Destination Inspiration: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US
A 40-minute drive north of Miami, the cool coastal city of Fort Lauderdale is a must-visit for creatives seeking inspiration, offering edgy art studios, design-driven hotels, independent galleries and laid-back eateries.
15 August, 2022
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US.
Bordered by picture-perfect Palm Beach and seriously sexy Miami, the no-frills coastal city of Fort Lauderdale has long served as a pit-stop destination. Recently, however, thanks to a fresh breed of creatives setting up shop, the city has undergone something of a renaissance. With independent galleries, boho beach shacks, design-driven hotels and edgy art studios cropping up along its sun-kissed coastline, this is fast becoming a go-to destination for switched-on, sun-seeking Americans and savvy travellers alike.
While Fort Lauderdale's full-time population hovers at around 200,000, the city feels more akin to a close-knit village than a fast-paced city. Stroll beyond the tourist-friendly Las Olas Boulevard and you'll find a slew of art-drenched districts to explore. Start by visiting the historic Sistrunk Market - a hip gathering space packed with food and retail options - before swinging by the quieter Victoria Park neighbourhood to check out some classic 1930s architecture, then make a beeline for the former industrial warehouse district Flagler Village, now home to galleries, street murals and indie shops and cafés galore.
Art enthusiasts will want to carve out time to visit Sarah Glass Ceramics, a woman-owned pottery studio dedicated to creativity and community. Those looking to get their hands dirty should book onto one of the studio's workshops. Our favourite is the sunset yoga class - a session that allows you to both create two pinch pots and perfect your plank pose. We can confirm that it's just as magical as it sounds.
Where to stay?
Settle in at Pillars Hotel, where airy bedrooms showcase art deco furnishings and sparkling sea views. Find a space at the palm-fringed pool, which is flanked by plush, pin-striped loungers, before moving onto cocktails at the sultry in-house Secret Garden restaurant.
Where to go for dinner?
Ask any seafood lover where the best spot in the city is for freshly caught fish and they'll likely tell you Coconuts - and give you a run-down of the entire menu. Serving up shrimp sharing platters, crispy oysters and lobster salads, this is the kind of place you'll want to make a daily pilgrimage to.
And for a drink…
Skip to Stache Drinking Den. The shabby-chic speakeasy, centrally located in downtown Fort Lauderdale, is a favourite among locals. Exposed-brick walls, dark wooden details and seductive furnishings make for a sexy and sophisticated set-up. As do its killer cocktails. Come at the weekend to experience one of its renowned gigs.
Who to take with you?
That friend who's always on the hunt for a fresh creative scene. They'll appreciate Fort Lauderdale's fiercely artistic attitude.
Essentials to pack
If there's one shoe that marks peak summer season, it's the sandal. Wave goodbye to the rubbery, grandad-style sole and snag yourself a pair of buckled Birkenstocks - they'll take you from poolside posing to streetside strolling.
How to get there
Take a direct flight from London Heathrow to Miami International Airport, from where Fort Lauderdale is just a 32-minute drive away.