Welcome to Greater Fort Lauderdale, a beach paradise where sunshine and a sense of fun are guaranteed. This cosmopolitan city on Florida’s scenic southeastern coast packs a lot in, but even at its busiest, it never loses its relaxed, laid-back atmosphere. Come here for the famous Everglades and the winding waterways (this is ‘the Venice of America’, after all), come for culture, cuisine, the 23-mile beachfront, outdoor adventures and the friendly locals – including the winged, finned and four-legged kind.
Colour-pop Street Art
Experience the local culture by admiring colour-pop street art in Downtown Hollywood, home to more than 24 bold murals, all close to excellent cafés, bars, restaurants and shops. To get the inside scoop on the art and artists, join the free guided monthly Downtown Hollywood Mural Project (DHMP) tour; you might even see a muralist creating a new work while you visit. You’ll have the chance to meet street-artists and talk to them about their style, inspiration and influences. You could also experience the Downtown Hollywood Art Walk on the third Saturday of every month, from 5pm–10pm. Stroll along on your art hunt whilst being serenaded by live street performers; watch artists in action and visit galleries and art stores.
F.A.T. Village, Downtown Fort Lauderdale
Continue the art-adventure over at F.A.T. Village, Downtown Fort Lauderdale’s buzzing creative enclave. Artists, cool-hunters, hipsters and techies have gravitated towards this historic warehouse district, settling here to work and play. The four-block district is named after the non-profit arts organization, FAT Village Arts District Inc; its mission is to foster, support and inspire the artistic community. Join an art walk on the last Saturday of the month (bar December) and discover open galleries showcasing new art exhibits, local artists and artisans selling gifts and goods, plus plenty of food and entertainment. There are three art warehouse spaces to explore, too.
Riptide Music Festival
After all that eye-candy, give your ears a treat. Riptide Music Festival, the world’s biggest beach party, takes over the shores of Fort Lauderdale Beach for two days in December. Last year’s line-up included Boys II Men, KC & the Sunshine Band, Salt-N-Pepa, Weezer, Cage the Elephant and more. There are other reasons to head here beyond music: the Underground Village, the Riptide Wine Garden, and 30-plus food and craft vendors and art installations, for starters.
Underground Fort Lauderdale
Art, music, film and fashion collide at Underground Fort Lauderdale, which runs a packed roster of live events and festivals – from fashion weekends to off-the-radar gigs and film screenings. Trendsetting Broward County is a thriving hotspot for indie rock, EDM and other musical genres. Visitors can invest in an Underground Fort Lauderdale pass and enjoy access to an impressive array of music concerts and one-off events.
Historic Fort Lauderdale
That’s modern Greater Fort Lauderdale wrapped, but you’ll want to experience its historic side, too. Head to Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, which gives visitors a glimpse into 20th-century America, when Fort Lauderdale was one of the nation’s last frontier outposts. Built in 1920 on a coastal barrier island, Bonnet House Museum & Gardens is one of the few complete homes and studios of two American artists that’s open to the public. There’s an art-stuffed Main House, where you can browse the personal treasures of the Birch and Bartlett families. In the gardens, admire one of the finest orchid collections in the continental U.S. and keep your eyes peeled for wading birds and the occasional manatee.
It’s easier than ever to get to Fort Lauderdale, thanks to BA’s new direct flight here from the UK. There’s also the nifty Brightline service, which connects Fort Lauderdale and Miami by rail. What are you waiting for?