Fort Lauderdale has a reputation that revolves mostly around spring break fun and college students, who party like the end of the world is approaching fast. However, the informed traveler knows to look past this “Where the Boys Are” misconception and discover everything the city has to offer. And, since Fort Lauderdale is reinventing itself, they will certainly be pleasantly surprised.
Spring break vibe vs. sophisticated ambiance
Fort Lauderdale is striving to let behind the shallowness of student parties and angles now for a certain chicness and sophistication. The target audience is definitely a more mature crowd that prefers jazz concerts and martinis. However, this doesn’t mean the “party all night long” fun is forbidden. Numerous bars and clubs along the promenade are still going strong.
It’s all about the beach and promenade
Fort Lauderdale is more than just its promenade, a wide pathway along a superb beach, palm-tree-dotted, invaded daily by walkers, bikers, runners and skaters. Sure, this is the beating heart of the city and admittedly the most beautiful area in Fort Lauderdale. The beach is one of the cleanest beaches in the USA, ideal for snorkeling, boating and diving. Here you will also find one of the busiest ports in the world – Port Everglades. The Venice-like waterways are the perfect background for long walks, and many top-notch restaurants and hotels await here.
All roads lead to Las Olas Boulevard
Often compared to Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles, Las Olas Boulevard is an impressive open air shopping mall that attracts tourist crowds in search of stores, restaurants and entertainment. It’s also the perfect destination for people-watching and admiring beautiful traditional Floridian homes, as well as glamorous mansions. From Las Olas Boulevard you can easily get to Riverwalk, a pedestrian-friendly road, as well as the New River on Avenue of the Arts.
Dare to step into the inland
Once you walk pass the borders of the promenade, the authentic Fort Lauderdale will surprise you with an interesting cultural mix. Stylish bungalows from 1920s await along Sailboat Bend, and so are many Brazilian and Jamaican restaurants.
Interesting museums under the Floridian sun
If you had enough of sun bathing and you’re in the mood for culture and history, then you will be happy to know that Fort Lauderdale houses fascinating museums. Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale and Museum of Discovery & Science are inspired choices for travelers of all ages. For a glimpse into the city’s history, visit the Bonnet House, once the residence of Frederic and Evelyn Bartlett, two notable artists and collectors. Stranhan House is also worthy of your attention, a beautiful example of Florida vernacular design, and one of the oldest homes in the state.
From ocean-view luxury rooms to studios
The best hotels in Fort Lauderdale just have to have ocean view rooms, otherwise why bother visiting this beach destination. As expected, these also are the priciest hotels in the city, beachfront luxury hotels demanding their fair share from your vacation budget. It’s up to you and your bank account if you want to stay at Atlantic Resort & Spa, Ritz-Carlton or Hilton Fort Lauderdale, and enjoy a royal treatment, or step into the inland and opt for more reasonable prices hotels. The best of them are located in the Hollywood Beach area. Ramada Hollywood Beach Resort or Marriott Hollywood Oceanfront are good options and you won’t have to break the bank for a room there. Families and budget travelers usually opt for studios and apartments.
Fort Liquordale is now Fork Lauderdale
Gone are the days where the staple food in Fort Lauderdale was beer. Fine and eclectic cuisine awaits in Greater Fort Lauderdale, some of the best restaurants in the country being found under the patronage of luxury hotels or along the promenade and Las Olas Boulevard. After all there are over 4,000 dining establishments in Broward County, so you will definitely find a favorite American, Asian, European or Central and South American restaurant. Tropical food, as well as seafood are among the favorites of first-time visitors.
300-in-1 shopping experiences
While Fort Lauderdale is not exactly a shopping destination like New York, London and Paris, not even close, we might add, it’s still the shopping center of Florida. Most shopaholics rendez-vous at Sawgrass Mills, an outlet mall that houses over 300 shops, being the largest in the state. However, there are many other malls and shopping centers in the city, like Pompano Citi Centre and The Galleria. If designer shops are what you’re looking for, head to Riverwalk and, of course, Las Olas Boulevard. Vintage and antique shops are to be found on Dania Antique Row, in Dania Beach, or at Swap Shop.