Fort Lauderdale for First-Timers

Life in the Sunshine State is a little different than elsewhere across the country. Florida is where America comes to vacation thanks to beautiful weather, gorgeous beachside hotels and the world’s busiest cruise ports. No matter who you are or what your idea of a good time is, Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding areas are chock full of things to do, places to eat, shows to see and of course, one of the best beaches in America. Those who show up for a cruise vacation are in for an awesome time, but only if you have some idea of what there is to do and see! 

For first timers, Fort Lauderdale can sometimes feel overwhelming. Where is the best place to stay? How do you get around? Are there hotels that make it easy to get to port before a cruise? Here are some helpful hints for those who want to get the most out of their vacation in Fort Lauderdale! 

Start with the Beach

With more than 8,000 miles of coastline, it should come as no surprise that much of the Florida lifestyle revolves around the ocean and beach. From paddle boarding the intracoastal waterway to sticking your toes in the sand with a cold drink, the laid-back beach lifestyle is on full display everywhere you go. Downtown Fort Lauderdale does have a few skyscrapers, but for the most part, the city feels more like a beach resort than a metropolis. 

Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale beach is one of the state’s best places to kick back

If you’re staying at any of the beachfront hotels, you’re just steps from Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, an awesome spot for the whole family. The park is on the beach and features a playground, volleyball courts, grills and picnic tables and of course, a great view of the ocean. It’s a fun and budget-friendly way to spend the whole day before or after you cruise. In fact, the whole stretch of beach along A1A is full of restaurants, watering holes and souvenir shops and a handy trolley service which runs during the week makes it easy to get from one end to the other on the cheap. 

Fort Lauderdale’s Best Restaurants

When you start to work up an appetite after a day at the beach, there’s no better place to be than Fort Lauderdale. When we say the city has everything, we aren’t kidding. Nearly every country and culture can be found in Fort Lauderdale’s culinary scene and that makes for a delicious place to visit. If you don’t want to go far from the beach, S3 at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort has fresh daily seafood and sushi along with an excellent grill menu. S3 stands for Sun, Surf, Sand and thanks to an oceanside outdoor patio, you get a great view of all three while you dine. 

Fort Lauderdale

You can’t beat the view from S3 | Photo: S3/Facebook

Those at a hotel in the Downtown/Las Olas area have a ton of fantastic dining options for every meal, especially brunch. If you’ve got a hankering for a craft beer and a burger, Royal Pig Pub is the first place to check out. The Cactus Jack features a patty piled high with poblano peppers, smoked gouda, chihuahua cheese, fried shallots and a liberal helping of guacamole. The wall of taps is full of beers you know and a bunch you probably don’t, so don’t hesitate to try something new from one of Florida’s many craft breweries. 

Fort Lauderdale Restaurant

The Cactus Jack | Photo: Royal Pig Pub/Facebook

If you’ve got tacos on the mind, Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar has one of the best happy hours in the city with $2 tacos from 4pm to 7pm at the bar. You have your choice between chicken, beef or pork on hard or soft shells. The $5 margaritas are a big hit too! 

Fort Lauderdale Restaurant

Rocco’s happy hour tacos are a huge hit with the locals | Photo: Rocco’s Tacos/Facebook

Navigating the City

Getting around Fort Lauderdale isn’t difficult and thanks to new transportation options, it’s also affordable. Some opt for traditional taxis or ride-share services, but Fort Lauderdale has a system of canals known as the Intracoastal Waterway which snakes its way through the neighborhoods and downtown district making boat travel a popular option. 

Forget calling an Uber, the Water Taxi is the most fun way to get around the city. With more than a dozen stops across the city, including multiple along famed Las Olas Boulevard, it makes getting around fun and easy, especially during peak traffic in the high season. If you’re staying at the Hilton Marina, Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach or GALLERYone Doubletree, the water taxi even stops at the hotel dock! 

Fort Lauderdale

The Water Taxi | Photo: Water Taxi/Facebook

If you’re headed to a cruise ship, make sure you check out hotels which offer cruise & stay packages with parking and rides to port included. That can make embarkation day a whole lot easier for a family in town for a cruise! 

The next time you’re in Fort Lauderdale, embrace the laid-back lifestyle and kick off your vacation with a few days of fun in the sun!