Living in South Florida we are constantly bombarded with out-of-towners wanting to visit our year-round paradise. I do not mind hosting guests, however, I do mind when they ask me to take them to what I consider the WORST tourist attractions in greater Fort Lauderdale. I’ve heard them time and time again and always try my hardest to find any excuse to avoid these activities that I have developed a strong hatred for over the years. I occasionally give in, most often after a few beers when I am at my most vulnerable. For each activity I have offered an alternative suggestion that needs little explanation – take it from the FTLC bloggers!
“What’s this I hear about that big outlet mall?” I cringe at the thought of hearing this question, yet, every time I have a first time visitor, these words are regretfully muttered from their freshly sunburned lips. It’s the same scenario every time: we struggle to find a parking spot and then walk for five minutes in the heat trying to figure out how we will remember where we parked the car. We then rejoice upon entering the over-air-conditioned monstrosity of an outlet mall. There are few things I will give credit to Sawgrass Mills for and one of those things is the fact that it is indoors. Immediately you are surrounded by masses of people, most of them from foreign countries, running every which way, trying to make the most out of their bargain hunting. You see people pushing carts loaded with everything under the sun and then you find yourself extremely disappointed when you leave the mall with nothing because the only clothing sizes left are XXL. You’ll find yourself digging through piles of junk in stores such as Burlington Coat Factory or paying prices for Nikes that seem inappropriate for an outlet mall. If people pushing strollers into your heels does not bother you enough, you are quickly worn down and ready to return to the car only to realize the mall does not flow in a circle and you’ll have to turn back around and pass all of the unworthy outlet stores that you’ve already avoided. One tiny bag in hand and a frustrated look on their face, my guests always make some sort of statement like “Well that was a disappointment.” I hide my look of “I told you so” and then we gracefully walk back out to the parking lot, forgetting where we parked, of course.
Alt suggestion: They probably aren’t going to buy anything at Sawgrass so take them to the Swap Shop instead, where they will experience a South FL flea market at its finest.
The Jungle Queen is to me what a fried Twinkie is to a fat kid. It’s something we should probably avoid altogether. The Jungle Queen at first sight appears to be a tourist’s dream. I mean, who wouldn’t want to float down our man-made waterways on a replica Mississippi Delta-style steamboat with underpaid and overly enthusiastic tour guides and a crappy BBQ meal? You can count me and any of my guests out. According to anti-Jungle Cruise blogger, Mercedes J, you are hoarded onto to the boat like it’s a cattle drive where you sit until you are uncomfortable, only then to reach an island in the middle of nowhere. You are shuttled onto the island where you are force-fed mass produced and tasteless BBQ food. Just when you think it is about time to leave, it isn’t. Now it is time for a comedy show that lacks comedy and leaves you nothing short of sleeping. You’ve finally reached your limit but you have to get back on the boat and ride the same route back that you came in on, in the same uncomfortable seat.
Alt suggestion: Take the water taxi. It costs less than $15 for an all-day pass and you can get on and off as you please.
This is the suggested tourist destination I fear most. It will take you two hours to drive there only it is not two hours away. It takes approximately one hour from the time you enter the massive line that leads to the parking garage until you actually find a spot, if you haven’t waited in line, wasting gas, only to realize there are no spots left in the parking garage. By this time, your pre-drink buzz is gone and everyone is on edge from the traffic. You finally make it in. You’ve probably had a friend of a friend get you on some club VIP list that doesn’t actually exist so instead you spend your time waiting on the outskirts of a red velvet rope extending from an overly-pretentious club where you have to be ‘selected’ to enter by a bouncer who thinks he is better than you even though he just got fired from Coyote Ugly downtown. You probably won’t be let in. Your only option is then to head over to Murphy’s Law where you get a headache from the drunk crowd singing along to a crappy cover band. Then it sets in; you probably cannot get drunk because you have to drive ALL the way back to Fort Lauderdale and let’s face it, the FTLC does not encourage drinking and driving.
Alt suggestion: Go to downtown Fort Lauderdale. It’s low-key, most bars do not have dress codes, and you probably won’t end up with a $200+ bar tab.