I have 24 hours in fort lauderdale...now what?
There is so much to do in Fort Lauderdale, it can be overwhelming to plan a vacation - especially a brief one. Are you looking for some help organizing the best, most Fort Lauderdale day ever? Take it from a native, these are some activities you don't want to miss and will ensure that you experience everything we have to offer.
If you skip Las olas boulevard, have you really been to fort lauderdale?
You got in late last night and wake up hungry - where should you go for breakfast to make sure you start the day off right? With so many options, it can be hard to decide - but nowhere quite as local as The Floridian Diner on Las Olas Boulevard.
This local institution has been open since 1937 and offers a full menu 24/7. For breakfast, you can get specials starting at $5 all the way up to their $360 Floridian "Fat Cat" Breakfast that comes with a bottl of Dom Perignon and everything in between. We normally share a breakfast that they call their "Happy Mess" and a stack of chocolate chip pancakes (pro-tip: if you're sharing, order a second biscuit because they are SO GOOD!).
Another benefit to starting your day here? You're central to Las Olas Boulevard and Fort Lauderdale's most popular and well-known stretch of beach. It's not too hot in the morning - the perfect weather to stroll down Las Olas Boulevard shopping and visiting art galleries before making your way east to the beach.
Of course you have to visit the beach.
It might seem obvious, but no visit to Fort Lauderdale is complete without a few beach selfies or family photos to make your friends back home jealous. If you're ready to start day-drinking (hey, it is Fort Lauderdale after all), you'll want to visit the historic Elbo Room oceanfront at the corner of Las Olas Boulevard and A1A. Featured in the film Where the Boys Are, this popular destination has been serving locals and visitors alike since 1938.
Have a drink or head directly to the beach to work on your winter tan. This area, also home to Beach Place, is full of shops, restaurants and bars and is the perfect place to spend a few hours.
Does the sun make you as hungry as it makes me?
I know it's hard to think of eating again after that massive Floridian breakfast, but we only have 24 hours and a lot to experience! After spending a few hours at the beach, head south on A1A to the Pelican Landing sky bar at the Pier 66 Hotel Marina, another iconic Fort Lauderdale landmark. Though the menu is not huge, there is nowhere else in Fort Lauderdale to take in such an incredible, open-air view of the entire city, its famous waterways and the Atlantic Ocean. And if you're staying at Pier 66, you might even have time to sneak in an after lunch nap!
Why do they call Fort Lauderdale the Venice of the Americas?
If it's not obvious now from your morning in Fort Lauderale and view at lunch, our tropical city is surrounded by water. From the Intracoastal Waterway and various connecting and finger canals to the New River, even most inland neighborhoods can be considered "waterfront."
But how to best experience these idling waterways? Well, if you want to be very Fort Lauderdale about it, take a cruise on another local landmark, the Jungle Queen Riverboat. This tourist attraction (but who are we kidding - I spent my birthday on the Jungle Queen!) has been taking people on aquatic tours of Fort Lauderdale since 1935. They offer tours ranging from 90 minutes to a tour including a variety show and all-you-can-eat BBQ and seafood dinner on their private tropical island.
To fit in our day, I suggest the three hour narrated tour that meanders through our waterways offering ample opportunity to photograph impressive waterfront mansions. This cruise also stops at the island for the quintessential Floridian alligator show and even offers the opportunity to take a picture with an alligator, parrots, and other various tropical animals.
It's 5 o'clock somewhere.
If you haven't started drinking yet, the Mai Kai is ready for you! Named the best tiki bar in the world in 2015 by Critiki, this iconic Fort Lauderdale destination was built in 1956 in what was, at the time, "the middle of nowhere." In my opinion, the happy hour at their Molokai bar is the best in Fort Lauderdale. Their massive drinks made with aged rum, fresh fruit and fresh pressed juice and even edible orchids are half-priced - as well as their Polynesian appetizers (not your father's bar food!). On Wednesdays they even offer a free buffet!
After happy hour, take a stroll in their tropical gardens before making your way to the restaurant for their historic dinner show offering traditional music, dancing and displays such as fire-eating. During the show, they ask for audience participation and will even sing for your special occasion, birthday, or anniversary (so make sure you let them know when you make your reservation)!
We're not done yet.
You might be thinking that there cannot possibly be more to do in Fort Lauderdale, but one of my favorite neighborhoods to finish an evening is the small North Beach entertainment district just east of the bridge and north of Oakland Park Boulevard. This low-key, mostly local neighborhood is packed with intimate venues such as Blue Jean Blues that offer world-class entertainment ranging from rock and blues to jazz greats. The perfect neighborhood to finish your day with a glass of wine or martini in Fort Lauderdale!
What are some of your favorite Fort Lauderdale experiences?
24 hours is just not enough time - there is so much more to do!