Fort Lauderdale, the Venice of America
Named after Major William Lauderdale who built three forts baring his name during the Florida War (1835-1842), Fort Lauderdale is a popular touristic city but is considered one of the Greater Miami's most lively neighborhood, known for its upscale hotels, pristine beaches and historic riverfront.
Located a couple miles north of Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale hosts luxurious mansions on Millionaires Row, as well as countless premium shops and restaurants, but is also home to many historic buildings and beautiful natural landscapes.
Nicknamed "the Venice of America", Fort Lauderdale can offer a most appreciated urban break, whether to stroll along Las Olas Boulevard for shopping and good times, follow the brick-paved path along the New River, or to drift in a gondola rides on the canals.
Fort Lauderdale also happens to feature a unique Historic District where you can get a rare glimpse of the neo-colonial architecture and life in Florida at the turn of the 20th Century.
Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk Map
Insider Travel Tips
- To find your way more easily in Fort Lauderdale's urban jungle, keep in mind that all thouroughfares named Street/Boulevard/Roads run East-West, while those named Avenue/Drive run North-South.
- South Florida is a giant urban area so any activity located in Fort Lauderdale can be accessed just as easily from Miami or West Palm in less than 2 hours of driving.
- Same reasoning goes for choosing a landing spot in South Florida with the most competitive air fares, as Fort Lauderdale, West Palm and Miami airports will most likely get you close to your final destination regardless.
- Playing on Fort Lauderdales's nickname 'The Sunny City', the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau has put out a website called sunny.org, where you can get all kind of useful information on the area.
- If you run short on money during your South Florida visit, a great way to spend wonderfully relaxing days without spending a dime is to enjoy the endless stretch of sandy beaches all along the Atlantic coast.
- Most shops on Las Olas Boulevard are open daily, including Sundays (mostly from noon to 5pm) when you might also come across a colorful farmers market.
- Three months a year on a given week-end - January, March, October - Las Olas Boulevard is closed off and transformed into a gigantic outdoor Art Fair with hundreds of local and international artists showing and selling their artwork.
Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk
- Also known as the Fort Lauderdale Riverfront, the Riverwalk neighbourhood is articulated around two main streets: Las Olas Boulevard and Himmarshee Street.
- Lush and verdant, Riverwalk is the tropical waterfront of downtown Fort Lauderdale running runs along the banks of the New River, and one of the most interesting areas to visit with its Riverwalk Linear Park and Downtown Riverwalk District.
- The Riverwalk is where you will find many of the city's main attractions like the Old Fort Lauderdale, the Museum of Discovery and Science, as well as the Broward Center for Performing Arts.
- The Riverwalk is also a very lively area day and night, with scores of shops, restaurants, cafés and clubs.
- There are many different ways to explore the Riverwalk promenade, whether by foot or bicycle, but you could also choose to take the aquatic route on the New River waters by traveling in water taxi, gondola, kayak or paddleboard!
Fort Lauderdale Beachfront
- There are no less than eight majestuous sand beaches stretching alont the Greater Fort Lauderdale's 23 miles of beachfront facing the Atlantic Ocean.
- Once a students' favorite, Fort Lauderdale Beach has turned into the place to be with its luxury properties, premium shopping and chic restaurants. Also known as a people-watching spot, while joggers and rollerbladers enjoying the shady palm trees and brick-lined promenade.
- Fort Lauderdale's counterpart of LA's Venice Beach is to be found at the aptly named Hollywood Beach which features a 2 ½ miles long Broadwalk, its retro trolley and Arts Park, while gamblers will most likely head for the famed Seminole Hard Rock Casino.
- Deerfield Beach is a great spot for earlybirds to enjoy the cool atmosphere at sunrise, its cove-like shape attracting whole families during week-ends. Daredevils will favor the Ski Rixen, one of the foremost cable water ski parks in America, not far from the locals fishing out of Deerfield Pier.
- Sport lovers of all kinds abound in Pompano Beach named after the endemic saltwater fish, a sandy stretch known for its unique micro-climate, its annual Pompano Seafood Festival and its Fishing Rodeo.
- To enjoy a more laid back ambiance and admire the local sea life, you can pay a visit to the ½ mile long Lauderdale-by-the-sea and its exclusive natural coral reef, close enough to the shore for snorkelers and amateur divers. On Friday nights the streets nearby are closed off to make place for a live music stage.
Museums & Historic Landmarks
- To get a good glimpse of Fort Lauderdale's century-old history, head for the Historic District located between the New River and SW 2nd Avenue, where you will find the Museum of History New River Inn, a museum which is also Broward County’s oldest standing hotel (1905), a 1899 School House Replica, the King Cromartie House (1907), the Philemon Bryan House and the Hoch Heritage Center.
- Located between between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, The Bonnet House Museum & Gardens is a colonial estate sitting in 35 acres of lush surroundings. Hosting an impressive collection of fine art from the 1920's (Picasso, Gauguin, Seurat...) and featuring a surprising array of wildlife, both vegetal (orchids, lilies...) and animal (swans, tortoises, squirrel monkeys...), The Bonnet House is definitely a must-see historic landmark.
- Since 1958, the NSU Art Museum located in in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale features 25,000 square feet of exhibition space encompassing all facets of civilization’s visual history, including the most extensive holding in the U.S. of post-World War II artworks.
- At Fort Lauderdale’s Museum of Discovery and Science you can admire the 52-foot tall Great Gravity Clock, get a close look at local animals (otters, sharks, grouper fish, alligators, turtles, bats, snakes and tarantulas), and visit the Runways to Rockets exhibit that pays tribute to Florida's important role in America's air and space industries.
Dining, shopping and nightlife
- Las Olas Boulevard is a 2.5-mile urban commercial stretch heading downtown from the Fort Lauderdale Beach loaded with countless small shops and boutiques (fine arts, designer and 2nd hand apparel, specialty foods...), as well as an eclectic aray of restaurants, steakhouses, bars with tree-shaded terraces, and cafes on both sides of the street.
- Among Fort Lauderdale most appreciated restaurants, you can eat great sandwiches and salads at Laspada's Hoagies (1495-D Southeast 17th Street), eat and learn to cook amazing meals at Chef Jean Pierre's Gourmet Emporium (1436 North Federal Hwy), taste Fort Lauderdale's best pizza at Giuliano's Italian Restaurant (1923 Cordova Road), or enjoy a first class diner with an amazing view on the New River canals at the Secret Garden inside the Pillars Hotel (111 N Birch Rd).
- Besides Las Olas Blvd where you can find the cocktail bar Federal Highway and too many other clubs to count, you can enjoy a trepidant night life in several other areas, most notably The Beach and its staple two-stories bar Elbo Room.
- For more original night life options, you can check out the Young Circle neighborhood on Hollywood Blvd for a great music evening, or get even bolder around Wilton Manors, a fun neighborhood for alternative lifestyles.
- For a great night out, the hard to miss recently built Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on State Road 7 (a.k.a 441) with no less than 4 huge night clubs, many bars opened until dawn, and of course a Casino since the property is located on Native American land.
- Fort Lauderdale's largest mall in the downtown area is The Galleria which features over 100 specialty stores and food venues (Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Truluck’s, P.F. Chang’s...), and famous fashion brands like Neiman Marcus or Banana Republic, as welle as other popular stores, including an Apple Store.
- 15 minutes from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Sawgrass Mills is one of the largest shopping outlet in the US with over 350 stores and many premium brands like Gap, Ralph Lauren, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, 5th Saks Fifth Avenue, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Target.
- In the city of Boca Raton (twenty miles north of Fort Lauderdale), Mizner Park offers a much more upscale shopping experience, regrouping 45 premium outlets spread across 29-acres - fashion, jewelery, home deco - as well as movie theaters, an amphitheater and the Boca Raton Museum of Art.
Other Attractions in Fort Lauderdale
- Some 15 minutes away from Fort Lauderdale (by car), Fort Lauderdale's Festival Flea Market near Pompano Beach is an indoor 400,000 sq. ft. building with more than 500 stalls where you'll find second hand jewelry, clothes, gifts and crafts .
- Located within Tradewinds Park at Coconut Creek, a 20 minutes drive by car from Fort Lauderdale heading north, Butterfly World is the world's largest park of its kind with over 20,000 butterflies of 50 species flying acoss 10 acres of colorful gardens.
- If you are a horse race lover or a gambler, you should spend some time at Gulfstream Park located near Riverwalk in downtown Fort Lauderdale, one of North America's most prominent horse racing tracks, which you can access from U.S. Route 1.