I have never arrived in Ft. Lauderdale (or Miami) in a good mood. I95 has a way of sucking all the energy out of you. So when I was invited by the team at VisitLauderdale to do some sightseeing I jumped at the opportunity.
Of course, I tweeted the whole way in one epic thread.
I would like to say that the 43-minute train trip was uneventful, except that sitting in the chair behind me was the former US Ambassador to Hungary and founder of the Susan G. Komen foundation, Nancy Brinker. I introduced myself and she was incredibly gracious, and LOVED the Brightline, said she “wouldn’t travel any other way“. We chatted for a couple minutes and took a picture and before we knew it, we had arrived in Ft. Lauderdale.
I found Ambassador @NancyGBrinker on the @GoBrightline train to @visitlauderdale – such a gracious person! Thanks for taking the time to talk. Looking forward to the @SusanGKomen Race for the Cure in January! pic.twitter.com/JVVbliMdq1— aGuyonClematis (@aGuyonClematis) July 28, 2018
We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale and jumped on the SunTrolley, a low-stress hop-on, hop-off transit system that links up Ft. Lauderdale. Grab the app, find a trolley on one of the 7 lines, wave for it to stop, pay $1/trip or $3 for the day and you’re off. We headed to Las Olas.
First official stop of the day was Louie Bossi, the Italian destination restaurant. Meatballs, pasta, pizza, craft cocktails, freshly brewed beers and desserts, with beautiful indoor seating and a piazza to enjoy in the back. The place was packed.
To work off some of these calories we jumped on the CycleParty and took a tour of historic old Ft. Lauderdale. The CycleParty is a 15-seat human-pedaled party bike. You can enjoy them in West Palm Beach as well as Wynwood and other locations. As we peddled around we heard the stories of the original settlers, drove by the Historic Stranahan House Museum, and saw the New River. We also made a pitstop at the Royal Pig pub.
Having taken a train, trolley, and CycleParty, it was time for the water-taxi part of our adventure. This was provided by the Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi. A day-pass is $28, happy hour (after 5) is $18 (with 2 for 1 drinks), and you can get a month pass for $49. Sounds like a deal to me.
We’re almost done here… not really.
Next stop was a short walk from where we disembarked from the water taxi. We enjoyed the Rooftop of Township. Perfect view for seeing all the impressive development that is happening in this area of Ft. Lauderdale. We went downstairs for some pretzels and beer cheese. So good.
Back on the trolley (it’s about 5pm at this point) for a quick visit to FAT Village to check out their ART Walk.
FAT Village bills itself as “Downtown Fort Lauderdale’s creative enclave” and their monthly ART Walk includes “Open Galleries showcasing new art exhibits, local artists and artisans selling gifts and goods, and a variety of food and entertainment.” It reminds me of Wynwood 7 or 8 years ago, before everyone discovered it. Very cool!
By this time we were exhausted and hopped back on the trolley to catch the 7:45 back to West Palm Beach. I was too tired to notice any celebrities on the train, but I did bump into some of neighbors who live a street away from us in the South End of West Palm Beach. We pulled back into our home station right on time at 8:25.
Here are some notes:
Downtown Ft. Lauderdale is surprisingly walkable. We took various modes of transportation, but a similar trip could have very easily been accomplished on foot. An alternative to doing the entire trip on foot is to plan your trip so that you walk on the way out, then uber back to the station at the end. You don’t want to miss your train.
The Brightline connects South Florida culturally. We have so much going on in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, that people who aren’t exposed to them have no idea are going on. Arts, history, architecture, music. Having our downtown linked through Brightline provides easy access to all of this, and will help grow the smaller/underground arts and culture scene throughout South Florida.
Brightline is for everyone. On the way there we traveled with Palm Beach royalty, and the way back we traveled with young families. People like to push back on alternative transportation saying things like “why take a train when our cars work just fine”. If the number of people coming in and out of the station on a Saturday morning is an indication of the acceptance of this new(ish) form of South Florida transportation I’d say we’re on the right track.
Finally, I have talked a lot of crap about Miami and Ft. Lauderdale over the years. It turns out that I just really don’t like I95. The cities themselves aren’t that bad, I just need a Carefree / Carfree way of getting there.. Also I’ve got to do some sort of juice cleanse because I ate waay too much over the weekend. Send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.