Athena's Salon & Spa
Women used to be so striking. Look at Billie Holliday's pin curls, held taut with gardenias. Or Lucille Ball's slicked-up, lacquered-down poodle cut. There were soda-can bouffants, beehives woven into architectural wonders, and, of course, more sexy, bad girl, and rockabilly up-dos than you can wag your wrench at. So, when did things get so... flat? Well, for Riviera DeCordova, time never lapsed. An addict of black-and-white, Turner Classic Movies, Riviera has a soft spot for the hard times of Depression-era fingerwaves and a sweet tooth for the Sugar Pop days of 1950s malt-shop curls. And while she's gathered armfuls of awards from mainstream salons like Regis and Yellow Strawberry for her more modern styles, our gal is whispered about in fancy lady circles for her period work with the Broward Opera House, Atomic Betty's pinup photo shoots, and the Delray Beach vintage trunk fashion shows. She just has a knack for turning ordinary ladies into engine-revving hotrods. So you're feeling limp and need a perm 'cause your locks have just lost that lovin' feeling? No problem; visit Riviera, and let her turn your hair-don't into a hair-do.
ManKind
Men aren't always that comfortable pampering themselves. Most guys are more likely to buy spa packages for their spouses than expect one as a gift for themselves. Theories abound on why that is, but it's important for certain male-only day spas like ManKind in downtown Fort Lauderdale to pick up the slack for this underserved demographic. Let the name say it all. Every inch of this spa oozes manhood, from the mahogany wood décor and pool table to the twin barbers on staff who look like auto mechanics. They have a bar on site that can pour as much complimentary Dewars scotch as you can handle and have free Killians and Michelob on tap for paying customers as well. ManKind specializes in Swedish and deep-tissue massage and has three certified massage therapists on staff to cut down on wait time. There's an executive feel to the place, and everything on the inside is legit. The only happy ending you can expect is to kick back and get a pedicure while sipping on an espresso.
Surf World
Don't let the name fool you. At Surf World, you'll find supplies for everything you can do in South Florida that requires putting both feet on some sort of board and holding your body in balance while moving. In the back of both of these Broward County locations, past that hollow black $1,049 Lost surfboard, is an entire array of skateboards by Venture, York, and Gravity, to name a few. Some of the boards still look like the first one Mom and Dad bought you in middle school (plain with the black top) while others are shapelier (there's one resembling a fish, and another is an ode to the shark). Save a little wear and tear on your joints and pick up Pro-Tech knee and elbow pads, which range from $16.95 to $31.95. Surf World stocks plenty of skater kicks — try a pair of the Ryan Smith edition from Globe Shoes for $49.95 or some killer Reefs at $45.99 for the Point Break Series. For the flip-flop skater boy or girl, strap on a pair of Reef thongs that double as a flask — because those ones with just the bottle opener on the bottom are so last year!
Midtown Athletic Club
At about $115 a month, the Midtown Athletic Club in Weston is about triple the cost of Gold's Gym or L.A. Fitness. But those other places don't have 25 tennis courts, three pools, and classes on how to dance the zumba. Bring CDs and DVDs to play while you're burning calories on the elliptical trainer, bike, or treadmill, each of which comes equipped with its own 15-inch LCD screen. As they say at the Midtown, "It's not just a club, it's a community," which may explain why they also host wine-tastings, a movie night, and even a junior fashion show.
The Scuba Club
It's advertised as "a country club for scuba divers" and, less humbly, "the best damn facility on the planet since 1972." Those claims are hard to argue with, because the Scuba Club has everything you need, from wetsuits and regulators (for rent or sale at the pro shop) to a classroom (basic certification costs $250 and includes five dives) to a swimming pool for practicing to a dock with the boat parked right there. Did we mention the steam room, the photo lab, or the hotel room (with kitchen)? "You pull in the parking lot and you're pretty much done," instructor Wayne Shoemake says. He, like much of the staff, has been here "since the Jurassic era" (20-plus years), and General Manager J.D. Duff even has a college degree in diving. In other words, they're folks you can trust with your life.
American hardware stores bore witness to three distinct evolutionary stages: First came the mom-and-pop epoch, where a kindly soul would take you by the hand down dusty aisles to find exactly the eyehook or hose bib you'd been searching for. Next came the Ace/TrueValue era, which began to outshine small family-run stores with their bright fluorescents and abundantly organized overstock. Finally, the Home Depot period (in which we're currently "existing," not "living") has all but reduced the hardware-store experience to a degrading, dehumanizing solo search-and-rescue mission followed by a long, slow slog to a faceless automatic scanner. Riverland Hardware not only looks, feels, and smells like a small-town hardware store from the 1960s, it's run by a real-life mom and pop. If you're looking for something, no one has to scroll through SKU numbers on a computer screen to see if it's in stock — they'll actually go and pull it off the shelf for you. Sure, Riverland Hardware is tiny. It's mostly there so you can go about fixing your toilet, unclogging your drain, and replacing those sprinkler heads. It doesn't sell riding mowers or gas grills, and it might not be as cheap as the orange, big-box monstrosity with the ocean-sized parking lot. But during those panicky, last-minute trips for hurricane supplies, you'll be so glad you're here instead of there.
Cloud 9 Lounge
Much like the National Beer Pong League and the American Beer Pong Association of America, the Cloud Nine takes its beer pong seriously. Not only does the bar have its own custom-built plywood competition tables, house rules, and referees; it knows how to draw hardcore "athletes" — with weekly $150 prizes leading up to the May championship (which comes with a $500 award). For the uninitiated, beer pong is a game in which a pair of two-person teams face off over a Ping-Pong-style table. Each team sets up six plastic cups half-full of beer, with the objective to toss the Ping-Pong ball and land it in one of your opponents' cups. After taking a hit, the player drinks the contents and removes the cup from the table. The team with the last cup standing wins; the loser wins a real nice buzz. All this for a $6 entry fee — enough to cover "equipment" like Miller Lite.
Everyone knows there isn't a legitimately cheap thrill to be found in money-mad Palm Beach County, so we decided to focus more on the thrill aspect of this award. And what could be more thrilling than driving your car as fast as you damned well please? Although you can achieve this cheaply on the highway if you so desire, there's a legal way. That would be at the quarter-mile drag strip at Moroso Motorsports Park, located off the Beeline Highway just north of Indiantown Road. Here's the drill: You pay $20, pull into the 330-foot concrete launch pad, rev your engine, and zoom down the drag, all the while being timed by a Compulink. If for some reason, your testicles haven't dropped yet, this may be just the thing. Wussies can pay $13 just to watch.
At press time, luxury car-rental shop Gotham Dream Cars had seven shiny machines in its fleet: a Lamborghini Murcielago with scissor doors ("as loud and as screaming a car — visually and acoustically — as you can get," according to the company owner, 28-year-old Noah Lehmann-Haupt), a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder ("the baby Lambo"), a Ferrari 360 Spyder ("a classic"), a Ford GT ("an engineering marvel... underrated... by far the best car in the fleet"), a Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet, a Corvette GO6, and a convertible 2007 Bentley Continental GTC. Gotham can provide insurance or work with yours, and they'll bring the car to you on a special delivery truck. They'll even forgive you for returning it with an empty tank or leaving your McDonald's bag on the floor (you have to take this sucker to the drive-through!). But at these prices — the 'Vette costs $495 a day, the Bentley $2,250 — they better. Says Lehmann-Haupt: "If someone crashes the car, we make sure no one was hurt and then give 'em a new car. They'll end up having to pay for the crashed car, but we wouldn't want that to ruin their weekend."
Spyke's Grove
They came for the spot of subtropical sand with an orange tree in the backyard. That's the way Florida was built: countless bungalows on drained swamp with fresh citrus at near arm's reach. Then came the canker scare and the state's disastrous killing spree, wherein the dream was turned into a horror show of arboreal carnage. That unfathomable, shameful, and incredibly costly slaughter is over now. Since it appears to be safe to have a juice-maker in the backyard again, Spyke's Grove is the place to find one for you. They've got citrus trees of all stripes: lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines, tangelos, grapefruits, limes, kumquats, you name it. And, most extraordinarily, they sell "cocktail" trees. No, these don't come with tequila inside the limes. They're spliced to grow different varieties of fruits on the same tree. We just got one with five different fruit varieties, including lemons, oranges, grapefruits, tangelos, and tangerines (all of them seedless). These are a bit more expensive (a 15-gallon is gonna run you about $225, whereas a regular tree goes for $140), but man, are they cool.

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