Freedom Tower Miami

South  Florida Tips     

Note: Many of Floridas toll roads are now cashless.  The regional SUNPASS is available Prepaid at most Publixs, CVS and Wallgreens so you can buypass rental car transponder tyranny.

IF YOU GO TO SOUTH FLORIDA, DO NOT MISS THE MAI-KAI in Ft. Lauderdale, the Greatest Tiki Bar on Earth or Joes Stone Crab (unless stone crabs are not in Season)

Click here for Orlando, Tampa and other Florida cities.

Miami? Fort Lauderdale? Miami Beach???

It used to be that the only “hip” stuff to do in the Miami Area was on South Beach, but that has changed.  Miami and Fort Lauderdale are only about 45 minutes away from each other, but are vastly different experiences.    You can check flights to both Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports to find the cheapest one, as the Ft. Lauderdale airport is located in Hollywood, a town on the border of both counties. West Palm Beach has a much quieter airport where you can get your rental car in minutes versus the bigger airports.   You WILL need a car unless you are staying on Miami Beach but you will need to take a car service.

In making your choice as to where to stay, you can pretty much vacation on south beach without needing a car at all.  You can wander out of your hotel to the beach, restaurants, shops and clubs.  For cheaper accomadations, staying north can reduce the cost, but the beaches arent as nice.  I recommend renting a car, but if you stay on Miami Beach parking charges can be insane.
Highlights of South Miami-
While down in that area, you should get pizza from the takeout only Frankies Pizza- 9118 SW Bird Rd  Miami, FL (305) 221-0221-They have great sicilin style pizza.  Yum!  Highly recommended.

Theres also Arbetter’s Hot Dogs -8747 SW 40th St, Miami, FL 33165, A decades old chili dog haunt.

The Hukilau Tiki Festival takes place every year in June and features the greatest thing in South Florida, the Mai-Kai Restaurant.
Heres some Mai Kai Photos from a recent trip-

Burger Museum by Burger Beast – 450 NW 37th Ave, @ Magic City Casino, Miami, FL  (786) 615-8386.  Their website has a listing of Drive ins across the US

Club highlights-

Gramps-176 NW 24th Street, Miami-Indoor outdoor club that has occasional Great bands.
There is one and only one punk club in the Miami Area, and the only worthwhile shows around.  Its in Little Haiti and is called Churchills.  It has recently been sold and may change format.   The other problem is the neighborhood can be a little sketchy so watch your car, or better yet, splurge on a cab to get you there.  That way you can drink.

Lookout for cool punk band Boy Prostitute.

Record Stores

Yesterday and Today-9274 S.W. 40 ST, Miami, Florida 33165,  305 554-1020

Sweat Records- records & CDs, plus rock tees, gifts & a vegan coffee bar with occasional instores- 5505 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33137  (786) 693-9309

The best Miami Bars-
On one of my last trips to Miami, I discovered a bar that almost made me feel at home.  It is the Purdy Lounge, 181 Purdy Avenue near the Venetian Causeway.  Parking is a breeze, the crowd is quite relaxed and the drinks are reasonable.  The only problem is the music they spin is crap.  


*exceptions-Ted’s Hideaway -124 2nd St, Miami Beach, FL 33139 (305) 532-9869-Skimpy dressed bartenders and burgers too

Lost Weekend-218 Espanola Way, Miami Beach, FL 33139 (305) 672-1707-Pool tables and occasional burlesque.

South Miami-Bougainvillea’s Old Florida Tavern -7221 SW 58th Ave, South Miami, FL 33143-Open til 5 am: (305) 669-8577-old style joint, but its college-y so can be douchy.

Seven Seas -2200 SW 57th Ave,Miami, FL 33155(305) 266-6071-Divey dive bar with sea memorabilia glued to every square inch of space.

Miami Beach EATS

The Antipasto Salad from La Sandwicherie. Only 11 bucks! (2020)

La Sandwicherie -229 14th St, Miami Beach, FL 33139? Closes 5AM  (305) 374-9852-The Original  location of this fantastic sandwich and salad shop. Get extra “French Dressing” On everything which is actually a Dijon Vinegrette.  Toppings include cornichons, black olives, and cherry peppers.  Across from Macs Club Deuce, the Best Bar in South Florida

When getting to Miami, find a copy of the

Miami New Times weekly paper.  It will give you the low down on the current ever changing club scene.  Also, in the friday Miami Herald weekend section, there is also a very good rundown of clubs. In Fort Lauderdale, XS is the weekly of choice, though there is a much more prevalent frat boy contingent.  Also Broward and Palm Beach Share another edition of the New Times.

Live Music-

Las Rosas-2898 NW 7th Ave, Miami, FL 33127 open til 5 am most nights (786) 780-2700

Bar Nancy– 2007 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135 (305) 397-8971

Space Mountain Miami-738 NW 62nd Street, Miami, Florida 33150

1306-1306 N Miami Ave, Miami, Florida 33136

MIAMI, FL: Contrary to popular opinion, there really isn’t anything hip going on in Miami. But Joe’s Stone Crab is really an amazing restaurant. Tip: If you can’t make it to Joes at 5 pm for the early seating, don’t bother going there until at least 6:30. Joe’s Stone Crab-11 Washington Avenue , Miami Beach (305) 673-0365.  Joe’s is closed when it is not stone crab season, usually from the end of April to early October.  They do open in the summer with a different menu.

The Food I dream about-

When i’m in Miami, I always get the following, and all require cars:
Mario the Baker-2508 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33137, Miami-must have garlic rolls.  The rest of the food is simple red sauce italian but the garlic rolls rock.
Flannegans-Many Locations, best non bbq bbq ribs out there.
Frankie’s Pizza-9118 SW 40th St, Miami, FL 33165
305-221-0221www.frankiespizzaonline.com-in south miami, square pizza, amazing sauce, awesome

Other Food-

La Sandwicherie -34 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33130 ? Closes 5AM  (305) 374-9852-The other location of this fantastic sandwich and salad shop. Get extra “French Dressing” On everything which is actually a Dijon Vinegrette

Scullys Tavern, in South Miami, divey looking bar with Gourmet food, 9802 SW 72nd St, Miami, FL
Also in South Miami is a Puerto Rican Restaurant called Bennys Seafood, which specialized in Mofongo, a dish of plantains smashed together with garlic and pork rinds, topped with the meat really as a condiment, which can be pork, garlic sauteed shrimp and many more. Benny’s Seafood, 2500 SW. 107th Ave. , South Miami, FL 33165 305-227-1232, while out there you can visit Pinecrest Gardens, located on the site of the old Parrot Jungle, which moved to Watson Island and is now called Jungle Island.  The old location has many of the rare tropical plants planted by the old Roadside Attraction.Tip: For those from northern climates, do not exceed more than an hour and a half the first few days or you could wind up with SUN POISOINING which can really mess with your vacation.

Also take a trip THRIFT SHOPPING to the Red, White and Blue on 126th St. and 6th Avenue in North Miami. While up in that neighborhood, head up West Dixie Highway to 139th St. and GET THE GARLIC ROLLS at Mario the Baker. Mario the Baker has just started chaining but the original has a retro 70s vibe to it. Every other dish there is basic red sauce italian, but the rolls are heavenly. Tip: pour some parmesean cheese onto your bread plate and dip the rolls into it. Yum!!  Mario the Baker -13695 W. Dixie Highway , North Miami (305) 891-7641.  Marios has recently exploded into a chain but the original has retro charm.
They also have an evil twin in Pembroke Pines, FL, about 15 miles northwest.  It was started by defectors but is about the same.  John The Baker -12592 Pines Boulevard , Pembroke Pines (954) 431-4315

La Camaronera Fish Market – 1952 W. Flagler St., Miami, FL 33135 –
(305) 642-3322 fried fish and hush puppies in little havana.  Amazing Shrimp and a lobster sandwich too.  All fried.  The minuta is served with Ketchup and onion and is a piece of fried yellowtail, boned but with tail attached.

La Perrada de Edgar, 6976 Collins Ave. Miami Beach, FL 305-866-4546-one of a number of Columbian hot dog joints whose many varieties include the basic columbian which is bun, sausage, mozzarella cheese, onion, potato sticks, sauces: pink, house, cheese, ketchup, mustard

La Perros-1427 Alton Road, Miami Beach, FL 33141-(305) 397-8305-another Columbian fast food joint, one of several in town.  This one has burgers and dogs, plus the greatest drunk food known to man, Maicitos, sweet corn with cheese, chicken, house sauces and crushed potato chips.

Sonny’s Famous Steak Hoagies -1857 NW 66th Ave., Hollywood, FL 33024 – (954) 989-0561

One of the many Columbian Hot Dog Joints in the North Beach Area of Miami Beach

Barracuda Bar & Grill-3035 Fuller St, Coconut Grove, FL 33133 (305) 918-9013-Nautical themed bar with rope lined tables and all the normal Florida stuff, smoked fish dip, conch fritters, snapper and mahi (dolphin) sandwiches.

Miami Nightlife Links and Clubs-
Club Planet to get on club Guestlists.

poplife  -Former the best of the local ongoing parties now just a handful of Events

Churchill’s -The Best live music in Miami, Period
Kill your Idol:  222 espanola way, 305-534-1009

Other Stuff-
The Wallflower Gallery -10 NE 3rd Street , Miami – Art and Music Space

Where to stay

For cheaper accommodations downtown, you might want to check out Miami River Inn (118 S.W. South River Drive, 305-325-0045).  The Clay Hotel, 1438 Washington Avenue, (800) 379-2529 is on the funky block of Española Way and is partly a youth hostel. Most rooms with private baths.  2 blocks from the beach.

Another option that provides a little more peace and quiet and is among the last of the midcentury type is  Thunderbird (18401 Collins Ave., 800-327-2044), reasonably priced and provides plenty to keep you occupied, including a Tiki bar.

Getting around
You’re pretty much looking at renting a car if you plan on doing much around town.

Where to eat
check out El Rancho Grande (1626 Pennsylvania Ave., 305-673-0480), a very popular and laid-back Mexican place where you can eat good food in a totally casual atmosphere.

Broward County including Fort Lauderdale, Hallandale, Hollywood, Pembroke Pines and other areas

Broward County is both blander, yet somehow seedier than Dade.  Broward is home to the swing club Plato’s Repeat, love child of the early 70’s New York City club. Fetish Factory holds monthly Fetish Parties around town.  Euphoria project has events and great links.


Radio-Active Records-845 N. Federal Highway Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33304

we-got-the-beats-5130 N. Federal Hwy, Suite #2, Fort Lauderdale FL 33308

Revolution-200 West Broward Blvd, Ft Lauderdale

Live Music-

Poorhouse -110 SW 3rd Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312 (954) 522-5145-Huge smelly bar with live original music that starts late and is usually free in a huge hellish club area with all the skanks and bros at the other joints.  This is the best place in the stretch and theres some old sideshow art.


A Mama Spada from La Spadas.

Laspada’s Original Hoagies – 17th Street-1495 SE 17th St D, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316-Right near the airport, grab a sub before your flight.  They will slice your meat and throw it on your roll several feet away.  Fresh and Delicious, get a Mama Spada or Italian.

Catfish Deweys -Address: 4003 N Andrews Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309-Down-home joint featuring daily all-you-can-eat specials plus menu of seafood, ribs & steak. An INSANE amount of food they give you.
Jack’s Old Fashion Hamburger House -4201 N Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308
(954) 565-9960-Its REALLY old fashioned. IF you ask for lettuce and tomato they give it to you in a ziploc baggie.

Rustic Inn Crabhouse -4331 Anglers Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312 Phone:(954) 584-1637-Gigantic old timey seafood joint where you go to get huge plates of crabs, shrimp and more.

Hot Dog Heaven-Chicago-style beef dogs: 101 E Sunrise Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304 (954) 523-7100 only open til 430 pm

There are rare Florida Locations of two regional chains in Fort Lauderdale.  There are many locations of the Pittsburgh based Primanti Brothers in Broward, including one on Ft Lauderdale beach where they have the sandwiches where they put a vinegar slaw and french fries right on the Sandwich.  Also not far from the Mai Kai is a location of the Ohio based Skyline Chili and their famous chili dogs and five way chili

Cape Coral, FL

Live Music-

Some of the pinball games at Nice Guys.

Nice Guys Pizza and Beer-1334 Cape Coral Pkwy E, Cape Coral, FL 33904 (239) 549-7542 2 am closing most nights.  Trashy Trashy says with confidence that this is the coolest bar south of Tampa/Orlando.  Pinball, Pizza, Trivia and Punk shows.

Cork Soakers Deck And Wine Bar – 837 SE 47th Terrace, Cape Coral, FL 33904
Phone: (239) 542-6622 Live Music Th-Sat.  Closes early

Coral Springs, FL

Eats-Big Bear Brewing Co -1800 N University Dr, Coral Springs, FL 33071 (954) 341-5545-Giant Locals only bar that looks like a chain but its not. Pretzel crusted chicken, Beer Cheese soup,  ribs, steaks, etc.

Delray Beach, FL


Vintage Tap-524 W Atlantic Ave, Delray Beach, FL 33444 (561) 808-7702-Original live music nightly.

Thrift Shop-Kismet Vintage -157 NE 2nd Ave, Delray Beach, FL 33444  (561) 865-7895

Lauderhill, FL
TATE’S Comics + Toys + More “Main Headquarters” 4566 North University Dr.
Lauderhill, Florida 33351 954-748-0181 Huge comic shop w toys and collectables.

Malabar, FL

Eats/Live Music-

Malabar Mo’s–  2805 Malabar Rd, Malabar, FL 32950 : (321) 725-8374

Margate, FL

Bar-Inkwell Pub– 238 North State Rd 7 Margate, FL 33063, Beer and wine bar with occasional live music

Plantation, FL

Eats-Mario the Baker-2220 N University Dr · (954) 742-3333 Open until 9:00 PM Related or maybe unrelated to the Miami Mario the Baker, they have the same delicious garlic rolls.  Nom.  There is also a branch of the Pittsburgh based Primanti Bros across the street.  Win Win

Palm Beach County


Ink And Pistons Tattoo and Slushbox art gallery-2716 South Dixie Hwy. West Palm Beach, FL 33405-art  gallery and tattoo shop with very rare but occasional in store performances

Lake Park, FL


In a million years, I would never imagine recommending a Dunkin Donuts, but the Lake Park branch at 301 Federal Hwy, Lake Park, FL 33403 (561) 848-5031 is unique.  Its a DINER serving real eggs and real diner food on real ceramic plates.  At breakfast they have cheese and onion smothered hash browns. At lunch they have chili cheese fries and even white hots.  Much unchanged since 1962 and believed to be the first Dunkin in FL.


Mario the Bakers Garlic Rolls
Sanford, FL
Live Music-
Little Fish Huge Pond – 401 Sanford Ave, Sanford, FL 32771 (407) 221-1499 Closes early.  Quirky Irish pub with live music.
Stuart, FL
Live Music-
Terra Fermata -outdoor music venue & beer garden- 26 SE 6th St, Stuart, FL 34994
Phone: (772) 286-5252-Music more along the lines of stoner rock and jam band typically.
Vero Beach, FL
Live Music-
Waldo’s Restaurant -located in: The Historic Driftwood Resort,  3150 Ocean Dr, Vero Beach, FL 32963 til –1AM ·   (772) 231-7091 poolside restaurant with live music of the blues or rockabilly variety normally.
Kilted Mermaid ?-beer & wine bar  1937 Old Dixie Hwy, Vero Beach, FL 32960
til–1AM : (772) 569-5533



Fort Myers Beach is a trashy masterpiece.  A rare piece of old Florida filled with dozens of shot bars and frozen drinks and open air beach bars.  It is like spring break all season long. On the short list of beach towns where you can walk to it all, this is a rare walkable beach town. Sadly much of what made it unique was destroyed in a hurricane in 2022 but some come back.


Flippers-8767 Estero Blvd, Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931 239-765-1025

Heavenly Biscuits-: 110 Mango St, Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931  (239) 463-7600-Tiny Cute breakfast biscuit bakery.

Smokin Oyster Brewery– 340 Old San Carlos Blvd, Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931 (239) 463-3474-Not cheap dive with fire roasted oysters with smoked garlic butter.


Fort Myers, FL


Cheeseburger, Chili Dog and Onion Rings. All great.

Matt’s Red Hots-18911 S Tamiami Trail #24, Fort Myers, FL 33908  (239) 791-8036-Freestanding Fast Food restaurant with great Burgers, Chili dogs and onion rings

Skip One 41-15820 S Tamiami Trail, Fort Myers, FL 33908 (239) 482-0433-Rustic Style Florida style seafood market and restaurant.  Fried shrimp, mahi mahi, etc.

Record Store-
Record Trader-3091 Cleveland Ave, Fort Myers, FL 33901, (239) 337-4330

Bonita Springs, FL


A super sub from Stans Subs. A sub masterpiece..

Stan’s Super Subs-26880 Old 41 Rd, Bonita Springs, FL 34135 10 am to 7 pm.  Closed Sunday (239) 992-9973-HOLY SHIT THE BEST SUB EVER.  Takeout only.


The springiest spring of Shangri La Springs

Shangri-La Springs– 27750 Old 41 Rd, Bonita Springs, FL 34135: (239) 949-0749-Spa, Hotel, wedding venue.  You can walk the grounds to see the Springs in Bonita Springs.

Everglades Wonder Gardens-The opposite of Shangri La, this 1936 attraction is old Florida Classic- 27180 Old 41 Rd, Bonita Springs, FL 34135  (239) 992-2591

Naples, Florida


Kelly’s Fish House Dining Room-1302 5th Ave S, Naples, FL 34102-Since 1952, serving local seafood with wood paneling & nautical themes. (239) 774-0494

Ochopee, Florida

Skunk Ape Headquarters-40904 Tamiami Trl E, Ochopee, Florida, FL 34141 (239) 695-2275-One mans mission to document the Skunk Ape, Floridas Sasquatch. (still here in 2023 but hard to research 6 bucks)

Sanibel Island, FL (Fort Myers)


Bubble Bread from the Bubble Room

The Bubble Room-1-239-472-5558  15001 Captiva Drive, Captiva FL 33924-0utrageous over the top restaurant that looks like its made of candy.  The menu is hysterical full of dishes like Marilyn Mignon and Duck Ellington and amazing desserts like the Orange Crunch Cake.  Bubble bread given on each table with is a cheese bread and monkey bread, which are cinnamon rolls. (note still recovering from a hurricane in 2023)
Mucky Duck Neighborhood Pub -11546 Andy Rosse Ln, Captiva, FL 33924 (239) 472-3434

Schnapper’s Hots- 1528 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL 33957 (239) 472-8686-Adorable hot dog and burger shack.-Great Onion Rings (temporarily closed for hurricane renovations)

The Keys

Live Music-Lorelei Restaurant & Cabana Bar – 96 Madeira Rd, Islamorada, FL 33036 (305) 664-2692

Key Largo, FL


Alabama Jacks – 58000 Card Sound Rd, Homestead, FL 33030  (305) 248-8741 open for lunch and only early dinner til 6:30  Conch Fritters and smoked fish spread, crab cakes.

Key West, FL

Here is a 2017 article on the best key lime pie in Key West.


Key Lime Inn– 725 Truman Ave, Key West, FL 33040: (305) 294-5229-150 dollars a night PLUS


The Sunshine Grill– 1110 White St, Key West, FL 33040 (305) 294-8089 Closed Tuesday and Wed at least in the summer.  Shrimp and Bacon club sandwich w avacado and Meatloaf.

Marathon, FL

Live Music-

The Hurricane Bar & Grille ?Located in: Blackfin Resort & Marina
Address: 4650 Overseas Hwy, Marathon, FL 33050 (305) 743-2220

Summerland Key, FL


Boondocks Grille & Draft House -27205 Overseas Hwy
Summerland Key, FL 33042 (305) 872-4094 Onion rings and conch fritters and the only Mini golf in the keys.