Fort Lauderdale Travel Guide
Updated: Dec 20, 2022
As Miami's cute and flourishing little sister, Fort Lauderdale is home to an exciting array of things to do. Since I currently live in Fort Lauderdale, this list is constantly growing, so be sure to check back often! For now, here's my list of the best restaurants in Fort Lauderdale, best coffee in Fort Lauderdale, best bars in Fort Lauderdale and best things to do in Fort Lauderdale.
Best Restaurants in Fort Lauderdale
Heritage—I can't believe it has taken me as long as it has to get to Heritage, but wow, it was worth the wait. This is a rather intimate restaurant so I recommend making a reservation, but you really can't go wrong with anything on the menu! We started with the squash blossoms and agrodocle calamari, which were both so fabulous, but I've never had calamari like this before; it was both sweet and spicy and, all together, fabulous. I also had the bucatini white calm pasta, and it was indescribable. I've since ordered several to-go pizzas (all, of which, I love), the black truffle arancini and the pistachio pana cotta—all incredible.
Louie Bossi—Hands down, Louie Bossi is my favorite restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, and that's saying a lot because A) there's a lot of great restaurants in Fort Lauderdale, and B) I'm the pickiest person in the world when it comes to Italian food. You simply cannot go wrong with anything on this menu, food or drink, and I can say that because I've tried just about everything. Also, with the purchase of an entree, you can get bottomless aperol spritz, mimos, bellinis or blood mary's for $17 on the weekends. Here are my favorites: Margherita pizza, bruschetta, arancini con tartufo, bucantini all'amatricana, radiatore, ravioli, pistachio gelato and honestly so many others.
El Camino—Another fan-favorite on Las Olas, El Camino is our classic, neighborhood, Mexican restaurant with exceptionally stellar margaritas. I definitely recommend the queso and the taco trio so you can try three different kinds of tacos! But my favorite part is the margaritas, in particular: the spiced pear, watermelon jalapeno, kiwi mint and guava habanero.
Sistrunk Marketplace—Located in Flagler Village, Sistrunk Marketplace is an amazing food hall, brewery and marketplace. Reservations are available but not required, and once you've taken a look at all the food stalls, you can sit at a table and use the QR code to order from your phone. You can order multiple things from different stalls, it'll all be under one transaction and then they bring you the food! I loved Nellie's Southern Kitchen, Poke OG and Khoffner Brewery, but I'm equally excited to keep going and try the other options!
Here & Now—Located in Flagler Village in Fort Lauderdale, Here & Now is a relatively new restaurant but is amazing nonetheless. It actually won the award for the "Best New Restaurant in Town" in 2020! They call themselves a "tapas" restaurant, but I'm not sure if that's the best description since their serving sizes are rather large. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the truffle mac & cheese, pork tacos and cauliflower bomb (I also also thought the "let's get ginny with it" drink with rhubarb ginger gin was amazing)!
925 Nuevo's Cubano's—You literally cannot miss this place driving down the street because it's painted in vibrant colors and covered in flags. 925 Nuevo's Cubano's is seriously one of the most authentic Cuban restaurants I've ever been to. While I haven't been in the morning, I've heard great things about their brunch menu, but I'm sure you would be happy with anything you ordered at any time of day!
Taco Craft—Though not the cheapest tacos in Fort Lauderdale, Taco Craft has a mean happy hour menu with $6 margaritas and $2 chips & salsa. Plus, they're tacos are really good too!
Rivertail—Located in between Las Olas and the water, Rivertail is a seafood-inspired, waterfront restaurant with amazing broiled oysters (with parmesan, horseradish, kimchi and Cheez-Its) that can't be missed! We also enjoyed their shrimp & grits and salmon croque.
Temple Street Eatery—This Chino Latino infusion is hard to beat. If you're in the mood for something different and fun, I highly recommend visiting Temple Street, It's located off Federal Highway, not to far from Flagler Village or Las Olas. We had the wonton tacos, buddha bowl, kimchi quesadillas and veggie dumplings and they were all amazing (plus, a passion fruit cider).
Ya Mas Taverna—This fun, Mediterranean restaurant is located on Las Olas. I went in with the expectation that Ya Mas would be this cute, over-priced, typical "Las Olas" restaurant, and while it might have been all of those things, the food was also really good. All of the dips were great (we really loved the pomegranate muhamarra—it was so unique), the lamb meatballs were fabulous and the chicken souvlaki was amazing as well!
Noodles Panini—This hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant is tucked away on Las Olas, often hidden by the bustling larger restaurants like El Camino and Louie Bossi, but it still deserves a shout out! Noodles Panini, in my opinion, does an awesome job at complex pasta dishes (this is the vodka penne with tomatoes, prosciutto di parma, peas, fresh cream and Parmigiano-Reggiano), but their more "simple" dishes were not my favorite.
Hot Dog Heaven—Far from fancy, Hot Dog Heaven is a staple to Sunrise Blvd. and almost elusive in that their hours are particularly strange (Wed-Sat 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.). However, their hot dogs are classic.
Phat Boy Sushi—Phat Boy Sushi is one of my favorite places to pick up food after a long day at work or take friends out for fun; no matter the occasion, there sushi is sure to put you in good spirits. They have locations in Oakland Park, Downtown Fort Lauderdale, Deerfield and Coral Springs. The sashimi sushi combo is one of my favorites on the menu because it's a lot of high-quality fish for a good deal!
The Katherine—The Katherine is one of Fort Lauderdale's newest neighborhood kitchens. This spot is truly a love story—carefully curated & crafted by husband & wife, with a unique & dynamic menu. We loved the sangria, whipped ricotta, crispy tuna and rabbit pasta—all things I would have normally never ordered together but somehow worked here!
Best Brunch in Fort Lauderdale
Java & Jam—Located further west on Las Olas, Java & Jam is one of my go-to brunch stops. They always have amazing weekend specials like this Frito Chilaquiles and fun drinks like the boozy cereal milk shown above. Plus, during Christmas time, the restaurant turns into the cutest pop-up Christmas bar called Miracle at Java, where they serve holiday-themed drinks and have fun decorations.
Bulegreen Cafe Yard—Bulegreen is actually located in Oakland Park, which is about 15 minutes north of downtown Fort Lauderdale, but this cute Brazilian cafe is worth the quick drive! Most of their seating is in their covered outdoor patio, and the sheer amount of greenery is enough to make you feel somewhere far outside the city. They have such a fun menu, with favorites like Bulegreen coffee, blue chai, moo moo coffee, breakfast pizza and, of course, the Brazilian cheese bread.
The Alchemist—The Alchemist has a location in Aventura and Wilton Manors, but the one in Wilton Manors (close to Fort Lauderdale) is in a really cool area surrounded by murals and local vendors. They're known for their coffee (which is really amazing), but they also have a killer brunch menu! I adore their Avocado Halves, which is an avocado cut in half, filled with shrimp salad, served on a bed of greens with a side of bread; what's not to love?
Terrace Grill—Located on the bottom level of The Dalmar hotel, Terrace Grill is commonly known as a nicer dinner restaurant, but I think their Sunday brunch menu is wildly underrated. Their bottomless drink options range from $19-21/person, and you can get unlimited Mimosas, Bellini's, Bloody Mary's or Aperol Spritz. We also opted to share a few items and none disappointed: breakfast pizza, banana bread french toast and the seafood tower.
Foxy Brown—Located on Federal Highway in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Foxy Brown has a killer brunch menu. I recommend making a reservation in advance for indoor seating as there's usually a long wait on the weekends and the outdoor patio doesn't have fans or anything, but I mean, wow, look at those pancakes!
Magnolia Caffee—Off the beaten path, Magnolia Caffee is the cutest little brunch spot/vintage shop you'll ever visit! If you couldn't tell but the bicycle topping the establishment, this place is very eclectic and almost chaotic but surprisingly cozy and the staff makes you feel like family. I had the open-faced lox sandwich, orange ricotta cake and spicy macchiato and loved it all.
Santiago's Bodega—Santiago's is the spot for weekend brunches in Fort Lauderdale. For $45 per person, you get both unlimited drinks and unlimited breakfast tapas—what's not to love? The dishes are relatively small (some are on the larger side), but they're unlimited so you can keep ordering a couple more plates and another drink every time your waiter comes by!
Best Coffee in Fort Lauderdale
The Palm Cafe—The Palm Cafe is where quick, order-online, grab-and-go service meets crafty third wave coffee. Located inside General Provision in downtown Fort Lauderdale, The Palm Cafe should not be overlooked by outsiders. Though you might not be able to sit down inside the cafe unless you're a General Provision member, the Cafe does have a bit of outdoor seating, but where it really shines, in my opinion, is in its convenient service. You can place your order here, and pick it up at the easy-to-find, pick-up window. Some of my favorites on the menu are the Marvo (double shot and blood orange San Pellegrino served over ice), the Joe Lee (nitro cold brew and Gosling Ginger Beer served chilled) and the Honey Rose Latte (local honey, subtle notes of rose, your choice of milk and topped with rose petals). All their drinks are made with the locally-roasted and fan-favorite, Wells Coffee; Plus, you can pair any of their drinks with a pastry from local, Kosher baker, Zak the Baker.
Brew Urban—Not only is this coffee shop a super convenient walk if you live or are staying in the Flagler Village/Downtown area, but they also have some amazing brewing methods available. I've had their slow pour overs and espresso drinks and loved them all, but I've heard great things about their aeropress espresso as well. In order to find Brew Urban, you have to go through the C&I Studios door and walk along the right side all the way down the room until you turn to your left and see yourself enter what feels like a totally different building. The walls are beautifully covered in books, and the room has a very open yet still cozy feeling. One of the walls is completely transparent, showing the train tracks along the side of the building. This coffee shop definitely gives speakeasy vibes.
Circle House Coffee—Despite the fact that I have about a dozen coffee shops in walking distance of my apartment, Circle House Coffee is the closest, and therefore, my most visited. The shop has tons of indoor and outdoor working space as well as a drive-thru. Plus, it's a black-owned coffee shop, which means I have every intention of supporting it that much more. Not only do they serve amazing coffee beverages, but they also have a fun selection of wines, beers, CBD smoothies, donuts, empanadas and more—all locally curated. I would definitely recommend an iced cappuccino with macadamia nut milk and the guava cream cheese donut.
JB&C Juice Bar & Cafe—Everyone needs a fun açaí-bowl, avocado-toast, smoothie shop in their town, and JB&C Juice Bar & Cafe is mine! My favorite smoothies are the ones with cold brew coffee ice cubes in them, but the matcha mint chip shake is also surprisingly amazing and the salmon avocado toast is super yummy!
Cyth & Co.—Located in Oakland Park, Cyth & Co. is an awesome spot to grab a cup of your morning jolt or wind down in the evenings for happy hour. The pistachio matcha and pumpkin waffles are my favorites though, so if you swing by while they are in season, you have to get them!
Calusa Coffee—Calusa Coffee is one of my absolute favorites, but it's definitely the furthest away on this list. It's about a 30-minute drive from the heart of Fort Lauderdale, but the house-roasted coffee is well-worth the drive. This was truly one of the most classic and yet still beautifully unique cappuccinos I've ever had. It's also BuzzFeed's favorite coffee shop in the state of Florida!
Wells Coffee—Located in the Flagler Village/Downtown area, Wells Coffee can't be missed. Its outside walls have been turned into brightly colored murals, and the building sits along the train tracks. One of my favorite things about this place is they're one of the few places in this area that roasts their own coffee instead of serving Panther Coffee (the Miami-based coffee roaster that has dominated the South Florida shops). They also usually have a fun, craft-like menu full of well-thought-out drinks. I'm a huge fan of their nitro and single origin cold brews on tap.
Ann's Florist & Coffee Bar—Located right on Las Olas, Ann's Florist & Coffee Bar is a cute escape from the busy street. Whether you're sitting at the outdoor patio or next to the rose wall inside, you'll definitely enjoy your time here. The coffee bar serves one of South Florida's favorites: Panther Coffee. But you can also enjoy the atmosphere in the evening for a cocktail or glass of wine!
Best Bars in Fort Lauderdale
Looking for the best place to grab a drink in Fort Lauderdale? You've come to the right place. This list is growing, but it already has some of my absolute favorite bars in Fort Lauderdale.
Sparrow—Located inside The Dalmar in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Sparrow is more commonly known for being a lounge/bar than a restaurant, but they do have some great rotating food options! I've only ever had their appetizers, but I've enjoyed them all, especially the fried chickpeas and the fried potato, but the Sparrow really shines in their specialty cocktails. The are you jealous is a great option if you like cucumber-lime flavors, but the celestial glow and passion no.5 are other really popular drinks.
Roxanne's—This slightly grungy, under-the-radar bar is an awesome spot in Flagler Village. Roxanne's is a small, but very fun, spot with dim lighting, a pool table and killer drinks like this Le Karen (which has their yummy house-made sour in it).
Wine + Garden—Surprisingly located one block behind Fort Lauderdale Beach, Wine + Garden is a secret wine garden tucked in between the busy streets of town. They have a happy hour every day from 4-7 p.m. with a great selection of $5 glasses of wine ($25 bottles) and $8 plates!
The Wilder—Another fun little spot that's sort of tucked away in between the busy streets of downtown Fort Lauderdale, The Wilder knows how to make a craft cocktail. From specialty drinks during the holidays to extravagant cocktail decorations like half a chocolate bar, you can't go wrong with stopping for a drink here.
El Vez—Located right on Fort Lauderdale Beach (and at the bottom of the W Fort Lauderdale), El Vez serves as a great place to grab a drink and watch the sunset. Plus, they have a happy hour Monday through Friday from 3-6 p.m. for $5 margaritas, beer and wine and $6 plates.
Rebel Wine Bar—Rebel is a fairly new wine bar in Wilton Manors with fun, live music and a killer happy hour. Come any day from 4-7 p.m. and enjoy half off any wine by the glass!
Holly Blue—An old church turned restaurant/bar, Holly Blue is one of the newer additions to the Flagler Village area. Their happy hour should not be missed; it's from 5-7 p.m. Monday-Friday and includes $5 wine, beer and spirits & $9 small plates. We got the radish and cacio e pepe dishes (both fab) and the Miss B (pink drink: Ketel One Vodka, Yellow Chartreuse, Strawberry, Mascarpone, Lemon, Egg White) and the Spirit Animal (gold owl drink: Grilled Pineapple Infused Bacardi 8 Rum, Borghetti Espresso Liqueur, Almond Orgeat, Fresh Pineapple, Oleo Saccharum, Lime). Plus, they have a speakeasy instead called Marvin's Room and a night club next door called The Angeles (neither of which I've been to yet but both look incredibly cool).
No Man's Land—Though this isn't a speakeasy, No Man's Land gives heavy speakeasy vibes with the dark lighting and long hallway entrance. Needless to say, the atmosphere is on point, and anywhere that serves you a drink in a disco ball or tea cup deserves a shoutout! Some of my favorites here were the baijiu tea, disco nut, drinking figuratively, smoked fish dip, tuna tataki and the steak tartare.
Small Wine Shop—Less of a bar and more of a super awesome way to support a small/local business while you get your wine, Small Wine Shop is located in Flagler Village and specializes in natural, organic and bio-dynamic wines. They often host tastings and other special events, so definitely check out their site and social before visiting!
Glitch Bar—Glitch Bar is located in the heart of Flagler Village and is home to an extensive draft beer list and awesome arcade. Here's the best part: the arcade is totally free if you buy a drink (you can also pay a small fee to play all the games)!
Best Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale
There's always something fun to do in sunny Fort Lauderdale! This list is growing, but it already has some of my absolute favorite things to do in Fort Lauderdale.
Sawgrass Atlantic Trailhead—Located about 25-30 minutes West of Fort Lauderdale (around Tamarac), Sawgrass Atlantic Trailhead bridges civilization with the Everglades. I truly don't recommend making the drive out here unless you're able to make it for sunset because the cotton candy skies and pastel reflections are absolutely stunning. If you walk all the way down the trail, I believe it's a bit over 10 miles, but you can turn around at any point!
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park—This State Park is located just West of Fort Lauderdale Beach and has lots of beautiful tree-covered trails along canals. It costs $6 per vehicle to enter the park, and you can rent canoes, kayaks and pedal boats (a two-hour single kayak rental cost $30). They also have their own brewery and restaurant called Park & Ocean, which makes for an awesome way to spend the afternoon after a day on the water.
Tree Tops Park—Located about 20-25 minutes West of Fort Lauderdale (around Davie), Tree Tops has a handful of fun, short trails. It's not a super large park and none of the trails are very long so it's easy to see most of it in a couple hours.
Las Olas—You can't come to Fort Lauderdale and not go to Las Olas. The street is lined with popular restaurants, bars, cafes, art galleries and boutiques. Plus, it leads all the way to the beach (Las Olas Beach)!
Sunny Side Up Market—This fun, local farmer's market pops up in a few different places around town a couple times a month. My favorite markets are the ones located at MASS District, but you can keep track of when/where the markets are on their Instagram here.
Glass Blowing—If you're looking for some truly unique and authentic to do, I can't recommend going to Hollywood Hot Glass enough. Located about 25 minutes south of downtown Fort Lauderdale, this hot glass studio is fully equip for beginners and advanced glass blowers alike, and they have a partially outdoor studio to allow for the wind to cool off the high temperatures from the furnaces. To schedule an appointment for a beginner's class, all you have to do is visit their website or call them and put down a $40 deposit per person (which later can be used toward whatever piece you decide to make during the class).