By Courtney Clark  |

Since 1917, Fort Lauderdale has welcomed visitors and residents to the Las Olas Boulevard, a thoroughfare that connects to the beautiful Intracoastal waterway coast to downtown. The Boulevard has come a long way since then and now boasts many different restaurants, shopping destinations, clubs, museums, and more.

Las Olas has a unique ambiance. Medians, old fashioned lamp posts, and Black Olive trees with sparkling lights make the boulevard a perfect place to relax; and the palm trees and Mediterranean architecture create a captivating old-world charm. Yet the boulevard skillfully balances this atmosphere with modernity.

Most of the many shops are locally-owned and operated in what President of the Las Olas Association Luke Moorman refers to as “Specialty Retailing.” These fun shops are always carrying new merchandise that fits in with the eclectic yet sensible tastes of the owners. The owners typically shop at Market Weeks and take advantage of small designers and mills. As a result, shoppers are able to sport “Private Label” clothing rather than chain or franchise styles.

Friday Night Lights at Las Olas Boulevard Another way Las Olas balances the times is through its art museums. Moorman explains that some museums show “old world masters” while others display emerging artists. The boulevard even has the NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, a world-class museum whose displays are often changing. This way, visitors are able to observe new exhibits upon each visit.

Las Olas, which means “the waves” in Spanish, surely does make waves in Fort Lauderdale just with its vast array of dining and shopping options. However, the boulevard offers even more entertainment with the many events it hosts annually. Three major Art Fairs have been hosted here for about twenty-five years, and tens of thousands of people take this opportunity to see and meet famous artists and purchase artwork. Another big event, the Wine and Food Festival, benefits the American Lung Association in Florida. The festival takes up four city blocks and will feature food and wine from more than 70 restaurants.

2015 Art Show on Las Olas For those who want an unusual yet exciting experience, each year the boulevard hosts the ClueLess on Las Olas: a who-dun-it murder mystery that was inspired by the game Clue. Hundreds of sleuths come to read a mystery and search the boulevard shops and restaurants to find clues. Ultimately, the party ends with the final clue and participants attempting to solve the crime. Of course, Las Olas special occasions wouldn’t be complete without its annual Christmas on Las Olas tradition. Each year, the boulevard is briefly closed to vehicles and features choirs, performance stages, Santa’s Village, and Snow Mountain.

Las Olas Boulevard is a fantastic place to visit, whether people are touring or live in Fort Lauderdale. The entertainment options are almost endless, and changing merchandise and art keeps the boulevard fresh and relevant. The family-friendly thoroughfare is a must-see for anyone wanting to make waves.