This Fort Lauderdale travel guide shows off all the hidden gems of this sunny Florida town! Check out where to eat, drink, shop, swim and visit on your next vacation.
I’m excited to welcome Amy with today’s Fort Lauderdale Travel Guide!
It’s got sun. It’s got sand. And its warm temperatures ensure everyone will be able to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle year-round. Fort Lauderdale has it all, and then some.
The “Venice of America” is located on the east coast of South Florida, just north of Miami and slightly south of Delray Beach and Boca Raton. It has all the elements of a classic beach town, mixed together with a touch of luxury. It’s affluent, but not stuffy. A party place, but not sleezy. In short, somewhere pretty much anyone can enjoy no matter their tastes.
I grew up in South Florida, roughly an hour and a half north of Fort Lauderdale. I recently moved to the city and set myself up right in the heart of downtown. I’ve been hard at work scouring the neighborhoods, and discovering the absolute best local spots eat, drink, shop and soak in the pulse of this vibrant city.
Click through to see Amy’s Fort Lauderdale favorites.
Royal Pig Pub is no smokey dive bar type pub. Located downtown on the upscale end of Las Olas Boulevard, the Royal Pig Pub has raised the standards for typical pub fare. The menu is a mix of classic dishes and more creative offerings. I like to build my own burger, with brie cheese, guacamole and bacon. It’s messy, but oh so good. Their craft beer and cocktail menu is impressive as well.
Right across the street from the Royal Pig is another of my favorites — YOLO, a contemporary American restaurant. It’s popular with the business set during the lunch hour, and the dressed-up, classy crowd as cocktail hour sets in. It’s very reasonably priced, and has a great outdoor patio space. They also do a great brunch, including $15 bottomless mimosas and bloody marys.
Slightly south of Las Olas is Tap 42. If you haven’t already guessed from the name, this place specializes in craft beer. It’s a gastropub, and again the menu is a mix of classics and creative dishes. They have great burgers as well – my favorite is the Drunken Goat with lamb and beef, whipped goat cheese, arugula, tomato, onion, dijonnaise and Purple Haze raspberry jam.They also do brunch drink deals on weekends.
Ocean 2000 is where you go for a classy, upscale meal with a gorgeous view. It’s located in the Pelican Grand Beach Resort, and sits right on the beach. The terrace offers outdoor dining and views of the Atlantic Ocean. The menu is fresh and includes several seafood dishes, taking inspiration from its location.
American Social is an upscale sports bar in some ways, and a beer drinkers paradise in others. They offer a huge selection of beers, including several self-serve beer tap tables. There’s plenty of televisions, but they aren’t the main draw. It’s the atmosphere and energy that make this place so popular. They have a fairly large menu as well.
Nacho Bizness — This popular food truck serves tacos and other Mexican-inspired cuisine from a permanent spot in Bubier Park along New River. It sits along the Riverwalk, right near an area with loads of benches and picnic tables and a few other food trucks. It’s a really great area to grab a bite and spend an hour or so watching the boats go by.
The Riverwalk is a path that runs along the New River. There are loads of cafes, restaurants and parks along the route, and is extremely popular with runners an walkers. They also offer segway tours of Fort Lauderdale from this area and host events throughout the year.
Jungle Queen Riverboat Tours — Given all the canals and waterways in Fort Lauderdale, no trip here would be complete without some sort of boat tour. The Jungle Queen is a collection of riverboats that look like the old steamboats that went up and down the Mississippi River. They offer morning, afternoon and evening cruises, as well as dinner and a show option.
One of the biggest attractions for the area, Fort Lauderdale Beach is everything you could ever want in a beachside destination. It has dingy dive bars and luxury hotels, tourist shops and upscale boutiques. And every single one of these spots has clears views of the beach and ocean. The one drawback is that it gets crowded, but that’s a testament to its popularity.
Broward BCycle – Fort Lauderdale is one of the few cities in Florida that I know of where bicycling for transportation is a viable option. The drivers are used to seeing them, and the main attractions are all really within a pretty small radius. The Broward BCycle bike sharing program allows you to rent bikes at stations throughout the area, and then drop them off at another station whenever you’re done. How cool is that?
Water Taxi — Again, if you’e not on the water in Fort Lauderdale, you’re only doing it halfway. Here the best way to get around is not only by car, but by boat. The water taxi systems covers much of the city, and takes you south to Hollywood and north towards Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. It’s a pretty unique way to explore.
The Galleria Mall is the main shopping mall in Fort Lauderdale, and has all the staples. It’s a older mall, but still attracts the big name, more upscale vendors. They have more than a few better dining options as well so you’er not stuck with typical food court chains.
Lilac and Lillies Boutique — This women’s fashion boutique carries the latest styles and designers. They focus on curating quality items at a range of price points, so they’re not just catering to the ultra-wealthy.
Las Olas Boulevard is the most famous street in Fort Lauderdale, and the main shopping street. It has upscale boutiques of all varieties mixed in with cute cafes and restaurants. Most of the shopping is east of the city center.
Gallery at Beach Place is an open-air shopping mall next to the beach. It has a mix of shops and restaurants, mostly with a beachy feel, as you would expect given its location. It’s pretty popular among beach vacationers, especially at night.
30 minutes: Miami — The city of Miami is only about 30 minutes or so south on I-95, depending on traffic. Miami is larger than Fort Lauderdale, so has a wider variety of options. The best city areas are Brickell downtown and the Miami Design District. As you head to the coast you’ll get to the Art Deco District, South Beach and Miami Beach.
30 minutes: Delray Beach — Delray Beach is smaller than Fort Lauderdale, but still packs a punch. Its popular Atlantic Avenue marks the downtown area and has loads of great shops, restaurants and bars. It’s beach is beautiful as well, and is less than an hour away from Fort Lauderdale.
1 hour, 30 minutes: Everglades National Park — Though the Everglades has been damaged by human development, there is still a huge area of preserved parkland that make up the Everglades National Park. You’ll need a car to drive through, but once there you can stop at various points and hike around, do airboat tours and see what the “real” South Florida is like.
4 hours: The Florida Keys — The Florida Keys are a string of islands trailing south of Miami. They are each unique and beautiful in their own right, and the drive down over all the bridges that connect them is consistently mentioned in top American road trip collections. Key West is the farthest island and takes about 4 hours to drive to, but it’s worth the trip.
Amy Lynne Hayes is a freelance writer best known for her absolute refusal to stay put in one place for long. As editor of travel blog Créatrice Mondial, her driving force is to unite those who share her passion for pushing the boundaries and creating a life on their own terms. When not jetting off to some destination, Amy would most likely be found drinking French wine on a terrace, planning her next great adventure. She currently calls Fort Lauderdale, Florida the closest thing she has to a permanent address.