Fort Lauderdale has come a long way since Where The Boys Are – the 1960 film that immortalized the south Florida city as ground zero for spring breakers. And while the beaches and nearby Port Everglades (one of the top cruise ports in the word) continue to draw throngs of visitors, the city has also developed a sophisticated culture that especially attracts fashionistas and anyone with an eye for style. The best part? You can glam it up yourself without breaking the bank, at these five budget-conscious hotspots:
The Colonnade Outlets at Sawgrass Mills offers high-end luxury in a lush setting of open-air walkways and landscaped gardens. There are more than 350 stores on-site, but it’s the Colonnade’s collection of exclusive boutiques – including Jimmy Choo, Prada, Burberry, and Juicy Couture – that will tempt you to bring an extra suitcase.
Originally built as the Thunderbird Drive-In Movie Theater in 1963, the Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop has grown into a massive multipurpose entertainment and shopping venue for all ages. The venue includes a flea market, food court, farmer’s market, carnival rides, concert venue, and a 14-screen drive-in movie theater.
Explore FATVillage and you can boast that you were on the cusp of one of the country’s next great arts districts. Located in downtown Fort Lauderdale, this former industrial warehouse district was built in the 1950s and has drawn an array of printers, photographers and graffiti artists. The monthly free art walks (held the last Saturday of each month) offer visitors the chance to discover the next Dr. Revolt or Futura.
If retro chic is your style, head over to Jezebel, an overflowing boutique packed with unusual vintage finds, funky accessories, and intriguing home goods – as well as a fair share of novelty items for your next bachelorette party. Stimulate your senses with perfume brands like Tokyomilk and hand-poured candles from Seda France.
For a combination of specialty retail (65 shops), international art (10 galleries), and al fresco dining (30 restaurants), Las Olas Boulevard delivers it all. Consider brunch instead of dinner for a more budget-conscious option, or wander among the shops on third Thursdays (6-10 p.m.) for the neighborhood’s monthly art walk with free food and beverage samples.