The thing that sets Super Toys apart is that it's one of the few places that doesn't sell Sega Dreamcast or Sony Playstation. You're more likely to find toys that serve some kind of creative or educational purpose, like the popular Odyssey talking globe. Here's how it works: Select a category (such as national anthem or capital city of a country), then place the pointer on any spot on the globe, and the globe "tells" you the answer in a loud voice. Super Toys is also one of the few places where wood is good, as seen in the Swedish Brio and the Thomas the Tank Engine brands. For the bone collector in your young'un, there's the Dueling Dino Dig Archaeological Kit, where you can "Dig 'Em Up, and Assemble 'Em." If your kid's into arts and crafts, the Fortune Kooky Power Bead Kit can help Junior cleanse his aura and achieve spiritual awakening at home. In addition to toys, there are books such as the Homework Helpers series and edible treats like Puzzle-Os potato chips. In general Super Toys shies away from mass-market merchandise. Thank goodness there's not a Barney doll in sight. Then, you ask, what's the deal with the Pokémon stuff behind the register? Well, if one of their regulars repeatedly requests a certain item, it'll be there. Attention to customer service (no matter how painful), along with free gift-wrapping, is what keeps the well-heeled toy shoppers of western Broward County coming back.
Heading south on Old Dixie Highway through Fort Lauderdale, a sign to the left welcomes folks to Wilton Manors just before a sharp right curve in the road. The highway then jaunts almost immediately back to the left, but not before a bright yellow sign warns drivers to take the near-hairpin at 25 miles per hour. Dangling beneath the warning sign is one that announces your arrival onto a stretch known as "Antique Alley." Really a sleepy section of Old Dixie Highway just south of NE 26th Street and dotted by auto-repair shops and antiques dealerships, the small strip features some 30,000 square feet of floor space devoted to old stuff. That square footage is shared among ten quaintly overflowing stores, where junk hunters can track down that perfect '50s dining table, antique martini shaker, or Victorian end table. Overlap is inevitable, but each shop seems to have a specialty: Serendipity (9545671954) has 18th- to mid-19th-century furniture, including hand-painted and decorated pieces; Dixie Treasures (954-567-0095) features American, European, and Asian furniture from the mid-1800s to the present; the oddly named Recollections and Pot Luck Cigars (954564-3504) boasts a fully stocked walk-in humidor along with 6000 square feet of collectibles; T. Pletscher Antiques and Art (954-5670054) stocks a large selection of fine art and prints in addition to antiques; Nostalgia Modern (954-537-5533) proudly purveys furniture and home accessories from the Art Deco to disco eras; iron pieces and antique garden furniture are the highlights at Wilting Manners (954-564-7994); and Miller Antiques and Collectibles (9545376061) offers on-site clock repair along with its clocks and glass items.

Intimidated by antiques stores, especially those that don't put the prices on the merchandise? Don't know your Louis XV from your George III? Still can't pronounce art nouveau? It's OK at James & Jeffrey Antiques. The owners and staff like to educate neophytes. Ask them anything; they won't laugh. But maybe you won't have to. Most, if not all, of the information you need -- including the prices -- is clearly written on tags that are attached to the eclectic array of merchandise. For example a piece you might call a "chest of drawers" is described as "a serpentine two-drawer commode with inlaid top and sides, raised on scroll legs, with snail feet, French 18th-century. $6950." But the store doesn't cater only to beginners; it's also where interior designers come to shop, especially for continental furniture, lamps, and accessories -- like the hand-painted ceramic dishes with lids shaped like vegetables. 1950s Italian. $225. It says so on the tag.

Snipedy Do Das takes the scare out of getting a haircut, and it's easy to see why. With three hydraulic animal chairs, a fourth chair hooked up to a Nintendo, and a TV set at every station, what's there to be afraid of? Oh, and don't forget the clubhouse and the toys. According to owner Ally Scudder, they're "all the toys that parents hate." (You know, the kind that make way too much noise or require way too many batteries.) Most first-timers come in here screaming because they don't want to get their hair cut, but the regulars start screaming when it's time to go. They don't want to leave, says Scudder, which is why she set up an adult's chair as well: Now parents can have their hair cut while their kids play with the toys they can't have at home. Basic cuts for kids are $12.95 and come with a ribbon for the girls and gel for the boys. First-haircut packages are $17.95 and include a lock of hair on a certificate and a photo button.
You see all those Jags and Benzes and Beamers on the road and you know there are a hell of a lot of rich folk in South Florida, but until you've been to Three Dog Bakery, you don't know the half of it. Some of these people's dogs eat better than the average middle-class American kid, let alone a starving tot in the Third World. They don't sell doggy biscuits, they sell doggy biscotti. The place sells bagels (they call them "Beagle Bagels" and "Springer Spaniel Sprinkles") and carob cookies ("Dottie Spots") and birthday and wedding cakes. When, you ask, could a dog possibly need a wedding cake? Just before one of these prime, AKC-registered purebred studs gets down to making pups with an equally well bred, handpicked bride, that's when. These people actually hold wedding ceremonies before the consummation. In addition to these doggy baked goods, the place sells its own brands of dog food. Or more like dog cuisine. One brand is made of white meat-only chicken and goes for $30 a bag. Another brand is for the upscale, sophisticated, vegetarian dog and contains real spinach and Parmesan cheese. Hard to stomach all this? Make like Fifi and eat some grass.

Best Place to Get A New Body Without Plastic Surgery

The Balanced Body

Stop by the Balanced Body studio, and you'll see people on contraptions called the Reformer, the Wunda Chair, and the Cadillac (because it's the largest of the machines) -- machines with weights, springs, pulleys, and leather straps that make you think of a medieval torture chamber -- or worse. But the people are actually doing the Pilates (pronounced Puh-LAH-teez) Method of Body Conditioning, and Cecil Ybanez is one of the only certified Pilates Method instructors in South Florida. (Most others are certified in Pilates-"style" methods.) Like the students of Joseph Pilates, who came up with the method in the 1920s, Ybanez's students feel better in 10 sessions, look better in 20 sessions, and have a "completely new" body in 30 sessions. The reason: strengthening and stretching muscles (especially the deep abdominals, lower back, buttocks, and inner and outer thighs) through very precise and controlled movements that are so low impact, you won't even work up a sweat. Private lessons can get pricey, but group mat exercise classes for beginning and intermediate levels are available for $15.

There aren't many vegetable stands left in Broward County, and there are even fewer where produce is grown on site. But Park City Farm Market is the real deal: Tomatoes, bell peppers, lettuce, strawberries, and okra are all grown here in season. The produce comes from a small patch of land sandwiched between two sites that have been sold and are about to be developed. Unfortunately Park City's plot is up for sale, too, so head out there and get your hands in the dirt while you can. You'll find the market at the intersection of I-595 and Nob Hill Road. Take Nob Hill south and follow the hand-lettered cardboard signs.

The Gardens has the feel of an exclusive, gated community. Manicured rows of bushes shield it from PGA Boulevard, and the discreet signs announcing the mall's presence will be noticed only by those who are looking for them. Otherwise most folks will simply assume it's just another pretentiously named housing development. The Gardens has all the right anchor stores: Bloomies, Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue (we'll forgive them the downscale Sears); and the predictable mix of chain stores: Gap Kids, Gap Men, Gap Women, Gap Body (don't ask us), Laura Ashley, Liz Claiborne, Waldenbooks, et cetera. But it also has a few shops that seem a wee bit upscale and unique for a crude shopping mall. Like Jennifer Tyler Cashmeres Etc. Or our personal favorite, the quaint Restoration Hardware (the only one in Broward and Palm Beach counties), where you can purchase a $3.50 box of Mr. Bubble bubble bath or a $1300 leather armchair or a Moon Pie, not to mention a cute little plunger for $12 that we're sure will make you feel oh-so-precious the next time your toilet clogs up with excrement and overflows. Go ahead and join the vulgar masses at Sawgrass Mills if you must, but don't say we didn't guide you to a better place.
Russ Hoffman has Paul Newman eyes, Hulk Hogan wrists, and the nostalgia factor of Frank Sinatra. He also makes people reminisce just by delivering bottles of seltzer. So, what's the big deal about seltzer? After all, it's nothing but H2O with CO2: no color, no sugar, no salt, no flavor. Supermarkets have shelves and shelves of seltzer, cheaper than Hoffman's. So what's so special about his? Well, first, it's the authentic glass bottles (if it's your lucky week, a deep green). The bottle is three-quarters of an inch thick with 65 pounds of pressure inside; the carbonation can't seep out the way it can through the plastic bottles on those supermarket shelves. Second, the tops are real pewter. Third, the sound it makes when you push the lever: sprzzzzz. Fourth, the service. When was the last time you opened your front door and found a wooden case -- or two -- with six (or twelve) bottles of seltzer? Fifth, what it does for a gin and tonic. Or a New York chocolate egg cream.

It's a mid-Sunday afternoon in June, and our tire is as flat as Florida swampland, the victim of an ill-placed screw. We wage a futile battle with a lug wrench, dripping rivers of sweat onto the pavement for our effort, and contemplate calling a tow truck. Then a wise neighbor offers a tip: Pump the not-yet-completely-ruptured tire full of air and proceed to a tire healer before the thing has time to deflate again. But where to go on a Sunday afternoon? Nobody answers the phone at the half-dozen or so Goodyear outlets in the area, so we drive to a Citgo station on Sunrise Boulevard. Again, no dice. But Nick, as his work shirt identifies him, has advice: Try Smalley's, a few blocks down the road. Good call, Nick. Smalley's is not closed for a day of rest in some deferential nod to the big J.C. It's pretty much bumping. A diminutive tire vulcanizer spots us immediately. "Patch or plug?" he asks. Our dimwitted reply: "You tell us." And in seconds he does, staring down the offending screw, stanching the air flow, and plugging our tire with the automotive equivalent of a Band-Aid. The price? $5. See if you get that kind of deal at Goodyear or Don Olson Tire and Auto Center.

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