So, as Miss Ella once sang, What Are You Doing New Years Eve?
Many of you, of course, will ring in 2013 with champagne and dancing at one of the clubs in Miami Beach or downtown Miami and many of these same people will wake up with a hangover Tuesday only to wonder why they spent $2,000 to be in the same space as R&B/hip-hop act Drake and a DJ at the Fontainebleau or depressed that they spent $1,500 for a VIP table at the Catalinas Studio 54 party to hear 70s disco when they could have played Donna, Gloria and the Village People at any old time on iTunes for a few houseguests.
Clubbing not your thing? Good thing you live in South Florida, where going outside generally makes sense at this time of year. Here are some suggestions for activities, with an accent on the great outdoors and even a little fitness thrown in for good measure.
King Mango Strut
The annual spoof of the Orange Bowl Parade or whatever some politician wants to call it now, as in La Gran Naranja has been putting the nut back in Coconut Grove since 1981, its ads tout. This time around, being an election year should provide plenty of fodder, and not just the silliness going on in West Kendall and Brickell, where some people are still waiting to cast a vote in the presidential race. (Obama won, go home.) The snarky parade pokes good-natured fun at the people and things behind the events that made the news snap during the year. This years grand marshal will be Clint Eastwoods chair, fresh from the Republican National Convention.
This years parade takes place at 2 p.m. Sunday in downtown Coconut Grove on the corner of Commodore Plaza and Main Highway. The wacky participants turn left onto Main Highway and then left onto Grand Avenue at CocoWalk. Get comfy along the street and prepare to giggle. Call the Mango Hotline at 305-582-0955 for information.
The orange rises
You can go traditional and watch the ball rise in downtown Miami at the Bayfront Park Amphitheater New Years shindig, La Gran Naranja. The free event features music and the midnight countdown for the climb of the Big Orange along the side of the Hotel InterContinental, followed by fireworks. Be there at 301 N. Biscayne Blvd. Call 305-358-7550.
Just want the fireworks part? Miami Beachs New Years Eve Party offers a free fireworks celebration at midnight on the beach near Ocean Drive and Eighth Street, if you can tear yourself away from Carl Cox at Mansion and Calvin Harris at Liv. Call 305-673-7400.
Shark Valley, on the Tamiami Trail about 35 miles into the Everglades, is a real South Florida experience. Cycle amid gators and were not talking the University of Florida variety. Alligators, wading birds and turtles frolic freely in the greenery along the 15-mile round-trip bike path. A multilevel observation at the midpoint offers a nice break spot for a boxed lunch or photo ops. There are no shortcuts, but you can opt for a tram tour. Call 305-221-8776.
Other leisurely bike rides around town include the shaded 13 or so miles of the Old Cutler Trail in South Miami, and you can pop over to Pinecrest Gardens for the Sunday Green Market, one of South Floridas best farmers markets. North Dade residents arent too far from the restored Hollywood Beach Broadwalk for some nice ocean views while cycling or strolling.
This Shark Valley, leisurely bike-ride stuff is all too weenie for cycling enthusiast Ralph Cabrera, a Coral Gables city commissioner who, with fellow biking pals, often takes a 70-mile or so ride from the South Miami area through Pinecrest and along the Deering Estate in Palmetto Bay and up the highway to Homestead along varying routes. The end destination is the famed Robert Is Here fruit stand (19200 SW 344th St., Homestead), where the milk shakes are renowned and theres a chill-out splash park out back, next to the petting zoo. You can top off your Florida City/Homestead excursion with lunch at Cracker Barrel (155 N. Krome Ave., Florida City) and dessert at Roberts, but that probably kills the fitness aspect part of the trip.
Cabrera has one suggestion, though: These days, so many people are out, and its fun, but go early in the morning with a big group. Theres safety in numbers.
Deering Holiday Wonderland
Speaking of the Deering Estate at Cutler, the Palmetto Bay institutions Holiday Wonderland exhibit is up through Monday, New Years Eve, and is free with admission to the historic grounds.
Tour the historic houses, which are accented with holiday decorations thanks to local garden clubs and community organizations. House tours are held daily at 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. The Natural Areas Tour, which includes a visit to the new Cutler Burial Mound boardwalk, is held daily at 12:30 p.m. Walking the grounds and pausing along picturesque Biscayne Bay is a nature-lovers treat.
The display is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily through Monday at the Deering Estate, 17201 SW 72nd Ave. Call 305-235-1668 and visit www.deeringestate.org.
Singing nuns and a stroll
Cross the county line really, its not that far, and this show is worth the ride. Catch the last performance of the delightful and uplifting musical Sister Act at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale, at 2 p.m. Sunday. You probably recall the movie: Whoopi Goldbergs a lounge singer who witnesses a murder and hides out in a convent for safe keeping so that she can testify in one piece. The Alan Menken-Glenn Slater score for the musical reflects the change in time and setting (1978 Philadelphia, where disco and creamy Philly soul music ruled), and the writers keep all of the humor intact and up the entertainment value with some of the most eye-catching costumes and set designs the stage has seen since Mamma Mia! Goldbergs not starring, but she produced the musical. Tickets are $39.50-$79.50. Call 954-462-0222 and visit www.browardcenter.org.
So, where does the outdoors part come in? Youre on the gorgeous Riverwalk immediately beyond the doors of the theater. Take a stroll along the lush path, take in some of the historic homes along the way, catch sublime water views, and head over to any number of restaurants within walking distance for post-performance sustenance.
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