Local Highlights

How to spend the perfect day in Fort Lauderdale on any budget


Flagler Village offers a world of adventures just outside your front door. Here’s what to do to spend a perfect day in Fort Lauderdale on any budget, whether you want to keep it free or have $100 in your pocket.

Budget: $0

10 a.m. Take a walk down to Holiday Park while it’s still in the cooler part of the day. Bring a friend and tell them to bring their dog–there’s a great dog park here to welcome furry friends. There’s a full circuit with fitness stations if you feel like having a workout and some tennis courts if you’d like to spend time practicing your serve.

Of course, you can also just spend some time strolling through the tree-lined streets of this large urban oasis in the middle of the city. There are trails winding through this park that will give you a nice peaceful walk and it’s never overly crowded. This large facility has more than enough to do to make it fun to enjoy your time in the outdoors.

12 p.m. It’s time to enjoy your packed lunch in the shade under one of the many trees on a bench in the park.

1 p.m. Head back in the direction of the park to the nearby Fort Lauderdale library branch on Sunrise Blvd. Attached to the library is ArtServe, a huge building that’s much bigger inside than it looks from the outside. Half art gallery, half creative space, this nonprofit has plenty to see that will delight your eyes.

ArtServe also offers regular classes in the arts, but you need to sign up for them in advance. If you want to improve upon your art skills, a class might be just the thing for you. If you aren’t interested in drawing, perhaps you would enjoy a dance class, taught in their studio? ArtServe aims to promote and advance all aspects of the artistic community in Flagler Village, so keep an eye out for special events like Latinos Salud Hispanic Heritage Bazaar. Sometimes they even serve food as well as art.

3 p.m. Hop on the SunTrolley (it’s free!) and head for the beach. The trolley picks you up in the City View neighborhood just south of Flagler Village, so you’ll probably want to drive over to park and ride. To get there, take N. Andrews Ave. south and turn left on W. Broward Blvd. You should see signs directing you on how to get to the trolley.

Since the trolley is free, you can choose to ride it around the city of Fort Lauderdale if you want a more general tour, or you can just head straight to the beach. The trolley stop for the beach is Las Olas Blvd. Whether you decide to swim or just sit with your toes in the sand while people-watching, the beach is something you must be familiar with when you live in Fort Lauderdale. You might be surprised by how close it is to home! Just make sure to be waiting for the trolley to pick you up before it stops running at 5 p.m.

Total: $0

Places mentioned:

  • Holiday Park
  • Fort Lauderdale Library
  • ArtServe
  • SunTrolley
  • Las Olas Beach

Budget: $30

10 a.m. Start your day at Circle House Coffee and get some extra energy for your day. If a latte or nitro brew isn’t your style, locals say that the horchata is a delicious, caffeine-free alternative. You can also get a pastry from Mojo’s Donuts or Fireman Derek’s Pies. It’s a friendly and welcoming environment, whether you eat inside the adorable, socially-distanced shop or take your treats to go.
Cost: $6 (or $10 with a pastry)

10:30 a.m. Head to Las Olas Blvd., the crown jewel of Fort Lauderdale. Located just on the outskirts of Flagler Village, Las Olas Blvd. is your riverfront main street and upscale shopping district, all in one. This is a great spot for window-shopping and people-watching, as this busy street full of shops and restaurants tends to bring out the crowds.

12:00 p.m. While you’re still on Las Olas Blvd., it’s time for lunch. Most of the restaurants here are better saved for a date night or at least a time when you have a larger budget, but you can’t go wrong with the affordable Beehive Kitchen. Everything here is vegan and gluten-free, but it tastes like delicious, fresh food rather than “health food.” It’s a perfect spot for a light lunch.
Cost: $10

1:00 p.m. Head to the NSU Art Museum, which is also on Las Olas Blvd. Forget everything you think you know about art museums because this is so much more than just a generic art museum. Yes, they have the greats on display, like Frida Kahlo and Pablo Picasso. But they also showcase a large variety of artists, especially ones local to Florida.

Don’t worry that you won’t be able to fill a few hours here — instead, be prepared that you’ll want to make a return trip to see what you missed. The “Happy” display is a must-see on the days when you feel your spirits need a boost. The NSU Art Museum is easily one of Florida’s best museums.
Cost: $12

Total: $28-32

Places mentioned:

Budget: $60

10 a.m. Stop in for an amazing brunch at the local longtime favorite, Louie Rossi Ristorante Bar y Pizzeria. This is authentic Italian food and the prices reflect its quality. You can manage to have brunch here “on the cheap” (relatively speaking), but of course, it’s even better with an unlimited budget. You can get some of their tasty soup and salad, a wood-fired Margherita pizza, or traditional breakfast favorites with an Italian twist. If you find a little extra money in your wallet, you can also go for the highly-recommended bottomless Bossi bellinis.
Cost: $30

12 p.m. It’s time to get some light exercise (and maybe sober up a bit if you had the bellinis.) Fort Lauderdale Beach Park is a must when you live here. The beautiful, clean area has white sand beaches, the expansive ocean, and is surrounded by plentiful palm trees. It’s everything that comes to mind when you think of Florida. You could easily spend a whole day here, soaking up the sun. Just don’t forget the sunscreen!
Cost: $0

2:30 p.m. You’ll want to make reservations in advance to go on the Jungle Queen Riverboat. This narrated sightseeing cruise on Fort Lauderdale’s New River, which has been described as the “Venice of America.” You’ll get a long and relaxing view of Fort Lauderdale as it was meant to be seen, with the Millionaire’s Row of luxurious homes. It’s a way to see your city from a completely different perspective. Tours start at the Bahia Mar Yachting Center and you can be assured that the cruise is following all safety guidelines for Covid. Parking and food and drink on the double-decker yacht are available but cost extra.
Cost: $23.49 plus parking

Total: $53.49 plus parking

Places mentioned:

  • Louie Rossi Ristorante, Bar y Pizzeria
  • Fort Lauderdale Beach Park
  • Jungle Queen Riverboat
  • Bahia Mar Yachting Center




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