, but has historical value because it was likely planted by Mr. Birch, who donated his estate as a public park (opened in 1949). Since the tree is located next to a covered picnic spot ($80 to rent for a day) and a playground, you can admire its winding, cavernous trunk while you drink cold beer and play volleyball. Of course, there's always the option of sitting around the house watching Billy and Jenny's soft little arms maneuver Playstation controllers while you try to figure out how to pay for their ADD meds, but it might be nice to try natural light -- and we don't mean the beer -- for a change. The beachside park with winding trails and preserved natural habitats opens at 8 a.m. and closes at sundown. Entrance is $4 for a carload and $1 per person for walk-ins.

The Broward County library system offers a zillion free resources in its one main, five regional, and 33 branch libraries. There are also three reading centers and four bookmobiles. If you're not into, like, reading, man, then try the 35,243 DVDs and 184,539 VHS tapes, which give you a selection that makes Blockbuster a real bust. Then there're the CDs -- everything from Frank Zappa's Jazz from Hell to a recording of Dr. Phil's Self Matters. And the guys who run this joint have balls. They recently turned down thousands of dollars in federal aid that they might have received if they had agreed to install pornography filters on computers with Internet access. Library Director Bob Cannon claimed that doing so would block users' access to sensitive material on abortion, gay issues, and safe sex. Then there are the librarians, who often double as babysitters and therapists. "I have regulars," says one librarian from the Hollywood branch who talks about her workplace with evangelical zeal and carries library card applications in her purse when she goes out. "I can tell when people have had a bad day, when they're falling in love, when they're heartbroken." One persistent customer calls almost daily for help with her crossword puzzles, and the librarians oblige. And don't even get us started about the free computer classes, puppet shows for kids, art exhibits, and the Small Business Resource Center at the main branch. The only thing this place lacks is beds; otherwise, we'd suggest you move in.

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