I’ve been to Florida countless times and each time, I discover another reason to love the Sunshine State. It’s not only where I met the man who would become my husband, but it’s where he proposed to me and it’s a place we now travel to frequently to spend time with family. We recently spent some time in Fort Lauderdale and I realized that while I’ve been there before, a lot has changed and the last time I was there, it was to attend a conference and between the back-to-back appointments, meetings and receptions, I barely saw the outside of the convention centre. So I was happy to spend three full days exploring the area and checking out all the great things to do. If you’re headed to Fort Lauderdale and are wondering where to eat, shop and stay, read on! Here’s a peek at how I spent my time there.
Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale
My Fort Lauderdale adventure kicked off by checking into the beautiful Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale, the city’s only AAA Five-Diamond hotel. I’m a big fan of Ritz-Carlton hotels; I love knowing that I can expect a certain level of service as well as a family-friendly experience. Ritz-Carlton really knows how to marry luxury with amenities that matter to parents and kids. Our oceanfront room, which also overlooked the pool, was expansive and had a separate living room area. Guests in one-bedroom suites and oceanfront rooms have access to the Club Lounge, which is one of my favourite things about Ritz-Carlton hotels, especially now that I have a child. I love knowing that I can go into the lounge at any time of day and find food, healthy snacks and milk for him. And at mealtime, the staff was so accommodating, and made him whatever we asked for (which was usually a pasta dish because, well, toddlers … ) The hotel is right on Fort Lauderdale Beach so it’s about a minute from leaving the hotel til your toes are in the sand. The spa offers a range of luxury treatments (try the signature treatment ‘Intuitive Ocean’ for a scrub, wrap, massage and facial all rolled into one that will make you feel like a brand new human being!) and it’s got an amazing restaurant so read on to find out more.
Located inside the Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale, Burlock Coast is a must if you’re looking for good eats in Fort Lauderdale. It’s got both indoor and outdoor seating but I definitely recommend dining al fresco to enjoy the waterfront views. And the food is ah-mazing! I ordered the sea scallops but there was a slight mix-up and was brought the lobster pappardelle by accident. The staff was quick to sort things out and bring me my original order but I was able to try both dishes and if I were to go back, I don’t know how I’d choose between the lobster and the scallops … they were both that good. I also love that there’s a decent kids menu so there were plenty of options for my 21-month-old son, besides your standard mac and cheese and chicken fingers.
Dubbed ‘authentic Mexican soul food’, El Camino is a new place that just opened in March 2018 and it’s the place to go when you’re looking for a dining experience that’s fun, fresh and friendly. The first thing you’ll notice when you step inside are the lime green leather banquettes, which lend a really welcoming, laid-back vibe to the space. The menu features everything you’d expect at a Mexican restaurant, from tacos and burritos to enchiladas and fajitas, as well as a number of appetizers and sides, all with a little twist. Definitely order the Mexican street corn!
I didn’t really know what to expect before heading for Italian food at Louie Bossi’s but when I walked in, I was blown away. This charming restaurant is one of the most beautifully thought-out restaurants I’ve ever been to and I couldn’t stop looking around at all the whimsical details. The interior is beautiful, with dark woods and chocolate and mustard-coloured banquettes that give off a rustic vibe but the exterior seating area is what’s really special. The outdoor setting is pretty and picturesque, with lots of greenery, an ornate gilded gazebo, a bocce court and an adorable bicycle-drawn gelateria. The food is fresh and delicious (all the pastas, bread, gelatos, cookies and pastries are made in-house daily) and you won’t be sorry you stopped here.
Las Olas Boulevard
Las Olas Boulevard is in the heart of Fort Lauderdale and is a great place to spend the day shopping. Stroll along the pretty street and stop in at boutiques and art galleries. This charming part of town is home to many independent and local retailers, as well as local cafes and bars. When you need to recharge your batteries from a busy day of shopping, stop in at Ann’s Florist & Coffee Bar for a hot or iced coffee and yummy macarons.
Eucalyptus Gardens is a totally unique place in Fort Lauderdale where you can shop and eat. It’s not big but it’s bright and colourful and is like an outdoor art gallery. From shopping in an Airstream to eating in outdoor gardens and checking out all the beautiful wall murals, Eucalyptus Gardens is a sensory experience that you’ll love.
Where are your favourite places to eat, shop and stay in Fort Lauderdale? Leave a comment below and let me know!