SD › Best Places to Stay in Fort Lauderdale
Updated: January 5, 2022
The Best Areas to Fort Lauderdale
Just north of Miami, Fort Lauderdale is best known for its fabulous beaches – a long stretch of Atlantic coastline made up principally of barrier islands separated from the mainland by the Intracoastal Waterway. The principal attractions away from the beach lie in Downtown Fort Lauderdale, the region’s commercial and cultural center. While it’s relatively easy to explore the city center – and individual beach districts – on foot, a car is the best way to zip around the region, though Water Taxis are also an option in Fort Lauderdale. Greater Fort Lauderdale encompasses all of Broward County in southern Florida – we’ve included hotels in the major neighborhoods between Hollywood Beach and Pompano Beach below.
• For quieter beaches and a taste of “Old Florida”, consider Dania Beach or Lauderdale-By-The-Sea
• Downtown Fort Lauderdale is the best neighborhood for art, culture, restaurants, and shopping, but it’s easy to zip between here and Fort Lauderdale Beach (which has more accommodation choices) by bus, Uber, water taxi, or car.
• Las Olas Boulevard, which runs between Downtown Fort Lauderdale and the beach, is the region’s premier shopping street.
The Best Places to Stay in Fort Lauderdale
- Best Luxury Hotels in Fort Lauderdale
Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach • Lago Mar Beach Resort & Club • The Ritz-Carlton • The Dalmar
- Best Boutique Hotels in Fort Lauderdale
Pillars Hotel • The Elmar • Diplomat Beach Resort • Casa Pellegrino Boutique Hotel
- Best 3-Star/4-Star Hotels in Fort Lauderdale
Bahama Beach Club • Pelican Grand Beach Resort • Tropic Seas Beach Front Resort Motel
- Best Cheap Hotels in Fort Lauderdale
Hotel Deauville • Seahorse Guesthouse • Snooze Hotel
Best Areas in Fort Lauderdale for…
- Best Neighborhood for a beach vacation: Fort Lauderdale Beach
For overall entertainment, a huge range of accommodation, great restaurants, and a huge swathe of white sand, it’s hard to beat Fort Lauderdale Beach. Staying here it’s not necessary to have transport – water taxis, Ubers, and buses run into Downtown Fort Lauderdale, and up and down the strip. Palm trees, bars, shops, and outdoor restaurants line the promenade, and there are lifeguards on patrol during the day. Beach chairs (with huge blue umbrellas) are available to rent (from around $45/day total) and parking is relatively easy (on weekdays). Rent jetskis (from $95 for 30min), paddleboards and kayaks from Dr. Jet Ski.
- Best Neighborhood for Food and Restaurants: Downtown Fort Lauderdale
The region’s top restaurants tend to be found in Downtown Fort Lauderdale, especially along Las Olas Boulevard. It’s an eclectic, high-quality scene, with plenty of variety. Our favorite spots include the Asian/Latin fusion specialist Casa Sensei, high-end seafood restaurant Rivertail, the elegant Harborwood inside the Hyatt Centric Las Olas, Bombay Darbar Indian restaurant, and excellent Italian spot Primadonna. The highly recommended Sistrunk Marketplace & Brewery lies just to the north of Downtown.
- Best Neighborhood for diving/sport fishing: Pompano Beach
Thanks to the numerous diveable wrecks just outside Hillsboro Inlet (at least 18), Pompano Beach is known as the “Wreck Capital” of Florida and a paradise for scuba fans (see South Florida Diving or Drift Free Diving). Drift Diving along the reef offshore is also popular, and several outfits offer fishing charters. Just to the south, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea is perfect for snorkelers, with a reef within swimming distance of the beach.
- Best Neighborhood for families: Hollywood Beach
Laid-back Hollywood Beach is a great choice for families, with its famous 2.5-mile “Broadwalk” along the beach crammed with street performers, outdoor cafés, and featuring plenty of activities, from bike riding and rollerblading, to kayaking and beach volleyball. Loungers and cabanas are also available for rent, and there’s a wide range of accommodation here. Hollywood Beach is conveniently located between Miami and Downtown Fort Lauderdale, with easy access via I-95.
- Best Neighborhood for Nightlife: Downtown Fort Lauderdale
The biggest concentration of bars and live venues lies in the Riverwalk area on the west side of Downtown Fort Lauderdale, near the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (not far from the Hyatt Centric Las Olas). Our favorite spots include Apothecary 330, Stache Drinking Den and Original Fat Cats. To the south, Tarpon River Brewing is our favorite local craft brewery. Nightlife along the Fort Lauderdale Beach strip isn’t as raucous as it used to be, but there are plenty of spots here also: Casablanca Café, Lulu’s Bait Shack , historic Elbo Room, and further north Blue Jean Blues, for live blues and jazz seven nights a week.
- Best Neighborhood for LGBT+ scene: Wilton Manors
Though there are several gay-friendly hotels in Fort Lauderdale Beach, the most active LGBT scene can be found in Wilton Manors, a few miles inland. Wilton Drive is the main drag, lined with LGBT+ friendly businesses, bars and restaurants. The neighborhood is also home to the Pride Center at Equality Park, Broward County’s LGBT community center, and the annual Stonewall Pride Parade & Street Festival, held every June. Some of the better hotels here include Inn On The Drive, Island Sands Inn and Casa Hermès.
- Unsafe Areas of Fort Lauderdale
Central Fort Lauderdale and the beach districts described below are generally quite safe, though the usual precautions should be taken at night. Flagler Heights, which is developing into an edgy arts district just north of Downtown Fort Lauderdale, can be unsafe, especially at night; Dorsey Riverbend, just northwest of the Museum of Discovery and Science has a similarly sketchy reputation. Most of the high-crime neighborhoods tend to be further inland.
The 7 Best Neighborhoods in Fort Lauderdale for Tourists
A couple of miles inland from the beach, on the banks of the New River, Downtown Fort Lauderdale is the business and commercial hub of the region, but it’s also crammed with tourist attractions. Las Olas Boulevard is the city’s premier shopping and entertainment street, while the Riverwalk makes a pleasant waterside promenade between several museums and arts venues: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, History Fort Lauderdale, the Museum of Discovery and Science, NSU Art Museum and Historic Stranahan House Museum. Thanks to its miles of canals, Fort Lauderdale is known as the “Venice of America”, best appreciated by Water Taxi or cruise boats such as the Jungle Queen.
- Best Hotels: The Dalmar • Element Fort Lauderdale Downtown • Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Fort Lauderdale Downtown/Las Olas • Hampton Inn Ft. Lauderdale/Downtown Las Olas • Hyatt Centric Las Olas Fort Lauderdale • Riverside Hotel Fort Lauderdale
Las Olas Boulevard ends at Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard, which runs north-south along the Atlantic Coast. Fort Lauderdale Beach is just two miles but a world away from Downtown, its fine stretch of sand lined with posh resorts, restaurants, bars (the Elbo Room has been open since 1938), paddleboard rentals, T-shirt and swimwear shops, coconut palms, rollerbladers, and cyclists. The main rainy-day attraction is the International Swimming Hall of Fame. The Tortuga Music Festival (a country-music beach party), and Riptide Music Festival take place at the beach each November.
- Best Hotels: The Ritz-Carlton • Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach • Lago Mar Beach Resort & Club • Pillars Hotel • Premiere Hotel • Snooze Hotel • Westin Beach Resort • Marriott’s Beach Place Towers
3. Port Everglades (Harbordale)
Port Everglades is a major seaport, especially known for being one of America’s biggest cruise ship docks. The port is served by the adjoining Harbordale neighborhood, home to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Center and a plethora of generally cheap, no-frills accommodation (with a few exceptions noted below). Staying here is mostly about being close to the cruise port and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, though there are lots of good places to eat (including 15th Street Fisheries), and Fort Lauderdale Beach is only a mile-and-a-half away.
- Best Hotels: Crowne Plaza Ft. Lauderdale Airport/Cruise • Embassy Suites 17th Street • Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina • Hyatt Place Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port • Renaissance Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port Hotel
Around four miles north of Fort Lauderdale Beach, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea is smaller and more relaxed than its southern neighbor, with a larger range of cheap guesthouses and motel accommodation. It’s also a popular spot for snorkelers and scuba divers, with a reef and several wrecks just offshore (including the SS Copenhagen, a British cargo steamer that sank in 1900). AQUI Water Sports and Deep Blue Divers offers trips and lessons. The local Anglin’s Fishing Pier is the longest in South Florida. Nearby, Caribbean-style Aruba Beach Café is one of our favorites places to eat.
- Best Hotels: Blue Seas Courtyard • Driftwood Beach Club • The Elmar • High Noon Beach Resort • Tropic Seas Resort
Towards the northern end of Broward County (around 10 miles from Downtown Fort Lauderdale), Pompano Beach is another laid-back beach community with a range of accommodation options and a relatively new 900-foot long fishing pier. It’s especially known for its diving scene and sports fishing charters, as well as its Green Market, held November to April on the second and forth Saturday of each month. The seafood restaurants are also pretty good here: one of our favorites is Beach House.
- Best Hotels: Bahama Beach Club • Club Wyndham Santa Barbara • Ebb Tide Resort • Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort & Spa • Pelican Grand Beach Resort • Seahorse Guesthouse
6. Dania Beach
Some seven miles southeast of Downtown Fort Lauderdale (and just south of the airport), Dania Beach is one of the least crowded strips of sand in the region. Though the beach is narrower here than elsewhere on the coast, it’s far less developed and makes a quiet alternative to Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood. North of Dania Beach Pier lies the blissfully untouched Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park, while the community itself is known for its antique shops, especially inland along US-1. The best place to eat is the Quarterdeck Restaurant right on the pier, though 1950s-era Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlor is recommended for dessert.
Just over 10 miles southeast of Downtown Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood Beach is a laid-back family-friendly beach community, with hotels ranging from luxury resorts to cheap motels. As always the sand is the biggest attraction here, but the 2.5-mile-long, pedestrian-only “Broadwalk” along Ocean Drive is also lots of fun, lined with restaurants, street performers, and stores. The restaurant scene is especially good here, with everything from seafood specialist Billy’s Stone Crab Restaurant, to no-frills burger joint Le Tub. Beyond the waterfront, the main attraction is the Anne Kolb Nature Center, a pristine park comprising coastal mangrove wetlands.
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