25 Hidden Gems in Greater Fort Lauderdale You Need to See to Believe

Looking for something unique to do in Greater Fort Lauderdale? Skip the tourist traps and head to these hidden gems scattered throughout town.

Marando Farms & Ranch

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A goat standing on some rocks at Marando Farms & Ranch

The city of Davie is known for its cowboy culture, making it the perfect fit for Marando Farms. The family-owned business allows you to support local farmers with its farm-to-table restaurant, The Twisted Tomato, as well as a farmers market selling locally grown produce. The petting zoo is a must for animal lovers, a family of abandoned and abused animals who have found a loving home with the Marando. On the weekends, little ones can take part in pony and hay rides. If you’re in town during a holiday, check the farm’s calendar for special events and festivals. marandoranch.com

Riverfront Gondola Tours

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Exterior view of Nauti Dawg Marina Café in For Lauderdale, FL

With more than 300 miles of canals snaking through the city, it’s no wonder Fort Lauderdale is known as the Venice of America. So it’s only fitting that one can ride along the waterways by gondola. The one-and-a-half hour tour of the city by water can fit up to six passengers, or for a more intimate, romantic experience, schedule a ride with your sweetie. As the vessels take off from Casa Sensei, you can order a decadent meal to-go to enjoy on your journey guided by a gondolier. riverfrontgondolatours.com

Yellow Green Farmers Market

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People visiting the Yellow Green Farmers Market

Whatever craving you have, bets are you’ll find a stall at the Yellow Green Farmers Market serving it up. The Hollywood hotspot has 100,000 square feet of space to house hundreds of food stalls, as well as vendors selling clothing, home goods, jewelry, plants, dog treats, beauty products, and more. Bands play from the cover of a chickee hut, where you can also bring your food to enjoy, and full bars throughout the market can quench your thirst during the hottest Greater Fort Lauderdale days. ygfarmersmarket.com

Old Florida Book Shop

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Inside view of the Old Florida Book Shop

Open since 1978, owner William Chrisant has amassed an impressive collection of books dating back hundreds of years. In this magical store with shelves reaching the ceiling, bibliophiles will find first editions of great literature, children’s reads, contemporary novels, and books covering practically every topic you can imagine. While you’re there, make sure to say hello to the friendly bookstore cat. oldfloridabookshop.com

Ann’s Florist & Coffee Bar

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Outside view of Ann’s Florist & Coffee Bar

The Las Olas florist shop does more than create extravagant bouquets. By day, grab a seat for a cup of coffee paired with sweet and savory bites. When you’re done, explore the gift store surrounded by flowers for home goods, greeting cards and gifts you won’t just find anywhere. As the sun starts to set, meet your friends on the patio to enjoy cocktails and wine while listening to live music from a rotating set of local artists. And if you’ve got a special day planned — bridal shower, engagement or even a dog’s birthday — the staff will help you celebrate. annsfloristlasolas.com

Small Wine Shop

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Small space, small production wines — the name says it all. But what it’s lacking in size, the Small Wine Shop makes up for in taste. The intimate wine shop in Flagler Village has a collection of hand-selected wines, focusing on wineries that create natural, organic and biodynamic pours. There are also two wine clubs to join: Daytrippin’ taps into old favorites with an interesting twist, while Wanderlust takes oenophiles on a journey around the globe. Be sure to check the (not-so-small) calendar of events, which features movie nights, workshops, and bar takeovers. smallwineshop.com 

To the Moon

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View of the candy at To The Moon

Get nostalgic at this Wilton Manors candy shop that sells your favorite treats from yesteryear. Inside, there’s a collection of more than 13,000 candies, sweets and classic toys, and collectibles, as well as thousands of greeting cards. Open since 2005, the local favorite has imported candies from around the world, bulk candy, dozens of chocolate-covered candies, 90 dark chocolate bars (even 100% cocoa!), and American treats you may not have seen in your regular store for decades — think Junket, My T Fine, Jiffy Pop, Sanders Candy, Sun Drop soda, Cheerwine, RC Cola, Moxie and more. Tothemoonmarketplace.com

Inside of Room 901, plush velvet chair in front of a mahogany colored private bar.

Just across the street from the NSU Art Museum in downtown Fort Lauderdale is the towering Hyatt Centric Las Olas — as well as the top secret Rm. 901. More than a hotel room, it’s a reservations-only speakeasy that harkens back to Prohibition. Inside, the room has been transformed into a party space fit with oriental rugs, velvet stools pulled up to a wooden bar, brass and copper barware and decor, and a calendar of visiting bartenders in residence mixing up alluring cocktails to fit your taste. roomnine01.com

Regina’s Farm

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1000 Mermaids Regina's Farm

Going to Regina’s Farm is like being invited to your Brazilian friend’s backyard BBQ. Located in the heart of Fort Lauderdale, the home cook opens her small urban farm to diners, fit with chickens, a toy train for children to ride in, and plenty of family-style picnic tables. The bell rings when dinner is ready, and guests are invited to go from station to station to pick from Regina’s dishes cooked over the fire, including vegan and vegetarian options. A tried and true crowd-pleaser is her famous pão de queijo, or cheese bread. A note, these highly in-demand dinners are booked months in advance, so make a reservation as soon as you even think of going to Fort Lauderdale. reginasfarm.com

Jaxon’s Ice Cream Parlor

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Outside view of Jaxsons

The family behind the scenes at this Dania Beach staple has been serving up scoops and scoops of ice cream since 1956, including the famous Original Kitchen Sink. The dessert’s list of ingredients may be larger than your stomach: 1 pound of ice cream per person, bananas, homemade whipped cream, mixed nuts and cherries all served in a literal kitchen sink. You’ll know it’s coming by the lit sparklers atop the dish, and you and your crew better eat up before it all melts! If that’s a bit much, opt for one of the more than 50 flavors of ice cream, sundaes, burgers, hotdogs, chicken wings, sandwiches, salads, and other favorites. jaxsonsicecream.com

Rebel Wine Bar

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Inside of the Rebel Wine Bar

Oakland Park’s downtown is teeming with small businesses, including the cozy Rebel Wine Bar. Step inside the art deco-inspired bar, with dark green walls, a velvet couch and a bright pink neon sign that makes for the perfect photo wall. You’re sure to see owner Larissa Castelluber checking in on guests as they scour over a wide selection of wines. Throughout the month, she’s got live music nights, poetry readings, tarot card readings, open mic nights, and other events to bring the community together. rebelwinebar.com

Stonewall National Museum and Archives

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Inside view of the Stonewall National Museum and Archives

Greater Fort Lauderdale has no shortage of cultural institutions, but one of these treasures is the Stonewall National Museum and Archives next to Holiday Park. Here, you’ll find the largest collection of LGBTQ memorabilia, including an ever-growing archive of newspapers, books, photographs, protest gear, movies, and even the gavel that overturned Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The museum has a rotating exhibit gallery highlighting the tragedies and triumphs of LGBTQ history, and it partners with other organizations in the community for advocacy work. stonewall-museum.org

Tate’s Comics

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Tate’s got its start in 1993 when owner Tate Ottati opened the Lauderhill comic book store at just 17 — the store was only open after school hours. Today, the 10,000-square-foot business is a mecca for all things comics, maga, graphic novels, figures and toys. On display is also a rotating collection of artwork through Tate’s Comics gallery arm, Bear and Bird. If you’re on the hunt for comics, new, old or niche, this is the place to be. tatescomics.com

Mama Hanks

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Neon sign at Mama Hanks

First, you need the secret code. Then, with an extended brass hand at the front door of this speakeasy inside Fort Liquordale, you’ll have to know the secret handshake to get inside. Once you’ve passed through the gauntlets of this reservations-only hideaway, you’ll see that the bar and restaurant draws upon the American west with stencil prints of buffalo and black leather. There’s no shortage of options from the whiskey menu, and a hearty dinner is guaranteed with steak entrees. mamahanks.com

Old Davie School Historical Museum

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View of a wedding set up at the Old Davie School

Head back to school with a trip to Broward County’s first school building, the Old Davie School House. As settlers made their way west, there was a greater need for a school, and the building was erected in 1918, welcoming 90 students. Over the years it was the center of the town, also serving as a town hall, a dance hall, office space for the Broward County School Board, and a shelter during floods and hurricanes. Students continued to learn there until it was closed in 1980 — but the Old Davie School House still lives on. By appointment, visitors can get a tour of the school and the grounds, as well as partake in activities like soap making, painting and spooky ghost tours. olddavieschool.org

Blue Jeans Blues

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Guitarist performing on a small stage in a dimly-lit jazz club

Sway your stresses away with a drink in your hand and the hypnotic sound of the blues. There’s live music seven days a week at this blues bar in the 33rd Street block — tunes from some of the most talented acts in the region. If you’re especially feeling the music, listen to your hips and take them up to the stage area to dance along to the saxophone, guitar, drums and smooth vocals of that night’s band. bluejeanblues.live

Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts

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Inside view of the Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts
Whether you admire Chihuly’s colorful, large-scale works or Lalique’s timeless crystal pieces, the Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts in Dania Beach celebrates the realm of fired arts. Visitors walking through the museum will be entranced by pottery, porcelain and glass artwork spanning centuries, including works from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco eras as well as Murano masterpieces and the blue-and-white cameo art by Wedgwood. Creative glass workshops are hosted by a local artist, so you can try your hand at the craft yourself. wmoda.com

Hollywood Hot Glass

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Someone blowing glass at Hollywood Hot Glass

If you can’t get enough of the art at the Weiner Museum of Decorative Arts and you have watched every episode of “Blown Away” on Netflix, then Hollywood Hot Glass is calling your name. In fact, the creator of the studio, Brenna Baker, competed on season three of the show. She wants to spread the love of glassblowing with her series of classes, where students will be able to take home paperweights, soap dispensers and ornaments they made themselves. And for a special touch, artists at the studio can make stunning cremation creations with the remains of a loved one. hollywoodhotglass.com

Radio-Active Records

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Vinyl Records

Records may be back en vogue, but for many, it’s a trend that never left. Radio-Active Records has been a mainstay for music fans in Fort Lauderdale since 1995, with its signature black-and-yellow logo found on guitar cases and car windows. Take your time to scour the store’s collection of more than 30,000 LPs, from electronic and hip hop to classic rock, jazz, punk, soul, pop, and more. And things are always happening at Radio-Active, including live performances, art shows, and of course its annual bash for Record Store Day in April.  radio-active-records.com

Holly Blue

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Inside of the Holly Blue

Locals were devastated when Chef Giovanni Rocchio closed Valentino. Then came the news that he was back at it, this time with Holly Blue inside of the century-old First Evangelical Lutheran Church in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Marrying the stately Romanesque brickwork and stained glass with a more casual “American international” menu, foodies can have it all with an indoor or alfresco dining experience while enjoying a new set of dishes by Rocchio and an attractive bar menu. hollyblueftl.com

Cruisin’ Tiki

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People getting on the Cruisin' Tiki

What’s better than a tiki bar? A floating tiki bar. Hop aboard Cruisin’ Tiki for a bar on the move, where you can enjoy cocktails while exploring the New River’s megayachts and mansions. Opt for a sunset cruise, dock at a sandbar for swimming, enjoy jazz aboard a specialty cruise, or choose the time and duration that works for your crew. The tiki cruisers meet at the Historic DownTowner, another hidden gem to add to your list of places to go. cruisintikis.com


Wine Garden

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Inside view of the Wine Garden

Just blocks away from Fort Lauderdale Beach is the hidden Wine Bar, a completely outdoor dining space in a garden setting. The intimate restaurant’s menu offers Italian fare, including Neapolitan-style pizzas, as well as a healthy offering of boutique wines. Lunch or dinner is enjoyed underneath a canopy of trees outfitted with strings of lights. If you have room for dessert, order the s’mores, which are enjoyed at the firepits. Wine Bar also plays host to Sunny Side Up Market’s lady’s night events, where you can sip, stroll and shop. wineandgarden.com

inside of the alchemistWilton Manors’ very own quiet getaway is the thoroughfare of The Yard, a bohemian oasis in the Island City. Think murals covering a maze of concrete walls, a farmers market, margaritas from La Mexicana, coffee at The Alchemist, shopping at Lola’s Market, or crepes from Voo La Voo Cafe. All of this can be shared in a peaceful courtyard surrounded by tower trees, tropical plants and blooming orchids. Come for the food, take in the photo ops, and stay for the chance to escape the busyness of everyday life

The Wreck Bar

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A mermaid swimming at the Wreck Bar

Follow the siren’s call to the B Ocean Hotel’s Wreck Bar, where mermaids have been swimming past the bar’s portholes since the 1950s. The windows here as a peek into the hotel’s swimming pool, and throughout the week mermaid shows entertain guests young and old. There are burlesque shows, Aquamen, the classic mermaid show, a children’s performance by Coral the mermaid, and a Mermaids & Mimosas show for brunch. The Wreck Bar also resurrected the hotel’s Polynesian nights, bringing out hula dancers, ukulele musicians, and plenty of tiki cocktails. boceanresort.com

Classic Gateway Theater

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Gateway Theatre

This movie theater is an icon in Fort Lauderdale entertainment, showing its first film in 1951 and today screening blockbusters and independent films. Take part in the monthly tradition of a midnight screening of “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” fit with shadow actors who dance and sing along to the script and provide moviegoers with props to play along in pivotal scenes. The theater also plays host to the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival and the OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival. fliff.com/gateway