After years of Fort Lauderdale being known as the spring break destination, the party has moved south to places like Miami and Cancun, Mexico. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit Fort Lauderdale anymore! If anything, Fort Lauderdale leans more towards sophistication and a mature, laid-back crowd now. You can enjoy a quieter vacation here.
Here’s what we recommend in Fort Lauderdale, Florida which includes where we stayed, where we ate and what activities we did!
Where to Stay
Tucked away in a quiet corner of Fort Lauderdale was our hotel, Sonesta. We were a few short steps from the beach and neighboring the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. There was more privacy at this end of the beach, since we were much farther from the other major resorts (i.e., the Hilton, the Marriott, the Atlantic, W Hotels, the Westin, etc). The only downside was our limited options in dining, which meant we sometimes had to walk 10-15 minutes for food. But hey, at least the walk was along the sandy beach.
Here is our room. Luckily, we were upgraded to the spacious Deluxe Ocean Curved King on the eleventh floor (second to the top) with an amazing view! Thank you, Sonesta!
When you get to Sonesta, you’ll notice that the building is oddly shaped like a boomerang! This allows all the guests, regardless of room number, to get an amazing panoramic view of the ocean and neighboring park.
Where to Eat
Primanti Bros is best known for their pizza and more importantly for layering french fries in their sandwiches—genius! Since this diner was right next to the hotel, we ate breakfast and lunch here. By the looks of it, we thought it was a mom and pop shop, but it turns out this place is a popular sandwich chain with their main locations in Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, their food was convenient and super affordable. Just remember to bring cash!
If you’re looking for fine dining (understandable), I would look elsewhere since Primanti Bros is the type of joint that you roll into while wearing your bathing suit. For fancier meals, you could walk about 10-15 minutes south, closer to the other resorts. Or pick from the restaurants lining Las Olas Boulevard, which we’ll mention further below!
What to Do
Surprisingly, there’s more to Fort Lauderdale than its beautiful beaches. It was easy to fill our vacation with the activities listed below.
Explore the waterway system via Water Taxi Tour
Fort Lauderdale is famously known as the Venice of America because of their canals and waterway system. Therefore, the best way to experience Fort Lauderdale is on the water! We bought an all-day pass with the Water Taxi and was able to hop on and off stops throughout the day. Each time, the guides were informative and taught us about the famous owners and history of several BEAUTIFUL mansions and mega-yachts.
Shop till you drop at Las Olas Boulevard
As a part of the water taxi tour, we stopped at Las Olas Boulevard, which is a mile long (1.6km) stretch of shops, restaurants, boutiques, art galleries and nightclubs. While we were there, we visited their local art studios. Although I have to admit, Fort Lauderdale’s art was not my style. There was an overwhelming amount of naked mermaids… Seriously, where were their seashell bras?! Nonetheless, there were tons of choices in restaurants and stores, as well as access to the historic Stranahan House and Riverwalk.
Relax on the smooth sands of Fort Lauderdale Beach
Finally, the main reason why you’re here, Fort Lauderdale Beach. Here you can enjoy the smooth sand and clear ocean water. Since we were staying at the northern end of the beach, it was more secluded. We ended up sharing the sand with flocks of well-behaved seagulls and sandpipers instead of people. As you know, I am a bird person, so it felt like paradise for me. Our hotel happened to provided only beach towels, but if you want more for the beach, there are cabanas that offer chairs, cushions, and umbrellas for a daily fee.
What did we miss?
If we were to do this vacation again, we would definitely venture out to see more of the town, as well as explore Miami and the Everglades National Park.
Here’s a list of more places within Fort Lauderdale that we didn’t cover, each with a link where you can get more information.
- Bonnet House
- Stranahan House
- Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
- Museum of Discovery and Science
- International Swimming Hall of Fame
- NSU Art Museum
- Antique Car Museum
- Broward Center for the Performing Arts
- Galleria Mall at Fort Lauderdale
We hope this guide gave you a gist of what Fort Lauderdale has to offer! Walking through their town center, Las Olas Boulevard, was interesting but relaxing at Fort Lauderdale Beach was our favorite part of the trip.