On the last weekend of September, I achieved the ultimate #selfcare badge and fled to Florida for a girls getaway with three mama friends. We abandoned household chores, work stressors, and soaked up the endless sunshine in our ocean side lounge.
Stay: Plunge Beach Hotel
At the end of July
At first encounter, the Plunge Beach Hotel staff left more customer service to be desired, but the chair assistants and bartender eventually warmed to our southern charm, or maybe it was the tipping.
The Island Building is located across a low-traffic road from the Beach Building [where we stayed]. This part of the hotel houses valet, check-in, beach cruisers, fitness center, gastro-pub, and coffee shop in addition to more rooms featuring partial ocean views.
OLL Accommodations Score:
8 out of 10
The price is unbeatable when considering the hotel location, proximity to the beach, complimentary lounge chairs and beach cruisers, in-room mini–fridge and free water bottles in the fitness center.
My biggest disappointment with the hotel, other than having to earn the staff’s affection, is the fact there was no coffee maker in the room, which means we were paying a minimum of $3 or more each morning for that caffeine fix.
Play: Nightlife and Attractions
Our first night in the city we hit the town around 6:00 p.m. Our first stop: Vinnie’s. My friend who I was traveling with had previously visited Lauderdale By The Sea last spring boasted about this restaurant and upon our arrival, it was clear the experience would not be the same. While the people-watching was at a premium, I’ve actually never been so entertained watching people cut a rug, the service was abysmal. We circled back to give Vinnie’s one more try on our last night only to have our disappointment confirmed. If you’re visiting the area, I would pass on over Vinnie’s and head to 101 Ocean.
Our experience at 101 Ocean was exceptional both of the evenings nights we saddled up to their bar. We crossed the street following the letdown at Vinnie’s and at last we were greeted by friendly Floridians. Whether it was the drinks, vibe or snapping pics with a patron’s pet parrot, our evening was officially on the rebound. While there was one encounter with the wait-staff that rubbed us rough, the overall vibe was congenial and worthy of our patronage.
Late-ish Saturday night, the kid-spirit inside of us came out to play inside Kilwin’s. We [okay, maybe it was just me] stocked up on candy, ice cream, and the most delicious cookie any of us had ever tasted. Kilwin’s conjured up sweet [pun intended] memories of my childhood spring breaks in Siesta Key and Boca Raton. This confectionery is Florida, and vacation, at its finest and makes even calorie-counting women giddy with indulgences.
OLL Nightlife Score:
6 out of 10
I would be lying if I said the poor service didn’t affect this rating, however, it is not the only reason for such a low score. While we were stunned by the irritable encounters [and even mentioned it to a few locals], we had pretty much played out of nightlife by the day 2. We closed out our first night with a hilarious trip with Publix, popcorn, and Bravo. Though we amped up the energy by Saturday, it was only to return to the same tried and true spots as the prior night.
The nightlife leaves much to be desired. We could have Uber-ed down to Fort Lauderdale,
Eat: Breakfast, Lunch + Dinner
And eat we did. The girls and I were all eggs in the AM and seafood by the PM. We asked for recommendations as we chatted with locals and staff which landed us in the sweetest brunch spot, 4th in line at a sub shop, and devouring best dang
- First Watch – okay, so it’s a chain, one I’ve eaten at a thousand times, but it was directly across from our hotel, next to Publix, and heck you just can’t beat their Tri-Athlete platter.
- El Mar Cafe – I absolutely adore this restaurant. The seating is limited but the service was outstanding. The charming restaurant is owned by a former server of 25 years and is clearly a passion project for all who work there. A homemade breakfast with a side of hospitality and chatting. In the 25 minutes we dined, the owner worked the register, seated tables, and chatted up customers as if they were walking into her home. A must eat spot.
- Backflip – Plunge Beach Hotel’s
ocean frontbar that doubles as a restaurant. We grabbed our first meal in LBS here upon arrival. I ordered the Spinach Salad with Chicken and couldn’t stop eating it while the waves crashed beside me.
- LaSpadas – This hoagie shop came highly recommended by a friend of our friend. Two of us ordered the Italian Fully Loaded on Wheat and the other half ordered the Turkey Fully Loaded on White. I thought the Turkey hoagie was delicious, but my partner in turkey-hoagie-heaven likened it to Jersey Mike’s. Our Italian Hoagie friends were unimpressed by the $8 sandwich, and after the bite I had, I can’t say I disagree.
Dinner By the Sea
- Aruba Beach Cafe – This place was a win for the sole fact that the service was finally friendly. We ordered, we split the meals, we split the check and we didn’t catch any side eye which was entirely different than Vinnie’s early in the evening. The menu featured basic bar-seafood you’d expect to find in a southern Florida beach town.
- Hot Leggz – Per our hotel
bartender’srecommendation, we headed over the intercoastal to this strip mall restaurant. I was skeptical upon entry, but we ordered drinks, fries and a devoured a bucket of crab legs in lightening speed. There were several laughs, some crab leg cuts, but you know a dinner is good when everyone is silently shoveling food in their bellies. So delicious, I can still almost taste it.
- SeaWatch – We classed it up on our last night and headed to SeaWatch on the Ocean. The view was beautiful, a pricier menu, and the drink menu was inundated with wine options. Their crab cakes were mostly crab which alone makes it a win. Traveler Tip: the servers feature their own specials which they share with their tables in hushed tones.
OLL Dining Score:
8 out of 10
Hot Leggz is carrying the full weight of this score. While the other dining locations didn’t disappoint, they hardly sent me home with a WOW factor. One fact we were all surprised to learn was that most of the seafood we enjoyed over the weekend was flown in fresh, but not local to LBS or even Florida. We expected that with the crab
OLL Overall Travel Score:
8 out of 10
Hours spent on the beach in our complimentary lounge chairs, sipping Corona Lights while sharing heartfelt conversations, swapping magazines, and resting made up 10x over for every “less than” interaction we had while in LBS. We all took to Facetime-ing our babies and the husband’s holding down the fort, laughing at the state of affairs back home and blowing kisses and “miss
Though I won’t be heading back to Lauderdale By The Sea, we all agreed our girls getaway would absolutely be a yearly tradition. Through our giggles, seafood platters and tropical drinks we started a bucket list of where we’ll head to next:
- Lake Michigan
- New York City
- Key West
- Southern Georgia
Got a city or recommendation? Leave it in the comments below!