Fort Lauderdale is hot right now – and I’m not just talking about the balmy weather on those picture-perfect beaches. Just take a look at the skyline and you’ll see nearly a dozen construction cranes transforming the city – new restaurants, new hotels and new things to do.
What to Do in Fort Lauderdale When You Have a Day – Here’s a round-up of some of the top experiences to enjoy all in one day.
Let’s begin and end the journey on famous Las Olas Boulevard, the heart of the burgeoning downtown dining and entertainment district. And it’s located just steps away from Fort Lauderdale’s Brightline station. All food-savy locals know that any hip eatery by Tim Petrillo’s The Restaurant People is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. His new diner Java & Jam is a great place to kick-start the day. While there, fuel up with a cup of joe sourced from local roaster Wells Coffee Company and order a bagel baked fresh daily from Family Bagels of Long Island in nearby Cooper City.
After breakfast, stroll down tree-lined Las Olas and admire the wide variety of art galleries and fashion boutiques. The boulevard stretches from NSU Art Museum of Fort Lauderdale – a must-visit institution with 6,000-plus artworks, including the country’s largest collection of 19th and early 20th century paintings by American realist Willam Glackens – and continues all the way to A1A and the beach. Explore by foot or hop on the Water Taxi, a scenic way to scope out the yachts, mansions and bevy of eclectic bars that line the waterways.
For lunch with a spectacular ocean view, head to El Vez, a new Mexican eatery by restaurateur extraordinaire Stephen Starr. Think Baja-style dishes like delectable fish tacos and three kinds of guacamole. There’s also more than 60 different kinds of tequila, so whether you shoot it or mix it into a made-from-scratch margarita, it’s sure to go down smooth. Then, either roll out your beach towel and soak up some rays on the sugary sand, or find a good shady spot under a palm tree to embark on one of the best tried and true activities along A1A people watching.
Shop, Dine, Stay, and Play on Las Olas Boulevard
As day fades into night, the scene continues to heat up and you can take your pick from a long list of great new restaurants and bars. If you opt to stay on the beach, head to the luxurious new Auberge Beach Residences and Spa, where DUNE executive chef Edgar Beas will whip up fresh organic ingredients and locally sourced seafood. The ocean views are stunning.
Or trek back into the urban heart of downtown for some rooftop barhopping during sunset. Check out Rooftop @ 1WLO, another great concept from The Restaurant People. And Sparrow, the just-opened rooftop bar perched above The Dalmar hotel, has craft cocktails and killer views. After pre-dinner drinks, dine at the Dalmar’s new Terrace Grill, a classic American restaurant concept by executive chef Craig McNeil.
Make Las Olas Boulevard Your Next Stop – “One Mile of Style”
If you’re in the mood for Pan-Asian Latin fusion for dinner, Casa Sensi offers a delicious combo dim sum, sushi and Thai dishes. Keeping with the ethnic cuisine theme, ETARU‘s newest outpost on Las Olas features Japanese robatayaki dishes in a chic setting.
Top the night off with a concert at Revolution Live, a stylish music venue known for its great indie acts and rock bands. You might recognize it from the movie Rock of Ages. And the best part is that venue is just steps away from the Brightline station. So kick back after a perfect day in Fort Lauderdale and let the train drive you home. Then plan another adventure for next weekend. Click here to explore Las Olas