Once best known as a raucous and rowdy Spring Break destination, today Fort Lauderdale, Florida is friendly and diverse resort town with stretches of golden beach, chic restaurants and multi-million dollar yachts peppering the marinas and Intracoastal Canals. Brimming with swanky boutiques, art galleries and entertainment venues; the city is abuzz with creative minds and good time go-getters. The recent (and ongoing) rejuvenation has brought a major spotlight to the area, attracting flocks of tourists to this beachy, hip, sun-drenched city.
As the seat of Broward County in South Florida, Fort Lauderdale has over 60 official neighborhoods and several others without the city’s recognition (though they still show up on local maps). Fort Lauderdale Beach, otherwise known simply as “The Strip” is where route A1A meets the Atlantic Ocean and has become a Mecca for sun-worshipers and joggers who amble up and down the palm-fringed promenade. Well known spots like Beach Place and the Elbo Room (a local institution) help keep the old, nostalgic Fort Lauderdale alive, while the true gem of the city is downtown’s Las Olas Boulevard. This area is popular with both tourists and locals, and offers several blocks sprinkled with art galleries, posh boutiques, bars and hot-spot restaurants. In addition to annual community events like the Las Olas Wine & Food Festival in May and the Arts Festival in October, the area is home to several museums and public venues, such as the Museum of Art, Broward Center for the Performing Arts and the Museum of Discovery and Science.
Rivaled only by Miami in culinary conquests of South Florida, Fort Lauderdale covers all the bases when it comes to dining out. Ranging from al fresco spots on the waterfront, to quaint bistros, premier steakhouses and a plethora of the freshest seafood options available; the city’s 4,000-plus restaurants are sure to please any palate. Giant portions and fresh pasta are served up daily at Il Molino in addition to house specialties like seafood anelli and homemade cannolis for desert. The Blue Moon Fish Company offers guests Caribbean-inspired seafood dishes with panoramic views of the Intracoastal Canal, while carnivorous diners should head over to Shula’s on the Beach (part of the Westin Beach Resort) for upscale service paired with mouth-watering steaks that are enjoyed across the street from the Atlantic Ocean.
Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (FLL) is the city’s major airport as well as a low-cost carrier hub for airlines such as Spirit Air, Southwest and JetBlue. Located just two miles south of the downtown area, Fort Lauderdale International is the main domestic airport for the entire South Florida region. Other major airports in the area include: Miami International (MIA) and Palm Beach International (PBI). The most convenient way to navigate around Fort Lauderdale is by car. Every airport has access to several car rental companies, and whether staying local or traveling throughout Broward County, a car is the best way to get around. For visitors sticking around the city, Fort Lauderdale does have mass transit in the forms of a county bus system, Sun Trolley and commuter trail, Tri-Rail. For navigating through the Intracoastal, water taxis are an inexpensive and scenic way to get across town.
Clocking in over 3,000 hours of sunshine each year, Fort Lauderdale enjoys a warm and humid sub-tropical climate. The dry season is during the winter months (November – March) when some cold fronts can come in and make the temperatures drop to the low 70s. The hot and humid months of summer bring with it the rainy season, with warm tropical breezes blowing in from the Caribbean and the occasional hurricane touching down. With an average year-round temperature of 76º F (24º C), weather in the “Sunshine State” can be seen as nearly perfect. The best times to visit Fort Lauderdale are in winter and early spring, when the weather is warm, yet mild and hotel rates haven’t yet spiked.