When Gypsy fortuneteller Gina Marks was swindling vulnerable and desperate people out of their life savings, nobody seemed to be able to stop her. She walked away from numerous criminal allegations, often after paying off the victims with some form of restitution. It happened over and over again — and to add insult to injury, HarperCollins, a major publishing house, put out her bogus book, Miami Psychic, which she wrote under the fake name Regina Milbourne. It wasn't until her victims found a dedicated Palm Beach PI named Bob Nygaard that Marks was brought to justice. He worked the case for several of Marks' victims and then handed it to law enforcement on a silver platter. Nygaard didn't go the easy route and try to work out an off-the-table restitution deal that would have kept Marks on the street to find more marks — he fought for justice and put her behind bars.

More specifically, the Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk just west of the railroad bridge, where looming trees and a gazebo provide discreet and scenic respite. But don't take our word for it: On certain evenings, as lulls of conversation rise from groups of shadowy friends, the brackish air is ripe with the smell of smoke, both marine-grade and more organic. And if anyone in blue should inquire about that steaming wad floating seaward, of course you have — cough — no idea.

The celebrities here are of a... different sort. Hollywood is filled with the nation's down-and-out second-starters who settled here because they thought the name sounded nice. They mix with those of us who revel in that kind of diversity. The locals include rednecks, trannies, yuppies, hipsters, addicts, professors, urban pioneers, and everything in between. Find a chair outside on the tree-lined sidewalks, order a drink, and enjoy downtown Hollywood's star-studded fishbowl all its own.

Moving in South Florida can be a scary endeavor. Locals are ready with stories of "bad neighborhoods" that wildly contradict each other; luxury and crime coexist block by block. Well, nut up and shack up in one of the few truly historic neighborhoods Broward County has to offer. Rich, poor, black, and white coexist along the quiet, walkable streets lined with live oaks north of the New River. Housing ranges from 90-year-old studio apartment buildings with hardwood floors to charming cottages and modern condo flats, all within walking distance of downtown (any closer and you'd hear Himmarshee on a Saturday night). Head east to the Broward Center or west to the Sailboat Bend Artist Lofts, hosting a gallery with frequent exhibitions; walk the pup down to Cooley's Landing Marina to chat with boaters at the site of an Indian massacre. If it weren't for all the lovely dappled sunshine, you might forget you live in Florida. Oh, and don't worry: The Fort Lauderdale police headquarters abuts the neighborhood.

As it should, a zombie apocalypse would start out at a bar called Laser Wolf. Housed in a budding arts district called FAT — which stands for Flagler Arts & Technology — Village, there is irony here. As soon as Fort Lauderdale finally gets a regular, walkable art event, let's destroy it with zombies who run amok. Drab-dressed zombiefolk are so yesteryear; pretty, tatted, indie trendsetters who know how to drink real tasty microbrews at Laser Wolf are in! And no zombie apocalypse worth filming should start at any other time than Saturday at dusk, the fourth one of the month at that — for that FAT Village Art Walk. So the zombies torpedo through warehouses, which are converted into artist studios, theaters, businesses, galleries, a puppet workshop. The zombies are munching on artists (and who wouldn't?). We told you warehouse partying was unscary; not tonight. We said that it was fun, that you would like it. But you're a zombie now. Yes! Cameo! And what other place should the new-zombie-you ransack and eat everyone? Of course, downtown Fort Lauderdale — where there is now no Coyote Ugly, the natural enemy of a profitable movie, to hurt our sales.

Two blocks from the Clematis Street debauchery in downtown West Palm Beach is a Key West-style cottage with a white picket fence and a courtyard bar. There are tiki torches, palm trees, and a koi pond. Patrons graze on Brie-and-raspberry tarts and crab cakes while sipping melon martinis. Yes, there are plenty of gay men here but also straight women and the obligatory drunk in the corner. Most important, the TV screen is displayed near the French double doors. So when your crew starts to swoon over Matthew Morrison's abs or jeer at Lea Michele singing Liza Minnelli, you'll have plenty of good company.

Mention to someone in the know that you're planning to stop by the Boys for the first time and he'll likely let you in on two things: 1) The meat, cheese, bakery, and produce sections are out-of-control good; and 2) watch the hell out. The Tetris-like parking lot is overflowing with land yachts commandeered by people who are far too focused on getting inside for a hunk of fresh mozzarella or lamb steaks to pay attention to such trivial matters as rear-view mirrors, strollers, pedestrians, or how to avoid a low-speed collision. And heaven help you if you get between one of those vehicles and the last remaining spot in sight. You're better off parking elsewhere and hoofing it to the entrance. Once inside, you'll be facing a similarly hazardous situation as shoppers wield their carts like battering rams through the tight aisles, with the occasional appendage acting as collateral damage. A harrowing ordeal, yes, but that cheese selection really is quite divine.

Boca Raton was recently named the 12th rudest city in the world, and there's a pretty good shot that every Boca resident will end up on Glades Road. It's a stretch of road where you're most likely to hear obscenities being hollered at the passing elderly. Don't be fooled by the Whole Foods, monstrous Barnes & Noble, and tree-lined campus of Florida Atlantic University. This is a stretch where the middle finger is the appropriate "I'm sorry" gesture.

Several years ago, the "last house" was built in Coral Springs. In other words, every lot big enough to hold a house had been used. Even this western suburb's parks are well-developed, highly engineered centers of human activity, from the carefully manicured baseball and soccer fields to the running trails with workout stops every tenth of a mile to the chlorinated pools with Crayola-colored plastic slides and watchful lifeguards. But tucked behind one such bustling public pool at Cypress Park on Coral Springs Drive (known everywhere else in Broward County as Pine Island Road) is Cypress Hammock/Orchid, a small but breathtaking nature trail. You won't find any pictures of it online. You won't even find a description of it on — though the site will tell you all about the eight tennis courts, the playground, concession stand, grills, tables, restrooms, meeting rooms, and picnic areas that make up most of the park's 16 acres. But if you can avoid the pool and keep on the sidewalk, walk right on past the tennis courts on your right and the pro shops on your left and go just past where you think the park ends — and you will find something special. A boardwalk seems to hover a few feet above a prehistoric jungle of ferns. The pop and squeak of people playing tennis can't be heard here. The roar of the pool slides and swimming kids does not penetrate. Other than the call of the occasional bird, you are suddenly in a silent primeval oasis in the middle of Coral Springs. If you stop halfway along the trail, stand perfectly still, and let the humidity soak into your clothes, hair, and skin, you can imagine what this area was really like before we came along. And if all that nature freaks you out, don't worry — there's a concession stand 30 feet away.

There are about a hundred miles of beautiful sandy beaches stretching from the northern border of Palm Beach County to the southernmost point of Broward County. But alas, no dogs are allowed. Sure, sure there's that stretch of beach in Fort Lauderdale that allows dogs three days a week, but that just doesn't scream "We love dogs!," does it? If you're sick of the scene at Canine Beach, you will find a doggy water paradise on 24th Street in Pompano Beach. The city officially calls it Exchange Club Park, but you won't find signs pointing your way in to this secluded, locals-only spot. The small city park meets up with a bend in the Intracoastal that flows with crystal-clear water from the inlet nearby. Here, your furry friend can splash out into the water at will — no hourly restrictions, no special registration fee. Just mind the park hours, make sure your dog has all her shots, and be a good canine neighbor.

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