You could drive right by the Richard Giusti jogging path without noticing it. It's not much to look at — benches, trees, and a big wall dividing it from the neighboring apartment complex — and it certainly isn't sprawling. But upon closer inspection, you'll find that it's genius. The path is a self-contained, gravel-paved mile that winds around itself like a giant snake. Signs and 20 workout stations are positioned along the way, encouraging joggers to stop and do chin-ups, sit-ups, and any other kind of -ups you can imagine. Strategically planted pine trees shield joggers from the scorching sun. Simple in design, the place offers an easy way to measure your exertion ("You fix dinner — I'm exhausted from the eleven-and-a-quarter miles I ran today!") and stay safely visible at all times. Bonus: Check out an eclectic collection of speed-walking regulars, like the tiny woman who walks with a bag of trail mix and feeds the squirrels. Fitness and entertainment, what could be better?

There's an obscure little footnote in baseball called the "Rule 5 draft." Let's say a Major League team has a promising player toiling away in its minor league system and never calls him up to the bigs. Opposing teams, salivating over the guy's potential, can draft him under Rule 5 — but there's a catch: they have to use him in the majors right away, making him active on their elite 25-man roster. It's a gamble. Most athletes called up this way can't handle the leap. Then there's Dan Uggla. The second baseman had been underused by the Arizona Diamondbacks (and their minor league franchise, the Yakima Bears) when the Marlins swiped him away under Rule 5. In his very first year on the team (2006), Uggla made the All-Star game and placed third in Rookie of the Year voting. Teammate Hanley Ramirez beat him out, but that's OK — the blue-eyed, 28-year old Uggla isn't the guy who hogs the spotlight; he's the workhorse who, almost daily, hammers in three runs or doubles in the bottom of the tenth to win the game. Last year, he finished the season with 31 homers, 113 runs, and 88 RBIs. This season he started off struggling, but began posting strong numbers after sportswriters slagged him off. (Haters!) And you gotta respect the way he deals with the drunken fools (Mets fans) who inevitably show up heckling, "Hey Uggla! You're Ugg-lay!" Unshakable, he usually responds by smacking a ball over the fence.

Secret Woods Nature Center

While you're speeding down State Road 84, you might be too busy honking at that idiot in the red sedan to notice the simple sign for Secret Woods Nature Center. Then you'd never know that there's a surprising glimpse of beautiful wilderness nestled right at the heart of urban South Florida. Weave your way out of rush hour traffic and explore one of Secret Woods' nature walks. New River Trail is a 3,200-foot boardwalk exploration of the south fork of the New River. Laurel Oak Trail is a 1,200-foot, ground-level, wood-chipped trail through an oak hammock. There are informational signs with snippets of wildlife info on each trail, and plenty of benches, in case you didn't get your fill of sitting at the office. You can also cool your heels on Butterfly Island, a flora-filled alcove that baits a colorful array of the winged things.

It might be the only hockey clip you saw all year, from February 10, in Buffalo, as the Panthers took on the Sabers and Olli Jokinen was speeding down the wing toward the corner. Right winger Richard Zednik was coming from behind the goal to the same corner. Jokinen got hit and flipped upside-down. By horrible chance, one of his skates caught Zednik across the throat, slicing his external carotid artery, spewing blood onto the ice like the famous elevator scene in The Shining. Zednik, one tough Slovak, stood up, covered his potentially fatal gash, and skated to the bench. He was rushed into surgery, where doctors saved his life. Zednik missed the rest of the season, but the Panthers missed the playoffs anyway, and his single act of badassery was enough to ensure him the New Times pick for best Panther.

John U. Lloyd Beach State Park

Poor picky picnicker picking a picnic place! Fret no more — John U. Lloyd is clearly the picnic capital of Broward. Just look at the numbers: In addition to seven pavilions with running water, electric outlets, and barbecue grills, the park's got 300 picnic tables. But then there's always the Picnicker's Dilemma: what to do after we eat? How about... build sandcastles on the 2.5-mile beach? Watch cruise ships come and go through the inlet? Take a 45-minute hike on the nature trail? Fish from the jetty? Shore dive or snorkel? Look for manatees hiding out in Whiskey Creek? (You can walk throughout this sea cow sanctuary, or rent a kayak if you please.) Is that enough for ya? Oh — we forgot to mention the most convenient part about picnicking: You don't even have to pack your own lunch — hot food, beer, and wine are sold on-site at the Loggerhead Café.

At the extreme eastern extremity of Oakland Park Boulevard, the street terminates on the water with a roundabout surrounded on one side by an attractive stand of trees and on the other by an overpriced monstrosity of a condominium complex. Though not exactly an eyesore, the decadent L'Hermitage is still a building where no building should be. If the huge, Borg-ish edifices all along this part of the Atlantic hadn't shrunk the beach to its current 20-something-foot state of abject puniness, the flora that could thrive here would open onto the most idyllic piece of shoreline in Fort Lauderdale. As it is, the beach looks hopelessly forlorn; an ever-shrinking sandbar that gets no help from either the ocean or this unnecessarily baroque concrete behemoth. The inconvenient truth is that the whole ugly business will be underwater soon enough. But as consolations go, that one's bittersweet at best.

Plantation Central Park

Whenever you hit the courts at Central Park in Plantation, you can expect a showdown on the main courts. The competition at this West Broward park is fierce — folks that come out take their basketball seriously. It's not exactly the Rucker in Harlem, but dunks, olly-oops, and high-flying theatrics happen here all the time, and if you find yourself on the center court playing at night under the lights, the ante is upped considerably. Starting around 5:30, the after-work crowd begins to show up and mix in with area teenagers. By 6:30, the courts swell as the skilled big boys appear and fast-paced ball begins, with plenty of smack talk and highlight-reel style action. It's just as fun to watch these games as it is to play. Participants can expect to get a little banged up, but as long as you're smart, it should be an essentially injury-free experience.

Rapids Water Park

In the halcyon 1980s, our parents would ditch us kids after eating at a Chinese restaurant by saying, "Whoops! Locked our keys in the car!" Whereupon they would send us on a mission to walk two miles home, break in the window to fetch a spare set of keys, and walk back. This allowed them a full child-free hour or two of sipping mai-tais at the bar. Although this dirty trick may still come in handy, it would behoove you to remember that today's savvy kids know how to file child abuse complaints on the Internet. Hence, our parents' other maneuver: dropping us off at the Rapids Water Park — then a simple manmade hill with four yellow water chutes that dumped into a pool at the bottom. This glorified Slip 'n' Slide, was to us a perfect universe, fueled by adrenaline and ruled by an army of 18-year-old lifeguards. Now 30 years old, the Rapids has morphed into a serious aqua playground, with 29 water slides, including Big Thunder (sit in a four-person tube and drop into a giant funnel, much like being flushed down a toilet bowl) and Black Thunder (same concept, but in the dark). True, the $31.95 admission price sure isn't chump change, but Disney water parks cost $71 these days and babysitters are basically miniature extortionists. Besides, this way, your kids need not be "ditched" — they will joyously abandon you to frolic in the wave pool, cross a river on "ice floes," and take a seven-story drop on the Pirate's Plunge. Oh — did you actually want your kids to come back? Good luck with that!

All you hear is the constant barrage of gunfire. All you see is insurgents. Their faces are covered with handkerchiefs; their hands clutch black rifles; ammo is stashed on their belts. Reball Madness looks a lot like Iraq... if Iraq featured a snack bar that sold Hot Pockets. Inside this massive warehouse, opposing teams shoot reballs — like paintballs that don't break and splatter — at each other while trying to avoid gunfire by sliding on squishy green turf and hiding behind inflatable pyramids. Referees keep an eye out for fairness and safety, so you get all the adrenaline-pumping excitement of battle without any of the pesky death and destruction. Awesome! Reball is perhaps most challenging during a game of Battle Ball, when there's a mission that needs to be accomplished — say, one team has to move "the President" to safety. For this, organizers will set up gunner forts and wooden barricades and even unleash fog in the room. (I know! We said it was awesome!) Although reball, at $45 for a four-hour session, works out to be cheaper than paintball, a word to the uninitiated: getting hit hurts just as much!

The Isle — Pompano Park

There are poker rooms all over South Florida where wannabes can grind out flops, rivers, and turns as the hold 'em craze spreads to all walks of life. But one casino beats the others like Johnny Chan beats the donkeys who believe a chip and a chair are all they need to be the next World Series champ. Pompano Park is just a nice place to sit and gamble all day. It has comforting wooden walls that make it seem more like a captain's lounge than a poker room, large televisions playing every sport on earth, and top-shelf drinks available from a bar that could stand on its own merits. The food is good, the dealers and most players are friendly, and there are attractive young ladies in red jerseys who will massage your back for luck.

Best Of Broward-Palm Beach®

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