A 15-year-old Heat fanatic's wish to be a Miami Heat broadcaster. A 6-year-old's wish to go to Alaska. An 11-year-old's wish to meet Taylor Swift. These are just three of the 9,000 wishes Make-a-Wish Southern Florida has granted to children with life-threatening medical conditions over the past 30 years. That's one wish every 16 hours. It takes a special person to look heartache right in the eye and find hope; Make-a-Wish Southern Florida is full of such people. For 30 years, the organization has consistently refused to shy away from some of the toughest cases around, providing happiness to those who haven't seen it in some time.

Dear Humans,

I write to you on behalf of myself and all the other cats at Abandoned Pet Rescue. First and foremost, I hate you. You're all stupid. Your ignorance with respect to the appropriate time and duration of belly rubs makes me want to regurgitate more than just hair. If you were before me now, I would dig my claws into your silly hairless flesh and laugh as you screamed in pain. While my hate for you is strong and fiery, it is not the reason I write this letter. I write to tell you about a small but exceptional group of humans who run Abandoned Pet Rescue. They are truly tails above the rest. I've been here for a year now, and during that time, I've encountered some of what are no doubt the warmest blankets on this planet. My naps have been both long and uninterrupted, and despite that one time they stabbed me in the butt with a long metal stick, my time here has been decent, which — in the cat world — is high praise. Visit these people. Donate to their cause. And please, for the love of God, please come and adopt Pickles. I hate Pickles. He is stupid, and I'm tired of looking at his dumb face in his cage as he sits in the cage across from me. That is all. I hate you.

— Ferguson

Volume One isn't so much a bookstore as it is a big fat Valentine to South Florida bibliophiles. Walking into the store, which is slotted into a strip mall in West Broward, you're immediately surrounded by unruly stacks and cartons and shelves and leaning towers and skylines — of books. Literally, it's like walking into a maze built entirely of preloved literature. And it can be just as confusing getting around inside the cramped store, considering how well stocked the place is. But the real value in Volume One is that the quality on hand matches the quantity. You can walk into any used paperback slinger to pick up a well-thumbed edition of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, a spine-cracked Life of Pi, or a shoebox of Agatha Christie titles. Volume One, however, is filled with as many gems as the sea floor after a pirate wreck. Looking for a first-edition hardcover of Albert Goldman's 1981 Elvis Presley biography? You'll find one here. A little-circulated collection of James Agee's prose? Check. Alma Guillermprieto's dispatches from Latin America, The Heart That Bleeds? It's on the shelves. The clerks at Barnes & Noble would just drill a confused look into your skull if you asked about any of these titles. That's why when your reading habits are off the bestseller list, Volume One is where it's at.

Tate's Comics
Tate's Comics

Geeks are cool. And the coolest of the geeks in South Florida know there is only one place that will satiate their unrelenting thirst for all things comic book and anime. Serving comic book fans for a daunting 21 years, Tate Ottati says opening Tate's quickly turned into the best decision of his life. The 6,000-square-foot Lauderhill location is a flagship store selling action figures, comic books, cool toys, and Japanese snacks. But wait, there's more. Upstairs, Tate's wife (who was once a regular customer) has made her dream part of the story by opening Bear and Bird Boutique + Gallery — a funky gallery that focuses on wall-hanging-worthy art and monthly events. Opening a second location in Boynton Beach arose out of necessity: the throngs of geeks who cannot get enough of the magic from just one Tate's store.

Style. You either have it or you don't — or you have a whole lot of it and you open a boutique. That's the reality for Paula and Laurie Newlands, sisters-in-law and joint owners of StyleNest, a self-described "designer-inspired fashion boutique." Since 2011, StyleNest has been bringing unique and celebrity-inspired fashion to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea with the bonus commitment to keeping prices reasonable. Like any successful fashion boutique, it has established an online following and does booming e-commerce business in addition to in-store. Keeping with its hip and affordable attitude, the site even features an "Under $25" section you will want to live in forever. Though based out of Florida and heavy on our palm tree vibes, StyleNest knows how to appeal to a national audience and keeps everyone on her toes with the announcement of new arrivals.

This dainty little Palm Beach thrift shop just down the way from tony Worth Avenue is a testament to the trickle-down theory of furnishings and fashion. Recycling the castoffs of the elite resort enclave's Mr. and Mrs. Money, designer label clothes are a mainstay of the store, as are upscale versions of the household goods and bric-a-brac common to thrift shops everywhere. With its ritzy donor base, vintage and highly collectible books and toys not infrequently appear, so Antique Road Show types have the Church Mouse on their regular to-do lists. An adjunct to Palm Beach's Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea, the store generates as much as half a mil annually, distributed to local nonprofits. Won't you feel good about that in your "gently used" (the store's preferred term) Lilly Pulitzers?

Boca's Premier and Personal Touch Dry Cleaners keeps you so fresh, so clean, and most important, so worry-free about dropping your cherished belongings off at the store. The friendly service and reasonable prices keep you from feeling like you've been, um, taken to the cleaners when you leave the cleaners. Its website always has discount-coupon offers, or you can sign up and get on an email list for specials. The relationship between a customer and his or her dry cleaner shouldn't be complicated. Easy parking, fair prices, and quality service are pretty much what make up this experience, and Boca Premier and Personal Touch Dry Cleaners excels in all these areas.

Sawgrass Mills Mall
Photo by Chung Lun Chiang/Flickr

This mall is branded "the largest outlet and value retail shopping destination in the United States." And it's right, judging by the fact that it takes 30 minutes to buy one pair of shorts at the Calvin Klein outlet on a Monday at 8 p.m., even with five cashiers hustling faster than a Chipotle assembly line. Here, a chorus of languages carries into every corner of more than 2.3 million square feet of retail space. After all, it is an international destination, where tourists fresh off a Port Everglades cruise will spend nine hours filling the luggage they just bought at the mall to the brim with top-of-the-line duds from brands like Armani, Jimmy Choo, David Yurman, and Versace, all at outlet prices. There are even shopping carts, kiosks where you can exchange currency, and a U.S. Postal Service office near the SuperTarget for those who exceed their airline's checked-bag weight limit. It's so labyrinthine that even we locals have to use a map to navigate to the nearest Cinnabon (there are two, by the way). And God knows we're going to need our energy as we carry our dozen bags of everything-was-half-off-we-couldn't-resist back to the car we parked on the third level of the Burlington garage. But lucky for us, if we can't make it through the entire mall, there's always next weekend.

Mardi Gras Casino

So you bought a boat. Good for you. Did you hear the one about the two best days of a boat owner's life? How about what "boat" actually stands for? Or the hole-in-the-water line? If you did, then you'll soon learn that the annual Dania Beach Marine Flea Market is your new Christmas. It's so good that grown men with carts will be running down the aisles bright and early on the first day of the sale (usually held one weekend only in early March each year) lugging off new Furuno radars before you even get a foot inside, because the line is already halfway down the Mardi Gras Casino parking lot, and you underestimated its popularity by showing up a half-hour late on opening day. Here you can buy everything from bilges and bumpers to complete motors and props for your new baby. But it's not just a by-boaters, for-boaters type of sale. There are endless booths with snorkeling gear, fishing tackle, décor, apparel, food, and artwork celebrating the salt life. Every March, hobbyists from around the state come to hawk all things marine for what amounts to the world's greatest garage sale, complete with the haggling and walk backs and panicked telephone calls to your uncle telling you: "DO IT! Deals like this don't come around that often." And they don't, so you should listen to him.

Festival Marketplace

Once an ordinary outlet mall, Festival Flea Market Mall changed its name and reason for being in 1991 and has become a one-stop shop for buying things you would never expect to take home with you. The indoor air-conditioned space boasts more than 500 merchants offering to peddle you furniture, clothing, jewelry, rugs, toys, contraptions, knickknacks, and paddywacks. While the chaotic format of the market will make it a challenge if you enter with something specific you wish to buy, if you are a shopper who vales the thrill of an unexpected discovery, there is no place better. If you get hungry during your search, there is a fruit and vegetable market as well as a diverse food court offering everything from bialys to gyros. Open every day of the year but Thanksgiving, weekday business hours are from 9:30 to 5, with weekends granting you an extra hour of treasure-hunting, with the mall staying open until 6.

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