While Miami often hits the headlines when it comes to tourism in South Florida, Fort Lauderdale offers an alternative take on a Florida vacation. Blessed with gorgeous beaches and year-round sunshine, as well as some of the most high end boutiques and premium malls in the state, Fort Lauderdale is a seriously luxe travel option.
With one of the largest cruise ports in the world it is the best spot for a last minute cruise from Florida, and it offers all of the elegance and excitement of Miami without the heavy traffic and droves of spring breakers. Here’s why Fort Lauderdale hits all the right buttons when it comes to luxury travel in Florida.
Fort Lauderdale offers clear, calm waters and gorgeous long stretches of golden sand. The beaches around the city are easy rivals to those in Miami, but come without the raucous party atmosphere and large crowds. This makes catching rays and enjoying the warm waters a more relaxing experience.
Fort Lauderdale Beach itself is exquisite, shaded by a row of tall pine trees and lined with shops, bars and restaurants. The atmosphere here is quite lively, so if you are after a more tranquil experience then the picture-perfect vistas of Las Olas might be more to your liking. There are still plenty of options for refreshment and enjoyment, but the vibe is far more laid-back. If you time it right you might even be able to catch the sea turtles who return to nest in this beautiful corner of the Sunshine State.
Fort Lauderdale boasts all the glamorous, high end shopping options of Miami, with the extra added bonus of a seriously hip, alternative selection of boutiques and independent stores. Las Olas Boulevard is full of quirky, interesting and unique stores which offer a wonderfully creative and alternative shopping experience, and take you far beyond the mainstream retail options.
Grab a coffee and browse South Moon Under for something to wear to the beach. Step into Moda Mario for Ft. Lauderdale’s best bespoke apparel, or check out the high end Florida fashion at Maus and Hoffman. The best thing about shopping on Las Olas is that you are right in the heart of the Fort Lauderdale action.
Drinking and dining
Fort Lauderdale has a sophisticated and exciting dining scene, with some wonderful high end restaurants and a selection of excellent trendy eateries. It is also a serious destination for craft beer lovers, with an ever-expanding range of artisan breweries throughout the city.
Chef Dean Max is generally regarded as having put Fort Lauderdale on the culinary map, and his 3030 Ocean and Even Keel Fish & Oyster restaurants are truly spectacular. For an even higher class experience, try Dune at the Auberge Beach Residence & Spa, a new venture from the team behind the Michelin-starred Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley.
Fort Lauderdale also boasts some of the best Mexican food in Florida, with upscale spots like El Vez rubbing shoulders with the more laid-back joints like El Camino and The Drunken Taco.
Fort Lauderdale’s beer revolution has made it one of the centres of craft brewing in the US, and no visit to the city would be complete without exploring the exciting beer culture. Funky Buddha Brewery in Boca Raton brought the spotlight to the area, and now spots like Flagler Village Brewery, Bangin’ Banjo Brewing and the 26° Brewing Company are all well worth visiting.
Style, fashion and elegance
While the fashion vibe in Miami is very much boardshorts, flip-flops and a world of constant Spring Break, Fort Lauderdale rocks a rather more refined style. Fashionable locals on Las Olas Boulevard are far more likely to be found in a sharply tailored suit or mirroring the latest fashion trends than in their best beach gear.
Downtown Fort Lauderdale is a deeply cosmopolitan neighborhood, filled with a buzzing combination of cool young hipsters, smart business moguls and luxury travellers. Las Olas Isles, by contrast, is a scattering of peapod islands filled with mega mansions and glamorous yachts that exudes opulence and luxury. While even the most elegant of travellers might struggle to get an invite, there are boat tours for the curious which offer a peek into another kind of lifestyle.
Fort Lauderdale is full of independent galleries and excellent museums, which make it somewhat of a cultural hub in South Florida. Las Olas Boulevard and East Oakland Park Boulevard boast a great selection of fascinating art galleries like New River Fine Art and the Artblend Gallery. The Museum of Discovery and Science is a great place for both kids and adults to broaden their minds, while historic spots like the Stranahan House are great for history buffs. Finally the Broward Center for the Performing Arts is a wonderful spot for theater, dance, classical music and opera, and is widely regarded as the cultural heart of Broward County.