Tips for visiting Fort Lauderdale:
- Be ready for the hot and very HUMID weather if you go to Fort Lauderdale in the summer (I was there in May). It can get pretty windy too.
- Hotels: If you don’t have a budget restriction I strongly recommend staying at the W! I was upgraded to a corner room with a suite and a wonderful view of the beach and the coastline. There are 2 pools and the gym was pretty good (it had 2 boxing bags!). If you’re on a budget, the Renaissance hotel on 17th street isn’t too bad and you can grab the Sun Trolley to go up to Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard.
- If you don’t have a car, you can jump on the Sun Trolley. It’s 1$ one way, or 3$ for the day and it goes up to Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard.
- You can run up and down the ocean front, along the sidewalk or on the beach.
- Restaurants & Bars: Head to Tap 42 for a great selection of beers and half off on the prohibition burger on Mondays. For a beautiful front and back patio in Las Olas (as well as what looked like delicious food), head over to Louie Bossi’s. From here, walk to The Balcony for cocktails in a New Orleans-style decor. I was also recommended the Elbo room (staple dive bar), Rocco’s for Taco Tuesday and Gourmet Garden cafe & Juices but didn’t have enough time.
- Recommended coffee stops: Switchbox (great spot to work), The Grind coffee project, Warsaw Coffee and The Seed (higher up in Boca Raton).
- Explore Lauderdale-by-the-sea: walk on the pier (2$), hang out on the beach, grab a huge delicious salad (or anything else you fancy) at Aruba and/or an ice cream while you walk along Commercial Street. Life seems to go by slowly here, the crowd is older and it felt less touristy.
Impressions of Fort Lauderdale:
My impression of this area changed completely once I ran over the bridge (from the Renaissance hotel) and over to the island towards Fort Lauderdale Beach. There is so much wealth here! Where does it come from? It seems like everyone that owns a house also owns a fancy car and a luxury boat. I saw THE biggest boat I’ve ever seen in my life in the canals: it made a jet ski look like an ant beside it.
The Fort Lauderdale beach area definitely feels very touristy. You’ll find almost only hotels and restaurants geared towards that crowd. We stayed at the W and it was in the middle of that jet set area, but still better located than the Renaissance if you want to walk up and down the beach. It’s also within walking distance from Las Olas, which is a trendy neighborhood where you’ll find multiple shops, restaurants, and bars. You can also take a stroll along the riverfront.
I enjoyed my time at the W, and my ocean front room was fabulous (a suite thanks to a company discount and my Marriott status transferring to SPG hotels). I had 2 balconies, a living room, and a big bathroom. My colleague got upgraded to an even bigger room with a balcony the size of his room, fully furnished, overlooking the ocean. The hotel has 2 pools (a quieter one in the Residence area and a party pool), an okay-sized gym with multiple machines as well as a new restaurant.
I took advantage of the fantastic weather, even if it was a little bit too hot to my liking, to run every day along the shoreline. It was beautiful to look over and see the turquoise ocean, the kitesurfers, and sunbathers.
I met up with a friend at Tap 42 for drinks and had (lettuce wrapped!) burgers. He brought me over to Las Olas where we grabbed a few drinks at Louie Bossi and The Balcony before calling it a night. This area was cute and it somehow reminded me of Santa Barbara with canals. I didn’t see it because it was night time but there’s apparently a nice Riverfront walk in this area.
My friend put me in touch with her mother who now lives in Lauderdale-by-the-sea and set up a lunch date. I’m so happy I drove up to see her and explored this little town. It’s very colorful, mellow, cute and definitely worth the stop! We had a wonderful lunch at Aruba: the salads were so fresh and huge! We then walked around the center, grabbed an ice cream, and just talked for a while. It was nice to speak French outside of Quebec… but then I also noticed so many people speaking it around me. My friend’s mom is a real estate agent and she told me a lot of her clients are from Quebec (makes sense)! She had to go back to work so I then walked around for a while longer until I sat on the beach when for a swim, and headed back to the hotel. It was such a fun and relaxing afternoon!