C&I Studios

When C&I Studios and Exposed PR put their heads together, great things happen. Need proof? Invent a time machine and go back to February's For the Love Music Festival in Fort Lauderdale's FAT Village. The daylong event showcased some of the best local talent Broward and Palm Beach counties had to offer. Bands and fans flooded the streets of Fort Lauderdale's blossoming arts district, bouncing from stage to stage and enjoying local acts like Corey James Bost, Kids, Phil Barnes, and Lakeland's Copeland. What's that? Your time machine's broken and your feet smell like kale? That second part was unnecessary, but you're in luck, you weirdo. Because the FAT Village idea agency C&I Studios and Sara Shake's Fort Lauderdale-based Exposed PR are already working on For the Love 2016. This one is sure to be bigger and better, squeezed full of local talent like an obese Twinkie. In the meantime, work on those feet.

Paladium Night Club

Everybody has a type, and if non-American is your type, Paladium Nightclub in Margate might be a thing you want to check out — if you're single and ready to mingle. Paladium has a reputation for being the place you go to dance, not like "teach me how to Dougie" dance, but, like, salsa dance. Live acts and special guests litter Paladium's monthly schedule, and you can always be sure that their weekends include a line out-the-door of young people looking to break a sweat on the dance floor. Located in a spacious shopping plaza, not some ditch in the middle of nowhere, Paladium is a place you and your friends can go out to and concentrate on having a good time. Not a huge dancer, but wish you were? Paladium has salsa lessons going on all month long that will help you impress when the weekend rolls around. Open bars and all-you-can eat buffets are a plus if you're trying to get to know a special someone without spending your entire paycheck. Paladium is one of the best kept secrets in South Florida if you're looking to meet a significant other (preferably a foreigner).

Holiday Lanes Bowling Center

Bowling has gotten a little... how do we say this?... soft. The lasers, the light shows, cosmic this and disco that. What happened to just picking up a damned ball and rolling? Holiday Lanes Bowling Center in Hallandale offers bowling with zero bullshit. Sixteen lanes, wonderfully greasy food from the kitchen, and a bar where you've got to be careful who you mouth off to toward closing time — what more could any red-blooded American want?

Readers' Choice: Manor Lanes Bowling and Sports Den Pub

Mardi Gras Casino

It might have all the clichés of New Orleans without any of the gritty authenticity of that city, but as soon as you get off your high horse and embrace the Vegas-like cheesiness, the Mardi Gras Casino emerges as a fun place to blow loads of cash. In addition to the regular gambling necessities like slots and cards, this place offers an odd mix of showgirls in Carnival attire, controversial greyhound racing (made less controversial with a greyhound adoption program sponsored by the casino), and good-ol', all-American events like slider-eating competitions. But it gets better — as of presstime, the casino's featured performer every Sunday was Ghaleb, a Miami-based singer from Venezuela who was booted off American Idol after a good, albeit heavily accented, performance of Marc Anthony's "You Sang to Me." Simon Cowell wasn't impressed, but the young singer garnered a spirited following, and he's now the top billing at the Mardi Gras.

Toby's Billiards

If your idea of the perfect pool hall is a place where the cigarette smoke hangs as heavy as the clouds of chalk left lingering after breaking your fifth round, then Toby's is your place. You won't find any coin slots or torn tables here, just perfect rows of green, red, and blue felt and plenty of challengers (no sharks!). It has nine tables for your shooting pleasure. And the best part? If you buy a drink — a bottle of water, even — you shoot for free until 7 p.m. Stick that in your corner pocket.

Readers' Choice: The Original Fat Cats

W Fort Lauderdale
Courtesy of the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel

Imagine you stumble upon a massive shipment of cocaine on the beach and are able to sell it off without ending up as dinner for a cartel boss' pet barracuda. You're suddenly rich! Where's the best place to live out all your 1 percent fantasies? The W Fort Lauderdale is the swankiest of swank spots, not only along Fort Lauderdale Beach but in all of South Florida. Just walking through the gleaming modern building gives you the sense you're now a member of a different tax bracket. From the slick rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows that offer beach views to neon-blue 15-foot aquariums lining the walls of onsite restaurant Steak 954, the place oozes the kind of chic tastefulness that's rare in South Florida's garish landscape. Plus, the W's second-floor balcony off the bar is probably the best place in town to sip a drink.

Readers' Choice: W Fort Lauderdale

Nothing's cheaper than free, and nothing's more thrilling than live music. For years now, the amphitheater at Hollywood's Young Circle has hosted diverse acts, from Galactic to Seu Jorge to the Wood Brothers. This summer's calendar includes a night of Caribbean music on June 20 and sounds from Argentina on July 18, and Afro-Brazilian big band Orchestra Rumpilezz makes its U.S. debut performance August 1. All of these gigs and more are perfect for lying out on the grass or making use of your dancing shoes with your fellow cheap-thrill seekers. There is generally food for sale, but the true cheap thrillists know to bring a picnic dinner.

The inaugural Fort Lauderdale Fringe Festival was like an all-you-can-eat buffet of theater. Three separate Broward College classrooms were converted into black-box-style theaters that would house ten hours of more than 20 plays — largely crafted by local talent. Vanessa Elise, a playwright and Carbonell-nominated actor, was brought on by Broward College (which hosted the event) as a consulting artistic director. "That's the beauty of the fringe: Every piece is absolutely different," she told New Times. "We have one that is a musical in Spanglish. We have a theatrical composition that was submitted as a proposal — they built the script as they rehearsed. There's even a Noh [Japanese musical drama] play written by Cynthia Joyce Clay — it's very slow and poetic and quite beautiful." All that variety helped fill a hole in the Broward arts scene that has been sorely missing for, like, ever. And we really hope the festival returns, bigger and better than ever, in 2016.

Readers' Choice: SunFest

If you have some friends, an hour or two, and a high tolerance for anxiety, the mind-bending puzzles at Escape the Quest will make for a memorable experience. You and your pals are stuck together in a room, given a scenario, and must figure out how to extract yourself. In a crime-scene scenario, you have to use clues to figure out a way to escape without becoming a suspect yourself. In a "Stay of Execution" game, you better hope the governor pardons you before the clock ticks down. The company started in South Beach in 2014. Games are good for kids age 7 and up, though one player must be at least 16. A session starts at $100. They can also organize corporate events.

The Alchemist
Nicole Danna

You're swiping right like crazy, just waiting for something to connect. Finally, a match! Who knows what this creature will be when you encounter it in real life, but the messages are flying back and forth. But where do you go with this potential future partner? Do you meet at a bar? Nah, too good a chance you'll end up shitfaced and alone, puking on your shoes. Meet at a coffee shop! We've got the perfect little peach-colored, wooden house with outdoor seating. This is the Alchemist, so besides the cool, laid-back, and earth-friendly vibe, chances are you will have cosmically good chemistry with your new partner. Order a hot chocolate — you add natural chocolate sticks to steaming milk. Or grab a fresh coconut to sip from as a conversation starter. If romance doesn't bloom (sorry, babe), you can flee with a tasty treat in hand.

Best Of Broward-Palm Beach®

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