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How to Spend an Extra Day in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Five places to visit in the “Venice of America”

by Shivani Vora

February 3, 2023

Fort Lauderdale, Florida / Photo: The Palmer/e+/GettyImages

Located 45 minutes north of Miami, Fort Lauderdale is a destination that celebrates the outdoors and the perpetually sunny days it offers throughout the year. Established in 1911, the city attracts major recreational and professional events, as well as business and leisure travelers of every kind. A recent $1.1 billion expansion to the waterfront Broward County Convention Center is expected to draw even more visitors to the city, which is situated in the heart of South Florida between Miami and West Palm Beach.

The many beaches are a perennial draw, but Fort Lauderdale’s 165 miles of navigable waterways are also a highlight, giving the town its nickname, the “Venice of America.” This connection to boating inspired the city’s annual international boat show, now one of the globe’s largest. Culture is a focus, too, with world-class museums featuring blockbuster exhibitions and $100 million worth of public art. Whether you want a laid-back beach getaway or an action-packed adventure, Fort Lauderdale is an ideal place for a bit of out-of-office R&R. Here, five places to visit in the city.

Fort Lauderdale Beach Park

Fort Lauderdale Beach Park / Photo: Gabriele Maltinti/Eye Em/Getty Images

The epitome of the city’s beach culture, this scenic park is a popular hangout for locals and travelers alike. Characterized by a long and wide shoreline, it’s an ideal place to perch on the sand and take in the sun. Volleyball and basketball are options, too. Music concerts and other events happen throughout the year.

Las Olas Boulevard

Cuba Libre Restaurant on Las Olas Boulevard / Photo: Courtesy of Cuba Libre Restaurant

Arguably the center of activity in Fort Lauderdale, Las Olas Boulevard had its beginnings at the turn of the 20th century, when it was a dirt road leading to the ocean. Today, the thoroughfare hosts more than 100 boutiques and art galleries, many of which are independent businesses. Clothing and shoe stores, food purveyors, restaurants and home retailers are all part of the mix.

Four Seasons Hotel and Residences Fort Lauderdale

Four Seasons Hotel and Residences Fort Lauderdale / Photo: Courtesy of Four Seasons

Set on the beach, the property features a contemporary design with a light color palette and nautical details. Tara Bernerd crafted the public spaces and guest rooms and Martin Brudnizki conceptualized the flagship restaurant, an Eastern Mediterranean spot named Evelyn’s. Expect to be spoiled with amenities, including a destination spa.

Casa D’Angelo

Casa D’Angelo / Photo: Courtesy of Casa D’Angelo

Italian restaurants are a staple in the city, but Casa D’Angelo stands apart. Chef and proprietor Angelo Elia turns out elegant yet familiar dishes prepared with the most premium ingredients, including his own brand of full-bodied olive oil. Favorites on the menu include meatballs, fried zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta and mozzarella, Elia’s mother’s fusilli with tomato sauce, and a daily changing selection of seafood, especially the crudos. The vibrant atmosphere and lengthy wine list are on par with the food.

Bonnet House Museum & Gardens

Drawing Room, Bonnet House Museum & Gardens / Photo: Courtesy of J. Christopher Gernert

Built in 1920, this 35-acre estate is where Chicago-born artist Frederic Clay Bartlett nurtured his painting career. It also houses his personal art collection, which includes works by masters such as Picasso and Gauguin. Bonnet House’s gardens are equally compelling, reflecting five different ecosystems including wetlands and forest.