A Weekend in Downtown Fort Lauderdale

From where to stay to must-see art exhibits and delectable bites, PBI planned out the perfect 48 hours in downtown Fort Lauderdale

Images courtesy Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB

Friday afternoon

Check in to The Dalmar, downtown Fort Lauderdale’s hip new lifestyle hotel. The Dalmar has become the gathering place for hipsters and creatives, who populate the midcentury-styled common areas and sip frozen mango mojitos by the sixth-floor saline pool.

Friday night

If you didn’t have a drink at Sparrow, did you even go to Fort Lauderdale? The bar on the twenty-fifth floor of The Dalmar defines rooftop culture and is literally the hottest spot in the city right now. Why? Panoramic views, for starters. And kitschy-chic ’60s decor. And a bar cart for mixing group cocktails with names like “Mixtape Punch.” 

Saturday morning

Walk—or, if you’re feeling adventurous, take a motorized scooter (they’re on every sidewalk)—to Las Olas Boulevard, and perch at Ann’s Florist Coffee and Wine Bar. Who doesn’t want to sip a cappuccino in the midst of hydrangeas and anemones? Pro tip: For maximum social-media mileage, snag the table for two adjacent to the wall of roses. After, stroll Las Olas and duck into shops like Deborah James for fab fashion.

Saturday afternoon

The up-and-coming MASS (Music and Arts South of Sunrise) District is a collective of creatives determined to bring art to the forefront. Think of it as Wynwood in its nascent phase: a sprawling space of former warehouses, now decorated with bold murals and occupied by artsy businesses. On the last Saturday of every month, the district offers a free Artwalk with music, food trucks, and a vibrant street scene. MAC Fine Art, a 12,000-square-foot gallery featuring a highly curated collection of prominent and emerging artists, is a collector’s dream. Stop in for a visit, and seek out owner Mary Ann Cohen, whose depth of knowledge is impressive. And don’t leave without a stop at rapper Tory Lanez’s Notorious Creamery, home of the Cookie Monster (emphasis on monster) ice cream cone.

Saturday evening

Start your night on the town at Invasive Species Brewery and Taproom for a tasting of the excellent beers produced by a quartet of Florida natives putting Fort Lauderdale on the microbrew map. Continue on to the FATVillage arts district, home to emerging artists and designers. Instead of glossy galleries, you’ll find experimental installations in unexpected spaces, as well as working artists’ studios. 

Sunday morning

There’s nothing like a decadent brunch to round out the perfect weekend. Though it looks like a humble eatery at first glance, Foxy Brown is cited by the locals with near-cult reverence. A newcomer understands the fascination after an encounter with the banana bread grilled cheese with Nutella and ricotta filling, s’mores waffle, or short rib benedict with chimichurri hollandaise. It’s useless to count calories. Enjoy every morsel, and counter with a 50-mile bike ride later.

Photo by Steven Brooke

Sunday afternoon

The NSU Art Museum, at the western end of Las Olas Boulevard, is at the heart of Fort Lauderdale’s cultural scene. The 83,000-square-foot building houses both popular and provocative exhibitions, offering something for everyone. Don’t miss “Happy!,” on view through early October. Designed to evoke emotion, the exhibit explores happiness signifiers like music, smiles, play, and childhood joy as a way of subverting the darker aspects of the human condition.

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