Once a go-to destination for spring breakers, Fort Lauderdale has shed its hedonistic reputation for something considerably more refined. Featuring world-class restaurants, fabulous beaches and quaint canals, this Floridian city makes for a perfect weekend break.
With the rainy season drawing to a close and peak season still a month away, October is an excellent time to visit. The water temperature in this stretch of the Atlantic rarely falls below 26°C, warmer than parts of California’s Pacific coast, so most visitors head straight for the beach on arrival.
Immortalised in the 1960s coming-of-age movie Where the Boys Are, Fort Lauderdale’s seven miles of sandy beaches are among the best-known in the US. Backed by gently-swaying palms and high-end hotels, this is a superb place to catch some rays or take a dip in the Atlantic. With 15 lifeguard towers that are staffed year-round, the swimming here is always safe.
Yachting is a popular pastime in Fort Lauderdale, and boat owners can make use of the city's 'dock and dine' programme, which allows them to moor their boats right outside some of the area's top restaurants. The city Yacht Club also organises sailing regattas, and the annual 160-mile Fort Lauderdale to Key West boat race sets off from Port Everglades in January.
Fort Lauderdale is also known as the 'Venice of America' due to its 165 miles of navigable waterways. In fact, one of the best ways to see the city's famously beautiful homes and their grounds is by taking a ride on a gondola, with tours lasting either a full or half day.
Adjacent to the canal network is the Riverwalk, which meanders between Stranahan House, one of Florida’s oldest homes, and the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, a huge multi-venue theatre complex. Fort Lauderdale is a pedestrian-friendly city, so once you've worked up an appetite, head out towards the ocean on East Las Olas Boulevard and sample sautéed yellow snapper with truffle shitake and potato stuffing at Johnny V.
While in town, make sure you visit the Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop, the biggest daily flea market on the planet. Swap Shop is a veritable treasure trove of vintage goods and antiques, complete with a farmer’s market and one of the world’s largest drive-in movie theatres. With around 12 million visitors every year, the market has become southern Florida’s second-largest attraction. Another must-see is Fort Lauderdale's Cinema Paradiso, a former church that has been converted into a movie theatre and shows some of the best European and independent films.
To learn more about the famed Florida vernacular architecture, return to Stranahan House, a wonderfully-preserved example of the era which opens three times a day for hour-long tours. A world of colonial villas can be discovered at the Fort Lauderdale Historic District. In addition to maintaining the New River Inn, the Historical Society arranges walking tours of the city centre, which uncover some intriguing facts about its Tequesta Indian past.
If you are interested in buying or renting a property in sunny Fort Lauderdale, contact Engel & Völkers today. From ultra-luxury apartments to oceanfront condos, our shop right on East Las Olas Boulevard is ideally placed to help you find exactly what you're looking for.