When bicycling enthusiasts organize tours, they head to northern Palm Beach County. And for good reason. While there are few bad views from State Road A1A anywhere along the coast, once north of the pomp of Palm Beach, the back-to-nature scenery is downright stunning, and reminders of Florida's much-ignored history abound. Mangroves reappear, traffic disappears, and the road hugs the beach as it did elsewhere before condos became king. And it looks as good on four wheels as two. A good place to start is Juno Beach, a quaint seaside town of 2800 residents just north of PGA Boulevard. In the late 1800s, the town was the fourth stop on the Celestial Railroad, a short-lived line connecting Juno and Jupiter with train stations the publicity-savvy rail company dubbed Venus and Mars. Continuing north, you'll be surrounded by largely untouched land on the west and the blue expanse of the Atlantic on the east as you pass by the popular Juno Beach pier. At Carlin Park, the road turns west, and you'll have to get out on perpetually traffic-clogged U.S. 1 to cross the Jupiter Inlet. Once over the inlet, you'll see the 105-foot-high, bright-red Jupiter Lighthouse, which was built on an ancient Indian burial ground in 1860 and still provides a beacon to boats today. Head back east to A1A, where you'll be within spitting distance of the Intracoastal. Just north of the county line, stop at Blowing Rocks, a preserve managed by the Nature Conservancy. If you hit it at low tide, you'll discover the meaning behind its name. Sea water shoots out of holes in the porous limestone rock, creating a scene more characteristic of the rugged Pacific Coast than the more placid Atlantic. Since you've come this far, you might as well continue to Jupiter Island, the carefully manicured, old-money haven where the first President Bush went often to visit his mother. Now home to half the top golfers in the PGA, it is also where President Clinton took a highly publicized knee-twisting tumble while staying up late drinking with... er, make that talking to Greg Norman. Drive around and find out how those who consider Palm Beachers riff-raff really live. Cap the drive by taking a dip at the public park at the end of the island. Then what? Drive back and see everything you missed on the way up.
You will not require any additional instructions to find the Seminole Rest Stop on Alligator Alley. If you do, you're clearly beyond help, since it's the only gas station on the nearly 80-mile stretch of toll road. Nor will you need many clues to pick out Wally, the rest stop's resident gator. He lives in the canal that rings the station's south parking lot. Call him and he'll paddle over with a toothy grin. Imbeciles have fed him (don't you dare), which makes him distressingly friendly for a nine-foot-long armored reptilian warrior. Stand on the other side of the chain-link fence, take photographs, and be glad he isn't feeding on you.
You will not require any additional instructions to find the Seminole Rest Stop on Alligator Alley. If you do, you're clearly beyond help, since it's the only gas station on the nearly 80-mile stretch of toll road. Nor will you need many clues to pick out Wally, the rest stop's resident gator. He lives in the canal that rings the station's south parking lot. Call him and he'll paddle over with a toothy grin. Imbeciles have fed him (don't you dare), which makes him distressingly friendly for a nine-foot-long armored reptilian warrior. Stand on the other side of the chain-link fence, take photographs, and be glad he isn't feeding on you.

Best Reminder that South Florida Is Still the South

The Rundown

When a tourist from the big city saw a bevy of bunnies running from a freshly cleared sugar-cane field, he freaked and phoned People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. But little did that Yankee carpetbagger know that that's just the way it's done in Pahokee. Every January during sugar-cane harvest season, a few agile boys in the town of 6900 take to the "rundown," the sport of scrambling after rabbits fleeing the burning fields -- shooting Peter Cottontail, skinning their prizes, and selling them for $2 a hop. Call it barbaric if you will, but many in this hamlet directly east of State Hwy. 715 say it's basic training for their high school's future track and football stars.

Best Reminder that South Florida Is Still the South

The Rundown

When a tourist from the big city saw a bevy of bunnies running from a freshly cleared sugar-cane field, he freaked and phoned People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. But little did that Yankee carpetbagger know that that's just the way it's done in Pahokee. Every January during sugar-cane harvest season, a few agile boys in the town of 6900 take to the "rundown," the sport of scrambling after rabbits fleeing the burning fields -- shooting Peter Cottontail, skinning their prizes, and selling them for $2 a hop. Call it barbaric if you will, but many in this hamlet directly east of State Hwy. 715 say it's basic training for their high school's future track and football stars.
The DMV is one of those extraordinary settings where social status and income take a back seat to bureaucratic decree. Almost everyone drives, from the salt-of-the-earth working class to the mega-wealthy. Almost everyone, therefore, must show up every so often in person for eye exams and mug shots. And oh, what a treat it is to see these disparate denizens rubbing shoulders. The Rolls-Royce owner gazing straight through the cretin beside him. The plumber pitching woo to the blonde behind him. The spastic businessman trying to buy his way forward in the line. The lanky teen who's so near, yet so far, from hitting the road solo. Pity we don't renew annually.
The DMV is one of those extraordinary settings where social status and income take a back seat to bureaucratic decree. Almost everyone drives, from the salt-of-the-earth working class to the mega-wealthy. Almost everyone, therefore, must show up every so often in person for eye exams and mug shots. And oh, what a treat it is to see these disparate denizens rubbing shoulders. The Rolls-Royce owner gazing straight through the cretin beside him. The plumber pitching woo to the blonde behind him. The spastic businessman trying to buy his way forward in the line. The lanky teen who's so near, yet so far, from hitting the road solo. Pity we don't renew annually.
Nothing like a big red cock on your logo to drive home the message, one clearly announced in this liquid dispensary's official motto: "A great place to bring a date, or to find one!" Housed in a stone-and-peach building just minutes from the airport and downtown, ringed by gay-friendly neighborhoods like Flamingo Park and El Cid, Roosters has been a center of Palm Beach County gay social life for nearly 18 years. Except for the male strippers, it's not that different from the typical corner bar -- pool tables, drink specials, karaoke, Monday-night bingo -- but everything is done with an ironic twist of the wrist, the slight self-parody of the lavender set on home turf. Knowing glances exchanged in the main room inside, more intimate conversation in the quiet corners of the back patio.
H.G. Roosters
Angel Melendez
Nothing like a big red cock on your logo to drive home the message, one clearly announced in this liquid dispensary's official motto: "A great place to bring a date, or to find one!" Housed in a stone-and-peach building just minutes from the airport and downtown, ringed by gay-friendly neighborhoods like Flamingo Park and El Cid, Roosters has been a center of Palm Beach County gay social life for nearly 18 years. Except for the male strippers, it's not that different from the typical corner bar -- pool tables, drink specials, karaoke, Monday-night bingo -- but everything is done with an ironic twist of the wrist, the slight self-parody of the lavender set on home turf. Knowing glances exchanged in the main room inside, more intimate conversation in the quiet corners of the back patio.
California is renowned for its tofu-and-granola lesbians, but there seem to be more vegetarian lesbians per capita in South Florida than in Los Angeles and San Francisco combined. Pick your type -- Birkenstock, butch, lipstick, or new age -- and she'll be roaming the aisles at the Fort Lauderdale Whole Foods Market. But the dykiest section of the store is definitely the prepared-foods counter. You can peruse grilled tofu while cruising the chic chick next to you as she examines the veggie sushi with one eye and your abs with the other. At least you know you'll have enough in common to agree on a restaurant for your first date. If you don't want to wait that long, grab your food right then and see if she offers to pay for your meal when you reach the cashier. Or you can always stalk the vitamin aisle and ask your prey, "What brand of B-12 do you suggest if we're going to stay up all night?"

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