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Tourist hacks for Fort Lauderdale beach vacations

There are plenty of diversions along Fort Lauderdale beach if you’re in town as a tourist, business traveler or a family or friend’s house guest. But there are also some under-the-radar things you need to know.

Here’s an insider’s guide to buried treasure on the beach.

Park and Ocean

Dining al fresco is usually not a big deal here in the sub tropics, but Park and Ocean has its own beachy vibe going on. Nestled in a grove of trees, the restaurant is super casual and extra chill (pun intended — try the frozen wine drinks to cool off). You can also rent water crafts and sign up for tours.

Technically the restaurant is inside Hugh Taylor Birch State Park at 3109 E. Sunrise Blvd. But you can kind of see it through a grove of trees from A1A on Lauderdale beach, just north of Sunrise. You can use the metered parking anywhere along A1A from Sunrise up to around NE 14th Court and be within easy walking distance. Or you can go into the park itself using the Sunrise Boulevard entrance and pay $6. 954-563-2900 or ParkAndOcean.com.

Restrooms

There is a public restroom on the beach in South Beach Park (700 Seabreeze Blvd.), which is across the street from the Bahia Mar hotel. There are also restrooms at the shopping and dining center Beach Place (17 South Ft. Lauderdale Beach Blvd.). However, for the price of a cocktail at the bar, you can use the remarkably well-kept restrooms in luxury hotels such as the Ritz-Carlton, the W, the Atlantic, the Hilton and the Westin. Just be sure that women throw some sort of resortwear coverup in their beach tote and that men have a shirt and some drawstring pants or shorts handy. Everyone will need at least a pair of sandals to enjoy the bar and, more to the point, the restrooms.

E-scooters

The Lime electronic scooters that are undocked (when users are done with the rental, they just leave the scooter sitting on the sidewalks) are all over the beach and downtown areas of Fort Lauderdale.

To get in on the hot-right-now trend, you have to download the app at the Apple App Store or Google Play. The rental costs are $1 to start and then 15 cents per minute. For more information, call or text 1-888-546-3345, email Support@LimeBike.com or go to www.Li.Me.

Also new to SoFlo game, but gaining ground quickly are Bolt and Bird e-scooters. The rental prices are the same. For Bird, call 866-205-2442, email hello@bird.co or go to BirdApp.com. For Bolt, call 305-290-2658, email bolt@bolt.miami or go to Bolt.miami.

Breakfast at Plaza Bistro

Plaza Bistro is one of those gourmet food trucks that has, after an almost two year-long hiatus, returned to a parking lot just a block off of Fort Lauderdale beach at Breakers Avenue and Belmar Street in what only really local locals (like people who live there) know is called North Beach Village. But what is really important for you to know is that you can get breakfast at Plaza Bistro Wednesdays through Sundays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. That includes various omelettes, French toast, waffles, breakfast burritos, croissant egg sandwiches, etc. There’s also a regular lunch menu, but it’s the breakfast all morning and well into the afternoon that is a a rarity on the beach. Plaza Bistro is located at 619 Breakers Ave. For more information, call 954-610-1301 or go to Facebook.com/ThePlazaBistro.

Boutiques on Breakers Avenue

Just a block off the beach on Breakers Avenue, between Vistamar Street and Windamar Street in the North Beach Village neighborhood, are some great finds for fashion-philes. The retailers and eateries have a Sip & Shoppe event the first Saturday of every month from 6-10 p.m.

Sugar Luxe Society is a mobile boutique that has popped up next door the food truck Plaza Bistro (the two frequently partner for special events, like Wednesday’s Ladies Night). 2900 Belmar St. 954-734-3318. SugarLuxeSociety.com.

Just down the street is Village Shoppe with some great swimsuits and resortwear and is also in a partnership with the art gallery next door. Village Shoppe is located at 600 Breakers Ave. BreakersAvenue.com.

And there’s the Turquoise Turtle Boutique, which not only has great coverups, but an assortment of gift items as well. Turquoise Turtle Boutique is located at 608 Breakers Ave. TurqTurtle.com.

Bonnet House Museum and Gardens

This historic home and gardens (built in 1920) sits on 35 acres on the barrier island. The museum has an extensive art collection and displays of the history of the region as well as the flora and fauna of the Intracoastal. The Bonnet House is also the home of an impressive list of concerts, festivals, classes, workshops and lectures. 900 N. Birch Road. 954-563-5393. BonnetHouse.org.

Watercraft rental

The only place to get a SEABOB — which is a mix between a snorkel, jet ski and scuba combined in one machine — is to go to Beach Ventures. In fact, they are the only place you can rent the water craft in the entire country. The SEABOB goes 9 miles per hour on the surface and 8 miles per hour under water with a depth regulation of 8 feet (after 8 feet the engine turns off and the machine will float to the surface). This can be changed from 2 to 7 feet for younger participants. They also have some cool-looking GoCycle electric bikes. Beach Venture is located in Beach Place, 17 Florida A1A. 954-530-9844. FLbeachventures.com.

And there are plenty of places to rent jet skis along the Intracoastal, but only one on the actual sands of Fort Lauderdale beach. That is at Atlantic Beach Clubs II, where you can rent jet skis for $120 an hour or $80 for a half hour. The outdoor location is on the beach across Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard from the Casablanca Cafe at Alhambra Street. 954-543-2938. Boat-Rentals-Fort-Lauderdale.com.

Working out

So maybe you’re stuck in a small hotel or a motel that doesn’t have a gym. No worries. You can still pump bruh. Kind of. In South Beach Park, there are outdoor resistance bars, basketball courts and volleyball nets. This is located on the beach across from the Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale at 700 Seabreeze Ave. 954-828-4597. MyFortLauderdaleBeach.com.

Gay beach

It’s not official or anything, but everyone knows that the gay beach is located at Sebastian Street and A1A, near the Ritz-Carlton. The designation stretches all the way back to the 1970s and this stretch of sand’s proximity to the long-gone, gay-riffic Marlin Beach hotel. Now the gay beach is across the street from several gay guesthouses on the west side of A1A.

Bahia Mar rooftop lounge

If you were at the boat show last year, you might have swung by the grand relaunch of resort hotel Bahia Mar’s Waves Rooftop Pool Bar and Grill with a new menu, craft cocktail drinks and extended hours. But what you might not realize is that, unlike a lot of the other luxury hotels on Fort Lauderdale beach, you don’t have to be a guest to enjoy the party-with-a-view at Waves. 801 Seabreeze Blvd. 954-764-2233. Doubletree3.Hilton.com.

The Barber's Bar

Didn’t have time to get a haircut before you flew into town? Don’t worry, we got you. Fort Lauderdale beach has the Barber’s Bar, where not only can you get a haircut, a shave or even a manicure, you can enjoy the six beers they have on tap. Or the wine. Or the cigars. Or the 11 TVs all tuned to sports. There’s even a hand shuffleboard table. The Barber’s Bar is at 3114 East Sunrise Boulevard (The Village at A1A). 954-380-8230. TheBarbersBar.com.

rhagwood@southflorida.com

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