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So much is going on up north these days. And by north, we mean ten miles away in sun-drenched Fort Lauderdale. There’s art and shopping galore, a new crop of fancy-schmany restaurants and more parks than, well, anywhere. Read on for seven sure-fire reasons why you should plan a day trip, stat. 

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FAT Village Is the Anti-Wynwood

Think of FAT Village as Wynwood before it became, you know, sort of touristy. This small artsy enclave is overflowing with art galleries, creative studios and warehouse businesses. The last Saturday of every month, galleries stay open late and pop-up bars, food trucks and local vendors create one big block party. Whenever you decide to visit, don’t forget to snag a coffee at Brew Urban Café. Trust us, it’s worth it.

It’s Number One in the Nation for Parks

As Florida's gateway to the Everglades, Fort Lauderdale ranks number one nationwide for amount of parks (37 percent of the public land is dedicated to green space). Think oceanfront bike-riding, a number of water sports (kayaking! paddleboarding!) and countless spots to cozy up with a book. Out of them all, we suggest checking out Hugh Taylor Birch Park, Snyder Park or Esplanade Park first.

Las Olas Is the New Lincoln Road

It’s hard to believe that in the early 1900s, Las Olas was just a dirt road that led all the way to the beach. Now the vibrant boulevard is chock-full of clothing boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, cafes, bars and spas. Start on SE Third Avenue and East Las Olas and make your way east to guarantee you’ll hit all the good spots. Keep an eye out for Lobster Bar Sea Grille, the Blue Gallery, Hoffman’s Chocolate, and Ann’s Coffee Shop.

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The Beach Is Gorgeous (and Quiet)

We’re not short on gorgeous beaches in South Florida, but some slices of shoreline are just too packed for us locals. We’re going to let you in on a secret, though: Fort Lauderdale beaches tend to be quieter. Put on your favorite ’kini and take your pick.

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It’s Got Swanky Restaurants

Rustic Italian with 2,500 bottles of wine in stock? Head to Cibo. A modern steakhouse? Look to Steak 954. An izakaya-style resto filled with sushi and cocktails? Try Monkitail. Coastal American? Point Royal. Farm-to-table? Go to Burlock Coast. The Zuma of Broward County? Yep, that exists too, and it’s called Etaru. Oh, and you’ve got to try a brewery—that’s where Funky Buddha comes in. We could go on, but we’ll let your appetite catch up.

morikami museum

It’s Super Close to Swoon-Worthy Japanese Gardens

The Delray Beach museum, dedicated to Japanese culture, is one of the most peaceful places around. Reminiscent of an expansive Asian-inspired villa, the property has six sprawling gardens, teahouses and museum buildings with permanent and rotating exhibitions. Oh, and did we mention it’s just under an hour from Fort Lauderdale? Yeah, definitely worth a detour.

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You Can Bar-Hop…by Boat

Fort Lauderdale is nicknamed the Venice of the Americas, after all. Spend your evening in town, jump on a water taxi and stop at different restaurants along the Intracoastal waterway. We’re thinking 15th Street Fisheries, Hudson and Grille 66.

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