Fort Lauderdale

Theres a good chance that I may be going to F.L. for a little while in the new year.

I’ve checked out the usual touristy stuff on the net but I was wondering if there are any Dopers with local knowledge that know the S.D. on the place?

I.E. little gems that they keep dark from the tourists or even conversely things that a visitor should be wary about but the local tourist board prefer not to be bandied about generally.

I’m a great believer in the old maxim that “Time spent on reconnaisance is never wasted.”


Drive down the road to South Beach, is about all I can tell you.

Moved from General Questions to In My Humble Opinion.

General Questions Moderator

Can you please give us all a little more information as to what you like do? Shopping? Historical/Cultural interests? Outdoorsy stuff besides the beach? Are you a foodie? And most importantly will you have a car?

Definitely not shopping and probably not outdoorsy stuff(have done too much of that over the years against my will for it to be a pleasure anymore)Historical/cultural definitly,food yes,bars yes.

Will most likely have a car.

We’ve got a local burger joint called Char-Hut:

They have the juiciest burgers. Whenever I’ve got friends visiting from out of town, I make sure and bring them there at least once.

The Himmarshee area is far more interesting and a lot less touristy than “Beach Place”. Has a wide variety of bars and restaurants all within a 2 block radius. Also nearby is Las Olas Riverfront, also a tourist trap like Beach Place but not quite as bad.

The Elbo Room on A1A and Las Olas Blvd is worth checking out when down that way if only for historical significance.

I like Char-Hut too, but I don’t think it’s anything to write home about.

I’m paying attention to this thread as we’ll be in FLL for a couple of days in late February.

We’re not into the whole loll around on the beach thing, and also not much for tourist traps. Not planning to have a car, and we’re planning to get a hotel close to the airport and/or the Holland America cruise terminal.

HAL got most of our money on this trip, so we’ll be looking for dining at Outback or Olive Garden prices, but if we can avoid mega-chains like them, so much the better.

Don’t forget to see Slip F-18 at Bahia Mar marina.

First I’d recommend getting some Cuban food. If you haven’t had it before then it won’t be what you expect and it gets hard to find in the US the further you get from South Florida. There’s plenty of reasonably priced Cuban restaurants so you won’t break the bank. My preference is for Punta Del Este at 1680 E Oakland Park Blvd. It’s on Oakland Park east of Dixie Highway (the street on the ocean side of I-95 which runs parallel to the train tracks) and maybe half a mile west of US1. For someone who has never had Cuban food I’d say get the ropa vieja; it’s a very common dish among the general population in Cuba.

As for tourist things to do, check out the Everglades. Unless you’ve seen it in nature documentaries it probably won’t be what you expect. There’s places off of US 27 where you can see it. US 27 is easy to find; go west until the buildings cut off suddenly and you’ve hit the national park and the dividing line is the highway. Just don’t go past the US-27 exit since you’ll have to cross the state before you can double back. You might not want to spend the money on an airboat ride but you can head out there and see the river of grass. If you go down to Miami you’ll find the proper entrance to the park.

I’d also recommend the related dish Vaca Frita, which is made using the same meat as Ropa Vieja but does not use a tomate based sauce. Instead the meat is marinated in a sour orance and garlic sauce and then grilled, served with rice beans and plantains.

Mixolydian is right about the Himmarshee area and also about the Elbo Room. If you are going to do a beach bar on A1A, make it the Elbo Room. Good suggestions about the Cuban food too. Another great ethnic food to be found in South FL is Brazilian food, that is if you like it. Most of the authentic Brazilian eateries seem to be centered in the Pompano Beach area, the next town North of FTL.

The Floridian is a diner type of place on Las Olas and good for quick bite anytime but especially late at night or Sunday morning.

If you want to go to a less urban beach than the FTL strip, try out John Lloyd State Rec area down in Dania which is just south of FLL. Although it still hasn’t recovered fully from all the 'canes.

If you are into swap meets or farmer’s markets, you can’t beat the original Swap Shop out west on Sunrise especially on a Saturday morning. Have they gotten rid of the circus yet ?

gotpasswords the airport and port sort of sit out by themselves between FTL and Hollywood. There’s really no hotels adjacent to them. Since you won’t have a car, try looking for hotels along 17th Street Causeway which is very close to the airport/port. The Embassy Suites on that street looks good, but I’ve never been in it. If you stay in this area you can walk to a few places to eat and if you don’t mind climbing the bridge, you can hoof it to the beach. The port/airport are a short cab drive away. I’d tend to stay away from the hotels/motels along South Federal Hwy (US 1) in this area. Most of them look pretty rough. Book early, you are going during high season (Feb) and hotels could be full and will be at their most expensive.

I highly recommend taking an airboat ride on the Everglades. They’re a lot of fun and you can see much more than you could otherwise from just a hike or driving along the edge.

I lived in Fort Lauderdale from 2003 to 2005. I went back for a visit last month, and not much has changed. As far as culture and history, Ft. Lauderdale doesn’t have too much. I’m assuming you’re going to stay in one of the hotels on the main drag along A1A (where the beach is), so I’ll recommend things that are accessible from there.

The Stranahan House-one of the most historic home in Ft. Lauderdale
Taylor Birch State Park
The Swap Shop is OK, but its not in the most desirable neighborhoods. If you were going to go there for some reason, I’d make it a point to do it late in the afternoon so you can check out the drive-in movie theater there.
Bonnet House Museum and Gardens-I never went, but it seems to do a popular thing to do.
International Swimming Hall of Fame-if you’re into that sorta thing.

Something else you might be tempted to do is take a boat ride. There are tons of places up and down the beach advertising rides and I’m sure your hotel can recommend some as well. If you were going to do one, I’d go with the Jungle Queen which is a popular choice with tourists. Another, much cheaper option, is to take a water taxi for a ride on the intercoastal waterway. They offer an inexpensive all day hop-on and off deal. Good if you want to go downtown one night to drink.

OK, onto food, drink, and entertainment:
You can grab a nice lunch at Beach Place (open air mall) on A1A or on the strip at Las Olas Boulevard. Las Olas is good for cafes, galleries, and specialty shops. On the weekends, and some weekday nights, Beach Place becomes a good option for grabbing drinks because there are several restaurants/bars in the complex. Another option for a night out is Las Olas Riverfront. Again, loads of restaurants, bars, and shopping during the day. The crowd spills out onto Las Olas Blvd. in downtown Ft. Lauderdale. This is a popular choice for a night out because you’re allowed to bring your drink out of the bar to drink on the street. There are tons of bars there, but the crowd tends to be on the youngish side.

Oh, and I forgot to check where you’re from, but if you want some good bbq, there is an amazing place called Tom Jenkins BBQ. Its not too far from the beach, but you would need a car to get there. I only mention it because its amazing and I’m damning myself for not going there on my last visit.

Good choice on Tom Jenkins. I was born and raised in the Deep South and this place is awesome. You’ll see all shapes, sizes, colors, ages and incomes of folks in that place which to me is truly a testament to how good it is. My kosher friend use to only “cheat” at Tom Jenkins.

I’m not as much of a fan of the new improved and sterilized Las Olas of the 2000’s as I was of it back when it was funkier in the 80’s and 90’s. But of course that’s just a personal thing.

I suggested the Swap Shop on a Saturday morning b/c the outdoor farmer’s market is best that day. If you’re not from a tropical area, you’ll see all types of fresh locally grown fruits and flowers that you can’t find anywhere else. While it may not be in the best of areas, it does have its own contained parking. I’ve seen a ton of movies there.

The water/boat suggestion was excellent too. I thought of that but wasn’t sure what to recommend since we always were on friend’s boat. But that truly is the best way to see the area and the nicer homes.

I remember you wanted to be a yaughtie a while back. Well Fort Lauderdale is the take off point for some super yaughts so you could get a feel for who is looking for what if you want to steward. I’m not sure you are there during the “right” season though.

Good information all through the thread and yes I will check out the nautical scene while I’m there though being a Brit. I doubt if I’ll get a job(Green card and all that) but background info is always useful.

Will you be visiting during these dates:
If so I highly recommend going, it’s probably one of the worlds biggest boat shows. FTL has one, but it is late next week.

Thanks for the warning! I’ve booked a room before they have a chance to get even scarcer.

That’s code for *“HOLY CRAP! At least they give you breakfast…” *This is the first time in my life that I feel like I did well finding a hotel for $189 a night, and that was by booking through my employer’s portal for a better rate than what had.

Reviews of cheaper hotels on were amusing. Things like how the room came complete with ants, clumps of previous guests’ hair in the tub, or how the whole front desk staff needs to be sacked. If I was doing the “arrive 10 PM, sleep a few hours, go to the ship at 8 AM” thing, I might be willing to sleep with ants, as long as they stay off my pillow, but we’re going to be there for a few days.

gotpasswords most rooms in FL come w/complementary ants or other tiny insects. It’s the large flying palmetto bugs we charge you extra for!:stuck_out_tongue: