Welcome to a city famous for its spring-break party scene. You’ll find beaches, yachts, mansions, museums and everything in between in Fort Lauderdale, Miami’s northern, laid-back sister city. From the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens to the Funky Buddha Brewery, here are the top places to go and things to see while you’re in the city.
You can’t visit Fort Lauderdale without planning a trip to the beach, and there are plenty of wonderful options to choose from – you’ve got Sunrise, Oakland Park, Las Olas and everything in between. But for the authentic Lauderdale beach experience, it would have to be the small town of Lauderdale by the Sea. Everything here is just a little bit more laid back and has a genuine feel of a small community that loves to live life simply by the ocean. Some great local restaurants to check out while you’re here include Blue Moon Fish Co., Keese’s Gourmet Mediterranean American and Aruba Beach Cafe.
This microbrewery in the town of Oakland Park started out as an idea to turn an empty warehouse into one of Fort Lauderdale’s most iconic hangouts. Funky Buddha is dedicated to creating new and bold flavors and is never scared to try something unexpected. Whether you get a pint of their flagship Hop Gun IPA or want to try a seasonal brew, such as the Maple Bacon Coffee Porter, you won’t be disappointed. There’s even a food menu, so you can snack while you enjoy your craft beer.
Broward Center for the Performing Arts is a large multi-venue theater and entertainment complex located in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale. Designed by award-winning architect Benjamin C. Thompson, the Broward Center is considered the cultural heart of Broward County. The City of Fort Lauderdale shows that it is truly committed to the development of the performing arts. There’s nothing like catching a popular show on a Friday night or a Sunday matinee to inspire your artistic spirit.
If you love both rap and ice cream but have previously found it hard to combine your two passions, you have a treat in store. Notorious Creamery was founded by Grammy-nominated rapper Tory Lanez and local lounge bar legend Bobby Velez, who also owns the popular spot Rhythm and Vine. Ice creams come in all shapes and sizes, including vegan options, and you can also try ice cream sandwiches (our pick), cookies, brownies and gigantic slices of cake. If you really need a sugar rush, try the milkshake that is topped with a slice of cake, which is so delicious that it should be illegal.
Taking a gondola ride? Super fun. Eating Asian fusion? One of our favorites. Combining the two? Well, now we’re getting somewhere. If you’re dining at popular restaurant Casa Sensei, you can book a tour with Riverside Gondola Tours to see the sights. Choose from a pre-dinner ride with an aperitif or have your dinner packed up to be eaten aboard. Up to six people can enjoy the ride. If you’re in the area at Christmas, the gondola ride is a fabulous way to enjoy the lavish Christmas lights in this area.
MASS stands for Music and Arts South of Sunrise [Boulevard], and that’s certainly what you get here. As the newest arts area of Flagler Village, the MASS district is stuffed full of cute boutiques, adorable food spots, tempting bars and fascinating galleries. Whether you end up taking a yoga class, buying some artwork or discovering a new favorite cocktail, you absolutely must end up at Glitch, a bar famous for both its craft beer and its large selection of classic arcade games, including Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Skee-Ball.
Did you ever believe in mermaids as a child? Did you never truly stop believing? Wreck Bar is the spot for you. More than 60 years old, this bar is a classic Floridian hangout – with mermaids that you might just believe are real. Spend more than $30 (£22) on food and drink, and the show is free. With shows with titles including Sirens and Sailors, Aqua Burlesque, and Mermaid and Mimosas Brunch, these mermaids can sometimes get a little bit naughty. But fear not; there are family-friendly shows on Friday and Saturday nights at 7pm. You might just get inspired to don a tail and live your very own high-sea fantasies.
Additional reporting by Alice Johnston.