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Thread: Pros and Cons About Living Around Downtown Fort Lauderdale & Beaches

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    Member Maria de los Angeles's Avatar
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    Default Pros and Cons About Living Around Downtown Fort Lauderdale & Beaches

    Although our website name is Miami Beach 411, we get questions about living in the tri-county area (Miami-Dade, Broward, West Palm Beach). For example, one member asked if he could reasonably commute from Miami Beach to Pompano Beach. I suggested Fort Lauderdale as a good alternative.

    I've been spending more time around Fort Lauderdale (east of I-95) lately and have really enjoyed it. So I thought I'd start a new thread just focused on the downtown/riverfront/beach area.

    To start with, here is a link to FLL's calendar of events: http://www.sunny.org/events/

    Anybody with input, thoughts, questions is welcome to post here. Thank you!

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    Hello Everyone,

    I'm new to the forums, but I was living in Brickell Key before moving to Fort Lauderdale two years ago. I love it up here. If I can help answer any questions or provide insight, let me know...

    -Willie
    Dabest714 likes this.

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    Hi Willie,

    My wife, two yr old daughter and I are planning a move to South FL from Boston. My job will be in Pompano Beach. I'm trying to decide between living on Miami Beach and commuting north, or living in downtown Ft Lauderdale.

    Obviously, the convenience of eliminating a commute is very attractive. My concern is that after living in Boston and New York that we'll miss some of the urban diversity if we are too far away from Miami.

    So, I guess my question is basically 'what can I expect from Ft Lauderdale?'. Is there a good selection of restaurants, cafes, movie theaters, cinemas and shops in a reasonably concentrated area? Can I live close to the beach and still be near all of that? Being in our mid-30s will we feel really young in Ft Lauderdale?

    We are New Englanders so a move to South Florida will be a shock to our system. We're excited by it and want to embrace it. So, I'm willing to splurge for a great location but I'm a little blind to where that is.

    Thanks for any advice that you may want to share.

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    Hi Dave,

    Well, no matter where in South Florida you move, you're not really going to find the urban diversity that you get in the North. I have a lot of family in New York and I was actually born in Cape Cod. I moved to downtown Miami because I thought it would be a similar city feel to NYC. I was way off haha...It's not necessarily a bad thing, just different and it takes a little getting used to. I think as long as you move somewhere close to downtown Fort Lauderdale you will be happy.

    I live right off of Las Olas, which is the main street in downtown Fort Lauderdale, there are quite a lot of places along it or close by to walk to or to just stroll along the river...plus, you're close to the main drag of the beach and you don't have to battle traffic to get to it. As of lately, there has been a push to bring more things for younger people to do downtown because there is quite a large amount of young professionals in Fort Lauderdale, myself included. There have been some cool restaurant/loungey places and even a few art galleries in the nearby vicinity that have opened their doors. Apparently, a new environmentally conscience microbrewery is going in too. The best thing about Fort Lauderdale is that everything is pretty centralized, the beach included. The Broward Center of the Performing Arts, the Science Museum/IMAX, and Museum of Art are some of the major things that are all right downtown, but if you want a list of my recommendations just let me know and I'll be more than happy to put one together.

    Location is definitely everything in Fort Lauderdale. If you want to be central, within walking distance downtown and Las Olas, and a house, I say Victoria Park or Colee Hammock - really pretty neighborhoods and safe. If you want to stick with an apartment or a high rise, look anywhere downtown.

    Cheers,
    Willie

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    Gus
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    Hi, Willie, welcome to Miami Beach 411. Thank you for joining us!

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    Member Maria de los Angeles's Avatar
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    Hey Willie! Thanks for stopping by! Your input is much appreciated.

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    Senior Member Blackford Oakes's Avatar
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    I can't explain why I have not returned to FLL. Was there four years or so ago when King Tut was in town. Never made it back but the city has wonderful offerings.
    Maybe next time when I'm down and hit the museum and some eats on Las Olas.

    Did take note last week that the Norman Rockwell Exihibit was down to it's last days. Must check the current museum calendar to see what's going on today.

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    Thanks Gus and Maria!

    @Under The Sun ....The Rockwell exhibit was amazing, but unfortunately Sunday was its final day. I've heard that since it did so well they might be leaving a few of the works up for a time longer. Upstairs in the museum has some good modern art at the moment with an installation piece by Banksy and another piece by old school stencil graffiti artist Blek Le Rat. I recommend :)

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    Member Maria de los Angeles's Avatar
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    Willie, what are you favorite places to eat/drink around there?

    Some on my list (and that I keep returning to): Downtowner Saloon (riverfront), Himmarshee and The Floridian.

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    Hmmm ok off the top of my head...

    Cafes / Food / Night Spots

    Gran Forno Cafe and Bakery, Las Olas - For sandwiches and baked goods (f'ing good cupcakes too)
    Rino's Tuscan Grill, Las Olas - Good little personal pizzas and a crazy wine selection
    Noodles Panini, Las Olas - Voted best meatballs, but all food is good, a bit pricey
    Samba Rom, Las Olas - Great lunch and cool vibe on Sunday night (Loungey DJ + Art)
    YOLO and O Lounge, Las Olas - Really nice crowd at nights at the end of the week and weekend, music, dancing, drinks
    BOVA Prime, Las Olas - Same as above, but a bit more of a pretentious crowd sometimes, still fun
    The W, A1A - The hotel is beautiful, great lounge upstairs, awesome pool scene on the weekends, and bar downstairs
    Maguire's Hill 16, Andrews Ave, North of Broward - Fantastic Irish Pub
    Brew Himmarshee, 2nd Street (Riverwalk) - Cool little cafe...has art/music/happy hour events often and right by all the other 2nd street bars
    Himmarshee, 2nd Streer (Riverwalk) - Great lunches and delicious food (squash purses), sidebar is a cool place to go at night as well
    Sushi One, Broward and US1 - Hole in the wall sushi, but line out the door during lunch, fresh, delicious, and inexpensive (Tuna Bento Box)
    Cafe Verdi, 1st Ave and Broward - Really cool happy hour with music on Wednesday, eclectic crowd
    Caffe Rustica, Sunrise and US1 (Gateway Shops) - Incredible single origin coffees and homemade desserts
    Canyon, Sunrise and 18th (Gateway Shops) - One of the best restaurants in Fort Lauderdale, inspired, modern Southwest cuisine
    Serafina, 20th Ave (Gateway Shops) - Small Italian restaurant on the water, home made pasta, cheese lovers try the burrata
    Pizza Fusion, Sunrise and US1 - It's a small chain, but it's still quality. Organic pizza. $1 bottle of organic wine on Tuesdays.
    Brew Victoria Park, US1 and 6th St - Larger than the other Brew, better for getting work done or reading
    Shuck and Dive, 6th St behind Brew - Great Cajun food and fun atmosphere especially during football season, if it's in, try the gator burger
    Blue Martini, Sunrise (Galleria Mall) - Pretty fun nightlife/happy hour especially on nights when there is something special like Ladies Night

    Late Night Eats

    The Floridian, Las Olas - It's an institution, serving breakfast 24/7, huge menu
    Primanti Brothers, South of Sunrise on A1A - Pizza and sandwiches 24/7, female flashers get a free slice (so I hear)

    Theatre / Art Picks

    Cinema Paradiso, SE 6th St - Old church turned movie theatre, home of FTL International Film Festival, really hip little spot, indies, foreign, classics
    Gateway Theatre, US1 and 18th (Gateway Shops) - Super old, no surround sound, but lots of character, mainstream and indie/foreign
    IMAX, 2nd Street - Duh, it's the IMAX.
    18 Rabbit Gallery, NW 1st Ave - Cool new gallery in town, some weekly events as well, Drink and Draw on Tuesday
    Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art - Went for the first time recently, impressed!
    IWAN (The Bubble), NE 4th Ave - Another new active gallery / artist collective...Great show coming up on Feb 19 & 20th
    Broward Center of the Performing Arts - Opera, Theatre, even dinner & comedy on certain nights, beautiful venue I hear
    Parker Playhouse, off of US1 (Holiday Park) - Another cool venue, smaller, various types of performances

    Outdoor Spots
    Park at Riverwalk across from Science Museum - Yoga in the Park on Saturday mornings, Jazz Sundays on 1st Sundays of the Month
    Holiday Park, Victoria Park - Tons of fields for soccer, running; basketball courts; Jim Everett Tennis center is beautiful, clay & hard courts
    Small Park at end of Broward Blvd/Beginning of Victoria Park Road - Small, quaint, nice place to relax or walk the dog
    Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, Sunrise right before A1A, huge park, nice for walking/jogging/cookouts, across from the beach


    Ok that's all I have for now, I tried to limit it to things right in central Fort Lauderdale that I've frequented lately.

    Three of the big area for going out at night are A1A just north of Las Olas, lots of bars...my pick is Exit 66 or Elbow Room (classic); West Las Olas where places like YOLO and Bova are; and close by that is 2nd street with a ton of different bars like Tarpon Bend, Himmarshee, Revolution

    And that's my two cents.

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    Wow Willie! Epic first few posts! Loaded with helpful, insightful information! Thanks!

    I'm certainly goning to be looking for "More Willie."

    Seriously, your kind posts are very helpful as I rarely get up to Ft Lauderdale except to go to the airport. Now I feel as if I have some knowledge of the place. Again, thanks and I truly will be looking for your posts!

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    Thanks Fred! I figured I might as well start off with a bang right? Anyways, I'm glad I can be useful and I'm more than happy to share any insight I have haha :)

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    If we can pry for a moment, what made you move from a desirable Miami address to Ft. Lauderdale ? We could have been good neighbors as me and the wife our child frequent our place at Brickell Key II a few days out of the month. We base ourselves between some hidden orange groves in Central Florida.

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    Great stuff, Willie. Your knowledge is much appreciated.

    Sorry I didn't get a chance to introduce myself to you last night at the Social Media Club event. I was sitting in the back of the room and had to leave early.

    But you might like to know, from where I was sitting, I could see all the ladies in the room were swooning over your every Tweet.

    It's obvious you've got lots of friends and admirers.

    Thanks again for spending some time with us!

    If you ever need anything, please don't hesitate to ask.

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    Member Maria de los Angeles's Avatar
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    Willie! I am so glad I asked you to be part of our forum family! You put the "MORE" in "morewillie" that's for sure. What an abundance of information. You could write a guide book!

    Fort Lauderdale really looks even more attractive to me now. I knew there were some great spots, but I yet many more to check out.

    One more thing I absolutely love about the river area is the water taxi. It is such a fun way to get around if you want to bar/restaurant hop and not worry about driving. At $14 per person or $11 (evening only), it is totally worth it. Oh and you can byob on board!

    This is one of the reasons why I picked Fort Lauderdale over Miami for our big weekend-long tweetup in May.

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    Sure you can pry...When I was living on Brickell Key (Miami) I was working from home so it made it very hard to meet people especially in my peer group and the ones I did meet were going out every night. I loved going to the M Bar at the Mandarin and the cafe on BKey, but besides that and walking over to Mary Brickell there wasn't a lot of walkable "stuff" during the day and by the time I made it over the bridge I was a sweaty mess haha...Also the traffic started to get on my nerves and I only saw it getting worse with more high rises and no real road improvement. I had some time to work in and around Fort Lauderdale and found it, at least for me, a more overall, pleasurable experience...people's attitudes, traffic, and how central everything is in Fort Lauderdale. Plus I can be in Boca or Miami in no time if need be, well if it's not rush hour :)

    @Gus ha! Thanks! I'll have to catch you at the next event!
    @Maria I'm glad you mentioned the forum on Twitter and I could get involved, thanks :) and yes...the water taxi is awesome, there is water everywhere in FTL...also for residents in Fort Lauderdale you can park for free at certain meters with a city card ;)

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    We spent 15 years going to Fort Lauderdale starting in 1989 when the ocean was abutted by parking and they had wet tee shirt contests where the marriott time share hotel is now located. The elbo room is about the only thing left and the best thing they did was make Ocean one way north and put in the beachwalk. We also discovered the waste land which was Las Olas Boulevard which was structurally beautiful but full of bridal stores, one hotel, and one cafe. Oh how times changed as people slowly discovered city life and Las Olas returned to its former glory! But----

    How many times can you visit Las Olas and where do you sit for people watching. Coffee, Lincoln has 3 starbucks, Las Olas has one in the office area which last time I visited closed at night. Summer, late spring and fall, the area is dead as it has no real attraction to the hordes of visitors who come from all over the world to south beach year round. Can you visit a movie theater, go to the beach, hit clubs, etc., etc., etc., without using a car?

    We enjoyed our years in Fort Lauderdale and stayed in a small apartment/hotel on the Intercoastal called the Holiday Isle Yacht Club. Its still there but many of the similar charming places are gone, many are now vacant lots waiting for the next bubble. Even from there you could only walk to Primantis and a few pretty honky tonk bars between Sunrise and Terramar. It worked well for our two weeks at Christmas but when we tried to go for a long weekend or for other trips it became same old, same old. After one year with three seperate trips we bid Fort Lauderdale goodbye and we don't look back. Even with the crummy winter we are having this year you can still enjoy south beach, the variety, etc., but what is there to do in Fort Lauderdale? So I really believe that there are definate cons as well as pros and it really depends on the individual.

    Maria thanks for the update on the water taxi. It started out as $3 and evolved to $6 all day pass. I was pretty shocked at the current price but loved the ride and seeing some of the houses.

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    Fort Lauderdale makes a great bookend for Miami! When you want to dress up and be formal, you can go to Miami, and when you want to do things more casually, you can head up to Lauderdale.

    The only thing I don't like about Lauderdale is when you get away from the Las Olas neighborhood, it's not very walk-friendly. At least not like South Beach. Of course, it isn't as packed as South Beach, either, so less people running into you on the sidewalk!

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    I went to Yolo's at Las Olas last night. It was packed and buzzing with energy. Not bad for an otherwise quiet downtown area. I love that I could find parking and that the streets were clean.

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    Default Possibly relocating to South Florida/Fort Lauderdale- have many questions

    Hi, I am from Boston, MA and currently interviewing in Fort Lauderdale. I am trying to research the area and find out where is the best/safest place for a single 29yo working professional that enjoys recreational activities and likes to have a very active social life. Preferably live in an area populated by young professionals/people my age. I am looking at Fort Lauderdale and areas south. I want to live on/close to the beach or intracoastal. Any advice/insight is greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for any suggestions.

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