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The best of Fort Lauderdale
The popularity of the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale is apparent in the city’s growth. As new residential high-rises and oceanfront hotels change the skyline, Fort Lauderdale looks less and less like a mini Miami and more like its twin sister—or, perhaps, even the favorite child. The city enjoys a slew of advantages: an international airport and cruise port within five miles of one another; a Virgin Trains station that travels to Miami or West Palm Beach in under 40 minutes; and more waterways than there are in Venice, Italy, which make Fort Lauderdale the yachting capital of the world and a natural host for the largest annual boat show. Even while boasting new and evolving restaurants by celebrity chefs, popular beaches and a burgeoning art scene in downtown pockets like FATVillage and the MASS District, the city’s best trait (at least for now) is that it’s still got a small-town vibe—where the barista knows your order when you walk in and the neighbor who takes her dog on walks every morning smiles at you as you duck into your car. But expansion and change are on the way, and by the time you finish experiencing all of the following things to do here, we’ll likely be working on the next list of all new and exciting places to explore.
Home to some of the most beautiful beaches in America, it is no surprise that the best restaurants in Fort Lauderdale shape their menus to cater to locals’ and visitors’ bikini needs. It’s not just about what diners are tasting, but also about how the food makes them feel. Many Floridian eateries are therefore responding with farm-to-table, organic and sustainable practices. And we’re here for it. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the traditional Latin American restaurants that South Florida is known for, those cooking up recipes that have been passed down through generations, are going anywhere. It is just not uncommon to see a vegan, non-GMO, totally organic joint nestled against a greasy Cuban sandwich joint, and maybe a fancy hotel? So, while tackling the best things to do in town, fuel up at these local joints, striking a culinary balance between diet and delight. Bon appetit!
Before the city’s warehouse district became the cooler, fresher, less posh version of Miami’s Wynwood, Fort Lauderdale was already highly regarded for its 23 miles of beaches and historical sights. Now, with the added bonus of great things to do like art walks, breweries and restaurants that might bring you into this Broward County city, you’re going to need a place to sleep when you visit. Luckily, there’s a great variety to choose from, in both number and style. From immaculate waterfront views and historical properties to burlesque mermaid shows and the freshest seafood you could ask for, Fort Lauderdale has a winning mix of hotels, inns and boutique spaces that should provide something for everyone, whatever your needs and budget. Here are our top picks from the range on offer.
Fort Lauderdale, once synonymous with spring break revelry, has shed its boozy reputation and matured into a chic beach destination, prized for its proximity to top Miami restaurants and hotels and, of course, treasured for its own outstanding beaches. With its shimmering blue-green waters, towering palm trees, a beachside promenade that's great for strolling and an onslaught of restaurants and things to do, you’ll find yourself somewhere between laid-back island time and the fast-pace of a thriving city. Depending on how you define beach bliss, each section of Fort Lauderdale offers its own unique personality. Here, we list the best places to sink your toes in the sands of Broward County. Ladies and gentlemen, enjoy the best beaches in Fort Lauderdale.
The gay scene in Miami Beach may be more famous, but Fort Lauderdale’s rising queer profile is nothing to scoff at. Not only does it have its own gay beach and a number of gay-friendly places to stay within its extensive selection of hotels, but the Fort Lauderdale LGBT nightlife scene plays second fiddle to no one. While the South Beach crowd is still waiting behind velvet ropes, Fort Lauderdale is ready for action, its clubs offering attitude-free cruising (sans VIP rooms). And while it may not sound like a sexy observation, parking is a whole lot easier in Fort Lauderdale, too. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale Bars, lounges and clubs Whatever kind of action you're after, you'll find it here, about a 45-minute drive from Miami. Fort Lauderdale caters to all kinds of gay visitors—circuit boys, leather queens, drag queens and older souls. Some of the city's hottest spots include Georgie's Alibi (2266 Wilton Dr, 954-565-2526), where men and women watch sports or relax on the patio; and Rosie's Bar and Grill (2449 Wilton Dr, 954-567-1320), a laid-back, indoor/outdoor bar and club.The leather crowd can find a mate in uniform at Ramrod (1508 NE 4th Ave, 954-763-8219); while bear hunters stalk their prey at Cubby Hole (823 N Federal Hwy, 954-728-9001); and country and western fans belly up to the bar, acting all butch and Brokeback Mountain, at Scandals Saloon (3073 NE 6th Ave, 954-567-2432).Dudes (3270 NE 33rd St, 954-568-7777) features strippers, as well as a loungey gay piano bar. Younger dancers congregate at Johnny's (1116 W Broward Blvd, 954-522-5931) to dance for an older crowd. If you want to skip the strippers and get some action yourself, Club (110 NW 5th Ave, 954-525-3344) is one of south Florida's most popular gay bath houses. Hotels and guest houses Fort Lauderdale is also south Florida's gay guesthouse capital. The formula goes something like this: clothing-optional pool and websites that promise naked Adonises (the reality is often more prosaic). Elysium (552 N Birch Rd, 954-564-9601, $109-$189 double) is the area's largest gay resort, but the most luxurious is arguably the Royal Palms (771 Breakers Ave, 954-564-6444, $139-$229 double) with lush gardens, tasteful rooms and a spa. The Flamingo Resort (2727 Terramar St, 954-561-4658, $150-$370 double), a boutique-style hotel, possesses a certain euro flair, with statue-filled gardens, fountains and four-poster beds; the Cabanas (2209 NE 26th St, 954-564-7764, $109-$395 double) is similarly tasteful, distinguished by its canalside location. Coconut Cove (3012 Granada St, 954-523-3226, $99-$289 double), meanwhile, is the closest resort to the gay beach and features gingerbread architecture and a 28-man jacuzzi. Schubert Resort (855 NE 20th Ave, 954-763-7434, $99-$169 double) serves up its raw flesh in a funky 1953 MiMo-style building; Windamar Beach Resort (543 Breakers Ave, 954-561-0039, $95-$169 double) bills itself as “clothing tolerated” rather than “optional”, while Alcazar (555 N Birch Rd, 954-567-2525, $110-$185 double) has not one but two “clothing-optional” pools.