Best Early Entertainment in Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale: The Ideal Fun Spot for Early Entertainment

Millions of visitors arrive at the very exciting and welcoming Venice of America, Fort Lauderdale, Florida and they're ready for a good time. While the party never really ends, many visitors wish to enjoy an early nightlife and be back by 10:00 p.m., whether they are here on business or with family, or just personal preference. Don't feel restricted. The best hotspots don't wait until 10 p.m. to get the party started; they begin welcoming guests at happy hour and the quality is not lessened. Fort Lauderdale and Broward County is home to over a million residents and these fortunate many have learned to balance a personal life of work and family while enjoying all the excitement offered in Fort Lauderdale without losing much sleep. One of the most popular places is YOLO (You Only Live Once). Located in Downtown, come on in as the sun comes down and enjoy a great cocktail and a meal and a very welcoming ambiance. Or if a bit of high-end shopping is on the agenda, plan it with a stop at Blue Martini. This is an ideal early-evening night out with the best Martinis and a dedicated crowd who can't this place a secret. To have a true Florida experience by grabbing a drink and something from the menu while watching the beach, go to the Aruba Beach Cafe in Lauderdale-By-The-Beach. With an almost playful atmosphere, it's the ideal place to watch the day wind down and enjoy.


Parrot Lounge
Photo courtesy of Stanley T. Bird, Jr.

Spend Happy Hour at this local favorite and enjoy their specials that are available everyday, all day, such as Svedka flavored vodkas for $4 or get a double for $6. For 43 years beachgoers and fun-seeking locals have gathered at the world famous Parrot Lounge, just steps from the Fort Lauderdale Beach. This landmark tavern is one of those places where everyone knows your name – or soon will – and its fun and festive atmosphere draw in a crowd who love a neighborhood bar and its welcoming vibe. Located on the sizzling corner of Sunrise Boulevard and A1A, the Parrot Lounge is nestled in what is appears to be its own little neighborhood, lined with older buildings and surrounded by gift shops and restaurants – almost a northeastern feel until you spot one of the swaying palm trees and feel the soothing tropical breeze.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Close to be the beach, historic hang-out as the sun goes down, and a close walk to many good hotels.

Dale's expert tip: Parking is paid here so be prepared.

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Manchester Room at Georgie's Alibi
Photo courtesy of Stanley T. Bird, Jr., Used by permission.

Located in the famous Georgie's Alibi, The Manchester Room is a classic addition which offers comfortable seating and a variety of shows, most notably by Fort Lauderdale's own Dame Edna. While Georgie's offers two bar areas, outside seating and a menu of sandwiches, salads and one famous award-winning hamburger, just dive in and meet the dedicated locals who stop here after work and can't be out too late, but know how to enjoy. Located in the famous city of Wilton Manors, just north of Downtown Fort Lauderdale, this place is a continual celebration of diversity every day of the week, and it is certain every evening sizzles.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Just a great atmosphere and shows and you don't have to be here all night.

Dale's expert tip: This place gets crowded so plan to stand shoulder-to-shoulder on weekends.

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Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Photo courtesy of Dale Mack

The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, just west of Downtown Fort Lauderdale, sizzles every night of the week. This is the place where people flock for classic entertainment, the finest dining venues, unique shopping, a superb hotel, and perhaps a little hope that their dreams will come true in this internationally-known entertainment powerhouse. While it is true that most people come for the glittering casinos and a chance at the big winnings, there's even more exciting things to do here, just ask any of the locals. This amazing multi-faceted entertainment complex houses some the area's best restaurants, a popular comedy club with some of the nation's top comedic names stopping through, the Hard Rock Live music venue, a few great bars and absolutely the best nightclubs.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Just fun, fun, fun in every direction, whether it's gambling, fine dining or the clubs, it's all right here – and still be home by 11:00.

Dale's expert tip: Plan to spend most of the evening here as there is so much to do and see.

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Aruba Beach Cafe
Photo courtesy of Aruba Beach Cafe

Proclaiming itself as One Happy Restaurant, Aruba Beach Cafe at One East Commercial Boulevard in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea has a great reputation not only as a restaurant, but a great place to enjoy Happy Hour every weekday (at bars only) Monday-Friday starting at 4 p.m. Picture it: Join your friends for a relaxing drink then enjoy seafood, large fresh salads, pastas and burgers then relax and feel the balmy breezes right off the ocean just steps away, and being in the company of those who enjoy a relaxing. Aruba Beach Cafe has been a favorite among the locals for many years, and they have perfected the art of service over the years, and they are the experts.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Balmy breezes, a great list of drinks, incredible menu right on the beach – what could be better?

Dale's expert tip: Take along your beach attire and spend some time on the sand after Happy Hour

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Funky Buddha Brewery
Photo courtesy of Dale Mack

This recently opened hotspot is located north of Downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and compliments this up and coming part of the city of Oakland Park, just off Dixie Highway and NE 38th Street (Park Lane East). The Funky Buddha Brewery & Lounge was founded in Boca Raton, Florida in 2010 and became known to the area for its commitment to producing bold craft beers that bring together culinary-inspired ingredients with time-honored technique, offering beers with big, bold flavors and made exactingly with natural ingredients. It is here where they still brew and it is at this location that is still their test kitchen for their more experimental brews.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: For beer lovers who like the start the party early, this Oakland Park attraction has gained quite a following.

Dale's expert tip: Plenty of free parking across the street!

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Downtowner Saloon & Steakhouse
Photo courtesy of

The Downtowner Saloon is a cozy place, of course, Downtown, that sits perfectly along the Middle River with amazing picture-perfect views of the glimmering high rises and a settling place to watch the impressive parade of yachts and boats that pass by and make Fort Lauderdale the special city that it is. This restaurant and bar offers not only an amazing menu of delectable steaks and seafood as well temping drinks, but also is a gathering place for live music lovers. Any night of the week is ideal for a getaway: Sundays offers a solo artist, Tuesday is trivia and DJ party, Wednesday and Fridays is DJ Booney Tunes, Thursdays brings the featured live band and Saturdays is the Best Live Blues banks with no cover charge. Come and enjoy!

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Nowhere else offers a true Downtown Fort Lauderdale experience, and right as the city calms for the night.

Dale's expert tip: Plenty of parking but you have to look carefully for the entrance off Andrews Avenue.

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Outside the Casablanca Cafe is a sign that says cars must stop for pedestrians. If you're the lucky pedestrian take it as an opportunity to look at this incredible piano bar and restaurant, housed in an authentic two-story Spanish home and offering favorite Mediterranean dishes in a lovely atmosphere. Moroccan lamps, stucco walls, dark wood and wrought iron accents adorn the interior, and a balcony full of satisfied patrons provide breathtaking views of the ocean as well as a front-row seat to this famous beach. Enjoy nightly live music, excellent wine and a limited food menu at the bar. Happy Hour is from 4-7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Now, don't just sit there; park the car and go enjoy yourself!Enjoy nightly live music, excellent wine and a limited food menu at the bar.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Great place to watch the evening descend on the Fort Lauderdale's beach with great drinks and menu.

Dale's expert tip: A great place to impress out-of-town friends or business associates.

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Blue Martini
Photo courtesy of Blue Martini Fort Lauderdale

Blue Martini has earned a reputation as a sleek and sophisticated gathering place for those who know a great thing when they find it. Weekday happy hours, nightly live bands and dancing make this sleek cocktail bar a winner. Try the bar's signature blue martini (a mix of vodka, Cointreau, blue curacao, sweet 'n sour mix and orange juice) or select your favorite martini from a menu of 14. An assortment of appetizers such as sushi, hummus, a steak sandwich martini, seared tuna and even chocolate cake satiate the hungry. Hang out on the outdoor patio, or if you're willing to pay the freight, sip a cocktail under the blue skylight in the VIP lounge. Located at the upscale Galleria, Blue Martini is a wonderful stop after hours, after shopping or for an exceptional night out.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: A lively and welcoming landmark with the best drinks and atmosphere and ideal for early evening.

Dale's expert tip: Make a day of it by shopping at the Galleria then a stroll here for a drink with friends.

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YOLO (You Only Live Once)
Photo courtesy of Dale Mack

You Only Live Once, and by this place's name YOLO, you can see why, especially at Happy Hour. It's hard to imagine that in just four short years the amazing Yolo has become the talk of the town. And that's a tough thing to do in Fort Lauderdale. But there is good reason why. Located on the very chic and elegant Las Olas, this beautifully designed night spot and eatery welcomes its patrons in its modern and comfortable setting and presents its delightful lunch menu consisting of delicious starters, soups, sandwiches and specials. And don't rush back to the office before trying their delectable desserts and topped off with your favorite coffee. And remember the restaurant's name is short for You Only Live Once, so enjoy! Happy Hour is M-F 4 p.m.-7 p.m.and $2 off all drinks at the main bar or O Lounge.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: A very popular destination for locals and visitors alike that is ideal for early evening relaxing and entertaining.

Dale's expert tip: Convenient for after-hours meeting from surrounding businesses.

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Meet Dale Mack

Dale Mack has been involved in Fort Lauderdale tourism and promotions for over twenty years. Working for Travelhost Magazine in Dallas, Texas, he was especially drawn to the edition...  More About Dale