The cement promenade on the southern tip of South Beach is a great place to ride. Biking up the beach (either on the beach or along the beach on a cement pathway -- which is a lot easier!) is great for surf, sun, sand, exercise, and people-watching -- just be sure to keep your eyes on the road, as the scenery can be most distracting. Most of the big beach hotels rent bicycles, as does the Miami Beach Bicycle Center, 601 Fifth St., South Beach (tel. 305/674-0150; www.bikemiamibeach.com), which charges $8 per hour, $24 for up to 24 hours and $80 weekly. It's open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 7pm, Sunday from 10am to 5pm.
Bikers can also enjoy more than 130 miles of paved paths throughout Miami. The beautiful and quiet streets of Coral Gables and Coconut Grove (several bike trails are spread throughout these neighborhoods) are great for bicyclists, where old trees form canopies over wide, flat roads lined with grand homes and quaint street markers.
The terrain in Key Biscayne is perfect for biking, especially along the park and beach roads. If you don't mind the sound of cars whooshing by your bike lane, Rickenbacker Causeway is also fantastic, as it is one of the only bike-able inclines in Miami from which you get fantastic elevated views of the city and waterways. However, be warned that this is a grueling ride, especially going up the causeway. Key Cycling, 61 Harbor Dr., Key Biscayne (tel. 305/361-0061; www.keycycling.com), rents mountain bikes for $15 for 2 hours, $24 a day, or $80 a week. It's open Tuesday through Friday from 10am to 7pm, Monday and Saturday from 10am to 6pm, and Sunday from 10am to 3pm.
If you want to avoid the traffic altogether, head out to Shark Valley in the Everglades National Park -- one of South Florida's most scenic bicycle trails and a favorite haunt of city-weary locals.
For a decent list of trail suggestions throughout South Florida, visit http://www.trails.com/activity.aspx?area=10227. Biking note: Children 15 and under are required by Florida law to wear a helmet, which can be purchased at any bike store or retail outlet selling biking supplies.
There are more than 50 private and public golf courses in the Miami area. Contact the Greater Miami Convention and Visitor's Bureau (tel. 800/933-8448; www.miamiandbeaches.com) for a list of courses and costs.
The best hotel courses in Miami are found at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa, home of the legendary Blue Monster course, as well as the Gold Course, designed by Raymond Floyd; the Great White Shark Course; and the newest course, the former Silver Course, refinished by Jim McLean and known as the Jim McLean Signature course which, according to experts, has one of the toughest starting holes in the entire state.
Other hotels with excellent golf courses include the Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort & Club, with two Robert Trent Jones, Sr.-designed courses for guests and members, and the Biltmore Hotel, which is my pick for best public golf course because of its modest greens fees and an 18-hole par-71 course located on the hotel's spectacular grounds. It must be good: Despite his penchant for privacy, former President Bill Clinton prefers teeing off at this course more than any other in Miami!
Otherwise, the following represent some of the area's best public courses. Crandon Park Golf Course, formerly known as the Links, 6700 Crandon Blvd., Key Biscayne (tel. 305/361-9129; www.crandongolfclub.com), is the number-one-ranked municipal course in the state and one of the top five in the country. The park is situated on 200 bayfront acres and offers a pro shop, rentals, lessons, carts, and a lighted driving range. The course is open daily from dawn to dusk; greens fees (including cart) range from $64-$160 depending on season for nonresidents. Special twilight rates are also available.
One of the most popular courses among real enthusiasts is the Doral Park Golf and Country Club, 5001 NW 104th Ave., West Miami (tel. 305/591-8800); it's not related to the Doral Hotel or spa. Call to book in advance, as this challenging, semiprivate 18-holer is extremely popular with locals. The course is open from 6:30am to 6pm during the winter and until 7pm during the summer. Cart and greens fees vary, so call tel. 305/592-2000, ext. 2104, for information.
Known as one of the best in the city, the Country Club of Miami, 6801 Miami Gardens Dr., at NW 68th Avenue, North Miami (tel. 305/829-8456; www.golfmiamicc.com), has three 18-hole courses of varying degrees of difficulty. You'll encounter lush fairways, rolling greens, and some history, to boot. The west course, designed in 1961 by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., and updated in the 1990s by the PGA, was where Jack Nicklaus played his first professional tournament and Lee Trevino won his first professional championship. The course is open daily from 7am to sunset. Cart and greens fees are $29 to $56 depending on season and tee times. Special twilight rates are available.
The recently renovated Miami Beach Golf Club, 2301 Alton Rd., South Beach (tel. 305/532-3350; www.miamibeachgolfclub.com), is a gorgeous, 79-year-old course that, par for the, er, course in Miami Beach, received a $10-million face-lift. Miami Heat players and Matt Damon have been known to tee off here. Greens fees range from $100 to $200 depending on the season.
Golfers looking for some cheap practice time will appreciate Haulover Beach Park, 10800 Collins Ave., Miami Beach (tel. 305/940-6719), in a pretty bayside location. The longest hole on this par-27 course is 125 yards. It's open daily from 7:30am to 6pm during the winter, and until 7:30pm during the summer. Greens fees range from $6 to $10 per person depending on day and season.
Miami's consistently flat terrain makes in-line skating a breeze. Lincoln Road, for example, is a virtual skating rink, as bladers compete with bikers and walkers for a slab of slate. But the city's heavy traffic and construction do make it tough to find long routes suitable for blading.
Because of the popularity of blading and skateboarding, the city passed a law prohibiting skating on the west side (the cafe-lined strip) of Ocean Drive in the evenings, as well as a law that all bladers must skate slowly and safely. Also, if you're going to partake of the sport, remember to keep a pair of sandals or sneakers with you, as many area shops won't allow you inside with skates on.
Despite all the rules, you can still have fun, and the following rental outfit can help chart an interesting course for you and supply you with all the necessary gear. In South Beach, Fritz's Skate Shop, 1620 Washington Ave. (tel. 305/532-1954; www.fritzsmiamibeach.com), rents top-quality skates, including safety pads, for $10 per hour, $24 per day, and $69 per week. They provide free lessons at 10:30am on Sunday when you rent equipment, or they can hook you up with an instructor for private lessons. The shop also stocks lots of gear and clothing and rents surfboards and assorted surf-related items as well.
Hundreds of tennis courts in South Florida are open to the public for a minimal fee. Most courts operate on a first-come, first-served basis and are open from sunrise to sunset. For information and directions, call the City of Miami Beach Recreation, Culture, and Parks Department (tel. 305/673-7730) or the City of Miami Parks and Recreation Department (tel. 305/575-5256). Of the 590 public tennis courts throughout Miami, the three hard courts and seven clay courts at the Crandon Tennis Center, 6702 Crandon Blvd. (tel. 305/361-5263), are the best and most beautiful. Because of this, they often get crowded on weekends. You'll play on the same courts as Lendl, Graf, Evert, McEnroe, Federer, the Williams sisters, and other greats; this is also the venue for one of the world's biggest annual tennis events, the Sony Ericsson Open. There's a pleasant, if limited, pro shop, plus many good pros. Only four courts are lit at night, but if you reserve at least 24 to 48 hours in advance, you can usually take your pick. Hard courts cost $4 person per hour during the day, $6 per person per hour at night. Clay courts cost $7 per person per hour during the day. There are no night hours on the clay courts. The courts are open Monday through Friday from 8am to 9pm, Saturday and Sunday until 6pm.
Other courts are pretty run-of-the-mill and can be found in most neighborhoods. I do, however, recommend the Miami Beach public courts at Flamingo Park, 1001 12th St., in South Beach (tel. 305/673-7761), where there are 19 clay courts that cost $4 per person an hour for Miami Beach residents and $8 per person an hour for nonresidents. It's first-come, first-served. Open 8am to 9pm Monday through Friday, 8am to 8pm Saturday and Sunday.
Hotels with the best tennis facilities are the Biltmore, Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort and Spa, Doral Resort and Spa, and Inn and Spa at Fisher Island.
Being situated in a very body-conscious city, many of Miami's hotels have state-of-the-art gyms. Sports Club/LA at the Four Seasons, among others. Guests of hotels with health clubs can usually use the equipment for free. Although many of Miami's full-service hotels have fitness centers and may be convenient, you can't always count on them in less-upscale establishments or in the small Art Deco District hotels. Instead, you may want to turn to the several health clubs around the city that will take in nonmembers on a daily basis. For Bally's Total Fitness, dial tel. 800/777-1117 to find the clubs closest to where you'll be staying. (There are no outlets on the beaches; most are in South Miami.) A popular club that welcomes walk-in guests is Crunch, which has two locations: 1253 Washington Ave., South Beach (tel. 305/674-8222) and 1676 Alton Road (tel. 305/531-4783), where you might work out on the top-of-the-line equipment next to one of the city's most famous drag queens or, perhaps, a celebrity or two. Use of the facility is $35 daily or $130 weekly. It keeps late hours, especially in season, when it's often open until midnight. The newest member of the fitness club in Miami is Equinox Fitness Club & Spa, which has two locations, one at 520 Collins Ave. (tel. 305/673-1172; www.equinoxfitness.com), a huge space complete with every piece of fitness equipment you can imagine or haven't yet imagined and a stellar A-list celebrity clientele including Matt Damon, who trains here for his movies; and the other in the Village of Merrick Park in Coral Gables, 358 San Lorenzo Ave. (tel. 786/497-8200) where Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez pumps iron. Fees vary for out-of-town guests so call and inquire.