Once in a blue moon, our elected officials decide to restore a natural habitat instead of bulldozing it for development. In 2005, Palm Beach County created the Snook Islands by filling holes in the Lake Worth Lagoon with dredged sand imported from Peanut Island. Volunteers planted red mangroves on the barren landscape, and today the islands are full of scampering crabs and leggy birds. In February, the county created a new way to enjoy the islands near the western end of the Lake Worth Bridge. There's a small, grassy park overlooking the water, along with a fishing pier, dock, and boat launch area. The highlight is a 545-foot-long wooden-plank boardwalk winding past the mangrove trees into the lagoon. Visitors can walk over the water, listening to the gentle lapping of waves, as birds skim the water and soar above the trees. It's a true oasis in the city.

Despite being tasked specifically with dealing with the public, many spokespeople seem to pretty much hate dealing with pesky reporters. Unlike other public relations professionals who are either unbearable cranks or dissembling sugarcoaters, Mandell tells it like it is in reference to investigations and public records. He sometimes even — gasp — engages in friendly chit-chat. He's a straight shooter of the metaphorical kind.

It's easy to see why David Garrard is the best Dolphin — he's been practicing way longer than everyone else. When Garrard played his first game for the Jaguars in 2002, Dolphins center Mike Pouncey was 13 — that's what we in the biz call "a big head start." He's thrown for 89 touchdowns in ten seasons, which means, if he keeps it up, he's on pace to pass Dan Marino for career touchdowns in the 2048 season. He'll only be 70 years old!

Even the Outfielder Formerly Known as Mike Stanton is getting in on the rebranding craze — though his dad calls him "Mike" and his mom calls him "Cruz," Stanton said during spring training that he was more comfortable going by his real first name, "Giancarlo." With 34 home runs last year and a .893 OPS, one can't help but agree with catcher John Buck: "When I think of 'Giancarlo,' I think of someone with long, flowing hair like Fabio. But if he keeps hitting homers, I'll call him whatever he wants me to call him."

The Panthers picked up this 32-year-old Canadian last year, and it's paid off big time — in addition to four three-assist games, he had a four-assist game last October and now sits comfortably near the top in the league for feeding goals up to the offense. Plus, who can resist those glimmering white teeth?

Broadcasters love when Udonis Haslem comes off the bench because it gives them an excuse to use terms like "hustle," "heart," and "power player." The real upside of Haslem checking in is the chance of catching a glimpse of the tremendous, retina-scorching tattoo of Florida carved across the big man's back. Yes, he has an outline of the entire state tattooed on him, and it's not what one might call geographically proportionate. From a purely statistical view, Haslem's six points and seven rebounds per game halfway through the season don't even get him close to being the best at anything on the floor. And that's why we love him. The Miami native reps Florida hard, and you have to root for a hometown hero whose résumé includes balling in Gainesville. Anyway, LeBron and D-Wade have already won this thing, and did you really think this coveted accolade would go to that Harry Potter-loving Texan, Bosh?

Dania Jai-Alai Sports Center

"OLLAAAAAAATTEEEEEEE!" That's what you should scream when you're sitting in the nearly deserted spectator area at Dania Jai Alai, watching players in brightly colored suits scoop up a goatskin ball and hurl it against the wall at breakneck speed. At least, that's what we screamed every time we saw this unassuming 38-year-old from Basque country — the birthplace of this perplexing sport — scuttle to the front of the court and deliver a devastating serve return that sent the ball bouncing low against the wall, falling out of play before an opposing team member could catch it. If you have no idea what we're talking about, that's OK. We don't really either. Just go watch a game — it's free, you can drink cheap beer, and thanks to us, you'll be one of the few people in the seats hurling praise instead of insults.

Dania Jai-Alai Sports Center

If this place has fallen so far and is still so much fun, it must have been unbearably awesome in its heyday. Once you pick up the rules of the game (if you've ever played wall ball, you'll get it in no time), the jai-alai palace will give you hours of (frustrating) enjoyment in a low-pressure environment with cheap beers, cheap bets, and none of the ridiculous crowds of some of the more popular South Florida gambling halls. Be prepared, though — you're never madder about losing a dollar than when some schmuck named Manex loafs an easy catch at the end of the night.

There are a few options for planespotting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport: You can sit on benches at the top level of the Hibiscus Garage or sit on the grass berms in the 30-acre park south of the tarmac. But for true aviation geekery, you can't beat this parking lot by the western end of the north runway. Airplane buffs and families with kids slurp sodas and watch airplanes as a set of speakers broadcasts a live audio signal from the control tower. Follow along with a flight-tracking smartphone app and you can see where each plane is going and hear the controller wish the pilots "good day" as they disappear into the sky. If you're waiting for a friend's plane to land, it's also a more interesting alternative to the cell-phone lot.

Big Cypress National Preserve

Depressed because everything buried in South Florida eventually rises? Just venture west on Alligator Alley and soon enough, getting rid of your dirty laundry becomes a numbers game. Big Cypress National Preserve contains 729,000 acres, few visitors willing to get off their off-road vehicles, only a handful of access points, and many lightly trampled trails, perfect for throwing law enforcement off your scent. Around the Bear Island area at mile marker 70, hike north across the plains until you can't hear the highway anymore and wade through some chest-high water into a palm-tree hammock, where the ruins of old hunting camps sit undisturbed and out of view. Remember, leave only the body, take only photographs. A bonus: The 150 or so panthers left struggling to survive in this area are competing with hunters for a scarce deer supply, so you'll be donating some much-needed sustenance to an ecosystem on the brink.

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