Fort Lauderdale is like a strange foreign land. If you enter without knowing its ways, you'll be chewed up and spit out, bloody and naked.
(Bloody and naked was actually the third runner-up as Fort Lauderdale's slogan.)
But if you learn your way around, where to go and what to avoid, you'll be embraced in a warm Fort Lauderdale hug.
(Do NOT ask for a "warm Fort Lauderdale hug" in any restaurant or gas station.)
However, that's easier said than done. How does one learn the ins and outs of Fort Lauderdale? We're pretty sure Anthony Bourdain isn't planning on filming a Fort Lauderdale episode anytime soon. And most Fort Lauderdale travel guides have hollowed-out pages filled with 5,000 pesos and a pocketknife.
Don't worry. We're here to help.
Here are ten pro tips everyone in Fort Lauderdale should know.
10. Avoid Sunrise Boulevard. Oh my God, it's the worst. I don't care if it's morning, evening, rush hour, or Christmas Eve. Sunrise Boulevard is always as congested as the nose of a cocaine-addicted anteater that's allergic to ants. (Do I smell a screenplay?)
Not only is traffic horrible but pedestrians dart out in front of you as if controlled by a fat-fingered blind kid playing Frogger.
9. Don't swim in the Intracoastal. As if piles and piles of trash, razor-sharp barnacles that line the seawalls and Intracoastal floors, and drunk boaters flying through blind curves weren't enough, now we learn that there are sharks (or at least one hungry one) in there?
Floating condoms look like fun compared to what happened to this poor girl.
Look at what that shark (Angry turtle? Stand-your-ground-supporting manatee?) did to that leg. That thing looks like lasagna.
8. Don't ride a bike. It's Sunday. It's beautiful out. Your girlfriend has been begging you to dust off those beach cruisers and take a romantic A1A ride for weeks. I know it's tempting.
But flash-forward a few hours.
Now your Instagram-worthy afternoon has taken a turn for the worse and you're pinned underneath a Nissan Maxima whose driver can't even spell "bike lane." There ain't no filter that'll make that compound fracture look sexy.
Riding a bike in Fort Lauderdale is just not a good idea. Even when you're surrounded by hundreds of other bikers like a bunch of scared mullet, you're still not safe. You could be biking inside a titanium sphere with a bubble wrap interior and that minivan behind you is still going to find a way to put you in the hospital.
7. Choose your Chipotle wisely. There are four Chipotles in Fort Lauderdale. At three of these, you'll find the norm: friendly, meat-scooping folk, eager to assist you in your efforts to gnaw on some high-quality Mexican cuisine.
However, at one of these, you will find a different situation. There are no smiles, only scowls. Soulless eyes peer out from beneath puffy hats, mumbling in your direction.
You ask for rice, you get three grains. You ask for chicken, you get steak and an indignant glare when you point out their mistake.
There are no burritos made at this location, only shattered dreams and torment rolled into an improperly pressed tortilla.
Don't go to the Chipotle at 4850 N. Federal Highway, just south of Commercial Boulevard. Stay far, far away.
6. Victoria Park's stop signs are simply suggestions. In Victoria Park, there's a stop sign every dozen feet, but you'd never know it. Because they get ignored like suggested serving sizes.
While Victoria Park can be a great little shortcut to get around Sunrise Boulevard and Federal Highway, drive with caution. Or you'll end up squished.
5. Get free condoms at Out of the Closet. Our horny colleagues over in Miami pointed out a spot to grab some free rubbers, so we figured we'd do the same for you equally horny Fort Lauderdalians.
Not only can you grab fistfuls of free condoms at Out of the Closet but you can also get free HIV tests and buy tons of cheap and awesome clothes. And proceeds go to AIDS Healthcare Foundation. So everybody wins. Especially your safe little wiener.
4. Order Ahead at Laspadas Everyone knows Fort Lauderdale's best subs live in Laspadas. But everyone also knows that the lines around lunchtime can get longer than Rick Scott's tail (alleged tail).
Do yourself a favor and order ahead. Your sub will be waiting for you when you step in the door, like a delicious little orphan.
3. Never trust the walk symbol. That little blinking dude ain't your friend. With each blink, he brings you a step closer to death, like an electronic sexually ambiguous siren of the sea.
In other words, look both ways.
2. Befriend a BC student; park downtown for free. Parking in downtown Fort Lauderdale can be quite the bitch, especially on weekends at nights. However, most Broward College students get free parking in the downtown Broward College garage. Also, a lot of employees who work downtown will have access to free parking.
Bite the bullet and carpool with them. Even if they suck.
Whatever you do, do not pay to get into those sketchy parking lots on Himmarshee. They'll up-charge you once you pull in, and there'll be an endless stream of drunk kids peeing on your side mirrors.
1. Look, but don't touch, on Las Olas. Las Olas is one of Fort Lauderdale's most scenic streets. It's bustling, vibrant, alive, and also expensive as shit. Browse your heart out, but don't pay $300 for that statue of a manatee in a Hawaiian shirt. It's not worth it. OK, actually that sounds like an awesome statue, but you get the point.
If it's local art you're looking for, there are much more affordable and authentic places to get it.
Browse the arts section of our website or check out FAT Village, Fort Lauderdale's arts district.
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