Once you get tired of those over-priced tourist shops on the south end of Lauderdale Beach, head up to the north end just below Sunrise Blvd for some real deals. One of the best places for bargain hunting is Keny Inc, on N.E. 9th about a block west of A1A.
Like every other place along the beach, you will find cute skirts, cover-ups, shorts, swimsuits, boogie boards, and all manner of touristy stuff with Ft Lauderdale imprinted on it to take back with you.
This one is actually two store spaces linked together by an opening in the wall toward the back of both lots. In the right hand lot you can find the super deals and souvenirs. I picked up 3 pair of beach shorts for $9 here. That's $9 total for the trio. Killer deal, man.
One other thing you might want to know is that they will bargain with you on the price if you hesitate enough. Go ahead. Pretend you're in Mexico while in this one and you can get some really sweet deals.
PROS: Will bargain on prices
Why businesses list as one thing but have a completely different thing on the door is a mystery to me, but what you're actually looking for here is the Sunrise Smoke Shop about a block of the main beach just below Sunrise Blvd on Sunrise Ln.
I'm a smoker, and my favorites in the whole world are Sweet Dreams mocha cigarettes. These can only be gotten at a smoke shop. This is why I was so happy to see this place in my beach wanderings. Not only did they have the brand, they had them for less than just about every other place I've been in America. Score!
It's not just about cigars, pipes, lighters, and cigarettes here though. They also carry an array of body jewelry for some reason. Hey, it's the beach. Oddities abound. It looks to be some good quality belly rings and what have you here.
The place smells really good when you walk in. He also carries incense and oils, but it's not cloying or over-powering in the least. Just a subtle wafting of wonderful scent.
Their all smiles in here too and happy to help you. I'll be giving them all by business, that's for sure.
PROS: Not over priced at all
Let's face it, sometimes cash flow gets tight. Way too tight. You need to sell something fast. Pawn shops are everywhere. Enter Nations Pawn.
Dealing with pawn shops is not my favorite activity in the world, but things happen. They're all pretty much crooks. They have you where they want you. They know you're desperate or you'd list the item on eBay or something, right?
Nations has some nice guys working for them, and one real jerk. DVDs will get you a buck apiece, everything else is about 10 cents on the dollar tops.... but watch them on the family jewels. They offered $20 for an $800 ring. Ugh.
If you're buying instead of selling, they do have a nice selection here (half of it's mine!) TVs can be had for a song and a dance here, as well as lap tops, swords, jewelry, etc. All the usual things you find in a pawn shop.
The one thing Nations has going over others though is that the place is kept clean and bright. It's not all dim and dusty like a lot of them are.
So. Bottom line. Buying? Go here. Selling? Watch out...
PROS: Great for buying
CONS: If you're selling, bend over
Kilwins is one of those places that sucks you in. Don't even try to resist. It won't work. Just go ahead and indulge.
They have all kinds of sweets here that are guaranteed to add 10 pound to those hips by the time you walk out... and it is oooh sooo worth it.
I always have to get one of their fabulous ice creams. The caramel is to die for... the one with the fancy name I can never remember.. something Leche. Mmmm mmm good.
They also have all kinds of off-the-wall candies, hard to find items and stuff from your childhood. Theren there's all that danged fudge. Who can resist that? I certainly cannot.
So, as you're walking down Las Olas in the heat of the day, just give in. It's cool in Kilwins, and you know you want that ice cream....
PROS: Wonderful sweets
CONS: You'll gain weight just glancing in the window
Boomers is an arcade, but out back and part of it is the Dania Beach Hurricane. Folks down here talk of this with pride and love. Well, as a coaster fanatic who has planned vacations around various Amusement Parks in the country, I gotta tell ya that the Hurricane is not a destination coaster, but it's fun for folks passing through or already in the area.
This is a decent sized seemingly older wooden coaster with enough drops to make it worth the small price you pay to ride it, but it doesn't compare to the big boys by any means. Although it seems old, it was actually built in 2000. I guess it's just the fact that it's wooden that makes it seem older than it is.
The highest speed for this one is 60 mph, which is about half the speed of the top rated metal coasters these days. But it's fun enough for the money.
When in southern Florida you will see and hear references to the Dania Beach Hurricane all over the place. Traveling south to Miami from Lauderdale you will see it right there off I-95. Go ahead and take the side trip.
To get to the Hurricane, you park at Boomers and wander through the really cool arcade full of flashing lights and tons of games. On the other side leads back outdoors to the rides and the miniature golf. That's where you'll find the Hurricane.
This is an older Wooden Coaster, but it isn't as rickety as you might think. It's in fairly decent shape still and, for being an old wood, is a pretty sweet ride. I mean, you can't compare it to something like Millinium up at Cedar Point, but for it's class it's not bad at all. Worth the side trip for sure, but not worth being a destination all its own.
If you live in Dania, Boomers is a good place for the kids to gather and have fun.
PROS: Nostalgic, great for the kids
CONS: The Hurricane has seen better days
I get tired of places claiming to be authentic Mexican food when it's everything but, so it was a nice change of pace to find one that knows just what it is and doesn't try to fool gullible folks. La Cantina Mexican-American Cafe is just what it claims to be: Mexican-American food.
You walk into a kinda cheesy yet fun place which is over-done in the Mexican theme on purpose. I mean stuff everywhere. I liked it immediately even through my haze of irritation from having to wait to get in. We were seated at an old worn out (yet comfy) booth and chips were immediately brought out to us, along with some pretty decent chunky salsa.
They offer the usual items you will find everywhere such as burritos, tacos, chimichangas and the like, but also some pretty decent barbeque ribs and fish platters. This day I went with a Machaca Burrito for around 8 bucks (I can't recall exact prices and can't find a website for them). This is a burrito with shredded beef (not hamburger! yay!) and scrambled eggs along with various Mexican seasoning and peppers and what have you. It is huge and comes with both refried beans and Mexican rice. I couldn't even finish half of it and it was really very good.
The beans are not overly mushy here like a lot of places. They tend to go more toward the side of authentic than most places that claim that and fail. The guacamole is fresh and chunky, as is the salsa. They do bring out sour cream, but it is on the side rather than smothering your meal.
They have a full bar and it turns out that one of the major draws here is the gigantic 46-ounce margaritas. Folks, these things are huge. I wasn't brave enough to order one, but she did, and pronounced it pretty damn good.
They do have entertainment on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in the form of a Mariachi band. I've never been during those times but have been told by others that this is a great deal of fun.
For what you get, both portion and quality-wise, this is a killer deal. Try it.
PROS: Big portions, good food, not expensive
CONS: Only open for dinner
Sun Dance Arts is the dance studio owned by Bobbye McDonald. It's a very welcoming and friendly place. If you're a bit shy, go ahead and come in anyway. Bobbye is guaranteed to make you feel right at home. Afterall, everyone had to start somewhere, right? Not everyone is born knowing how to Tango....
They get some top of the line instructors here who are very patient. New classes in some dance or other are always starting so there really is no bad time. The lessons here are about $10 each. How many weeks the class lasts depends on how complicated the dance is that you're trying to learn.
It's not just about the lessons here though. Every Saturday night they have a big ballroom dance where you can come practice your new moves and get to know everyone one else who is learning too. They have snacks and coffee here also, which is pretty cool.
Everybody asks everybody else to dance and that's what it's all about: dancing. Sure there's a few hot shots that show up cruising for chicks, but you can spot them right off the bat. Go ahead and dance with them for the practice, then move on to the next partner. heh. 99% of the folks there are super nice and genuine.
You never know when the opportunity to dance with that cute guy across the room will come up, so go ahead and take lessons here so you'll be prepared for that magic moment. Besides, dancing is very good therapy for those arthritic joints... seriously...
PROS: inexpensive, friendly
CONS: hmmm none
No trip to Lauderdale Beach would be complete without a visit to the World famous Elbo Room on the corner of A1A and Las Olas Blvd. It opened I believe back in the 1930s sometime and has been going strong ever since.
There's good reason this was the favorite watering spot of spring breakers from everywhere, and continues to be 'the' place to go party among the younger set. They have drivin' music pouring out of speakers everywhere, live bands, pool tables, and just about every weirdly named drink you can think of.
Everytime I walk by this place it's packed to capacity. If you want to get out of the wall-to-wall partiers, you can sit at one of the tables out on the sidewalk and enjoy the ocean view and just people watch for awhile.
The Elbo Room is without a doubt the most happenin' place on the strand.
PROS: A Lauderdale institution
CONS: May feel awkward if you're an old fart like me ;)
With all the big high-rise developments going on along the beach, views from the Intracoastal Condos are diminishing, but not at the Corinthian. Oh no. This building will always have a spectacular view of both the Intracoastal and the ocean because right smack dab in front of them is the Bonnet House. Now, the Bonnet house is on a large plot of land and is not going away (being such a tourist trap and all), plus that there clause in the last will or something. At any rate, it's low and lush and insures those views from the Corinthian will not be blocked by new buildings in that spot in our lifetime.
When this condo was purchased on the 20th floor a year and a half ago, it was under 400k. Units on the same floor with the same size have been going for 750k and up all winter. Score. That was a great investment!
What I like most about this building (besides the view) is that the security staff is very friendly. If I forget a key to the building, one of them is there 24/7 to let me in with no hassels.
Also, there are not a ton of really ridiculous rules among the homeowners association.
The owner parking is under the visitor parking with a concrete wall backed by land which is against the water. This means that your vehicle is protected from the majority of the high winds during hurricane season so you can leave a vehicle here pretty safely even when you're not in residence.
There is a nice sized pool on the roof, along with a sauna. The other residents are very friendly too. They're quick to strike up conversation and aren't that sickening snooty type at all. The folks who have bought here are down-home affable types who just happen to own condos in one of the more prestigious buildings. I like that a lot. This is unlike the folks at other locations who think they're above everyone else when they really do not have any reason to be at all. You know the type...
So yeah, the Corinthian is one of your absolute best bets for condo ownership.
PROS: One of the very best Condo buildings in Lauderdale
CONS: Well, the elevator breakage of 2004 was a pain...