On Saturday, June 20, paying participants can ride any of the Bus Loop's 14 designated trolleys along an eight-mile route that will shuttle them between the 17th Street Causeway and Fort Lauderdale Beach.
Founded in 2007, the Bus Loop originally began as a way to raise money for local charities while promoting a fun, safe way to patronize the city's restaurants and bars. Today, the Fort Lauderdale Bus Loop has five routes that rotate during the five annual bus loop events which each run twice a year: West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, and Boca Raton/Deerfield (also known as the Dog Rescue Bus Loop).
"It's a great event," said Bus Loop coordinator and founder John Haley. "It's all about meeting new people and having fun, without having to worry about driving or parking. You can spend as much time as you like at each venue, and you might even have the chance to experience a few new places you might never have been to before."
Unlike a pub crawl, there's no set schedule, adds Haley, so you're not in a hurry to get from one place to another.
This bus loop schedule runs from 6 p.m. to midnight, and offers two check-in points, making it easy for bus loop patrons to get around. Attendees simply board the bus at one of the designated locations listed for that night anytime between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m., and the fun begins. When you get off for a drink or bite to eat at one stop, you can head out to the next stop any time you like. Trolleys are set to land at each location every 5 to 7 minutes, making it easy to keep the party going.
This month, the Fort Lauderdale Bus Loop route will bring patrons from the city's 17th Street Causeway to Fort Lauderdale Beach, and includes stops at venues like Bimini Boatyard, Southport Raw Bar, Quarterdeck, Waxy O'Connor's, Burger Fi, Cold Stone Creamery, Bahia Cabana, Blondie's, Cafe Del Mar, and Lulu's Bait Shack. The two check-in points are Beach Place (17 S. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd.) and Waxy O'Connors (1095 SE 17th St.).
Paying customers can ride the trolley all night, and each person receives a complimentary drink or appetizer at each venue — typically a sample-sized portion of a popular menu item, or a choice of wine, well drink, or draught beer. Drink cards are valid until 11 p.m., and trolleys operate from until midnight.
The bus loop promotes safety first, and has a generous policy: all designated drivers are issued a free admission wristband to ride the bus loop, and do not have to pre-register to participate.
The best part, however, is that it's all for charity. All proceeds from the evening benefit five local non-profits, including the Jessica June Children's Cancer Foundation, Jack & Jill Center, Covenant House Florida, Riverwalk Trust, and The Broward County Gator Club Scholarship Fund.
Note: Some venues enforce a dress code, so be sure to bring a change of clothing and shoes for entrance to all bus loop stops.
The Fort Lauderdale Bus Loop will take place on Saturday, June 20. The cost is $25 per person with early prepay, or $30 per person after June 13, and $35 per person when purchased the day-of the event. To prepay visit bus loop.org, or call 954-574-6000.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.