Best Place to Spend a Rainy Day 2016 | Eat the Tea | Sports & Recreation | South Florida

Walk into this charming tea shop and owner Maureen Ruggeri will take care of you. Opened on the full moon in September 2012, Eat the Tea focuses on tea's mystical healing powers. Ruggeri studied teas and their uses across cultures and throughout history and considers hers to be elixirs. She has blends labeled "brain," "skin," and "stomach," for the body parts they aim to heal. The shop earned its name because Ruggeri believes that eating leftover tea leaves and fruit chunks —anything from rose petals to orange peels and calendula — is awesome for one's health. Ruggeri purchases her ingredients from as far away as Japan and Taiwan. Her store is bright and accented with a string of fairy lights and a big storefront window. The walls are lime green, with crooked paintings and colorful tapestries. Ideal after a thunderstorm, when you can shake the droplets off and cozy up on the couch for the rest of day. If rose petals and orange peels don't wholly satiate your appetite, Ruggeri has vegan sandwiches and meals for you too.

It's kind of tough to find a spot to watch the sun sink during the twilight hours, what with us living on the East Coast instead of the West. But you don't necessarily need to live in Naples or Tampa to appreciate a gorgeous sunset — you just need to be on a beach chair with a cool drink in hand. Fort Lauderdale Beach is primo territory for that. Sure, you won't see the orange ball actually drop below the horizon — but you can catch the blue sky slowly turn a gorgeous lavender as specks of stars begin to appear, all while feeling the sand between your toes.

Courtesy City of Hollywood

In South Florida, a backyard pool is every child's dream. But pools are expensive, and the upkeep can be tedious.. Driftwood Community Pool, which opened in 2004, is as welcoming as a home pool with the convenience of your neighbor's. (Somebody else can check the danged chlorine.) There are swimming summer camps, swimming lessons, and meets here. In the summer, children kick on noodles and play Marco Polo. Australian pines and palm trees provide some shade in one pocket of the water. Unlike other community pools, Driftwood has a beach entry, a slope that slowly descends from zero to four feet, making it handicap-accessible too. In the winter months, it stays heated at 83 to 86 degrees.

Readers' choice: The W Fort Lauderdale Hotel

The lure of the road can be daunting. You want to get away, but packing your car and planning a route becomes a disheartening chore that ruins the mystique of adventure. Solution: Pick a place close enough that you don't have to spend your mortgage on gassing up yet far enough that you feel like you've left town. Port St. Lucie fills the bill, with everything you love about living in Florida, like pretty scenery and nice restaurants, yet worlds away from the rushed South Florida vibe. Savannas State Park offers a pretty backdrop to get your canoeing, kayaking, and hiking on, and the Heathcote Botanical Gardens will make you feel like you got lost in an Amazonian-like oasis. Port St. Lucie also boasts golf courses and tennis centers and hosts the New York Mets during spring training. And of course, there are the beaches, beautifully devoid of silicone and thongs.

Here's our advice the next time you want to take your sweetheart on a nice little weekend getaway: Keep it simple. And by "keep it simple," we mean, go to the frickin' Keys, man. And when we say "frickin' Keys," we mean Islamorada. In our humble opinion, it's the best key of all. Key Largo is too close, while Key West is drowning in tourists and way too far. But Islamorada is right smack in the middle, where Florida stops being all Florida-y and begins morphing into an otherworldly paradise. Most folks just drive right through Islamorada without understanding that they're passing some sweet spots like Anne's Beach or the Islamorada Beer Co. brewery. Islamorada has places to wind-surf and kayak, gorgeous scuba and snorkeling spots, serene wildlife nature tours, and a couple of pretty state parks. Oh, and there's also a dope-ass lighthouse in the middle of the ocean! None of the other keys can claim to have a dope-ass lighthouse in the ocean. In other words, Islamorada has everything people look for in a keys experience without the crowds, cheesiness, or price gouging.

Photo courtesy of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau

Ask any real Floridian about alligators and you'll hear an epic story about how an alligator showed up one day to swim in the backyard pool while Grandpa was grilling barbecue chicken. Or that time when a family of gators stole someone's lunch at Lake Alice. Alligator stories are one of the many things that set the old-timers apart from the recent transplants. For those who don't have a legit story yet, it's time to head to Everglades Holiday Park and get to business. At this quiet nature preserve, you can encounter those gnarly beasts by airboat or simply by walking around. You'll have plenty of photo ops and finally get that perfect Facebook cover photo you've been seeking all your life. Just don't get too close. (Gah!)

Being a soccer fan is like being part of a club that no one quite understands, particularly in America. Non-soccer fans don't understand the gorgeous nuances of the beautiful game. They don't get why you can't use your hands. They think it's just guys running around for 90 minutes. They don't get ties. ("They're un-American!") They don't get points-based rankings. ("That's just weird!") They don't get what a table is. ("Isn't that for eating and putting stuff on?") And they certainly don't get why you love it so damned much. What you need is a community — a group of like-hearted diehards who love fútbol just as much as you, and totally understand why you wake up at 7 on a Saturday morning to watch the English Premier League. You can find such a community at Fox & Hounds, a British American pub (that's right, "pub"). This joint is so entrenched in soccer, it will open just for those early-morning games, regardless of time. Then it'll stuff your fútbol-supporting face with fish and chips, steak and kidneys, and even Scotch eggs. And, of course, beer. Lots and lots of beer. It even has a dartboard where you and your mates can play during halftime. Fox & Hounds caters to other sports lovers, to be sure — it has plenty of TVs in the place. But its first love will always be for the beautiful game and its year-round matches, international and otherwise. And the atmosphere here is perfect to watch those matches with your brothers and sisters in soccer.

Everyone is welcome at Slackers, but Wisconsinites feel truly at home in this dimly lit bar located in a shopping center on Marina Mile. Owner Jon Slack never intended his bar to become Broward's Little Milwaukee. But Slack, a Wisconsin native, played the Packers football game every Sunday and decorated the interior with Packers memorabilia, like a framed newspaper from the 2010 Super Bowl, an Aaron Rodgers jersey, and a banner that says, "Packers Country." There's no bad seat in the house to catch a sports game. The walls are covered with more than 30 flat-screen TVs. You don't need a Wisconsin connection to appreciate the goodies on the menu, like bratwursts topped with sauerkraut or cheese curds that are filled with white cheddar cheese from the Badger State. There's even a beer on tap called Slacker's Wisconsin Amber that's brewed in Middleton. But the drink of choice is the Hell Mary, a bloody mary served with skewers of greasy toppings like bacon, a boiled egg, cheddar cheese cubes, pickle, celery, olives, pepperoncini, cherry tomatoes, and a pearl onion.

Jaromir Jagr is 44 years old. For a hockey player, he might as well have fought in the Civil War. He was old ten years ago. But the famously mulleted Czech just happens to be one of the greatest hockey players to lace up in any era of pro hockey. He's won two Stanley Cups and scored more points than any active player in the game. He played alongside Mario Lemieux in the 1990s, creating one of the most formidable offensive duos in sports history. He's played for eight NHL teams and two Russian teams in pro hockey and could probably take on a few NBA teams and the Gryffindor Quidditch team too. But what he's doing now, in his 40s, seems to be the most improbable accomplishment of his career: He has turned the Florida Panthers — which previously functioned as the NHL's halfway house for players considering retirement — into a legitimate championship contender. Jagr himself is having the sort of season that defies all logic or science: He led the team in scoring and looks positively happy doing so. He hasn't even lost any hair. (Though the Panthers have been knocked out of the playoffs this year.)

Readers' choice: Jaromír Jágr

Christian Yelich is the best Miami Marlins player you’ve never heard of, largely because he’s not flashy (and he doesn’t do PEDs — we hope). Casual observers will tell you that what makes a great baseball player is someone who can hit long dingers and get a crapload of RBIs. And that may be true to some degree. But what really makes a great ballplayer is a guy who knows how to take pitches, is patient, can wear out the opposing pitcher, draws walks, and hits it anywhere in the field where it’s safe. And Yelich is arguably one of the best in the majors at all of these things. Baseball is a game of stats, and the stat gurus will tell you that the most valuable hitters on your team are the guys who can get on base, no matter how they do it. Yelich is a wizard at fouling off bad pitches and a warlock at drawing walks. This season alone, he was leading all of baseball in on-base percentage and driving pitchers batty with his uncanny ability to know their strike zones and hit safely. Best of all, he now has Barry Bonds — perhaps the most cerebral hitter of all time — as his hitting coach. Yelich may not be the sexiest player on the Marlins, but he’s the most effective. Someone’s gotta get on base when Giancarlo takes those monster swings.

Readers' choice: Giancarlo Stanton

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