A couple of years ago, during a surf contest on Lake Worth Beach, a local surfer — who wasn't in the contest — took major offense at being asked to move out of the break so contestants could get some waves. In utter defiance of the golden rule of surfing, he dropped in on the same wave that a contestant was already surfing — and the two started throwing punches as they rode. Spectators' reaction was, "Well, the localism isn't as bad as it used to be." In the '70s and '80s, cars would get keyed and faces punched. But because this is one of the few public-access points in mansioned-out Palm Beach County, the turf (and surf) almost begs to be protected. Although the south side of the pier doesn't quite look like Pipeline, double-overhead swells sometimes make their way through, and even on normal, smaller days, waves are about as consistent as they get in South Florida. The beach offers cheap restaurants and colorful people, and a lifeguard and a sandy bottom (as opposed to a reef break) make this a good learning spot for beginners. The downside? Crowds. But these days, the worst you'll get from the old-timers is a condescending stare.
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First, a huge piece of advice: If you own a cherry ride, get a friend to drive to Lion Country Safari. That's because the 500-acre park has 1,000 wild animals who just don't respect a high-end paint job. Oh, and convertibles aren't allowed. And your windows must remain up at all times. The rules are there for a reason. Lion Country Safari opened in 1967 as the nation's first drive-through safari park, so they've learned a few things (hopefully not through trial and error). The name of the place has become somewhat misleading over the intervening decades, as the Loxahatchee park has added giraffe feeding, a water sprayground, a petting zoo, and even a Ferris wheel. But it's still a deal at $21.99, and it surprises us that no contract killer or rampaging spouse has spotted a bargain: a low-priced way to transport a dead body to a huge expanse of nature populated by hungry wild animals.
Being a good horse trainer requires a "gift from God," says Ronnie Gurfein, a recent inductee into the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame. Horse trainers use similar techniques, Gurfein declares in a booming New York accent, but the drafting of young horses — much like the drafting of NBA or NFL talent — is the most important factor. Gurfein, who has approximately 750 career wins and total earnings of around $25 million, gets a certain feeling about certain horses. That's how he ended up with Possess the Magic, a brown trotting filly who now holds the record for the fastest 2-year-old trotter ever. Last year, she ran a 1:54.2 mile — for laymen, that means she ran a mile in a minute and 54.2 seconds — and won $700,000. Gurfein trains Possess the Magic and 32 other horses at his Delray Beach stables, where he's spent his winters since 1965. Over the summer, he heads back north to New York, along with more than 100 other transient trainers hoping for a gift from God.
Urban legend has it that the peacocks of Rose Drive are a legacy, but about half of the neighbors would rather use the term infestation. Allegedly, a rich eccentric once lived in the street's largest house — it's the one resembling a cross between a castle and a compound. The decrepit man loved peacocks so much that he raised a family of them as pets. Today, they sit like grandiose weathervanes on houses. They wrap their claws around the uppermost branches of the banyan trees. They even stand above the grills of cars, mimicking gargantuan hood ornaments. Rose Drive, meanwhile, is divided into peacock-friendly and peacock-loathing homes. The birds know this too. They spend most of their time on the properties that feed them and nurture their shade-bathing, but sometimes they can't help themselves and go straight to the off-limits areas. That's when you see (otherwise normal-looking) individuals go ballistic with garden hoses and fist shaking. You see, peacocks are extremely loud, and during mating season, well, let's just say they aren't the most thoughtful neighbors. But since you don't have to deal with the 3 a.m. squawking sessions, take a stroll down Rose (bring a bag of birdseed), and enjoy the peacocks for what they are: some of Fort Lauderdale's most beautifully unnoticed oddities.
Almost entirely composed of Mai Kai ex-pats, the hip-shaking, fire-juggling temptresses of O'Tahiti Teie are a spectacle of rhythmic tradition. When the women initially founded the Tahitian dance company, their goal was to be as much a Tiki-party staple as rum and pineapples. It worked. Soon word spread around town and the gals were being asked to jostle their grass skirts nightly at different private and corporate gigs. They expected the crowds to be hypnotized. They predicted the men would drool. But they were caught off-guard when women started calling not for performances, but for lessons. Now equal parts school and troupe, O'Tahiti Teie helps soccer moms and tycoons alike reclaim their misplaced sensuality through this exotic form of dance. But they learn more than simply how to flail previously immobile parts of their anatomies — they discover the traditions and folklore surrounding each movement, allowing them to narrate ancient tales through dance. (And besides, it does wonders for the abs.) For performances or lessons, call Maire.
Titillated by the possibility of electric shock? Does your libido kick into overdrive when you hear the word mummification? Do you have a good sense of humor and the ability to remember a "release word"? Well, you might be eligible for one of Broward's best social groups: the Fort Lauderdale Bondage Club. Gay men 18 and older are learning the ropes and having a scream at the FLBC's monthly how-to events. What's that? You don't know a clothespin clamp from a flogging cane? No problem! That's what makes this club great: There's no room for snobbery. (How condescending can a guy really be when he's telling everyone about his preference to be nipple-clamped with jumper cables?) Besides, by cornering the market with events like Broward's only big White Party affair of Ô06 and a Christmas party called "Season's Beatings," the boys of bondage have shown that while they love being tied up, they aren't uptight.
Channeling stress is key to a happy, healthy existence. For the limber, that's done by posing in the plow at yoga class. For foodies, it's preparing intricate meals. But for the trigger-happy, well, happiness is a warm gun. For them, mecca is known as E.W. Revere Gunshop and Range. What sets E.W.'s apart: inexpensive gun rentals. Just come inside and pick out your targets — paper perps range from the traditional silhouette of a generic male to a caught-in-the-act villain holding a hostage — and then select a weapon. Gun rentals are $7, and shooting lane fees are $9. Bring ammo (and save some pennies) or buy it there. The 50-foot indoor air-conditioned range is for pistols and .22 rifles only, but E.W.'s also offers gunsmithing and concealed permit courses. And you can fire before you acquire — if you like the rentals, E.W.'s also sells guns.
Flamingo Gardens
So many South Floridians are scared to venture west. University Boulevard may as well be the Everglades to them, and names like Nob Hill and Hiatus sound like faraway, mythical realms. When out-of-town visitors come calling, by all means take them to the beach. But then take them to a place where some wild things roam. Precariously poised at the very edge of civilization, the 60-acre botanical garden gives guests an eye-popping extravaganza of bromeliads, African violets, calatheas, and orchids — often for sale. If flowers aren't your thing, Flamingo Gardens has critters too. Not just wading birds and their precocious chicks but also bald eagles, bobcats, gators, butterflies, hummingbirds, and otters. This is also your only sure-fire opportunity to spot the elusive Florida panther, where the endangered cats slink around behind a glass enclosure, safe from the speeding vehicles that have decimated their numbers. It's kinda touristy and contrived, but it's completely free of silicone and coconut-flavored rum, which, by our yardstick, is certainly in its favor.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood
Cristian Costea
At Hollywood's Hard Rock, the pool bar is not poolside — it's pool-middle, at the center of the swimming hole. But there's more here than just chlorine and tap water. There's sand too. Think of it as Hollywood Beach Inland. And no, you don't need to be a registered guest to dip your feet in. If the nearby slot machines don't tempt you out of the water, there's a rock mountain surrounding the lagoon-like pool that's worth scaling to get on the waterslide. Or take a soak in one of several hot tubs. The Hard Rock promotes its plunge as a good place to spot celebrities, but after Anna Nicole Smith's demise, all we saw on a recent visit were celebrity stalkers, including a dubious guy wearing socks under his Birkenstocks. But never mind gawkers like him — it's the cool water that will come in handy when the weather gets hot.
Holiday Lanes Bowling Center
Just before 10 p.m. every Thursday through Saturday, the lights over Holiday Bowling Center's 16 lanes go dim and projection screens descend from the ceiling. If it's Thursday, expect videos from a barrage of indie-rock bands — or at least erstwhile indie rockers who've since landed big record deals, like Modest Mouse. If it's Friday or Saturday night, the projection screens show hip-hop videos, and the alley's new owners flaunt the souped-up bass of their new sound system. The cacophony of falling pins adds an extra — and surprisingly harmonious — instrument to the music.

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