Culture + Style

Loosen Your Purse Strings at Fort Lauderdale’s 5 Most Unique Boutiques

It’s no secret that Fort Lauderdale is a paradise for beachgoers. After all, the name of the city’s main boulevard, Las Olas, is Spanish for “the waves,” and almost all of the city’s swankiest hotels sit right on the Atlantic Ocean.

Still, FLL (as the locals call it) isn’t only about surf and sand. While luxurious shopping malls are as common here as swaying palm trees and tanned bodies, quirkier Fort Lauderdale shopping options are a better-kept secret. These are the most unique spots for retail therapy, from cigar boutiques to flea markets and beyond.

Swap Shop Flea Market

The term “flea market” has a range of connotations as diverse as the goods you can usually find at one, but Fort Lauderdale’s Swap Shop may blow your preconceived notions away. Browse an impressive range of more than 2,000 sellers who peddle household items, fashion from decades past, yesteryear’s electronics and quirky children’s items.

Or geek out at the vintage Car Museum and then indulge the appetite your browsing has built up at the on-site farmers market.

Even more charming than the eclectic goods on offer is the fact that Swap Shop operates its own drive-in movie theater with cinematic offerings that — not surprisingly — span the decades.

Neptune Cigar Superstore

Fort Lauderdale shopping
Get your cigar fix at one of the best shops in South Florida. (Photo: Getty Images)

When you think of cigars in South Florida, your brain probably goes to Miami, if only because of how inextricable the city’s large Cuban population is from cigar culture. In fact, Fort Lauderdale’s Neptune Cigar Superstore gives Miami’s best humidors a run for their money at its convenient location between the Fort Lauderdale International Airport and downtown.

Neptune offers a wide range of cigars from the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua, so you’ll have plenty of options to satisfy your international cravings.

Joe Picasso’s Paint Your Own Pottery Studio

This is a totally different shopping experience, where you’ll create the pieces you purchase. Don’t be fooled by the name: Joe Piccaso’s is as much about experiences as it is about the artful quality of the pottery itself. Whether you take a pottery-wheel lesson to learn how to make mud into magic or sign up for workshops on glass fusion and canvas painting, you’ll leave Joe Picasso’s with as many memories as you do pieces of art — and maybe a buzz if you attend one of the 21-and-over wine-glass painting classes.

It’s a Mid Mod Mad World

fort lauderdale shopping
It is indeed a wonderfully mad world at this shop. (Photo: It’s a Mid Mod Mad World)

Many frequent Fort Lauderdale travelers know Wilton Manors as the heart of the city’s vibrant LGBT community, but it’s also one of the city’s most colorful shopping districts.

Exhibit A is It’s a Mid Mod Mad World, a home décor boutique with retail offerings as fun as its name. From a wide selection of furniture that spans the good, the bad and the very unusual of the last century, as well as a menagerie of lamps, tables, rugs and other accents to round out any vintage look, home improvement has never been so exciting.

Couture Upscale Consign

Also in Wilton Manors, Couture Upscale Consign is a bit like Swap Shop in that it takes a familiar concept (the consignment shop) and turns it on its head. You’ll only find high-end labels inside the gently-loved bags, shoes and women’s clothing items on offer here, including Coach, Hermès and Christian Louboutin, to name a few.

All the items here are carefully inspected to ensure authenticity, and the friendly staff are always looking for fabulous new items to consign, in case you’re looking to sell rather than buy.