48 Hours in Fort Lauderdale
Try cable-skiing and tour the Everglades.
Once a sleepy beach town, Fort Lauderdale is experiencing a renaissance, with high-end hotels, chic boutiques, and organic eateries. It’s also ribboned with intracoastal canals just blocks from the beach, perfect for athletes who favor water sports. Here, what to eat, see, and do in Miami’s friendly neighbor to the north.
WHERE TO STAY
The stylish Conrad Fort Lauderdale, which opened late last year, features a stunning skydeck, morning yoga by the ocean, and Cornucopia, a casual, health-focused breakfast and lunch spot that’ll pack up your meal for you to take to the beach. Guests can also borrow bikes to pedal around town. Further north, the luxurious Pelican Grand Beach Resort exudes old-Florida glamour, with a milky-white wraparound porch and a pool that has views of the shore.
Have a nourishing breakfast at MyaPapaya Juicery and Kitchen, which serves fresh, raw, cold-pressed juices, plus grain bowls, organic salads, and healthy sandwiches. Try the pitaya bowl, topped with homemade granola, goji berries, and bee pollen. For a more savory option, order the spicy shakshuka skillet, with alfalfa sprouts, hummus, cucumber, and whole-grain pita on the side.
Choose Your Afternoon Adventure
OPTION 1: CULTURE
Head to the Antique Car Museum. You don’t have to be a car aficionado to appreciate the lovingly-curated collection of shiny pre-war automobiles on display. Then grab a bite up the street at Tap 42 and try the Ahi Tuna poke salad. Afterwards, take a 30-minute stroll to the historic Stranahan House Museum. Located on the riverfront, it traces the area’s history back to its turn-of-the-century roots. There are guided tours at 1 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3 p.m.; call in advance to ensure the space isn’t closed for a private event.
OPTION 2: FITNESS
Fort Lauderdale SUP offers stand-up paddleboarding rentals and lessons. And inland, Quiet Waters Park (about 15 miles north of the city) features cable-skiing, an adrenaline-soaked water sport that has you wakeboarding, waterskiing, or kneeboarding while you’re pulled across smooth water by a cable instead of a speedboat. Ski Rixen USA’s 2,700-foot oval course (located inside Quiet Waters Park) is one of the longest in the country.
If you have time before dinner, relax at The Yard, a village-like area with antique shops and quaint coffee shops (try the open-face avocado sandwich at the The Alchemist). You’ll pass several streetside vendors offering unique homemade candles and jewelry, a weekly flea market, and a boutique inside an Airstream called The Wander Shop.
End the day with dinner at Scolapasta Bistro, a family-run farm-to-table Italian spot with a menu that changes daily based on local farmers’ fare. Expect sustainable, ethically-raised beef, chicken, and seafood and in-season produce; try the homemade organic spaghettini with shrimp, clams, and mussels.
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Start the day with an omelet or tofu scramble at Fresh First, one of South Florida’s first gluten-free restaurants.
Choose your Afternoon Adventure
OPTION 1: CULTURE
Head to FATVillage, a.k.a. the Flagler Arts & Technology Village, a hip, evolving four-block creative district north of downtown Fort Lauderdale. It’s sprinkled with street art, galleries, entrepreneurs’ workspaces, and bustling art studios housed in industrial-chic warehouses. Grab a bite at Brew Urban Cafe and browse the neighborhood’s shops and exhibits.
OPTION 2: FITNESS
Pack a beet salad or roast turkey sandwich from Henry’s and take a short drive to the northeast tip of the Everglades. The 1.5-million-acre playground of marshes and mangroves is home to hundreds of animal species. Hikers, bikers, and birdwatchers flock here for views of the endangered leatherback turtle and the Florida panther. You can also head to the Anne Kolb Nature Center at WestLake Park for walking trails amidst the mangroves and a 68-foot-high observation tower. Or check out Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, an urban oasis with freshwater lagoons, kayak and canoe rentals, and both dirt and paved trails—all walking distance from the beach.
For dinner, make a reservation at One Door East in downtown Fort Lauderdale; it’s a tapas restaurant from Chef Albert Diaz, who ran ZUMA’s flagship London location, as well as the nearby Miami outpost. Choose from dozens of creative, shareable plates, many cooked over an oakwood-fired grill, such as the popular short rib and wild mushroom gyoza with spicy sesame oil.
Afterward, stroll along the river to @1WLO, home of the city’s first rooftop bar, which opened late last year. Expect ever-evolving craft cocktails, light bites, and view of the main drag, Las Olas Boulevard, all on a 4,000-square-foot patio strewn with comfortable seating.
Photo (top): Getty Images