42 reasons Fort Lauderdale should be your next getaway

Fort Lauderdale

With 165 miles of waterway, Fort Lauderdale has been named the “Venice of America” (and just sayin’, Venice in Italy only has 26 miles of canals…). Check out all of our reasons to visit this coastal city below.

 

Fort Lauderdale Beach

 

What to See

  1. Bonnet House. A historic home from the 1920’s, Bonnet House is now a museum dedicated to historic & environmental preservation, as well as learning & creative expression.
  2. Museum of Discovery & Science. Hundreds of interactive exhibits that will keep you entertained for hours. Ever wondered what it’s like to experience hurricane-force winds first hand? Or wanted to take a 7D ride to Mars? Great for kids and parents alike.
  3. Antique Car Museum. A car-lover’s dream. The museum has the largest collection of Packard cars & memorabilia from 1900 on so spend time gawking at the fully-restored models and strolling throughout the 30,000 square foot museum.
  4. Stranahan House. The city’s oldest surviving structure, the Stranahan House was built in 1901 by Frank Stranahan, Fort Lauderdale’s founding father. Take the one-hour guided tour and learn not only about the house’s history, but also that of Fort Lauderdale.
  5. Broward Center of Performing Arts. Catch a musical or theatrical production at the Broward Center.

 

Bonnet House

Bonnet House – photo via @rachelarenatravel

What to Do

  1. Sunbathe at Fort Lauderdale Beach. You don’t come to Fort Lauderdale without hitting the beach. The beaches are just as beautiful as those in Miami but lack the Spring Breakers crowd.
  2. Check out the Everglades.
    • One of the best ways to see the Everglades is by airboat. In a 30-minute tour, you’ll cruise at up to 35-mph across the swamp while learning a bit of history. And after, be sure to check out the Reptile Exhibit (where you can hold a baby alligator) & the Exotic Wildlife Exhibit.
    • Want to beat the heat of the day? Catch a night tour. Skim across the smooth water listening to your guide’s tales of the region’s past, while keeping your eyes peeled for the many nocturnal animals. Let’s hope the gators are friendly.

 

Everglades Airboat Tour

Everglades Airboat Tour

 

  1. Take a pub tour…on a bike. With a Cycle Party Pub Tour, you can get a workout and try out some of the best local watering holes. You’ll help pedal this 15-person quadricycle from bar to bar while taking relaxing breaks in between.
  2. Hop on the Water Taxi. As there are so many waterways, taking the Water Taxi can be both a great way to get around as well as one of the best ways to see the city (it includes 20 stops all over town). A one-day pass will get you access for the entire day so you can hop-on / hop-off at your leisure.
  3. Catch an awesome city view at the W Fort Lauderdale Want one of the best views in town? Head to WET at the W. WET East has a lively vibe featuring poolside cocktails, weekend DJs, and bottle service. WET West on the other hand, with its awesome intracoastal views, is perfect for settling down to watch the sunset.
  4. Spa Day at the Hyde Resort & Residences. Greek-theme & organic, made-to-order beauty products this is a must for a day of pampering.
  5. Go shopping
    • Las Olas Boulevard. Some consider Las Olas Blvd the center of Fort Lauderdale so you definitely want to make a stop. And, with all the shops, bars, nightclubs, eateries, & art galleries, the “Riverfront” will keep you entertained for hours.
    • Sawgrass Mills. If you’re looking for an even wider array of stores (more than 350), head out to the Sawgrass Mills, the largest outlet & value retail shopping destination in the US.
  1. Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. Right in the heart of the city, Birch State Park is a massive (180-acre) oasis from city-life. Bike, kayak, picnic, swim and more without having to drive outside the city. Want a tour? Jump on a Segway.
  2. Head outside and try some water sports. Options are plentiful to rent SUPs, kayaks, catamarans, and more. Just be sure to apply plenty of SPF.

 

Kayaking the channels

Kayaking the channels

 

  1. Looking to try your luck? Check out the Seminole Hard Rock Casino. Gambling, food, and lots of people-watching.
  2. Go out:
    • Spend a chill night at Juniper on the Water. Watch the boats cruise by on the outdoor patio while sipping on cocktails.
    • Catch a concert at The Culture Room – an off-the-beaten-path concert venue with a more independent feel than some of the larger options. The fact that it’s small only means that everyone gets an awesome view.
    • Dance the night away at America’s Backyard. An outdoor venue that is part backyard BBQ (they actually do have dogs on the grill) and part dance club.
    • Elbo Room. This dive bar has beach views, live music and plenty of dancing. Hot top: it’s cash only so bring your greenbacks.

 

Nighttime Airboat Tour

Nighttime Airboat Tour

 

Where to Eat

Fort Lauderdale’s restaurants feature a range of cuisines but the seafood really can’t be beat. Here are some of our faves:

  1. Louie Bossi’s. This Italian restaurant is great for dinner but also has an awesome brunch. Unlimited mimosas, bloody mary’s, & bellinis? Check.
  2. Lemongrass Asian Bistro. Trendy restaurant serving Asian fusion dishes. Try the Hawaiian Dancer: sautéed scallops & chicken with pineapple & various veggies covered in tamarind sauce.
  3. Coconuts. A great seafood restaurant overlooking the water. Get the Scoobies (snow crab legs drenched in garlic butter sauce, with a side of bread). Also, this place can get a wait so plan ahead.
  4. Bay Bays Chicken & Waffles. Tender moist chicken breasts with perfectly crispy spiced crust. Plus waffles. You really can’t go wrong here.
  5. Canyon. One of the city’s most popular restaurant’s, Canyon deserves the praise. The food is a mix of Asian, South & Central American influences so come with your taste buds prepared to be wowed. Start your meal off with Tuna Tartare (which comes with crispy yucca chips & wasabi cream) and definitely have one (or two) of their signature Prickly Pear Margaritas.
  6. Rocco’s Tacos. Guacamole made fresh at your table—need we say more?
  7. Casablanca Café. Featuring outdoor seating and an array of fresh seafood, Casablanca is the perfect end to a day at the beach. The Crab Crusted Mahi Mahi (pan-roasted and served with whipped potatoes, veggies, & lobster sauce) is a local favorite.
  8. Le Tub. This well-known burger joint (it’s been lauded by Esquire, Oprah, and more) is well worth it. You’re definitely going to want to order the burger.
  9. Tatiana’s. If you’re a fan of dinner & a movie, you’ll love Tatiana’s. Enjoy your European-influenced meal while watching a Russian cabaret show with acrobatic performances, gypsy dancing, and other acts.
  10. Mai-Kai Restaurant. Another dinner theater-style restaurant, Mai-Kai serves up flavorful Polynesian fare alongside fire & knife dancers. Plus, a menu of over 50 tropical cocktails. Hot tip: happy hour is opening until 7pm and gets you 50% off appetizers & a lot of drinks.

 

Mai-Kai Restaurant & Polynesian Show

Mai-Kai Restaurant & Polynesian Show

 

Happy Hour:

  1. GG’s Waterfront – happy hour gets you a great bang for your buck. Everything is good here but do yourself a favor and order the fried oysters.
  2. YOLO. Great people-watching, great food, great prices. Go to YOLO for happy hour and you won’t be disappointed. For drinks, consider the martini flight (3 different flavors). And as an app, don’t miss the Szechuan calamari.
  3. Bull Market. Who can say no to 2 for 1 happy hour drinks? Plus, Bull Market’s Captain Crunch Chicken Fingers (yes, they’re coated in the sugary cereal) are finger-lickin’ good.

 

Where to Drink

Coffee:

  1. Warsaw Coffee. This industrial-style coffee shop serves up handcrafted drinks made with Counter Culture coffee and both sweet & savory bites. Get a cold brew and one of their homemade pop-tarts (way better than the ones you remember from childhood).
  2. The Alchemist. The ambience at Alchemist is unbeatable. Lovingly-served cold brew in mason jars, a back patio that would be right at home at your grandmother’s and a menu full of fresh, healthy fare. Feeling adventurous? Try their Bulletproof Coffee—coffee with coconut oil & ghee.
  3. BREW Urban Café. Grab a comfy chair and a latte and spend a little time in this cozy café. Plus, they regular host special events on the weekends with a full bar, food trucks, and more.

 

The Alchemist – photo via @jenna_129

 

Beer, Wine, Cocktails:

  1. Funky Buddha Brewery. Come hang out at this after-work favorite and grab a flight of beer (4 for $9). Make sure you add the Maple Bacon Coffee Porter to your order (it was named number one porter in the world by ratebeer.com).
  2. Himmarshee Public House. Right on Las Olas, the Public House is in the middle of Fort Lauderdale’s action. And with half-off drinks for happy hour, you’ll get more than your money’s worth. Try the sweet but spicy jalapeño margarita along with the warm pretzel bites.
  3. Royal Pig Pub. Good brews & good bites. Come to this gastropub for the drinks (large selection of craft beers, signature cocktails, etc) and stay for the food (parmesean truffle fries anyone?).
  4. McSorley’s Beach Pub. This bar is right off the beach so once you’ve tired of the sun, hop on in for a pick-me-up. Post up on the rooftop and cool down with an ice-cold beer.

 

Drinks on the beach

 

Where to Stay

  1. Diplomat Beach Resort Hollywood. The iconic resort recently went through a $100 million renovation. With multiple pools, restaurants, plenty of amenities, and beachfront views, you’ll never be bored.

 

  • Neighborhoods:

 

 

Tips for your stay?

  • To avoid the heat of summer, the best time to visit is October-May.
  • Using a taxi or a ride-share are the easiest ways to get around. But parking is not as bad as Miami so consider renting a car. Or try the trolley.

 

Fort Lauderdale beach lifeguard tower at sunrise

 

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