Canal and apartment buildings in Fort Lauderdale

Enjoy time on the water in Fort Lauderdale. (Photo: Marriott International)

Weekend Getaways

Immerse Yourself in 72 Hours of Culture in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is a playground for those who just can’t decide if they want to relax or live it up. Known as the “Venice of America,” the beach town blends land and sea in a beautiful way, reminding you around every corner that you’re never far from the sound of waves.

Much of Fort Lauderdale’s charm comes from the fact that there are 165 miles of canals weaving from the coastline into the city’s neighborhoods, adding character that isn’t found in many other places in the United States.

This also makes it easy to transition from lazy beach mornings and afternoons to hopping nightlife; and in many cases, you can experience both paces of life with a quick walk between neighborhoods.

As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.

Friday: Ease Into the Water Views

Start your day in the North Beach neighborhood. Grab a coffee from a local shop (check out Archibalds Village Bakery for a pastry and a cold brew) and check out the Bonnet House Museums & Gardens. After perusing the stunning grounds — which served as the home and studios for married artists Frederic Clay Bartlett and Evelyn Fortune — head to the water.

One of the best ways to tour the city is to see it from a different angle: on a boat. Book a ticket on a gondola tour, which wends through the residential canals and provides a proper peek at the stunning waterfront mansions. Tours run all day, but the sunset cruises tend to make more of an impression.

Dinner spread at Bombay Darbar restaurant
Having dinner at Bombay Darbar is a must. (Photo: Marriott International)

After hopping off of your tour, book a dinner reservation at Bombay Darbar, a local favorite for authentic Indian cuisine in the Las Olas neighborhood, an upscale area known for its after-hours wine bars and swanky cocktail lounges. Before turning in, head to the Rooftop @1WLO to enjoy the sweeping views of Fort Lauderdale and a drink or two.

Saturday: Take in the Sunrise, Brunch and Lots of Culture

Woman sitting on the beach in Fort Lauderdale
Take in the Florida sunshine. (Photo: Marriott International)

There’s no bad time to visit the beach, but sunrise is extra special. Head to Fort Lauderdale Beach for a chance to see the coast with fewer visitors. Give yourself the freedom to completely lose track of time at Loggerhead Park or the Earl Lifshey Ocean Park, two great spots for posting up with a blanket and a good book.

From there, fuel up after your early alarm at Lona Cocina & Tequileria for brunch. Once you’ve regained your energy, head downtown across the Intracoastal Waterway to the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District — a 22-block hub of concert venues, theaters, galleries and museums running alongside the banks of the New River.

While you could dedicate a whole day to taking in this cultural hotspot, your priorities are the stunning architecture of the Florida Grand Opera, the Historic Stranahan House Museum (Fort Lauderdale’s oldest surviving home), the world-class NSU Art Museum and the family-friendly Museum of Discovery & Science.

Plan ahead and get a ticket for a Broadway show at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

When it comes to dinner, book a table at Eddie V’s Prime Seafood for what’s considered the best surf and turf option in the city. Follow up dinner with a stroll along the river and a sweet treat from Hoffman’s Chocolates.

Sunday: Chill Out in the Park

Couple walking through Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
Stroll through Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. (Photo: Marriott International)

After a day rubbing shoulders with the crowds of Downtown Fort Lauderdale, head back toward the North Beach neighborhood next to the Intracoastal Waterway, where you’ll find Hugh Taylor Birch State Park — a lovely locale for spending quality time with Florida nature.

Known locally as “Central Park,” you can rent kayaks, canoes, Jet Skis and paddleboards to use at the nearby beach during your time here. There are also Segway tours offered throughout the day. Grab a meal at Park & Ocean, which boasts seaside views and a farm-to-table menu with Caribbean and Southern influences.

End your trip much as it began: on a boat. This time, step aboard the Jungle Queen Riverboat, which has been winding through Fort Lauderdale’s waterways since 1935. You can opt for the 90-minute sightseeing cruise or add on dinner and a live show to make it a four-hour experience.