Fort Lauderdale, Florida’s Hidden Gem

Nestled between Palm Beach and Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Florida’s famous port city, is often known as a hub or stopover for those boarding cruise ships – but in reality, it’s a destination in and of itself. Often referred to as the Venice of America, this spring break destination is actually full of charm. Even better, it’s filled with all of the things we love about Miami (think beaches, nightlife, sunshine), without any of the drawbacks (traffic, expensive, rowdy). It’s a great spot to go for people of all ages, from spring breakers of course, to families and even those looking for a fun friend-cation.

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Boasting great weather year-round and 24 miles of Atlantic coast beaches in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area, this festive city got its nickname due to its 300 miles of  navigable inland waterways, which attracts both locals and visitors with boat tours. Hop aboard one of the city’s many boat charters or sightseeing cruises to take in the impressive celebrity homes on Millionaire’s Row and make sure to hop off on Las Olas Boulevard, the hub of Fort Lauderdale. The inviting city strip is filled with delicious restaurants, mouthwatering bars, plenty of shopping, art galleries, and buzzes with life.

While there, pull up a seat inside a newcomer on the boulevard, Ya Mas! Taverna. Instantly transportive, the Mediterranean decor exudes Greek elegance and gives you a sneak peek at what’s to be expected from the menu. Authentic Greek specialties like saganaki,  whipped feta and labneh, short rib moussaka, and octopus are accompanied by an outstanding drink menu featuring both inventive cocktails and refreshing wines. If you’re looking to whet your whistle prior to dinner, head over to Rhythm & Vine, a fun and trendy indoor/outdoor beer garden bar that hosts a rotating bunch of food trucks and local DJs to keep the good vibes flowing.

And while there’s plenty to explore throughout the city, if you play your cards right and set yourself up at the right hotel, you might not even need to wander far. That is exactly the case at the W Fort Lauderdale. Located right on the beach with 517 rooms (all of which have an outdoor terrace with beach views thanks to its inventive design), the hotel has everything you need and more to make your stay one to remember.

In addition to the cozy beds, a bathtub you can get lost in, amazing views, and quite the pool setup, the W Fort Lauderdale has many on-site amenities and activations that give you all of the indulgences of a vacation without sacrificing all of your wellness goals. With a slogan like “Detox, retox, repeat,” you can rest assured that the W places as much emphasis on health as they do debauchery. Begin your stay with a night at the property’s festive Mexican restaurant El Vez, and work off those nachos the next morning with Sea Sycle. W Fort Lauderdale partnered with Ride Element to bring the spin studio straight to its guests (and locals), with an outdoor spin class overlooking the beach. Classes are available on a complimentary first-come, first-serve basis for guests, or for $25 for non-guests. It’s a great way to not only start the day, but to get a sweat in while surrounded by nature.

Don’t miss out on the property’s mouthwatering, and eye-pleasing, steakhouse, Steak 954, which welcomes guests with a 15-foot jellyfish tank. Here you will enjoy amazing dishes ranging from seafood specialties to wagyu steak delights. Don’t sleep on dessert here either, if you don’t order the freshly baked cookies to go, you will regret it for a lifetime. And no need to feel guilty for overindulging (which, trust us, you will) because spin class isn’t the only thing on property to get your heart pumping. Pure Barre Fort Lauderdale also offers classes overlooking the beach at the W, where you can tone and lengthen your muscles without the need to venture far. These classes will be open to both guests and locals on a quarterly basis, and man, do they burn.

Another on-site restaurant that’s worth stopping in is SoBe Vegan, a bright and vibrant vegan spot that serves up everything from smoothies and açai bowls to chick’n sandwiches and burgers. Plus, it has plenty of Insta-worthy photo ops both inside and out. Next, relax like the god or goddess you are at AWAY Spa where you can indulge in any number of the spa services they offer. We recommend the Go Deep Massage to work out all those kinks and get deep into those muscles you’re building. Round out your stay by scheduling in plenty of time to lounge at the WET Pools, which are reason enough to book your stay. (Photos don’t even do it justice.)
While the W Fort Lauderdale has all of the amenities and more that we’ve come to expect from luxury hotels, it’s their focus on providing guests with a well-rounded vacation that makes it worth a second look. Oftentimes vacations and getaways can derail you from your health and wellness goals (and let’s be real, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that – we deserve it!), but the way the W incorporates healthy eating options, numerous fitness classes that include the surrounding environment, along with loads of relaxing moments separates it from the pack and makes you feel like you haven’t missed a beat once you get back home.

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