Please note: this blog post was written in 2010. While we plan on updating, we still think its a worthy read.
When you start writing for a Fort Lauderdale blog that caters to locals, it’s easy to neglect what outsiders think of your city. Fortunately, I am obsessed with reading guidebooks, predominantly the Lonely Planet series. Even though I consider the LP the Bible of travel writing, I decided to research what the other top guidebooks are saying about FTL. From what I’ve witnessed, Moon, Frommers, Fodors, & the Lonely Planet are the most purchased brands of guidebooks. After each guidebook’s South Florida edition, here is what I found:
Moon: Florida Beaches
There are few things that I have boycotted in my lifetime: Charleston, NY Jets’ players on my fantasy teams, and 80’s cover bands. Add to the list Moon guidebooks. The first 4 pages in the Ft. Lauderdale section are used to berate our home. Because of that, I have eliminated this book from consideration of top guidebooks. No worries, I have taken the liberty to write some hate mail on behalf of all Lauderdalians:
If you happen to get a discount at the movie theater for being old, then Fodors might be your best bet. I don’t think I’m going on a limb when I assume that the majority of our readers are among a non-senior citizen demographic. If I’m right, this guidebook is probably not for you.
To it’s credit, it did list some attractions that the other books did not:
– Florida Antique Car Museum (never been)
– Sailboat Bend (my favorite neighborhood, I’m biased though)
– Main Library downtown (not sure I’d recommend to tourists)
– Cinema Paradiso
– Swap Shop (AKA Little Bangkok)
– Frank Stranahan’s suicide story (tied his leg to a cinder block and threw himself in the New River)
Overall, there are better guidebooks about Ft Lauderdale. I would have liked to see some cheaper options in the accommodations section (eg. Beach Hostel or Deauville Hostel).
My favorite characteristic about the LP books is that they are catered to budget-minded travelers and backpackers, but also include options for the flashpackers. In this particular edition, I enjoyed the author’s relateable descriptions of some local spots, specifically his description of being black out drunk at Lesters at 3am or the “drunk drunk, wasted beautiful people” at Dicey Rileys. Even though he pokes fun at some of my favorite locales (he describes Brew to people who like coffee shops “filled with artsy-fartsies” and “whiny indie music”) I can’t blame him for having fun with his writing. This edition covers most of the major players in our city; however, there were some glaring omissions, namely Dania Jai Alai and The Swap Shop.
When it comes to FTL, this book is not your best option. When you want to find a place to drink snake blood in Hanoi, Vietnam, the LP owns.
Frommer’s: South Florida
I feel like a traitor, but I am giving the title of best guidebook for Ft. Lauderdale to Frommers. Not only did it include most of the recommendations that the other books listed, but it added some new options for each type of traveler and contains my preferred places that I listed earlier. Some petty downsides included the cluttered organization of the chapters, and the nonsensical ranking system they use for each attraction or business listed. Those negatives can be overlooked because the book does an excellent job of providing an array of options for both the rich and budget minded.
- All 4 guidebooks listed Poorhouse, 3 different spellings (1 word, 2 words, preceded by “the”)
- Museum of Art, Museum of Science, Bonnet/Stranahan House, Mark’s Las Olas, and Lesters were some others that were listed in all 4 publications
- As expected, all guidebooks started by mentioning FTL’s past spring break glory. Stop reminding us, please