Photograph by Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo
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Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is known as the "yachting capital of the world."

Photograph by Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo

Everything to Know About Fort Lauderdale

Here's how to plan the best possible trip to the Venice of America.

Fort Lauderdale’s spring break reputation dates back to the 1930s, but over the past few years, the city has traded in Solo cups for sleeker stemware. Swanky rooftop bars and speakeasy-inspired lounges are sprouting up downtown, with the railroad tracks shielding some of the hottest pieces of real estate. Mimicking Miami, Fort Lauderdale is transforming concrete-heavy warehouse districts into street art-lined neighborhoods catering to the Florida city’s creative community.

When to Go

Fort Lauderdale is considered a year-round beach destination (you can comfortably dip your toes in the water in winter), but high season kicks off in December once hurricane threats subside. Plan your trip for early spring when the sun isn’t too sweltering, or time your travel around sea turtle nesting season (between March and October) to watch hatchlings crawl their way to the water.

Celebrate

For three days in April, Fort Lauderdale Beach Park’s white sands sport stages drawing some of the biggest names in country, rock, and rap (think everyone from Keith Urban to Snoop Dogg and Sister Hazel) at Rock the Ocean’s Tortuga Music Festival, which has raised over a million dollars for ocean conservation.

What to Eat

Le Tub Saloon, a former Sunoco gas station sitting on the Intracoastal, has developed a cult following for its superthick, 13-ounce sirloin hamburgers (which GQ rated no. 1 in the nation), while One Door East is redefining the city’s taco scene with spicy, tuna-stuffed tempura shells. At Coconuts, the appetizer bowl of crab “scoobies” (snow or blue crab pincher claws sautéed in olive oil, crushed red pepper, and garlic) are so popular, they’re not even listed on the menu.

Souvenir to Take Home

Snag a piece of the city’s street art with a portrait by graffiti artist Herbert Galarza (known for the Hive’s kaleidoscope-colored Marilyn Monroe mural) or a print by Australian-born pop artist Sharon Lee Swift, available at her gallery in the craft café Bean to Brew.

Sustainable Travel Tip

Hop on a bright yellow bike at one of the B-cycle stands conveniently placed along Fort Lauderdale Beach for an eco-chic way to cruise the coast.

Instagram-Worthy View

Pose under the neon “Adventure Is Calling” sign above the doorway at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park’s bistro, Park & Ocean, where you can sip a Florida fruit-based beer brewed in-house before heading out on a paddling tour through mangrove trails. For an iconic shot of the water, head to Fort Lauderdale Beach at sunrise to snap a pic of A1A’s three-mile-long white Wave Wall.

Originally from Fort Lauderdale, Lane Nieset is a travel writer who now calls Nice, France, home. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.