Angel Melendez

Making your way through the narrow, twisting hallways of Bethesda Bargain Box, the environment seems a little dated, and hardly anything on offer is from the modern era. That means there are surprises around each winding corner: discounted appliances, board games, books, clothes, furniture, records, shoes, and more. Now when we say "discounted," that sounds like an occasional sale. At BBB, they seem to have forgotten that sales have end dates. Things are perpetually cheap. A stack of books, let's say seven, might run you fewer than five bucks. Also, the employees are so unsettlingly kind and helpful, it seems too good to be true. As if burdening your shopping bag while barely opening your wallet isn't enough of a reason to visit, bargain hunting at BBB is good for the soul as well. Unlike at Goodwill, all the proceeds from Bethesda Bargain Box do actually go to a good cause as the funds are used to buy equipment for Bethesda Hospital and to fund medical scholarships for local students. It's a win all around — for both the area and people's homemade Halloween costumes.

Readers' choice: Out of the Closet

Kristin Bjornsen

We'll admit that hearing the words "cash-only ceviche" and "Swap Shop" in the same sentence may sound like the formula for a rip-roarin' case of vibrio. But head to the west side of the Swap, beyond the God Is Good Shoe Store (where the motto is "Nothing Comes Before the Time"), past the produce stands and aisles of coco frío, and stop at El Tiburon for some of the best mixed ceviche $12 can buy. If the Swap is open, so are they. Walking in from the parking lot, the first thing you'll hear is the music: Spanish guitar humming over a PA and live acts on the weekend. Next, the smell of crisp, deep-fried shrimp draws you closer. Minutes later, you're up to your neck in longneck Coronas and baskets of jalea. El Tiburon is far enough from the vendors with whom you regret making eye contact that you don't feel awkward taking your wallet out. It's also partitioned by large potted palms and cooled with large overhead fans, like its own little oasis in the Swap swamp. How will you have the energy to fuel your trek through the endless isles of car stereos and train horns, socks on socks on socks, oversized Sunshine State towels, white old lady porn, knives, and assless outfits only a prostitute would wear, without a belly full of raw fish and a Michelada (or three)? Lord knows you can't be sober and at the Swap Shop on a weekend.

Courtesy of Yellow Green Farmers Market

What's the mark of a great market? A variety of veg, a cadre of crafters, and someone selling chilled coconuts. At the Yellow Green Farmers Market, you've got all that under one helluva sturdy metal roof that keeps you shaded and rain free in the summer. From sunflower seed sprouts and local honey to fresh fish and cow femurs for Fido, the vendors at this market have something for every palate. And if you're looking for some culinary inspiration, stop at Chillbar for a mimosa and an Original Chill Salad before shopping for ingredients for your at-home, grass-fed, free-range, organic, local creation.

Do you find it therapeutic to pace shiny, waxed floors? Are you getting a Michael Kors for Summer '16 on mamma's debit card? Then look no further than this glittering ode to capitalism on Sunrise Boulevard. From Neiman Marcus to the Capital Grille, it's the perfect place to go when you have money to blow (or want to pretend you do). There's a newly opened Free People — where the clothes are cute and anything but free — and a wig stand that sells something called "Cruise Hair." This mall is consistently clean and quiet(-ish) and has a Bank of America conveniently located in its parking lot for that extra line of credit you'll need after a few too many minutes inside of Mayor's Jewelers. And yes, there's an Apple Store.

Readers' choice: Town Center at Boca Raton

Sure, regular exercise and a nutrient-rich diet are essential for good health, but if you ask a scuba diver, it's vitamin "sea" that matters most. Odd as it sounds on paper, breathing air through a tube with a tank strapped on your back several meters underwater is relaxing. The world within the big ocean blue is mesmerizing, and diving it is always wondrous if done safely. Since the human body wasn't built to thrive at 20 psi for extended periods of time, it's important to have good gear. Force-E Pompano Beach is the best place to find new and used equipment for your next underwater outing. The knowledgeable staff are friendly and attentive from the moment you walk through the door, which is especially helpful for beginners trying to navigate, and they almost always have rental gear in good condition available for your last minute needs.

While living in Hawaii, Vivian Caylor kindled an interest in the ancient tradition of standup paddleboarding. The sport was fun but challenging, and ceremonies on boards were peaceful odes to nature. Here in Lake Worth, Caylor has tried to re-create her experiences. Her shop rents and delivers paddleboards to any lake or dock in Palm Beach County for $65 a day without any delivery fee. Life vests and leashes are also included. Instructors certified by the American Canoe Association offer two-and-a-half- to four-hour lessons for $35 to $45. They teach form, paddling skills, and safety. Caylor's business also runs group ecotours through the Lake Worth Lagoon. There are sunset and full moon tours of the Snook Islands, Bingham Islands, and Spanish Bay near Boynton Beach. If anyone takes a real liking to the sport, Caylor sells paddleboards online from $1,145 to $1,295.

It ain't easy to make it these days as a small business owner with a brick-and-mortar shop. But for four years, Groove has triumphed over all challengers. It has competed with the TJ Maxxes of the world selling Volcom and undercutting prices. It's drawn loyal customers even though they could pick up sunscreen at Wings. It's even outlived crazy road, bridge, and casino construction in Dania Beach. That's because they stock the shop with quality gear like old Thrasher logo tees ($21.95), Sector 9 and Santa Cruz skateboards (about $200 for completes), and surfboards, leashes, and travel bags. Staff greets customers, even groms who are getting their first boards, with friendly hellos instead of acting too cool for school. Heck, they're especially nice to kids. So when you're in the market for some new boardshorts, or Junior or Juniette needs a deck, go here — not Walmart, please. You've probably driven by; next time, stop in. They also do repairs, offer lessons, and rent paddleboards.

Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music be damned. Some of us have got a serious emotional attachment to our music, and we miss holding it in our hands, carefully rubbing off its little smudges, and hugging its sleeve close as we cry into our pillows or dream about the big world outside. As most of us volunteer every last piece of our lives to the ravenous content cloud above, we know that special things deserve to exist and survive IRL. Great music deserves to be prized, cared for, and collected, not just as a blip of data streaming through space, but a physical token of the aural art it is. Launched in September 2015, Hollywood Vine-nyl Society's quarterly pop-up record store in downtown Hollywood is the latest encouraging sign for modern music lovers embracing the old vinyl format. Helmed by walking music encyclopedia Steve Toth, the meet-up brings together vendors and collectors for a few fleeting hours four Sundays a year to exchange wares, enjoy DJs and live music, sip craft beer and wine, and celebrate a culture that in some ways is dying off, but in others is finding all-new life. Local legend Bob Perry of Blue Note Records, Michael Dean of Yardbird records, and "Doc" from Jack's House of Wax have all set up shop at the event, which makes its home at the casual local wine shop Hollywood Vine. "It's Hollywood. We don't really have a record store or a bookstore here," Toth says. "So, for one day every three months, we have the best record store in town."

Readers' choice: Radio-Active Records

Music is universal, moving, and magical. It can make you cry during a sad movie scene, lift your spirits after a stressful day, or hype you up for an intense workout. Listening to music is an emotional experience, and creating it is even more rewarding. This is why Dagmar Kardell has been teaching piano at her clients' homes for over 40 years, 20 of them in Broward County. The German-born workaholic offers lessons, typically 45 or 60 minutes, for all styles including classical, contemporary/pop, jazz (except improvisational), and music theory. Whether you've never laid your fingers on the ivory keys or you're musically trained at the collegiate level, Dagmar has the experience and skill set to take you to the next tier. Her genuine love for the instrument fused with a passionate desire to see her students master it make her the perfect teacher. Her schedule is generously flexible with availability seven days a week.

"Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys" is what the old song teaches, but there's no harm in letting your kid celebrate a birthday in the countryside — which is exactly what Davie Ranch allows. The ten-acre equestrian facility is the anti-Chuck E. Cheese. There is a petting zoo filled with baby animals, including sheep, goats, miniature horses, hedgehogs, and chicks, with which your kids can get up close and personal. Pony rides, as well as face painting, bounce houses, a treehouse, and a tree swing can all be made available for your little one's special day. Also intriguing to city slickers is the rustic 6,000-square-foot stable where your kid can blow out his or her birthday candles. If that wish comes true, you might be back at Davie Ranch again soon.

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