Though Fort Lauderdale gained its fame as a spring break destination, this tiny beachside city offers much more than just expansive white sand beaches and a hopping bar scene. Although Miami has held the spotlight as the cultural and design hub of South Florida, Fort Lauderdale has recently emerged as an upcoming art and cultural mecca with its burgeoning street art, edgy contemporary galleries, and international culinary scene.
Exploring the Art Scene
In its third consecutive year, Art Fort Lauderdale has emerged as one of Fort Lauderdale’s premier art fairs, spanning 4 days at the end of January. Attendees enjoyed contemporary art curated in multi-million dollar waterfront properties on the market that line the famed Intracoastal Waterway. Each home reflects a different theme and body of artwork. This unique setting brings the art world to life; art aficionados and collectors can purchase art and interact with the galleries and artists in an interactive and engaging way.
Miami has the Wynwood Walls and Hollywood has the Downtown Hollywood Mural Project. Presented by the Hollywood Community Redevelopment Agency, these contemporary outdoor murals, strategically placed in downtown Hollywood, were created by local, national and internationally recognized artists who redefine street art. The best way to experience these massive works of art is to stroll the streets and appreciate the cultural fabric of the neighborhood.
Celebrating its 60thbirthday is Fort Lauderdale’s Nova Southeastern University Art Museum, which houses a diverse collection of innovative exhibitions. Housing the largest body of William J. Glackens work, their current exhibition explores the affinities and distinctions between Glackens and Pierre-Auguste Renoir and the influence he had in shaping Glackens’ style. This exploratory view is a provocative look at the techniques that shaped French and American Impressionism.
Where to Dine
Satisfy your cravings for authentic Italian cuisine at Pizza Craft Artisan Pizzeria & Cocktail Bar. The specialty of the house is the creative wood-fired pizza, featuring “00” flour, imported tomatoes, homemade mozzarella and flavorful toppings such as spicy sopressata, hot honey, and other farm-to-table ingredients. Other mouthwatering options include homemade pastas, such as cavatelli braised oxtail, and the meat-centric Nonna’s Sunday Gravy with fennel sausage, pork ribs, stewed beef, meatball-laden rigatoni. Afterwards, grab a drink at Apothecary 330, their speakeasy style bar next door, which offers bespoke elixirs in a cozy vintage setting.
Enjoy Baja-style contemporary Mexican fare at El Vez, a chic taqueria created by acclaimed restaurateur Stephen Starr. Enjoy a relaxing alfresco lunch overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in a vibrant and lively setting with delicious options such as ceviche, guacamole, crispy Mahi Mahi tacos, and queso fondido.
Redefining today’s modern steak house is the wildly popular Steak 954, created by Stephen Starr. Not only is the restaurant known for its succulent cuts of dry aged steaks, but it also offers a range of other expertly executed seafood, such as seared scallops or yellowfin tuna, and foie gras tacos served in a luxurious and elegant setting. The centerpiece of the sexy dining room is their mesmerizing glass wall of glowing jelly fish gracefully gliding across the aquarium.
As one of Fort Lauderdale’s premiere hospitality groups, The Restaurant People, TRP Taste pushes the boundaries to culinary heights with their experimental pop-up venue. This intimate 26-seat kitchen and dining room offers a rotating and evolving schedule of unique culinary-driven, multi-course experiences that offer exclusive pairings with different liquors and wines. Diners have a chance to interact and converse with the chef and liquor brand ambassadors as they watch their culinary masterpieces get prepared in front of them.
Experience luxurious waterfront dining at Boatyard, located in the Fort Lauderdale marina. Admire the superyachts of South Florida from the dockside patio lounge overlooking the scenic intracoastal views or dine inside their nautically-inspired dining room. Enjoy contemporary American style cuisine prepared with fresh locally-caught seafood along with an extensive raw bar and wood-fired, dry aged steaks.
Where to Stay
Combining style with beachfront views is the stylish W Fort Lauderdale, which recently underwent a $55 million renovation. Centrally located in the epicenter of the “Venice of America,” these stylish and pet-friendly hotel rooms and suites offer luxurious comfort with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. There are plenty of amenities to keep you entertained from day to night. Spend the day relaxing by the expansive WET pool while soaking up some rays or dine at Stephen Starr’s Steak 954 and Mexican hotspot El Vez. Detox and rejuvenate at the new AWAY spa, or take a complementary workout class on the beach or at the gym. Start your evening in the Living Room, which offers a revolving program of nightly entertainment that showcases local artists and DJ sets.