The task presented to architect Robert Gatje of New York-based Marcel Breuer Associates was difficult: Design a library that would embody the early 1980s resurgence of Fort Lauderdale. To do this, he employed a hodgepodge of design elements that came together flawlessly. The glass façade facing north is imposing. The landscaped terraces are swank. Walls made of local coral rock are thoughtful. A reflecting pool that appears to run uninterrupted from the outside to the inside is striking (when full). And the six-story atrium punctuated by an Alexander Calderesque mobile (it's by William Gaterman) is the kicker. Many of these eye-catching features are currently obscured by construction fences, part of a project to swap in impact glass so the building can better handle high winds and hurricanes. Even though the Broward Main Library dates back only to 1984, officials have already started the paperwork to get the building designated as a Fort Lauderdale historical landmark. "You can argue that it's the most iconic building in the county," says Dave Barber, Broward County Historic Preservation Coordinator. "It's such an amazing space to walk into. You feel like you're in a special place, and that's how libraries and public buildings should be." Amen.

Mother Earth Coffee and Gifts
Christina Mendenhall

Do not abuse this bathroom. Unless you've paid for coffee and tipped the lovely proprietor, Patti, you don't deserve this kind of karma. A beaded curtain shields the entrance. Inside, it's cleaner and more spacious than a Manhattan bedroom. An ancient L.C. Smith typewriter rests on a bureau next to a book titled Ten Zen Seconds. Should you require further reading material, there is a well-stocked bookshelf too. Painted above the mirror is the inspirational message, "You are beautiful to me." When you go to flush, the ordinary commode handle has been replaced by a small coffee cup. "Life is best lived in the flow," reads the accompanying note. "Put your worries in this cup. Lift it up and let them go!"

Whole Foods Market

How to explain the hot mess that is the parking lot for this plaza that houses Whole Foods Market, Barnes & Noble, and numerous other yuppie magnets? Perhaps there is a component in fair-trade coffee and organic kombucha that causes people to throw all driving inhibitions — like the notion that you should, you know, not crash into other cars or humans — out the window like so many conventionally grown vegetables. The scene calls to mind a dystopian future wherein the world is given over to a race of Hummer-driving Pilates instructors who have smartphones for hands. Ninja-like reflexes are required for safe navigation, and heaven help you if your craving for raw cacao nibs strikes on a Sunday afternoon.

Convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein implicated tons of people in his blockbuster ten-day deposition in December, but only a few entities were described as being absolutely integral in his plot to steal more than a billion dollars. TD Bank was one of them. According to Rothstein, TD employees passed off bogus documents, helped put on "shows" for investors, and lied to depositors who asked if they could "lock" their accounts to keep Rothstein from getting to their cash. Rothstein said his scheme "absolutely would have ended" if TD performed even a cursory investigation of his dealings, so, while they're probably paying closer attention now, it's still unrivaled in South Florida for wannabe Ponzi partiers.

Vintage Diversity

Time machines might not exist, but thankfully vintage stores do. When shopping at Vintage Diversity, it's all about the hunt, so get ready to dig, and set aside a long afternoon. Wall to wall packed with treasures of yesteryear, there is no telling what's hiding underneath a 1950s gold-embroidered housecoat or an authentic pair of '70s, white, patent-leather go-go boots. Perhaps you're only looking to travel back in time for a Mad Men party or a Warhol Factory-styled event? Vintage Diversity rents out clothing and costumes too. Owner/operator and local vintage queen Melanie Garbo-Byrnes is always on-site and ready to assist with all your vintage needs. Forget about powering the flux capacitor, and drive down to Oakland Park instead.

West Palm Beach Green Market

With Cider Doughnuts, Boston Chowder Co.'s Maine lobster rolls, and Anita's Guacamole, this category could easily be renamed "Best Place to Justify Standing in an Ungodly Long Line," because you will do just that for any of these vendors, all the while producing enough back sweat to fill a Big Gulp. But it's so worth it! In its 17th season, the well-attended West Palm Beach Green Market throws together more than 60 vendors selling everything from locally grown hydroponic greens (lettuces, people), tropical fruits, orchids, artisanal breads and pastas, teas, olive oils, pickles, cheeses, handmade dog treats, heirloom tomatoes, jams, honeys, and potted herb plants that are occasionally hand-assembled by West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio. If you want to avoid the mayor's digits in your herbs, then steer clear of the area during the annual grand opening on October 15, when West Palm Beach parades out local politicians, radio hosts, and TV personalities to man the booths. The market runs every Saturday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. from October through April.

Swap Shop

"Where's the bargains?" No, it's not grammatically correct, and yes, you might occasionally find better pricing on Craigslist, but if you are a living, breathing, deal-hunting Floridian, you can't help but utter a Pavlovian "At the Swap Shop!" response anytime someone utters the above question. The Swap Shop slogan that was first made famous on local TV ads a few years back has even made its way into remix territory on YouTube. But it's not just the cheesy slogan that makes the Swap Shop one of the state's largest tourist attractions (the owners claim it is second only to Disney); it's the complete unpredictability of the vendors' goods on display. Airbrushed Jesus T-shirts, discounted adult toys, quinceañera garb, designer perfumes, vintage Atari games, tables upon tables of tube socks, a dozen roses for under ten bucks, and cheap produce can all be scored from one of the 2,000 vendors on hand, seven days a week.

This site, run by renegade Palm Beach Post reporter turned gossip blogger Jose (that's "Joe-ZAY") Lambiet, is way more than just silly pictures of the Kardashians — though they're on there too. While he's quick to pick up on South Florida celebrity news, Lambiet is also constantly rooting through the business of the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, keeping it honest when, say, a man robs a pawn shop with an assault rifle stolen from a sheriff's deputy. For scoops on the South Florida scene, Gossip Extra is the place to go.

The gossip here is juicy. Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputies dish anonymously about everything from a high-profile murder case to a lieutenant with an alleged pain-pill addiction. Founded by Mark Dougan, an ex-deputy who left the force in 2008, PBSOtalk.com makes no attempt to hide its contempt for Sheriff Ric Bradshaw. On the messageboards, it's tough to sort fact from fiction. But some of the most helpful info comes from the documents Dougan has posted on the site — the probable-cause affidavit in the pain-pill case, purchase orders showing that the Sheriff's Office spent more than $60,000 on barbecue grills, a copy of an internal-affairs complaint filed against Bradshaw. Although the site offers no smoking gun, it is a rare window into the internal politics of a sheriff's office few outsiders would otherwise glimpse. After all, it's fun to spy on the cops once in a while.

Worried about an electromagnetic pulse from solar flares wreaking havoc on the modern world? How about a global pandemic or a complete devaluation of the dollar? No? Well, maybe you should be. Here to guide you gently into that dark night are the South Florida Preppers, a congenial bunch of folks who are preparing, in their own particular ways, for a collapse of society as we know it. They trade pointers and theories about "shit hits the fan" scenarios at a monthly barbecue meeting that's open to all and features free lectures. The local survivalists range from camouflaged gun nuts to checkbook-balancing moms. Underneath their morbid anticipation of total disaster is hope — and faith in the human ability to overcome tragedy in this overpopulated, hurricane-swept land.

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