Listen up, people. With the new Brightline train to Fort Lauderdale, there’s no excuse why you wouldn’t explore this awesome coastal city. It’s not as crazy as Miami, but it’s definitely livelier than some of our own cities in Palm Beach County.
Luckily, we can get there in less than 40 minutes on the new train. Just sit back and enjoy a book, a playlist, a podcast or maybe two alcoholic beverages — if you’re traveling after 3 p.m. with a $15 Select ticket.
Forget about traffic or watch as you pass it all by. You’re about to arrive to Fort Lauderdale in a blink of an eye. To see just how fast, scroll to the bottom of this story for a video of my first Brightline adventure, complete with emojis, of course.
Here are a few things to do on your next Fort Lauderdale visit.
For starters, skip breakfast at home because there’s a place in Fort Lauderdale you have to try.
Catch your train: The first train from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale leaves at 6:00 a.m. on weekdays and 8:00 a.m. on weekends. Plan accordingly. For the full Brightline schedule, click here.
Breakfast: If you follow me on social media, have met me or read my articles, you probably already know I’m super biased when it comes to breakfast food: Venezuelan arepas are my only option (and they should be yours too).
I’m not talking about the sweet, yellow corn arepas you see around Palm Beach County fairs and food stands — those are Colombian. I’m talking white, cripsy corn shells stuffed with avocado, shredded beef or chicken with cheese, hams and more. You pick your stuffing.
Where to get them? Eats Good 33. They open at 8:00 a.m.
My mouth is already watering. Crispy white corn flour shells stuffed with juicy meats, cheeses and vegetables. I recently visited this Venezuelan restaurant and it met all of my expectations. This is a true arepa bar. You can choose from dozens of stuffings such as shredded beef, pulled pork, gouda cheese, ham, chicken, avocado, pico de gallo and more.
I recommend the shredded beef and gouda cheese or the Reina Pepiada which has chicken and avocado (usually the favorite among my non-Venezuelan friends).
Eats Good 33: 6882 NW 20th Ave Fort Lauderdale; (954) 956-4480
Now that you’re high on tasty Venezuelan food and cofffee, let’s hit the road. You’ve got a return, Brightline train to catch in however many hours afterall.
Walk it off: Lauderdale-by-the-sea is a flip-flop kind of town. This is a quaint place by the ocean that’s ideal to check out in the morning. Walk off your breakfast tourist-free, lay out by the uncrowded beaches and explore the charm of a small beach community. It has an estimated population of just over 6,000 local residents. No transportantion needed around here.
Morning plan: Check out the sidewalk cafes, enjoy the live outdoor music or outdoor activities and games to start. Then find the Anglins Fishing pier, the beach pavilion, shopping boutiques, El Prado Park or visit the Lauderdale by the Sea Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center for a list of fun activity rentals like scuba diving, snorkling, kayaking and more.
There’s so much you can do in Fort Lauderdale that it might be hard to fit it all in one morning. Since, you’ve already had breakfast and explored Lauderdale-by-the-sea, see if you can fit some of these options in before lunch time:
- Coral Cliffs is an indoor rock climbing center that has more than 87 Top-Roped Routes, 25 Lead Routes, Bouldering, Slabs, Aretes, Overhangs and more.
Bonnet House Museum and Gardens is a beautiful property with tropical gardens, bonet water lillies and artistic decor. This historic mansion is a must see if you’re into art and history.
- NSU Art Museum is a beautiful art space. The mordern building was designed by the renowned architect Edward Larrabee Barnes. There are thousands of permanent collections, an auditorium, a book store and a cafe. Check out what’s currently on display.
Lunch time: Locals rave about the lunch and brunch at Rosie’s Bar and Grill. Eat where the locals eat: Rosie’s Bar and Grill.
This place is great, friendly to all and everyone always seems to be on a great mood. Even the most introverted person can relax in Rosie’s laid back, tropical atmosphere. The burgers are huge and amazing, and you’ll enjoy the cheap beer buckets and mojitos.
The menu has a variety of drinks and meals, with pop culture celebrity names on each dish, which can get a bit overwhleming. But don’t let it stress you out (hopefully you’re not as ADD as I am). Just ask the waiters for help and they’ll give you their top choices. Phew!
Rosie’s Bar and Grill: 2449 Wilton Dr, Wilton Manors; 954-563-0123
Walk off your lunch: If you went to Rosie’s Bar and Grill, it’s probably almost dinner time. Seriously, this place can suck you in, making you forget that you’re not a local and you have a train to catch back to West Palm. So watch the time a bit because Wilton Manors is a unique town that deserves some foot traffic.
You can explore Downtown Wilton Manors in an hour or two. It has an estimated population of just over 11,000 people, and it’s completely surrounded by a water canals, which is why it’s also referred to as Wilton Manors City island.
This little city has a strong focus on diversity, acceptance and being a good neighbor. Houses are nicely put together, public places are super inclusive and people are very open minded much like San Francisco.
What to see:
- The Stonewall National Museum and Archives
- The Richardson Historic Park & Nature Preserve
- The World AIDS MUSEUM and Educational Center
Have time for more afternoon fun? You can’t leave Fort Lauderdale without renting a boat or taking a tour around the river. It’s impressive to see the architecture, the waterfront homes and the businesses along the water. Plus, you’ll have a great time sailing with your closest friends.
Dinner time: No Fort Lauderdale trip is complete without checking out Las Olas Boulevard in Downtown Fort Lauderdale. Plug it in your GPS and choose from dozens of casual to fine dining restaurants along the main drag: from Italian at Luigi’s Tuscan Grill, to American dinings like The Cheesecake Factory and Big City Tavern, Asian cuisine at Sky Thai Sushi or Greek at Trata Greek Taverna.
Got some time? I know you mut be tired by now, but if you can squeeze in a quick bar stop before your train leaves, check out Rythm and Vine. It’s only about a mile away from Trata Greek Taverna.
Rhythm and Vine Beer Garden is awesome. It opens at 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, at 3 p.m. on Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. They close past midnight on any day.
This isn’t just a bar. It’s a backyard party where a funky patio has several picnic tables, a food truck, hanging light bulbs and conversations happening all around. It’s chill but lively. On weekends and late at night, it can get packed, but you’ve got a train to catch soon anyway. You’ll be in and out right before the crowd.
Adios, Fort Lauderdale. The Brightline station is about half a mile away from the beer garden. The last train on weekdays from Fort Lauderdale is at 7:55 p.m. and on weekends 10:55 p.m.
Oh, and lucky you, it’s after 3 p.m. on your way back to West Palm, which means not one but two free cocktails with your $15 Select ticket.
I had a blast taking the Brightline for the first time during its opening weekend, as you can see in the video. I also loved exploring Fort Lauderdale, and I hope you did too. Did you take pictures? Share them with us by tagging @pbpost on Instagram.