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Fort Lauderdale: Travel Guide

Updated: Feb 1, 2023

Looking to head to the Sunshine State for a girls' trip or couples' getaway? Fort Lauderdale has everything you need for an escape to the beach! I'm sharing my favorite restaurants, things to do and places to stay in Fort Lauderdale.

Ft. Lauderdale is one of my favorite places for a quick getaway in the winter. It's easy to get to, has hotels for all budgets, and has great weather in February and March! I've visited Ft. Lauderdale many times for girls' trips, part of my honeymoon and birthday getaway! In this post, I am sharing my favorite places to stay, restaurants you have to try and views you must see!

2022 EDIT: I love it so much, I moved here.

Getting There

There are THREE airports in proximity to Fort Lauderdale making it super easy to fly into! When booking flights, check out FLL (Ft. Lauderdale), PBI (West Palm Beach) and MIA (Miami).

Where to Stay

There's something for everyone in Ft. Lauderdale... on the beach, on the intercoastal waterway, or downtown. I have stayed at all of these hotels and enjoyed them for their unique amenities!

Westin Ft. Lauderdale Beach Resort

Westin Ft. Lauderdale Beach Resort: This hotel is on the beach with a beautiful ocean view! Is there anything better than making a cup of coffee, opening your balcony door and listening to the waves as the sun rises? Nightly rates includes 2 beach chairs each day, from 9am-5pm. The hotel has a great dining options (see Lona Cocina & Tequileria below) with a Starbucks onsite, but venturing out is easy too. There are so many dining options within walking distance. Want to try something a little further away? Rent the hotel's bicycles to get there quicker.

Ritz-Carlton Ft. Lauderdale Beach: A treat on the beach. It's a bit of a splurge but, similar/next door to the Westin, it's right on the beach and has a great dining option on the ground floor (see Burlock Coast below) If you prefer a pool day to a beach day, this hotel has a great pool with ocean views and lounge chairs. With a poolside café with cocktails and cabanas for rent, there's really no reason to leave!

Plunge Beach Resort: Located in nearby Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Plunge Beach Resort is off the beaten path, but SO worth it. I stayed here for a birthday trip and it was exactly the way I wanted to spend my birthday. When booking, opt for a beach view or resort view room. The property is split into 2 buildings, one is a little further from the beach. There's a café that serves beach bites and drinks for daytime snacking. For dinner, rent the property's bikes from Guest Services and head to nearby Aruba Beach Café (see below) for healthy and plentiful seafood options.

GalleryONE by DoubleTree: This one is a little different! While not on Ft. Lauderdale Beach, it's on the Intercoastal Waterway with picturesque views of boats passing by! The hotel serves as a stop for the Water Taxi that travels North and South, giving access to all that Ft. Lauderdale has to offer. It's a super easy way to get to Las Olas Boulevard where you'll find restaurants, bars, clubs and shopping! And it's just steps away from the beach.

Now on to the good stuff!! As a total foodie, finding new spots for lunch, happy hour or dinner is always the highlight of a trip! During my visits to Ft. Lauderdale, I've collected a list of delicious places that won't disappoint.

2022 Edit: My list has grown exponentially since living here! I've made several updates and additions to each listing as I visit more frequently.

Dune - MY. FAVORITE. RESTAURANT. This is our celebration spot. Birthdays, anniversary, work promotions, really any excuse. Dune is on Ft. Lauderdale Beach and has an atmosphere that I can't quite explain. If you go on a nice night, expect low lighting, with a warm breeze blowing through the restaurant. Magical. Take a look at this menu! It's heavy on seafood, all of which is divine. But the grilled Tuna Crispy Rice and Parmesan Soufflé are great picks too.

Happy Hour: Monday-Friday, 4-6pm. A great one with lots of food selections you can enjoy on their patio, with your feet in the sand.

Lona Cocina & Tequileria - Imagine a place with great spicy margs, a view of the beach and free chips and salsa... no, not heaven. Lona! This spot is located in the Westin on Ft. Lauderdale Beach making it an easy walk if you're staying in a beach hotel. They are serving up bottomless Sunday brunch, lunch and dinner everyday. Visiting on a Tuesday? You're in luck, they have $5 margs and tacos to celebrate Taco Tuesday. (Dishes I recommend: Mexican Chopped Salad with Shrimp, Pablo's Chicken Fajita, Spicy Avocado Margarita)

Happy Hour: They have different specials every day! (menu here)

Takato Japanese-Korean Fusion - This list definitely needs a sushi place! Takato is an "on the beach" location with a menu of super fresh sushi selections and large plates. When we were here, Nico ordered a Japanese beer and I had a delicious watermelon cocktail. We started with some of the best sushi I've had - a selection of sashimi, sushi rolls and a tuna tartar. We finished with short rib jabche and a wagyu skirt steak. I. Will. Be. Back... soon!! (Dishes I recommend: Fugu Cup (Tequila Blanco, watermelon, Thai basil, lime, and ginger), king salmon sashimi, crispy tuna, short rib jabche, Wagyu Skirt Steak with Wasabi chimichurri)

Happy Hour: Monday-Thursday, 4-6PM (menu here)

Aruba Beach Cafe - This spot is perfect for lunch or dinner after a beach day and has one of the best poke bowls I've ever eaten. Just steps from the sand and a daily happy hour with live music from 4-7PM. They have a large menu (cocktails too!) so there's definitely something for everyone! (Dishes I recommend: the fresh-baked Bimini bread - just order it, you will be happy you did!, Tuna Poke Bowl, Seaside Ceviche)

Happy Hour: Monday-Friday, 4-7PM

Louie Bossi - Located on the ever-popular Las Olas Boulevard, this spot is a staple dinner destination with delish scratch-made Italian food. Each day, they make their bread and pastas. It's no surprise that you'll need a reservation or you may have a long wait. If you can plan ahead, make a reservation and request outside seating. They have a front patio and a back garden area. Both are beautiful spots to enjoy a glass of wine and a plate of cacio e pepe. Their espresso martinis can't be missed - they're made with almond milk Bailey's for a little twist!

Rocco's Tacos - Yes, I am recommending TWO spots that serve great Mexican-inspired dishes, because let's be honest, it's never too many. Rocco's Tacos has a large menu with burritos, salads, fajitas and tacos (of course!) You can't go wrong with one of their festive margaritas, but I ordered their Classic Spicy marg and a Wet Burrito (+ tableside guac!) My eyes were bigger than my stomach on this one, but if you had a long beach day order one, it will hit the spot! (Dishes I recommend: Wet Burrito w. Chicken, Elotes - street corn, Jalapeño Marg with Tanteo Tequila)

Happy Hour: Everyday, 4-7PM (menu here)

Burlock Coast - Located in the Ritz-Carlton. If you're looking for an upscale, special occasion dinner, make plans for Burlock Coast. We visited on a Wednesday when they have Wine Down Wednesday, half priced featured bottles of wine and $20 Charcuterie Boards. We took advantage of both and loved snacking on cheese while watching the beach activity and the fun that takes place on A1A, always something to see! (Dishes I recommend: Charcuterie Board, a crisp Sancerre, Slow Cooked Short Rib, the Catch of the Day!)

Happy Hour: Yes, but it's a little different each day (menu here)

The Wilder - A beautiful cocktail bar with small bites and a great outdoor dining area. A few blocks from Las Olas. It begs for an Instagram photo, that alone is worth it! The Wilder has a great happy hour with a featured cocktail and several food options. (Dishes I recommend: Sweet Corn + Cheddar Croquettes, White Bean Dip with Chili Oil and Naan, the $7 Happy Hour Cocktail)

Happy Hour: Tuesday-Saturday, 5-7PM (here)

2022-23 Additions

(their shorter descriptions are reflective of my lack of time,

not my lack of loving all of these places equally!!)

Salt 7: on the riverfront, with a great happy hour. Monday-Friday, 3-7PM with food and drink selections on special! Ladies' Night is every Thursday from 8-11PM.

Coyo Taco: great spot on Las Olas for a walk-up order lunch or dinner! Phenomenal tacos and guacamole with a happy hour

Casablanca Cafe: beachfront Italian spot with large portion sizes, live jazz music and a beautiful outdoor patio! My visit is shared here!

Holly Blue: Beautiful location in downtown Fort Lauderdale! Higher end spot for brunch or dinner. Their patio has the best vibes - under the lights and trees! My visit is shared here! (and also here!)

La Espada Sandwiches: If you're heading back to the Fort Lauderdale airport, stop for a sandwich. It's an experience, complete with flying deli meat - not kidding.

Boatyard: One of my favorite spots! It's on the intercoastal and the food is always spot on. It's a bit pricier than others on this list, but you get what you pay for.

Ann's Flower and Coffee Shop: Very cute Las Olas location for coffee or a light breakfast. Yes, you can also buy flowers there!

Noodles and Panini: Las Olas Italian spot, it's small so may be hard to get in. But these are "the best meatballs in Fort Lauderdale" per my husband. He's Italian, I'm not - so I trust him.

Ya Mas: New Greek place on Las Olas! Such beautfil interior with super fresh food and cocktails. Oh, and FLAMING cheese!! My visit is shared here!

Rivertail: This one is on the river, hence the name! A lot of seafood on the menu, which also makes it a little pricier. I highly recommend the tuna poke tacos! My visit is shared here!

Fogo de Chao: This isn't exclusive to Fort Lauderdale, but it's a great spot for hungry people. We Loved it. Fort Lauderdale is blessed with several Brazilian steakhouses and we like Chima (Las Olas) equally!

Batch Southern Kitchen: In Flagler Village! Great spot for burgers and mac & cheese. I usually take my visitors here one night as there's something for everyone on the menu.

Planta Queen: It's vegan! But that shouldn't scare the meat-eaters visiting. They have sushi, dumplings, "cheesy pasta" and several other dishes that I think about a lot. Very good!

Thank you so much for being here! I hope you enjoyed this read! If you're new, I'd love for you to follow along on Instagram where I share more travels and daily life! You'll get a good dose of fun fashion finds and delicious food! Hope to see you there!

Follow along on Instagram @shellyteal

I love sharing my adventures on - I'd love to know if you want to see more like this! Leave me a comment here!

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