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12 Of The Coolest Places in Fort Lauderdale

Posted on Blogs July 18, 2014 by Mike Smith

While we realize that we’re experts in “cooling”, and not necessarily “cool” (although we think we’re pretty hip over here in the office), we’ve been repairing air conditioners in Fort Lauderdale since 1973. We think that’s long enough to be able to come up with a quality list of good spots to take our families around the city. For this particular blog post, we pay homage to some of our favorite family-friendly locales around FTL, both new and classic. We’d love to hear your favorite places in the comments at the end.

For more of our local employee-collaborated lists, check out this post and this other post

Without further adieu, the 12 coolest places (in no particular order)…

1. The Fort Lauderdale Beach Jetties

This is one of the best stretches of Fort Lauderdale Beach because of its privacy, New England-style ocean rocks, and long stretch of beach (seriously, there’s enough sand to have a regulation-sized football field).  You can find the beach access to the jetties in a neighborhood off of 17th street, just past the bridge. The only downside to this hidden spot is the lack of parking. If you thought trying to find parking near Las Olas/ A1A was tough, try finding one of the 10 or so spots to park alongside the street near the jetties.

2. FAT Village Art Walk

Tucked away on the outskirts of downtown, Fort Lauderdale’s FAT Village has become the main district for our city’s burgeoning art scene. While there aren’t a lot of day-to-day businesses open yet, we highly recommend taking the family to this area during a monthly art walk. Every last Saturday, all the galleries in FAT Village open their doors to show locals what they’ve been working on. Sometimes the art walks are themed– don’t miss Day Of The Dead in November.

3. Cinema Paradiso

There aren’t a ton of independently-owned movie theaters around town. Cinema Paradiso is your go-to theater for non-mainstream, indie movies. It’s also the epicenter for Fort Lauderdale’s biggest film festival FLIFF.

4. Lockhart Stadium for a Fort Lauderdale Strikers game

While everyone keeps talking about David Beckham and the Miami MLS team, we’ll keep watching the Strikers at Lockhart. If you’re an FTL old timer, you know about the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. They’ve been around since 1977. Here are 3 good reasons to check out the Strikers sooner than later: tickets are cheap, the atmosphere is great for families, and the team has been competitive this season.

5. Culture Room

On the cusp of Oakland Park, Culture Room has been hosting some of the best concerts in Fort Lauderdale for a long time. They book a variety of shows, some more family-friendly than others. This would be a better spot if you’re kids are older.

6. Gilberts On 17th

We expect a lot of debate on this topic, but a bunch of us in the office think Gilberts On 17th has the best burger in Fort Lauderdale. Not only does their hamburger taste remarkable, the restaurant itself caters to families. The owner (pictured above) and her sons run the joint. Bonus: the fries are also incredible!

7. Flagler Village Community Garden

This place isn’t open yet, but we’re SO excited for it to be part of our community that we decided to include it on the list. This community garden has been in the works for at least a couple years, and has finally raised enough money to go through with the plans. When this opens, it’ll be a wholesome spot in Fort Lauderdale to take the whole family. Stay tuned for updates on the the Flagler Community Garden.

8. Lesters Diner

Open 24 hours, Lesters is the closest thing you can find to an old school, authentic diner in the city. We’ve been taking our families here for breakfast and pie for as long as we’ve been in business. In fact, just typing this right now is making me hungry for their buttery pancakes.

9. Brew Urban Cafe

Brew Urban Cafe (locally abbreviated to just Brew) is the main locale in Fort Lauderdale for quality coffee. Sadly, the downtown location (pictured above) closed not too long ago. Lucky for us though, the Victoria Park spot is still open, and they opened another operation in FAT Village next to C&I Studios.

10. Zona Fresca

We have a lot of good Mexican restaurants in the city, but no one has better fish tacos (fried) than Zona Fresca. Not only do we think they’re good relative to other local places, we think this fish taco stands up to San Diego’s best (yeah, we said it). Do yourself a favor and order their Fish Taco Combo Plate.

11. Radio-Active Records

Vinyl is back in style, and Radio-Active Records is your primary music headquarters in Broward. Not only does the independent record store have a huge selection of vinyl, they also host some great family-friendly events with vendors and live music like Record Store Day.

12. Riverside Market

The picture above might insinuate that this is a bar, and it technically is, but the reason we included this on our family-friendly list is because it also has incredible pizza, an awesome selection of craft root beer for the kids, and a tame local crowd. For the parents, you can’t beat Riverside Market’s craft beer selection. Make sure to sample some of the local microbrewery beers.

That’s it for our list. What did we miss?

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