A Local’s Travel Guide To South Florida

When I travel, I try my best to travel like a local. I like to eat at the cool local dives and go to places suggested by the locals rather than the sponsored suggestions on Yelp and Travelocity.  I live in a very touristy place, close to some major tourist attractions.  Being a tourist is not typically my cup of tea, but when I have out of town visitors staying with me, I feel almost obligated to take them to the tourist attractions (along with cool local places, of course!)

This past week, my good friend from Kindergarten (yes…15 years later and we are still BFFs) came to visit me in South Florida for the first time.  She flew in for just a week so we packed a lot into a little bit of time.

I took her to my favorite beaches, parks, and restaurants.  I figure that while I still have a decent list made, it would be good to share some of the best places to visit in South Florida from the beach to the Everglades (plus, we took so many cute pictures that I just have to share!)

The Best Places to Eat in South Florida

Graziano’s Market Weston

Italian meets Argentinian in Graziano’s Market in Weston. I love their empanadas and tequeños.

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We got tequeños and lots of empanadas (beef. spicy beef, spinach, 3 cheese, and chicken)

The Alchemist

If you are in Fort Lauderdale, you have to visit The Alchemist. This property has three delicious restaurants (The Alchemist cafe, a French cafe and a Mexican restaurant), an antique and art shop and walls of art created by local artists.

Do not miss the beautiful mural dedicated to the victims of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting painted in the Alchemist’s art wall gallery.

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All of the coffee is roasted in-house
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The ice cubes are made of coffee!

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*TEA
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The Four Cheese Pizza was soooo good!

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The Grove Coffee House

For pies, pops and coffee, you have to try Davie’s The Grove Coffee House. This cute little spot is right of the Turnpike on the way to Miami!

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Primanti Brothers

As a native Yinzer, Primanti’s is naturally one of my favorite spots. I’m more of a pizza and fresh-cut fries girl, but you should try one of their world famous sandwiches if you want the full experience.

There are three Primanti Brothers locations in Broward County: two in Fort Lauderdale and one in Sunrise. My favorite is the location on the beach! I love to order a pizza and have a picnic on the beach at night.

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The Pitts-burger

La Granja

La Granja is my favorite Peruvian chain. I don’t typically recommend chains like this, but everything at this little restaurant is cooked fresh and is absolutely delicious. It is the perfect fast food restaurant.

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Frutas Naturales

Frutas Naturales is a little Cuban restaurant in Miami Gardens. If you didn’t know this place was there, you’d surely miss it.

I was so excited to find a place that served batatas with my chicken and rice!

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New York Grilled Cheese

NY Grilled Cheese is located in Wilton Manors, the gay community of Fort Lauderdale. This little grilled cheese spot had the richest, cheesiest waffle-pressed grilled cheese I’ve ever had. I loved the tomato bisque (which is basically fancy tomato soup) the most.

Our waiter also sung to us the entire time. It was the cutest experience ever! New York Grilled Cheese is open late, which makes it the perfect spot for a late night bite after hitting the local clubs and bars.

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Flanigan’s

Flanigan’s is a family owned sports bar chain in South Florida. Did you know that almost all sports bars in SoFlo are fish themed?

Flanigan’s is famous for their fish, ribs and wings! I love their BBQ chicken and baked potato. Can’t complain about their curly fries either!

Riverside Market

The Riverside Market is one of the coolest hipster bars I’ve ever been to. I don’t really drink, but I still really enjoyed the vibes of Riverside Market. I’ve been to two of their locations and the original was my favorite. Definitely a cool place to hang out and sip a craft beer.

Anthony’s Runway 84

Anthony’s Runway 84 is one of my favorite fine dining spots in Fort Lauderdale. I love love love the chicken parm and meatballs at this airplane themed restaurant!

Laspadas

Laspadas is another small family owned chain in South Florida. This restaurant is famous for their monster subs. Their most famous subs is actually a “Monster Sub!”

I always get a turkey or meatball sub when I head to Laspadas.

The Best Beaches and Parks in Broward County

Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park (formerly John U. Lloyd)

This park is my absolute favorite. If I want a relaxing morning at the beach, I always head over to Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park. This beach is usually bare on weekdays.

Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park is truly one of Dania’s best kept secrets.

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This beautiful beach is almost ALWAYS empty even though parking is only $4 for the day!!

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I am cocoNUTS…lol

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Everglades Holiday Park

Okay, the beach is cool, but I love the Everglades. I’ve been on tons of airboat and swamp buggy rides, but the Everglades Holiday Park is one of the coolest and most convenient.

This awesome park has airboat rides, gator shows and even a little zoo full of rescued wildlife.

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Waiting for our early morning airboat ride
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1 of 2 gators that we saw on our ride

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Markham Park (Nature trail/Levee)

I could honestly write a whole post on Markham Park, but we will have to save that for another day. This park has so much to explore but the levee is definitely my favorite part of this park!

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Natalie and Wax
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I told him to smile and he said that it was too sunny so he couldn’t smile and gave me this lovely face. Ugh boys…

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Deerfield Beach

Deerfield Beach is a nice place to spend the entire day. From sunrise to sunset, this beach offers touristy amenities with local vibes.

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The result of trying to take a “group picture” on the beach at night

Fort Lauderdale Beach (at Sunrise and A1A)

My most frequented beach is definitely Fort Lauderdale Beach. This area of the beach is in front of a couple of parks and only one or two hotels, so the tourists on the beach are minimal. One of my favorite breakfast and pizza joints, Primanti Brothers, is located on this beach so it’s perfect to watch the sunrise, a day of sunbathing or an evening picnic!

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My sister and boyfriend being crabs in the ocean

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Lauderdale-By-The-Sea

Lauderdale-By-The-Sea is an older community in Northern Fort Lauderdale that has recently been revamped. This beach has some of my favorite restaurants and sea shacks. This beach is pretty popular so you typically have to park at a lot and walk a little ways.

Vista View

In South Florida we turn our landfills into parks. That is right. We create trash mountain parks. No, they don’t stink, but they do offer some amazing sunset views and great places to workout and train, since the rest of South Florida is perfectly flat.

Volunteer Park

Volunteer Park is a very small park located in the city of Plantation. This park has the most beautiful walking trails. My favorite part of this park is the bridge on the walking trail that crosses over a swampy area that is home to dozens and dozens of turtles.

Best Malls in Broward County

You would not believe how many tourists come to South Florida just to shop. They should add “dodging tourists with their giant suitcases in the mall” as an olympic sport.

Just do me a favor and don’t go to my malls from September to November. That’s when I do my Christmas shopping and I’d appreciate short lines. LOL.

Galleria Mall

If you are staying in Fort Lauderdale, you’ve got to visit the Galleria. This mall is so nice and has the most high-end food court I’ve ever seen. I typically visit this mall when I eat at Seasons 52.

Sawgrass Mills Mall

Sawgrass Mall is an outlet mall on Sunrise Blvd. and Flamingo Road, near the Sawgrass Expressway. If this crossroads means nothing to you, it’s like 13 miles west of the beach, practically in the Everglades.

The Sawgrass Mills Mall is a huge tourist destination. South Florida is certainly a melting pot as is, but at this mall, you’ll hear dozens and dozens of accents and languages. Kiosks sell suitcases so that tourists can load up on American clothes and styles and take them home.

This mall also has over a dozen middle to high-end restaurants and TWO food courts!

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I hope this helps.  If you are planning on visiting me (hint, hint out-of-town family) or just visiting Fort Lauderdale/South Florida, let me know and I can tell you more information about these places or other places from a “local’s” perspective!

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PS: a few of these locations were not places that we were able to visit this past week but I wanted to include them because they are some of my favorites!

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