How to Spend 24 Hours in Fort Lauderdale

Baron Wolman/Getty Images

Slap on some sunscreen, pack a swimsuit, and get ready for some serious R&R—these are the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale.

Departures is published by Meredith Corp. and owned by American Express. While American Express Card Member benefits are highlighted in this publication, including through the links indicated below, the content of this article was independently written by the editorial staff at Meredith. Other Departures content paid for by American Express is explicitly marked as such.

Between the seemingly endless amounts of sun, pristine stretches of sand on the main beach, and bountiful opportunities for delicious meals and a vibrant nightlife, there's plenty to pack into a 24-hour itinerary in Fort Lauderdale.

Perhaps you’re in search of a day of unwinding—if that’s the case, there are enough top-tier day spas and poolside cabanas in this city of sunshine to keep you rested and restored for weeks. If you’re up for a little more adventure, though, Fort Lauderdale is an idyllic location for all sorts of water sports (more on awesome paddle boarding opportunities below).

We know the options are endless, so we’ve compiled an itinerary for all of the things to do in Fort Lauderdale if you only have 24 hours.


Courtesy The Floridian

10:00 a.m.: Start the day with a big breakfast at The Floridian, both a local haunt and an iconic breakfast destination loved by travelers from far and wide. You’ll find that this restaurant is the definition of timeless (it’s been a Fort Lauderdale landmark for over 70 years), and serves up classic, delicious diner food in an upbeat atmosphere.

11:00 a.m.: After filling up at The Floridian, head to the waterfront and rent out a Broward B-Cycle (you can check out the station map here) and bike down the famed and beautiful Beachfront Promenade, which serves as a great introduction to this sunny city.


Jillian Cain/Getty Images

12:00 p.m.: Take a break from the beach to stroll around the picturesque grounds at nearby Bonnet House Museum and Gardens, a 35-acre estate dedicated to preserving this slice of 20th-century Floridian history. Or head to the Flamingo Gardens, just west of the city and well-worth the trip, where you’ll discover 60 pristine acres of botanical gardens and an Everglades wildlife sanctuary. You’ll get to see Florida four-legged locals like panthers, alligators, otters, and more, all of whom call this protective environment home.

1:30 p.m.: After your walk, head to the Ritz-Carlton, an American Express Fine Hotel & Resort property, to its Poolside Cafe for a delicious light lunch. Pro tip: ask the concierge about booking a private cabana, if you feel like relaxing by the pool after eating.

2:30 p.m.: You’ll likely fall in love with the tranquil vibe at this iconic hotel—if you fancy a little pampering, we suggest you book a service or two at the award-winning day spa. One of the coolest featured services is the Intuitive Ocean treatment, which involves soothing sea salts and a nourishing marine mud wrap.


William Luedtke/EyeEm/Getty Images

4:00 p.m.: Time to get out on the water! You’re in Florida, after all. Whether it’s your first or 50th time paddle boarding, the waters surrounding Fort Lauderdale are a terrific place for this low-key sport. Sunrise Paddleboards offers dozens of different tours and speciality paddle (like paddleboard yoga, a reef paddle, and snorkel tour, or paddle and wine tasting, to name a few), so check out the website to find one that best suits you and your travel companions.

6:30 p.m.: For dinner, you’re in for a treat. Enjoy the casual-cantina meets upscale-restaurant vibe at Lona, helmed by chef Pablo Salas. We recommend sitting on the waterfront patio for unparalleled views of the Atlantic Ocean. Out here, you can enjoy a special menu of small plates, tacos, and agave-forward cocktails. If you’re in the mood for some classic American cuisine, check out Dune, by Auberge Resorts Collection. This oceanfront restaurant on Fort Lauderdale Beach weds elegance with an inspired menu of locally-sourced seafood and ingredients, and deliciously beachy cocktails.


Westend61/Getty Images

8:30 p.m.: There’s a lot on the table when it comes to nightlife in Fort Lauderdale. The city is known for a thriving jazz scene, so we suggest you check out Blue Jean Blues or NYSW Jazz Bar downtown to get a taste of this vibrant side of the city. Wind down at the end of the night over on Himmarshee Street at Apothecary 330, an elegant bar known for whipping up quality cocktails. This place exudes old-world glamour, so feel free to dress your best.

10:00 p.m.: When you’re ready to settle in for the night, check into a luxury suite at the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach, another American Express Fine Hotel & Resort property, where you’ll find cozy accommodations located right on the beachfront. We suggest booking an ocean view suite for stunning panoramic views of the water and city skyline.