Having grown up in gorgeous Fort Lauderdale, I'm confident to say I know the Southern Florida area like the back of my hand. Currently working as a real estate agent and event planner, I'm always out and about, discovering new hidden gems around the gorgeous city. From my favorite secret coffee shop hideaway to the (not so secret) place to watch the sunset, I'm proud to present to you... Fort Lauderdale.
When you come to Fort Lauderdale, you’re going to want to be as close to the beach as possible. My favorite hotel is the W Fort Lauderdale. Not only is the hotel across the street from the beach with great views of the ocean, but it also has a great pool area. The W is super modern and has it’s own club/lounge, Living Room.
The beach, of course! Fort Lauderdale has hot weather almost all year long, which makes perfect beach weather. The beaches have a lot of life with restaurants, bars, and shopping. If it happens to not be such a nice day, visit Gulfstream Park, where there is a horse race track, casino, shopping, dining, etc.
Fort Lauderdale has no shortage on good restaurants and there are way too many to just pick one. Some of my favorites include Thasos (Greek), Kaluz (American), and Valentino Cucina Italiana.
I love to visit Las Olas where there are plenty of choices, and you can walk around and visit the farmer’s market on Sundays. My favorite spot is YOLO, especially to have the Brioche French Toast, made with corn flake cereal. If you can't get a table at YOLO, take a quick walk to Indigo Restaurant for an old New Orleans feel and live music on Sundays.
For a casual meal that’s light on the wallet and still good, I love going to Bokampers Sports Bar & Grill. This isn’t your ordinary sports bar. This place has hundreds of TV’s throughout, a large outside patio on the water, and a sushi bar. Another option is Rosie’s in Wilton Manors. The atmosphere is fun and the food is great!
Right outside of Fort Lauderdale is Aventura Mall, which is such a large mall that you can easily be there all day. If you are looking to stay in Fort Lauderdale, Las Olas is great for local boutiques, and the Galleria Mall has your chain stores.
So far, my favorite church is the Rio Vista Community Church. I believe this is a non-denominational church, but what makes it unique is the environment. The church has a cozy, cottage feel.
My personal favorite is the Wilton Manors Starbucks. This Starbucks has a patio area hidden in trees and has a very welcoming, friendly vibe. For a non-chain, there is Sip Java Co., which has good strong coffee and extremely hyper and friendly staff.
You can go to your typical chains such as LA Fitness or Orange Theory, but I prefer to have a fun workout. Try renting a wave runner in the ocean for a good lower body and arms workout, deep sea fishing for arms, kayaking for upper body, snorkeling and paddle boarding for whole body. Visit Gratitude WaterSports at Beach Place Plaza for a paddle board rental where they have a paddle board with a viewing window to look into the water below you!
The Alchemist coffee shop is a cute coffee shop hidden down a dirt road and nestled in a small garden. Think of this place as having a snack in a garden. The menu is very limited and the food is bite sized. What brings me back, besides the atmosphere, is the coconut drink (yes, they literally drill a hole in a coconut and give you a straw) and the coffee which is made using unique techniques in beakers and flasks right in front of you and served in a mason jar. The coffee is beyond amazing!
Pick any spot along A1A! I personally enjoy having a cocktail on the outside patio at S3 in the afternoon. For sunrise, relaxing on the beach with a coffee and listening to the waves as the sun comes up is a great way to start the day.
As a mom of two, I am always looking for a place to take kids and not have to worry about them getting burnt in the sun. Fort Lauderdale has a great children’s museum, Museum of Discovery and Science, which also has an IMAX theater. There is also a unique indoor playground, Funderdome, which has a toddler zone, sky rope course, lazer maze, and more. This is fun for all ages. If your kid is older and likes arcades, hit up Dave & Buster’s in Oakwood Plaza. This place is huge and has food, a sports bar, and more arcade games than you can imagine.