Friday was my roommate’s birthday and yesterday we went up to Fort Lauderdale to take the water taxi around to a bunch of bars at different stops. I wish I could take credit for this pretty genius idea but it was two of our good friends that did. I’ve taken the water taxi before and I really liked it just as a way to see more of Fort Lauderdale. Fort Lauderdale is beautiful and I love being on the water with all the rivers and canals (Fort Lauderdale is sometimes described as the “Venice of America”) and there is tons of great house and yacht eye candy all along the way. The one time I took the water taxi before we had a great guide that gave tons of information about the houses as we passed them, the history of Fort Lauderdale, and tons more facts.
Whether you’re sight seeing, bar crawling, or just want a ride around to different stuff there is tons to see along the way and tons to do at each of the stops. I would say most stops have at least one or two restaurants or bars to check out (some stops they just might be inside a hotel), but several stops like the the Las Olas Riverfront, Shops and Restaurants at Las Olas, and Beach Place have numerous options for food, drink, and shopping.
We started at Pirate Republic (400 SW 3rd Ave Fort Lauderdale), which was a great bar in itself, but we also were able to keep our cars there parked for free the whole time when we were on the water taxi. Pirate Republic is a typical South Florida waterfront bar, where you are right on the water on the docks and you can bring your boat right up next it. There are a few places like this in central Miami, but I think there is less space and less river/canal front to have a lot of spread out restaurants on the water like Pirate Republic. It was a great laidback and chill bar to start at with drinks and lunch. We got a variety of burgers, pulled pork sandwiches, oysters, and shrimp, and everyone really enjoyed their meal. A few of us got there first and waited quite awhile for the others to get going and get up from Miami…. but it was a great place to sit for awhile, drink, and enjoy with the boats going by. I definitely wish there was some place like this closer to me in Miami because it’d be a great place to relax on a weeknight or during the day on a weekend on a regular basis.
The water taxi stop at Pirate Republic (#13) is the same dock as the restaurant (5 feet from some tables) and we hopped on to move to our next stop. The water taxis move in both directions- the stop numbers going up or down. Along the way there are tons of beautiful, large homes along the canals, as well as some incredible super yachts! We went down the numbers and passed a number of stops on our way to Beach Place (#4 and 17 S Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd). There were a few places along the way like the Las Olas Riverfront that have tons of places we could have stopped with tons of restaurants and bars or even stops with one or two waterfront bars, but Beach Place has a lot of bars like Lulu’s Bait Shack, Fat Tuesday, and Hooter’s in one place so we headed straight there. Beach Place and A1A it sits on are pretty touristy, even more so during Spring Break, but it wasn’t too crazy at the time and we did drinks and appetizers at Lulu’s for awhile. If you don’t feel like doing the more chain-like places there are tons of other restaurants and bars on the boardwalk/A1A.
After Lulu’s instead of getting back on the water taxi we headed down the boardwalk a bit and went to Bierbrunnen Beer Garden (427 S Fort Lauderdale Blvd). It’s down a little walkway from the boardwalk tucked on the side of building. Very laidback with a pool table and a jukebox machine. I definitely think there unfortunately isn’t much similar that I’ve come across in Miami- just a more mellow, quiet place to sit and visit and drink. We hung out there for awhile and it was a great place to hang out all together, drink, play some pool, and get some food (they have a lot of different brats and wursts, plus schnitzel, burgers, and chicken wings/strips). There are a lot of different kind of beers as the name would imply (plus a few kinds of ciders which was nice for me). The bartenders were very friendly and were just at giving some recommendations of beers for my friends to try. I really enjoyed the chill atmosphere compared to what most bars are like in Miami and the more touristy bars at Beach Place we were at before.
At this point in the night (10 PM) the water taxi comes less often so we headed to Quarterdeck (2933 E Las Olas Blvd), which is closer to the water taxi stop to have one last stop before getting on. Quarterdeck is your pretty typical large bar and grill but it was a good place to stop for a few quick drinks while we waited for the water taxi.
After we got back on the water taxi we were deciding between heading back to Pirate Republic and getting our cars or deciding to stay the night in Fort Lauderdale. We got off at the Gallery One Doubletree Suits (Stop #2) to see if they had some rooms and because it’s not too far of a walk from a nice stretch of bars off A1A. There was a wedding there and it also was Spring Break so they were full but we walked across the Intercoastal to A1A to check out some other hotels closer to the strip of bars we knew about. The stretch is a block off A1A and Sunrise Blvd on Sunrise Lane with bars like Parrot Lounge, McSorleys, and Cafe Blue Fish. This strip is kind of Key-West like to me with the bars that open to the street, loud music playing, and a number of late night food places (along with a whole block of tattoo parlors). We were planning to check it all out if we found a hotel, but we also had a few people who had joined us at different points in the night and could drive back to Miami. We checked out a few of the hotels/motels on A1A (probably longer than we should have since it was getting past 1 AM) and all were understandably full due to Spring Break so we took an actual cab back to Pirate Republic and headed back to Miami.
We definitely could have utilized the water taxi more if we wanted to in terms of riding it more and taking it around to more stops, but we had a great time at the bars and locations we went to. There could have been so many more bars to check out at the stops we did get off at. We decided instead to spend a couple hours at each of the bars we went to, instead of doing quick stops at more bars overall, and that worked out well for us. Definitely leaves a lot more to try when we go back and do it again!
Logistically for the water taxis it definitely helps to be patient. Sometimes they arrive a bit later than their expected times and sometimes it takes a bit of time to travel around the loop, especially between the more spread out stops, but the scenery is part of the experience to enjoy. An all-day pass is $20 and then there is a night pass (after 5 PM) for only $ 10 if you end up doing some shorter than our 12-hour adventure. Cash is probably the easiest way to pay, but some of the larger boats do take credit cards (it sometimes can take awhile however and sometimes there are technical issues). I’d recommend doing something similar to what we did and park at a smaller stop because you can usually find free parking for the whole time, but it also could be nice to park at a busy place like the Las Olas Riverfront and check out the numerous options there before getting on, but you’ll pay more for parking.
For a map of stops (including major businesses attractions) and a schedule check out the water taxi’s website- http://www.watertaxi.com/
Whether you’re a tourist in Fort Lauderdale, someone from South Florida into checking out more of FTL, or someone who wants to do a similar bar crawl I’d definitely recommend checking out the water taxi as a way to see the sights and get around to a bunch of great options.
A few pics from my previous water taxi experience: