Ten things you must do in Fort Lauderdale
Whether you are taking a Caribbean cruise out of Port Everglades, vacationing along the Fort Lauderdale beach or exploring the cultural side of this South Florida city, you may be looking for things to do and places to eat during your stay.
I visited the Fort Lauderdale area in May 2014, and I’ve compiled a list of 10 things I did during my trip. Of course, there are other attractions and restaurants not listed here, but everything on this list has been tried by yours truly, earning the Where Erin Goes stamp of approval.
For more travel tips for visiting Florida and beyond, visit my new travel and lifestyle blog, The Epicurean Traveler!
1. Sunbathe on the beach
On a sunny day, the beach is the place to be. Walk along the palm-tree lined boardwalk, grab an ice cold drink at one of the kitschy beachfront bars, people watch and soak in that South Florida sunshine.
Travel tip: Even if you think you tan well or the sun is hidden behind the clouds, WEAR SUNSCREEN!
2. Share sangria and guacamole with friends at Rocco’s Tacos
Order tacos a la carte to try different varieties — slow roasted pork, mushrooms, chorizo or shrimp — and fresh guacamole prepared tableside at this casually chic Mexican restaurant on Las Olas Boulevard. Or, just split a pitcher of the delicious sangria with a friend at the bar! Afterwards, take a stroll down Las Olas to check out the trendy shops and hip art galleries.
Travel Tip: Parking is valet, so have some small bills ready to tip your valet.
3. Cruise the Intracoastal Waterway
Fort Lauderdale is known as the Venice of America, so go exploring the canals of the Intracoastal Waterway. Some ways to do this: sightseeing from the Jungle Queen Riverboat, seeing Fort Lauderdale by land and sea with Duck Tours, sailing a pirate ship with Bluefoot Pirate Family Adventures, seeing the homes of the rich and famous from the Carrie B, bar hopping by taking the Water Taxi, or convincing your new millionaire friend to take you for a joy ride on his yacht. Hey, it could happen! Fort Lauderdale is the mega yacht capital of the world.
Travel Tip: Don’t forget your camera! There will beautiful yachts and sailboats, gorgeous waterfront mansions, the “Miami Vice” house, and towering cruise ships to photograph. For you fellow DSLR shooters, I got some of my best shots with a 55-250 mm lens, but you could certainly make do with an 18-55 mm in the narrow portions of the Intercoastal Waterway.
4. Dine along the waterfront
When I’m in Florida, I like to take advantage of the alfresco and waterfront dining. At Shooters Waterfront, you get both! We loved the beach chic decor, the waterfront views, the patio outfitted with a fire pit and cozy seating, the key lime coconut shrimp and Point Judith calamari appetizers, and the flavorful veggie burger.
Travel Tip: Make a reservation and request a table on the outdoor patio!
5. Relax poolside
At the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort and the neighboring W Fort Lauderdale, you can unwind at the rooftop pool overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Swim, relax in the hot tub, read a book or order poolside drinks because you are on vacation. You deserve it.
Travel Tip: Don’t feel like leaving the pool, but you are feeling hungry? At the Hilton’s pool, order lunch from the Ilios menu and have it delivered to your lounge chair. I recommend the guacamole, shrimp quesadilla and Mediterranean salad.
6. Eat Florida stone crab claws
Another wonderful thing about Florida is the abundance of fresh seafood, and one of the local delicacies is stone crab. The claws are harvested only from Oct. 15 – May 15, so you’ll want to eat them when they are in season.
Travel Tip: Order stone crab as an appetizer so everyone can try one or two claws. It’s fun to crack and pull the shell off the meaty claws. If you’ve ever cracked blue crabs, this is much easier!
7. Explore the Everglades
Just outside Fort Lauderdale, you can visit Everglades National Park, where you might see alligators! Take a thrilling airboat ride through the Everglades at Everglades Holiday Park.
Travel Tip: If you have a fear of alligators or high speeds, sit in the middle of the airboat. Leave the outer seats to us adventurous folks! And, again, you’ll want to keep your camera handy. For DSLR users, my 18-55 mm was a bit short for some of the shots I wanted. I’d recommend bringing your telephoto lens with you, and based on your seat on the boat, you can judge whether you’ll need that extra zoom or not.
8. Sip a mojito
The Cuban influence from Miami has reached the drink menus in Fort Lauderdale, so indulge in a mojito. That mix of lime, mint and rum is so refreshing on a warm summer night — or any night in South Florida.
Travel Tip: You’ll find a sweet berry mojito on the drink list at S3, located inside the Hilton. Enjoy it and the ocean views at the outdoor bar or around the fire pit!
9. People-watch at the Hollywood Beach Boardwalk
The Hollywood Beach Boardwalk has a retro vibe — like it’s the kind of beach where I pictured my Barbie and Ken dolls hanging out in the early ’90s. Walk, bike or roller blade past the beachfront hotels for entertaining people watching, fresh air and beach views. Then drop into one of the watering holes for a frozen cocktail.
Travel Tip: Take a water bottle if you plan to explore the boardwalk. There isn’t much shade, and it’s so easy to get dehydrated in the Florida sun.
10. Grab a burger at Le Tub
The 13-ounce sirloin burger at Le Tub was called the best burger in America by GQ. And, then Oprah’s bestie Gayle King called the burger “very, very, very good.” The bar is in a reconverted gas station, and the entrance is covered with overgrown plants and colorfully painted toilets, toilet seats and tubs. It’s quirky. It oozes character, and after eating the burger, you’ll see why this waterfront burger joint is a local favorite.
Travel Tip: Le Tub is a cash only establishment.
Wish you were here,