Fort Lauderdale to Miami, an Insider's Guide
For years, there’s been a false dichotomy between Miami and Fort Lauderdale that presents them as rivals rather than sister cities. But the truth is that, although they’re different, they both offer different sides of South Florida that anyone can enjoy — whether you come down for a short vacation or relocate permanently.
To put a stop to the ridiculous “rivalry,” we’ve reached out to two experts from Fort Lauderdale and Miami to get their local perspective on the best things to do, eat and see in their respective cities. Use this guide to find out the best beach to visit, where to get the most delicious cocktail and which cup of Joe will keep you going in the morning.
Enjoy the best of the area with this insider’s guide from Fort Lauderdale to Miami.
Meet the Local Expert: Fort Lauderdale
Stacy Ritter is the CEO/president at Visit Lauderdale, the official tourism marketing agency for Greater Fort Lauderdale (Broward County, Florida).
Ritter is a member of the United States Travel Association Board of Directors and previously served as an elected Broward County Commissioner and as a member of the Florida House of Representatives. Originally from Washington, D.C., she has lived in Broward County since 1974.
Meet the Local Expert: Miami
Suzie Sponder is the senior director of communications at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
She previously worked in marketing for Sony Music Entertainment and Cisneros Television Group, and as a producer for Filmation Productions. She has a Bachelor of Science focused in International Marketing from the Fashion Institute of Technology.
The City in a Single Sentence: Fort Lauderdale
Stacy Ritter: Greater Fort Lauderdale is vibrant, diverse, cosmopolitan and inclusive, yet relaxed, with beautiful beaches, a great downtown and world-class restaurants.
*Note: Interviews have been slightly edited for clarity and conciseness.
The City in a Single Sentence: Miami
Suzie Sponder: Miami is a rich tapestry of diverse cultures, art and music along with some of the world's most beautiful scenery, exciting nightlife and the most magnificent and unique ecosystems.
Best Thing About the City: Fort Lauderdale
Ritter: The people. You would be hard-pressed to find a more welcoming and inclusive community. We don’t care where you are from, what you look like, what your form of worship is or who you love.
We just want you to enjoy the experience of a lifetime.
Best Thing About the City: Miami
Sponder: Miami has it all. It is the perfect year-round destination with great year-round weather, cultural diversity (celebrated through our food, art and entertainment), spectacular beaches, world-renowned hotels, restaurants and nightlife!
Best Beach: Fort Lauderdale
Ritter: Greater Fort Lauderdale has eight beaches, so it is hard to pick out just one.
But since you asked, I like to scope out a spot on Las Olas Beach at A1A. It’s a great place to view the rolling waves of the Atlantic Ocean to the east and, to the west, people watch everyone cruising up and down that All-American Road.
Best Beach: Miami
Sponder:Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park beach, at the tip of Key Biscayne, is a treasure.
With rugged sand dunes leading to an uncrowded beach and unlimited ocean views, it's a piece of unspoiled and natural old Florida.
Best Coffee Place: Fort Lauderdale
Ritter: The best spot is Circle House Coffee in Flagler Village, an up-and-coming neighborhood filled with eclectic shops, art houses and residential. Circle House Coffee is a great place to enjoy coffee, tea, breakfast and lunch, all made in-house.
*Far & Wide note: The coffee house is also dog-friendly and has special treats for pups!
Best Coffee Place: Miami
Sponder:Panther Coffee hand-roasts [its] beans, on-site. [Founders] Joel and Leticia Pollock personally know the families that produce each bean. You’ll hear locals [praise] their croissants and cakes.
Best Place for Fine Dining: Fort Lauderdale
Ritter: It depends on what you are looking for.
For Italian food, it’s Casa D’Angelo with chef Angelo Elia.
For Asian, Takato at Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach, which, in addition to great food, has spectacular beach views.
For a steak, head over to Eddie V’s on Las Olas Boulevard, the premier street in Fort Lauderdale.
For classic comfort fare in an intimate space, one of our newest restaurants, The Katherine, is amazing. Chef Timon Balloo’s menu reflects his Chinese-Indian-Trinidadian heritage.
Best Place for Fine Dining: Miami
Sponder: There are so many to choose from!
La Mar by Gastón Acurio features the cuisine of chef Gastón Acurio and offers diners the chance to explore the authentic flavors of Peruvian [cuisine], ranging from upscale novo-Andean fare to Asian-Peruvian fusion and traditional seafood ceviche.
Plant Miami offers a modern plant-based approach featuring vegan, kosher dishes naturally inspired by the South Florida landscape. They use ingredients sourced from our local, regenerative, organic Paradise Farms.
NAOE [is] an intimate Japanese omakase restaurant [that] serves a delicious nightly tasting menu to no more than eight customers at a time. The menu changes daily, and the soy sauce and sake hail from Chef Cory’s family breweries in Japan.
COTE, the Michelin-starred Korea Steakhouse [is] synonymous with marrying the fun and fire of Korean barbecue with [that] of a classic American steakhouse.
Best Hole-in-the-Wall Joint: Fort Lauderdale
Ritter: I wouldn’t call it a “hole-in-the-wall,” but for great bites off the beaten path, head over to Milk Money. It’s a great urban vibe with a menu that pleases everyone from meat lovers to vegans and everyone in between.
Best Hole-in-the-Wall Joint: Miami
Sponder: KUSH Wynwood [is an] eco-friendly, art-filled gastropub offering scratch-made fare. At KUSH, you will be surrounded by works of art created by premier local artists.
Best Beachside Place to Grab a Bite: Fort Lauderdale
Ritter: Coconuts! It’s on the Intracoastal Waterway with great views of luxury homes and super-yachts in its adjacent marina. You can dine by the water in flip-flops and beachwear while enjoying a delicious crab cake.
Best Beachside Place to Grab a Bite: Miami
Sponder: It’s not beachside but rather on Biscayne Bay: The Rusty Pelican. Diners are treated to unforgettable sunset views. The raw bar has seasonal bites such as the jumbo Gulf shrimp cocktail.
Try the Rusty Pelican Board for Two, featuring whole fried snapper, lobster and shrimp risotto, New York strip and sweet plantain mash.
Best Burger Joint in Town (and Its Best Burger): Fort Lauderdale
Ritter: The best burger in town is at BRGR STOP in a little strip shopping center on Sunrise Boulevard. It’s deceiving from the outside, but once you step in, the décor is kitschy midcentury with a menu of craft milkshakes and soda floats, appetizers like white truffle mac and cheese balls, wings, salads and juicy oversized burgers.
The best one? Le Magnifique, which is French onion soup on a burger — juicy meat, gooey cheese, perfect soft brioche bun.
Best Burger Joint in Town (and Its Best Burger): Miami
Sponder: Well I don’t eat meat, so I’ll have to go with Motek. Its Impossible Veggie Arayes Lebanese Burger won the People's Choice award at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in 2022!
However, my red meat-eating friends recommend Pinch Miami, at which their eponymous custom burger blend "Pinch Burger" features fresh brioche buns, Swiss cheese and house-made aioli.
Best Cocktail Bar (and Its Best Cocktail): Fort Lauderdale
Ritter:The Wilder, a super cool, small and intimate venue is so much more than a cocktail bar.
The Wilder serves dinner with those cocktails, so while you’re drinking, be sure and order the goat cheese and mushroom toast to go along with that Never-Ending Summer cocktail, which tastes like… never-ending summer.
Best Cocktail Bar (and Its Best Cocktail): Miami
Sponder: The Broken Shaker is Freehand Miami Hotel's acclaimed mixology bar. [It was] named one of the "The World's 50 Best Bars" in 2014 and 2015, and awarded the Best American Hotel Bar at the Tales of A Cocktail Spirited Awards.
I would recommend the Pimm’s Cup or Old-Fashioned.
Best Nightlife Spot in the City: Fort Lauderdale
Ritter: The best nightlife spot is Rooftop @1WLO, a tree- and plant-filled open-air patio overlooking Las Olas Boulevard. It’s both swanky and laid back with light bites and handcrafted cocktails.
Experience the sunset and watch the night ignite the city.
Best Nightlife Spot in the City: Miami
Sponder:Dante’s Hifi is the first vinyl-listening bar and venue in Wynwood. It’s an intimate and soulful space for the discerning music enthusiast!
Best Place to Relax: Fort Lauderdale
Ritter: The beach, where else? There is no better place to relax and unwind than on your own spot on one of our 24 miles of award-winning beaches.
Best Place to Relax: Miami
Sponder:Carillon Miami Wellness Resort delivers unique therapies, advanced technology, and Salt Float Therapy, Cryotherapy and NAD+IV therapy.
Best Place to Get Out in Nature: Fort Lauderdale
Ritter: The Anne Kolb Nature Center features 1,500 acres of coastal mangrove wetlands rich in plant and animal life. It’s in Hollywood, right next to Fort Lauderdale.
You can enjoy jogging and walking paths, a boat dock, nature trails, an observation deck and more. Kayak through and travel back in time to see what old Florida looked like.
Best Place to Get Out in Nature: Miami
Sponder:Oleta River State Park [is] considered Florida’s largest urban park.
Oleta encompasses more than 1,000 acres of greenery set against Biscayne Bay, ideal for kayaking, biking, hiking, swimming and camping.
Best Museum or Cultural Institution: Fort Lauderdale
Ritter: The Museum of Discovery and Science. The museum features Florida’s ecosystem, prehistoric Florida, a science park, two adorable river otters in their own habitat and much more, including a recently renovated IMAX theater with first-run movies.
The museum also offers off-site excursions, beach cleanups and, during turtle-nesting season from March through October, guided beach tours to find the nests and the turtles.
Best Museum or Cultural Institution: Miami
Sponder:Rubell Museum features paintings, photographs, sculptures and videos from 1980 to the present.
[It] represents a new kind of institution [that] advocates for a diverse mix of contemporary artists.
How to Get from Fort Lauderdale to Miami
Now, that you’re ready to enjoy the best of both cities, you might be wondering how you can travel to and from Fort Lauderdale and Miami. There are several options. The easiest and most convenient would be to rent a car. Both cities are highly car-centric, so if you’re planning to move around more than one area and can afford it, go for this option.
For transport to and from each city’s airport, you can book a luxury bus trip on RedCoach for as little as $11. (Pro tip: RedCoach also has routes to other Florida cities like Orlando, Naples and West Palm Beach). Similarly, you can catch a shuttle bus at either airport to the nearest Tri-Rail station, which will connect you to the other airport for under $4.
If what you want is to go between the lively downtown cores of Fort Lauderdale and Miami, then you can take a Brightline train for $10 and over. This train will also connect you from either city to West Palm Beach.
Finally, if you don’t want the responsibility of driving (you got all those Miami vices to drink, after all) but also value comfort, a ride-sharing app like Uber or Lyft is the way to go.