Whether you live in northern Florida or all the way up in the New England states, just about everyone loves the idea of heading down to south Florida in the middle of winter.
Located just north of Miami, Fort Lauderdale might be the best destination for a weekend getaway to escape the cold during the winter months.
With the Fort Lauderdale International Airport and I-95 both located only a short drive from a plethora of beachfront resorts, Fort Lauderdale is easy to get to from just about anywhere in the country. And once you arrive, there is nothing but good vibes to be found all over this popular tourist destination!
Where to Stay: The Conrad Fort Lauderdale
All of the biggest and best hotels in Fort Lauderdale are located along A1A, which Vanilla Ice introduced to all of us as “Beachfront Avenue” back in 1990. Any hotel you choose along this iconic stretch of highway will be fabulous, but my favorite has to be the Conrad Fort Lauderdale.
Not only is the Conrad one of the newer hotels in town, but it is also an “ALL SUITES” hotel, which means that even the base-level rooms are going to offer up plenty of space. (And if you are booking with an American Express Platinum or have Hilton Diamond status, there is a good chance that you can score a complimentary upgrade to an oceanfront suite or even one of the three two-story poolside “duplex” suites.)
Like most hotels along this stretch, the Conrad offers a fantastic poolside menu, first-class dining options, and a gorgeous lobby bar (we'll get to that in a bit). Plus, there is a gourmet coffee shop located right in the lobby.
Day One: Coconuts, Amenities, S3, and Cocktails
Assuming you are going to be hungry upon your arrival, it's not a bad idea at all to start your Fort Lauderdale experience at Coconuts for a proper Florida lunch experience right on the water. Everything is excellent here, but since you are hanging out along the coast of Florida, you almost have to order one of the seafood dishes.
Following lunch, it's time to kick back and get yourself into the proper Fort Lauderdale state of mind by enjoying the hotel amenities. The Conrad and most of the other hotels along the beach offer guests complimentary beach chairs and a fabulous rooftop pool with views for days.
For dinner on our first night in town, we're taking a quick stroll down A1A for a fantastic tapas feast at S3 (Sun Surf Sand). Everything is small plates here, which is a huge help since you'll want to order about half the menu. Don't skip those sushi rolls!
If you're in the mood for a nightcap following dinner, Atlas Cocktail Lounge located in the Conrad lobby is a fantastic place to grab a drink whether you are staying there or not. They offer an extensive list of craft cocktails in a classy but not pretentious setting.
Day Two: A1A, Tacos, Gardens, Steak, and a Speakeasy
Our second day in Fort Lauderdale will be all about enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery of the area, and the best way to kick off a day like that is with a casual stroll down A1A. Feel free to swap back and forth between the beach side of the highway and the shopping side, depending on which you prefer. Just make sure that you get a little exposure to both.
For lunch, we're stopping at Lona Cocina Tequileria for one of the most unique presentations of authentic Mexican cuisine you will find in all of Florida. The lunch menu here features all of the traditional options, but there are also some unique local twists like Lump Crab Guacamole and their famous Tuna Tostada.
After lunch, assuming you don't have a tee time booked, our destination will be the gorgeous Bonnet House Museum & Gardens. This 1920s-era plantation home is simply beautiful, and you can't help relaxing as you make your way around the property. There's a reason it's one of the highest-rated attractions in the area among locals and tourists alike.
Dinner reservations for our second night in Fort Lauderdale will be back on A1A at Steak 954. This beachfront restaurant delivers everything you expect from a high-end steakhouse experience, including some of the best desserts in town.
This wouldn't be a Florida for Boomers “48-Hours” article without a recommendation for a cool craft cocktail bar or speakeasy, and that is exactly what you will find at Unit B. You'll need to be dressed appropriately and check the website for that day's code to gain entry, but the experience here is totally worth the effort.
Day Three: Riverwalk, Brunch, and More Shopping
If you are able to arrange a later check out from your room at the Conrad Fort Lauderdale, you'll definitely want to spend the early part of your last day in town kicking back at the pool.
But if a later checkout isn't an option, another great way to spend your last morning in town is checking out the Fort Lauderdale riverwalk downtown. This is a little too far to walk from the beachfront hotels, but it's only a short drive from all of the main hotels, and it's a fabulous place to take a stroll and check out some boutique shopping.
Located right along this same stretch is Java & Jam, which offers up one of the best brunch menus in town. You can't go wrong with the Banana Bread French Toast or the Smoked Salmon Benedict here!
Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale and Java & Jam are located right next to the famous Las Olas Boulevard shopping district, so if you need anything before heading out of town, this is the place to locate it.
After 48 hours in Fort Lauderdale, we have just barely scratched the surface of all that there is to see and do, not to mention all the fantastic dining options. That is exactly what makes this such a popular tourist destination, and it explains why people come back over and over again. Book your next trip now, and we'll see you at the beach!
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