Fort Lauderdale may come in as the smaller south Florida city when it’s compared to Miami, but this cultural hub is pulsing with an array of museums, galleries, shopping, casinos and its fair share of mangrove-covered parks. Read our guide to the must-visit attractions while in the city.
Get an adrenaline rush with a full-speed boat ride through the swamps of the Everglades. Just a short drive from Downtown, the tour offers a look at the national park that boasts a lush ecosystem and beautiful scenery. You’ll experience up-close encounters with Florida wild birds, alligators, and, if you’re lucky, the Florida panther. Thrilling yet safe and comfortable, there’s really no better way to see Florida than from a boat.
Take a dip in the warm waters of the Atlantic Coast. Go roller-skating along the winding sidewalk. Go souvenir shopping along the boulevard, or enjoy some waterfront dining. Fort Lauderdale Beach is too stunning to pass up. This strip of sand is the place to see and be seen, so don’t forget to take a stroll down the beachfront promenade. Otherwise, one of the many hotels such as The Westin, the W and The Ritz-Carlton offer an ideal place to grab a cocktail and relax.
Just along the banks of the New River, the Riverwalk snakes through rows of sprawling mansions, the Stranahan House as well as numerous bars and restaurants, making for a fun night out in Downtown Fort Lauderdale. With many calendar attractions such as runs, jazz brunches, dog training, photography classes and bicycle tours, it’s a vibrant part of the community and is a great way to spend a weekend afternoon.
So many musical greats died at age 27 that there’s a whole bar in Florida dedicated to them. When you enter this restored warehouse in Flagler Village you’ll see Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix and many others painted onto the wall in pop-art style. Inside, there’s a ceiling lined with black and white photos of musicians and stars and a spacious outdoor patio that comes equipped with retro games such as Connect Four. The beer on tap is delicious and you get to drink in while basking in the knowledge that you’re amongst rock and roll royalty.
The owner of this coffee shop might turn a few heads – he’s former Miami Dolphins player Stephen Tulloc. But that’s not the only reason this coffee place is great. Along with a drive-through window to pick up your brew, it has an eye-catching mural on the exterior. Inside, there’s a magical machine which can print anything you want onto your morning cappuccino, from your cat’s portrait to a selfie to the logo of your workplace. Plenty of seating, board games to borrow and a lovely patio complete the picture.
Despite the slightly obscure name, the local artists, cool hangout spots, bars and coffee shops at FATVillage make it definitely worth visiting. Lots of artists rent studio and gallery space here, giving it a bohemian, interesting vibe. There are also lots of experimental events and exhibits going on at any one time, and any doorway or hidden bookshelf might lead to a pop-up bar. No matter which corner you turn, you’ll find something buzzing going on.
If you can’t get to Cuba, the next best thing is to eat Cuban food. This brightly coloured shack has been around since the 1970s and they really know their way around a Cuban sandwich. Also on the menu are midnight sandwiches and steak sandwiches, plantains and ropa vieja. Colourful artworks, Cuban flags and a fun atmosphere make this an ideal place to hang out for an hour and grab some tasty lunch. There’s nothing Florida does better than eating in the sun then kicking back and watching the clouds for a while.
The Yard is anything you want it to be. Found on Northeast 13th Avenue, you can check out the antique store, shop for vintage dresses, pick up some artisanal soap and fresh flowers – and that’s before you even have a chance to get hungry. To a French crepe from The Wander Shop Coffee, to a cold brew from The Alchemist to other food and drinks from Voo La Voo Café and La Frutera Garden Bar, you’ll never run short of things to do, eat and drink.
Additional reporting by Alice Johnston