Set your adventurous spirit free in a beach playground unlike any other. Explore miles of golden beaches and scenic waterways and discover why we’re known as the “Yachting Capital of the World.” Revel in cosmopolitan dining and nightlife and bespoke pampering from the most celebrated hotel brands in the world. We can’t wait to welcome you.
Greater Fort Lauderdale’s 24 miles of pristine beaches have been attracting sun worshippers for ages. Savvy travelers, however, know that the area offers more than just its beautiful coastline. Further inland, you’ll find a thriving cultural scene, musicians, artists and designers, along with thrilling views, incredible cuisine with a new class of chefs, and unforgettable outings. Here’s how to take in the best of Greater Fort Lauderdale’s many posh pleasures in just 36 hours.
Check into the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach and take a moment to marvel at the massive constellation of small, light-reflecting crystals suspended from the chandelier in the sleek and modern resort lobby. Sweeping balcony views of the surf to the east and purple-blue skyscrapers to the distant west will greet you in your upper-floor room—as will state-of-the-art finishes like touch-screen stovetops, spacious closets, and a marble soaking tub.
Unpack, then settle in at Atlas Cocktail Lounge downstairs. The arched bar is flanked by plush sofas and a fully-stocked library of thick hardcovers—it’s a suitably studious environment to sip an Old & Smokey, a take on the traditional Old Fashioned. Your cocktail will be crafted in high style: wheeled seat-side by a smiling bartender, the drink sits inside a gold-framed glass box filled with applewood and hickory smoke. When a tiny door on the chamber is flicked open, smoke pours out as your cup is presented. Ready your phone: it’s definitely a document-worthy moment.
Tame your morning cravings at Cornucopia, the Conrad’s artisanal market stocked with bacon and cheddar frittatas and all kinds of pastries. Then hit the beach across the street for a restorative morning yoga session. Stretched out on your mat, the lull of the ocean’s waves and the relaxing sea breeze will help you start your day of sightseeing on a relaxed note.
Next, head 10 miles south of the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach to Gulfstream Park: a sprawling, open-air dining, retail, and horseracing complex filled with upscale sports bars, shops, and gastropubs. Grab an elevated spin on buffet lunch at Ten Palms (think: mimosas, chorizo and mushroom ravioli, and freshly sliced pot roast) and take in the restaurant’s breathtaking views of the track action.
Tour the Gulfstream’s oval paddock: a fountain plaza framed in bleachers where thoroughbreds and jockeys are paraded in front of wagers before every race. It’s an impressive scene: 1,500 stalls are occupied at Gulfstream and some 150 races happen per day, with the backstretch of the track surrounded by enthusiastic, program-waving bettors. If you want to get in on the action, guest services will coach you on everything from pari-mutuel odds to the winningest jockeys, and even hook first-timers up with betting vouchers.
Take your winnings north to the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, an ambitious art haven with two floors of contemporary art and exhibits spanning Pablo Picasso’s pottery to Frida Kahlo’s paintings.
Then, head across the street for cocktails at Rooftop @1WLO, the popular garden atop the One West Las Olas building. Among the soft glow of market lights and dozens of Saturday evening revelers on the Astroturf patio, you’ll feel glamorous sipping Ginger Apple Mules (Rooftop’s signature and rumored most popular cocktail) on wooden banquettes with Fort Lauderdale’s dreamy downtown skyline glittering below.
A trip to The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale’s luxurious day spa is in order. After sipping a hot tea inside the lounge, visit the treatment room for an Intuitive Ocean experience, which includes a sea-salt body scrub and a marine mud wrap, followed by a full-body massage featuring algae and a juniper and hibiscus relaxation oil. Top the experience off with a trip to the spacious sauna and steam room.
The stellar noon brunch at Steak 954, restaurateur Stephen Starr’s chic steakhouse inside the W Fort Lauderdale hotel, will put all other mid-day meals to shame. Once you’re ensconced beside a massive aquarium of some 150 jellyfish in the cozy dining room with chartreuse benches, orchids, and earthy lampshade fixtures, start with a medley of watermelon, blackberries, raspberries, and bananas drizzled with ginger syrup before moving on to the mains: skirt steak topped with chimichurri and over-easy eggs, and a trio of fluffy blueberry pancakes topped with Chantilly cream and blueberry compote, followed by an apple crisp pop tart—a decadent dessert made daily by veteran pastry chef Sarah Magoon.
End your trip with a siesta on the sand—cross the street and head to Fort Lauderdale’s famed golden sandy beach for one last elixir of surf and sun.
Originally published in Travel + Leisure.