Before you collapse in a heap of Florida frustration at the very thought of traffic, noise, bar hoppers, trash, and a skyline reaching twelve stories into the sky, let me assure you that there is a spot on this busy coast that belies all of that.
Yes, in Broward County. The charming town of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea chose long ago to freeze the calendar and keep the Florida charm this stretch of beach towns used to embody. Fewer than 10,000 people call the town home and if they and their elected leaders have any say in the matter, it will stay that way forever. It’s not that they don’t want progress; they simply don’t want it to destroy the small-town way of life they have chosen on Florida’s famous, but frantic coast.
The town is essentially walled in, shadowed by high rises to the north and south, the Intracoastal Waterway to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Lateral growth is simply not an issue. And since ordinances prevent any new buildings taller than four stories, vertical growth is a no-go as well. What that leaves is a town that knows what it wants with the kind of beach and attractions you dream about, but rarely find anywhere north of the Keys.
Leave the traffic behind
Obviously, A1A, as it passes through town, sees it’s share of bumper-to-bumper, but one block off in any direction and you’ll find streets with so little traffic that you can ride bicycles or safely walk to the grocery store or to a locally-owned restaurant for breakfast. And the safety does not end at sunset. Locals and snowbirds (in winter) show up at their hangouts (complete with New England Patriots flags hanging from the rafters) for evening drinks and the fun is likely to spill onto the sidewalks, but there is a feeling of comradery as tourists join the fun.
Eat your way through town
The center of action night or day is on Commercial between Ocean Blvd (A1A) and El Mar, where you’ll find everything from candy and ice cream to burgers, lobster and craft tacos. Ever heard of Burger Fi? Their first location was in LBTS. The best grub, however, is often tucked away in strip centers…