Your idea of a satisfying vacation is one where you go off the beaten path to really get to know what makes a destination tick. As a culture connoisseur, you want your getaway to be filled with art, history, music, and anything not teeming with tourists. In Greater Fort Lauderdale, there are plenty of places for you to blend in with the locals and discover spots typically reserved for those in-the-know. This three-day itinerary will serve as a treasure map to the area’s jewels.
Located along Fort Lauderdale beach, the estate was purchased in 1895 by Hugh Taylor Birch (a nearby park is named after him) as a wedding gift to his daughter, Helen Louise Birch, and her husband, Frederic Clay Bartlett. The two loved art and had an impressive collection that can still be enjoyed today. When Helen died in 1925, Bartlett remarried six years later to Evelyn Fortune Lilly, an artist in her own right. Together, the couple turned the Bonnet House into a haven for art, with murals and paintings filling the home alongside the tranquil gardens with swans and bold flowers. The historical landmark also serves as a natural point of interest, hosting unique ecosystems that draw migratory birds and manatees.
If your travel plans must include supporting local artists, be sure to visit FATVillage. The Flagler Arts and Technology (FAT) Village Art Walk is scheduled for the last Saturday night of every month, bringing the community together for art exhibitions, food trucks, live music, a vendor market, silent disco, and more. Wander into C&I Studios’ library-turned-coffee-shop, Next Door, for drinks and an Airstream filled with clothing and accessories, or wander through the shared workspace that is General Provision as it transforms into a community-run bar. In the warehouses, local artists set up exhibitions to show off their latest ideas. Outside, the GOODS vendor market snakes through the village while oversized murals cover the walls of the neighborhood. It’s a perfect way to take in Greater Fort Lauderdale like a local.
The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum houses an impressive library and archives with the mission to conserve its more than 180,000 artifacts and tribal oral history while also celebrating Seminole and other tribes’ modern culture. The annual American Indian Arts Celebration is a day filled with indigenous food, song, dance, and textile traditions that have been passed down through generations. Guests are also invited to visit the boardwalk and hunting camp. While you’re here, be sure to pay a visit to Sally, the museum’s resident alligator.
There are a plethora of live music venues around town, but none quite as unique as Revolution Live in downtown Fort Lauderdale’s Himmarshee district. In fact, it was used as the backdrop for the Bourbon Room while filming “Rock of Ages”—the bras hanging from the ceiling over the bars that you saw in the movie are still there. The stage has played host to everyone from Top 40 performers like Lady Gaga and The Weeknd to a secret show by The Pixies and underground punk, rap, and electronic music acts. As a general admission venue, everyone at the concert can experience an intimate concert from the floor or the balconies above.
Inside, explore 25,000 square feet of space filled with visiting exhibitions, carefully curated shows, and permanent pieces. The museum also hosts lectures, food and wine gatherings, and family programming. Starry Nights are hosted the first Thursday of the month with free museum admission and drop-in art workshops inspired by the exhibits currently on display. The museum gift shop and café are worth a visit for a cup of coffee and to bring a piece of Fort Lauderdale home with you, whether it be handcrafted jewelry and textiles or art books and inspired accessories.
Experience Lips where you’ll find larger-than-life versions of your favorite celebrities—think Beyonce and Katy Perry—by talented drag queens with themed performances throughout the week, including Twisted Broadway, Dragalicious game show night, Taboo (for guests 21 and older only), and a Gospel Brunch unlike any you’ve attended before. Guests at Lips are not there just for the food—bring on the high-energy drag shows! For anyone celebrating a birthday or upcoming nuptials, let’s just say you’re in for a treat. And get ready to laugh, because the later the show you attend, the funnier the jokes get.
*Before visiting a location, please contact the business first to make sure they have reopened.