One of the things that can make or break a concert experience is the parking accommodations at the venue. A search for a convenient and affordable place to park sets the mood at the outset of your musical journey. If it's a hassle, your outlook immediately sours. If it's a breeze, you arrive relaxed and ready to enjoy a great evening. The same can be said for exiting; a clear and uncluttered path homeward is ideal.
In truth, no South Florida venue is perfect when it comes to parking conveniently, but based on the two prime criteria -- affordability and accessibility -- some fare better than others. Here are the best concert venues for parking in Broward and Palm Beach Counties.
10. Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood
Verdict: Almost as Good as It Gets
The two mammoth garages at Hard Rock Seminole Casino always seem to have enough spots to accommodate even the latest arrivals for anything from the B-52s to Mayer Hawthorne. But sometimes that means ascending to the highest levels to find them.
Exiting the Northern garage has its challenges, beginning with crowded elevators and inevitably ending with a line of backed-up traffic snaking its way to the street level.
That said, the much ballyhooed Southern facility seems to offer little challenge on both counts, which makes it my preferred destination by far. Besides, parking is free (yes, free!), the walk to HRL is quick, and there's always the option of cheap valet parking if you're tardy for the party. And you can ogle Prince's purple suit or win a butt-ton of cash on your way through the casino to the concert. Pretty perfect.
9. Revolution, Fort Lauderdale
Verdict: Not Bad at All
Although there is a cost involved in parking around Revolution, it's usually modest, and the variety of options is fairly expansive. I prefer the private parking a block or so Southeast of the club, but there's also the possibility of grabbing a metered spot on the street.
Those who don't wish to take any chances can park across the street or in the adjoining lot for about ten bucks and bum a beer and a toke off some broke college kids on their way inside to see Gwar or Major Lazer. You can also opt for the large parking garage midway between the club and the Broward Center of the Performing Arts. With the latter, there's a risk of getting caught up in a large crowd attending a graduation or something at the same time. Still, in terms of easy access, I give Revolution kudos for convenience and a great, diverse lineup.
8. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale
Speaking of convenience, let's give the Broward Center its due. The parking options are identical to those for Revolution, but the most obvious choice is the aforementioned parking garage which is connected to the theater via an overhead walkway that takes you directly into the building. It's ideal when its raining, but even when it's not, it makes the walk from the car to the concert quick and easy.
Exiting can occasionally create a back-up, and no, it's not free, but it does make the experience relatively hassle-free. Then again, there's always the valet option that lets you off right by the entrance or nearby private parking for those who want to opt for a stroll before or after. 7. Parker Playhouse, Fort Lauderdale
Verdict: Very Good
If Parker Playhouse only hosted more music, it would be a dream destination.
Parking is right around the back, and it gives the appearance of being cost free, because the price of parking is included with your ticket. The surface of the lot is rough, which makes for a bumpy ride at times and a challenge for those who may be unsteady on their feet -- like the extremely intoxicated or your bubbie. And the parking can be tricky to find, since you have to turn into the area before reaching the adjacent War Memorial Auditorium. Still, management makes it their mission to ensure convenience, and we think they've succeeded. Besides, you can walk across the street and snag some price LPs at Radio-Active Records. Double score.
6. Cruzan Amphitheatre, West Palm Beach
Verdict: Good and Convenient
Parking at Cruzan is incredibly convenient due to the relative ease of finding a spot and the fact that it is free. Mostly, it's still made for the masses with a parking area out back that requires only a minimal stroll and fees that are included in the cost of your ticket.
Those who arrive early for tailgating can camp out in the dusty lot. Still, for those for whom money is no object -- a category I personally cannot relate to -- there is the option to purchase "guaranteed premier parking" which allows you to select your spot online in advance or just show up and park. Better spots cost more, so the more you spend, the greater your access. Natch.
Just please don't ever leave your kids in the car while you head in to watch Lil Wayne yell obscenities and skateboard across the stage.
5. Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale
Verdict: Decent if You're Fortunate
The search for a parking spot at Culture Room can be daunting. It isn't a venue for the easily intimidated. The fact that it doesn't have its own private lot ought to indicate that it's every person for each person-self. Still, I find the private parking nearby fairly easy to find, and reasonable, as well. Usually a good spot is just a short walk and a few quarters away. And once inside, the tiki atmosphere and a reasonable amount of booze'll make you forget cars even exist. And if that's the case, don't drive home.
4. Mizner Park Amphitheater, Boca Raton
Verdict: Good to Great
A great venue needs great parking, and Mizner measures up on both counts. While many city centers charge excessive amounts to leave your car, Mizner provides parking free of charge. What's more, it offers -- count 'em -- four garages that can be accessed from three entrances, all factors that add to the ease.
For those wishing to avoid any possible congestion, there's also street parking and a valet option. Plus, preferred parking can be purchased for concert night convenience. 3. Pompano Beach Amphitheater, Pompano Beach
Verdict: Admirable Indeed
Although exiting into traffic can cause a bit of a back-up when you're in a hurry to leave, by and large, this Pompano Beach venue is pretty much a snap in terms of accessibility. Several city-owned lots are located adjacent to the facility, all of which offer a very short jaunt to the entrance. What's more, the proximity to North Federal Highway makes it a breeze to access. Premier parking is available, but given the existing set-up, it's not really necessary.
2. BB&T Center, Fort Lauderdale
Verdict: Wack, but There's Always the Mall
While there is reserved parking for the big shots and corporate clients, most of us pions have to settle for the far-flung choices of the arena's gargantuan parking lots. What really sucks is the fact that you're paying up to $25 for the privilege of getting caught up in congestion.
Instead of spending your kids' lunch money on a spot, just leave your car in the Sawgrass Mall parking lot and cross the street. At the end of the night, after a big ol' famous person concert, you really won't have much of a wait to leave the lot. And you can go back-to-school shopping before seeing the Backstreet Boys for the 1,000th time.
1. Bamboo Room, Lake Worth
Verdict: No Sweat
Like most clubs of its kind, the best option for parking at Bamboo Room is on the street. Fortunately, the overall accessibility of the locale and the variety of clubs and restaurants in the near vicinity make that option safe and secure. Yes, the problem of where to leave the car can be challenging on a busy weekend night, but for the most part, consider the parking problem free.
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