Here's our advice the next time you want to take your sweetheart on a nice little weekend getaway: Keep it simple. And by "keep it simple," we mean, go to the frickin' Keys, man. And when we say "frickin' Keys," we mean Islamorada. In our humble opinion, it's the best key of all. Key Largo is too close, while Key West is drowning in tourists and way too far. But Islamorada is right smack in the middle, where Florida stops being all Florida-y and begins morphing into an otherworldly paradise. Most folks just drive right through Islamorada without understanding that they're passing some sweet spots like Anne's Beach or the Islamorada Beer Co. brewery. Islamorada has places to wind-surf and kayak, gorgeous scuba and snorkeling spots, serene wildlife nature tours, and a couple of pretty state parks. Oh, and there's also a dope-ass lighthouse in the middle of the ocean! None of the other keys can claim to have a dope-ass lighthouse in the ocean. In other words, Islamorada has everything people look for in a keys experience without the crowds, cheesiness, or price gouging.

Everglades Holiday Park
Photo courtesy of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau

Ask any real Floridian about alligators and you'll hear an epic story about how an alligator showed up one day to swim in the backyard pool while Grandpa was grilling barbecue chicken. Or that time when a family of gators stole someone's lunch at Lake Alice. Alligator stories are one of the many things that set the old-timers apart from the recent transplants. For those who don't have a legit story yet, it's time to head to Everglades Holiday Park and get to business. At this quiet nature preserve, you can encounter those gnarly beasts by airboat or simply by walking around. You'll have plenty of photo ops and finally get that perfect Facebook cover photo you've been seeking all your life. Just don't get too close. (Gah!)

Fox and Hounds

Being a soccer fan is like being part of a club that no one quite understands, particularly in America. Non-soccer fans don't understand the gorgeous nuances of the beautiful game. They don't get why you can't use your hands. They think it's just guys running around for 90 minutes. They don't get ties. ("They're un-American!") They don't get points-based rankings. ("That's just weird!") They don't get what a table is. ("Isn't that for eating and putting stuff on?") And they certainly don't get why you love it so damned much. What you need is a community — a group of like-hearted diehards who love fútbol just as much as you, and totally understand why you wake up at 7 on a Saturday morning to watch the English Premier League. You can find such a community at Fox & Hounds, a British American pub (that's right, "pub"). This joint is so entrenched in soccer, it will open just for those early-morning games, regardless of time. Then it'll stuff your fútbol-supporting face with fish and chips, steak and kidneys, and even Scotch eggs. And, of course, beer. Lots and lots of beer. It even has a dartboard where you and your mates can play during halftime. Fox & Hounds caters to other sports lovers, to be sure — it has plenty of TVs in the place. But its first love will always be for the beautiful game and its year-round matches, international and otherwise. And the atmosphere here is perfect to watch those matches with your brothers and sisters in soccer.

Everyone is welcome at Slackers, but Wisconsinites feel truly at home in this dimly lit bar located in a shopping center on Marina Mile. Owner Jon Slack never intended his bar to become Broward's Little Milwaukee. But Slack, a Wisconsin native, played the Packers football game every Sunday and decorated the interior with Packers memorabilia, like a framed newspaper from the 2010 Super Bowl, an Aaron Rodgers jersey, and a banner that says, "Packers Country." There's no bad seat in the house to catch a sports game. The walls are covered with more than 30 flat-screen TVs. You don't need a Wisconsin connection to appreciate the goodies on the menu, like bratwursts topped with sauerkraut or cheese curds that are filled with white cheddar cheese from the Badger State. There's even a beer on tap called Slacker's Wisconsin Amber that's brewed in Middleton. But the drink of choice is the Hell Mary, a bloody mary served with skewers of greasy toppings like bacon, a boiled egg, cheddar cheese cubes, pickle, celery, olives, pepperoncini, cherry tomatoes, and a pearl onion.

Jaromir Jagr is 44 years old. For a hockey player, he might as well have fought in the Civil War. He was old ten years ago. But the famously mulleted Czech just happens to be one of the greatest hockey players to lace up in any era of pro hockey. He's won two Stanley Cups and scored more points than any active player in the game. He played alongside Mario Lemieux in the 1990s, creating one of the most formidable offensive duos in sports history. He's played for eight NHL teams and two Russian teams in pro hockey and could probably take on a few NBA teams and the Gryffindor Quidditch team too. But what he's doing now, in his 40s, seems to be the most improbable accomplishment of his career: He has turned the Florida Panthers — which previously functioned as the NHL's halfway house for players considering retirement — into a legitimate championship contender. Jagr himself is having the sort of season that defies all logic or science: He led the team in scoring and looks positively happy doing so. He hasn't even lost any hair. (Though the Panthers have been knocked out of the playoffs this year.)

Readers' choice: Jaromír Jágr

Christian Yelich is the best Miami Marlins player you’ve never heard of, largely because he’s not flashy (and he doesn’t do PEDs — we hope). Casual observers will tell you that what makes a great baseball player is someone who can hit long dingers and get a crapload of RBIs. And that may be true to some degree. But what really makes a great ballplayer is a guy who knows how to take pitches, is patient, can wear out the opposing pitcher, draws walks, and hits it anywhere in the field where it’s safe. And Yelich is arguably one of the best in the majors at all of these things. Baseball is a game of stats, and the stat gurus will tell you that the most valuable hitters on your team are the guys who can get on base, no matter how they do it. Yelich is a wizard at fouling off bad pitches and a warlock at drawing walks. This season alone, he was leading all of baseball in on-base percentage and driving pitchers batty with his uncanny ability to know their strike zones and hit safely. Best of all, he now has Barry Bonds — perhaps the most cerebral hitter of all time — as his hitting coach. Yelich may not be the sexiest player on the Marlins, but he’s the most effective. Someone’s gotta get on base when Giancarlo takes those monster swings.

Readers' choice: Giancarlo Stanton

There's only one team that would use a top-ten pick on a guy who didn't become a quarterback until college: the Miami Dolphins. That being said, the aqua-and-orange are also the same organization that selected a player with the ability to make that same wide-receiver-turned-signal-caller look much more competent. When Jarvis Landry was chosen in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the expectations for the LSU product were substantial — but not many anticipated him to turn into the stud he's become. In only his second year, Landry made the Pro Bowl after a season in which he caught 110 passes for 1,157 yards. His touchdown total stood at a paltry four, but that was mainly because the Dolphins offense was a pathetic, shambling corpse that ranked 27th in points and 26th overall in yards. His QB, Ryan Tannehill, threw for just over 4,200 yards. Mathematically speaking, all by his lonesome, Landry was responsible for one-fourth of his quarterback's passes. Operating out of the slot and pulling double-duty on special teams as the Dolphins' number-one guy to return kickoffs and returns, Landry, who shared co-MVP honors last season with safety Reshad Jones, is a gutsy and invaluable player. His numbers over the past two years have been second to only one man, his former teammate at LSU, some dude named Odell Beckham Jr.

Readers' choice: Jarvis Landry

The big stories this season for the Miami Heat focused on many of the newer names adorning the roster sheets. Star center Hassan Whiteside is finally getting out of his own way to become a legit all-around player. The late-February signing of veteran All-Star swingman Joe Johnson has paid massive dividends. And the emergence of rookies Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow in the absence of Chris Bosh is a testament to the management of one the league's most consistent franchises. However, it was the return to form by the Heat's greatest all-time player that quietly became the warm center that this team huddled beside for comfort and reassurance. For the first time in more than four years, 34-year-old Dwyane Wade was healthy enough to play the majority of an entire season. Through a combo of cleverness and patience, Wade and the Heat staff managed his various rehabs, his minutes, and his approach to the game to ensure he was on the floor when they needed him most. Flash isn't as quick as he used to be, but this past season, he not only provided the leadership he always has but he also delivered the sort of signature performances we haven't seen since his prime, when he carried the weight of Miami's championship hopes on his battered legs. It was a banner year that saw both his knees and the future of the team in better shape than expected.

Readers' choice: Dwyane Wade

South Florida is full of people with gobs of disposable income. Hang outside any steakhouse, and you'll see them in action: tanned, leathery men rolling around in convertible Bentleys, clouds of Davidoff Cool Water and cigar smoke following in their wake as they bounce from one champagne-soaked party to another. Though the wealthiest Floridians often act like they can get whatever they want — including their own tax laws or zoning ordinances — occasionally, things do get in their way. But Fort Lauderdale's Millionaire's Concierge exists to make sure that rarely happens. Need a Lamborghini or 60-foot yacht for the day? Easy. Got a zillion bucks and want to be unnecessarily placed in a film? No problem. Want to spend a leisurely Saturday inside a fighter jet? They've got entire party packages for that. As the founder, Doug Turner, claims on his website, "Your only limitation is your imagination!" Ditto the size of your wallet.

Best Of Broward-Palm Beach®

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