A city on the water, Greater Fort Lauderdale is famous for its Venetian-style waterways and sweeping promenade-lined beachfront. When night falls, this glamorous setting comes into its own with twinkling lights, palm trees silhouetted by the setting sun and a sophisticated crowd eager to drink, dine, stroll and admire the spectacular views.
Here are nine suggestions for ways to make the most of your nights in ‘The Venice of America’.
1. Sip cocktails at sunset
Enjoy a delicious sundowner cocktail on the rooftop bar terrace at the W Fort Lauderdale – a prime people watching spot and the perfect place to see the glorious Floridian sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.
2. Stroll down Las Olas Boulevard
South Florida’s famous shopping and dining district, Las Olas, stretches from the beach at A1A and is immaculately lined with palm trees, boutiques and bars. Rising over the fabulous Intracoastal Waterway with magnificent views of million dollar homes and spectacular yachts, the evening sees the boulevard’s black olive trees festooned with sparking lights. Brightly coloured Mediterranean architecture makes the boulevard even more magical.
3. Dine in style
Las Olas is a paradise for food-lovers, offering an enticing choice of eateries. Much-loved staples of the culinary and nightlife include Louie Bossi, a high-energy Italian restaurant, and YOLO, a must-visit, for its delicious contemporary American cuisine and open fire pit.
Voted Greater Fort Lauderdale’s Most Romantic Restaurant, Casablanca’s is well worth a visit. Serving American dishes with a Mediterranean and Caribbean twist, its beachfront location in a restored historical house is truly unique. Built in 1927 in the Mediterranean Revival style, it was the first home constructed on Fort Lauderdale Beach and is now the oldest remaining structure. Today, you can enjoy the balmy evening breeze and ocean views, while you eat and enjoy the live music. Dreamy.
4. Take a night-time cruise
The Jungle Queen Riverboat has been cruising these waters for 80 years and is a must for first-time visitors. After sailing through Millionaire’s Row gazing at the spectacular homes and mega yachts, you arrive at a tropical island where a BBQ and shrimp dinner is served.
There’s even live entertainment before your return trip.
5. Enjoy the water by moonlight
For a more romantic tour of the canals after your evening of wining and dining, why not recline in a gondola? In Italy’s Venice, gondoliers tell couples to kiss whenever they pass under a bridge. But in Florida, gondoliers joke you should kiss at the sight of a palm tree. You’ll pass many palm trees. Wink wink.
6. Tuck into some fresh crab
Whether you’re looking for an authentic crab shack with wooden mallets to crack the shells or a more sophisticated dining experience with cocktails, make sure you sample the famous Florida stone crab. ‘Surf and turf’ – a menu of the freshest seafood alongside ribs, steaks and burgers – is a delightfully decadent option.
7. Put on your dancing shoes
Whatever gets your toes tapping, Greater Fort Lauderdale has it, whether it’s a country and western night out at the saloon, a salsa bar or a super-cool nightclub. Vibe Las Olas lays claim to being ‘Venice of America’s’ hottest night club while Café del Mar hosts live bands, local talent and international performers on its beachfront stage.
8. Head to a downtown bar
Pull up a barstool and order an ice cold beer, mellow glass of wine or a zingy cocktail. American Social, situated on Las Olas Boulevard, offers local and regional beers with over 40 on tap, while Original Fat Cats has a relaxed atmosphere, a huge craft beer selection and live local bands.
9. Try night time paddle boarding
What’s more fun than stand-up paddle boarding? Stand-up paddleboarding at night-time. With LED lights. That’s what.
Take a sunset NightSUP tour with Precision Paddleboards (located on Seabreeze Boulevard) and follow your guide through the water. With the fish illuminated by the lights and the tranquility that arrives when the embers of the day are fading, it’s a dose of magic you’ll struggle to find anywhere else.