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Ft. Lauderdale, Florida is way more than a cruise-ship layover! Just 30 miles from Miami and a two-hour flight from New York, the sunny city (which locals call the "Venice of America" thanks to its crazy amount of canals!) has some of the most beautiful beaches, architecture, shopping, and nightlife on the coast, making it the perfect mini-moon destination for those couples who don't have time (or the cash!) to take a traditional honeymoon.
A few days at the W Ft. Lauderdale, one of a new crop of luxury beachside hotels, is the easiest way to relax and unwind without having to fly over an ocean. And did we mention you can take a paddleboat tour of celebrities' yachts? Below, we break down exactly where to go, what to eat, and what to see during a quick 72-hour jaunt to the vacation spot — welcome to your new mini-moon destination.
Courtesy of W Fort Lauderdale
12:00 PM: Check in at the super-sleek W on Fort Lauderdale Beach. Relax on the outdoor patio with drinks service, or get settled in your light-filled room, designed with mod furniture and a clean, crisp color palette.
3:00 PM: Spend your first afternoon soaking up the sun. If you're up for a five-minute ride downtown, Cheese Culture, a wine and cheese cafe, serves up picnic baskets to bring to the beach.
7:00 PM: Once the sun sets, head back to the hotel and sip a Trouble Maker (made with vodkas muddled with cucumbers and strawberries) at Whiskey Blue, the W's cool cocktail lounge.
8:00 PM: Head to the W's Steak 954 (complete with a jellyfish aquarium!) for dinner — try the filet mignon or miso-glazed black cod.
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9:00 AM: Sign up for a paddleboard tour of the waterway at Sunrise Paddleboards. Two hours on the canals gets you a great workout and a view of some of the country's most luxurious mansions and yachts. Don't get star struck if you catch a glimpse of of P. Diddy or Stephen Spielberg's boat en route to the Caribbean!
12:00 PM: After you've worked up an appetite on the board, head to Bimini Boat Yard for yellowtail snapper right on the Intracoastal.
1:00 PM: Post-lunch, hit the shops, like Tommy Bahama and LF, along Las Olas Boulevard, Ft. Lauderdale's retail district.
3:00 PM: After some retail therapy, hop on the city's famed water taxi for a $15 fee at Las Olas. Take a tour of the Intracoastal's mid-century mansions before arriving at the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens, a restored mansion that dates to 1920 and features a must-see art gallery.
7:00 PM: For dinner, we love the wild mushroom pancakes with a glass of Malbec at Johnny V, a Caribbean-inspired New American bistro with a killer wine list.
9:00 PM: For a nightcap, walk down Las Olas to American Social for craft brews and watermelon margaritas.
Courtesy of W Fort Lauderdale
10:00 AM: After breakfast at the hotel, get ready to hit the waves. You can find any water sport under the sun (see what we did there?), including surfing, boating, jetskiing, and scuba diving. Find an adventure at sunny.org, the city's comprehensive tourism website.
12:00 PM: Get out your chopsticks at the Hilton Ft. Lauderdale's S3: Sun, Surf and Sand, where you'll find inventive seafood and sushi (trust us, order the Thai Tuna roll with avocado and macadamia) right down the beach from the W. Get a seat on the patio by the fire pit for Instagram-worthy beach views.
2:00 PM: Give your sore muscles a rest and spend the afternoon getting pampered side-by-side with your man at Bliss Spa in the W. Ask for the chocolate pedicure — it's worth it!
4:00 PM: Before you head to the airport, make sure to clock time to relax poolside at the hotel, where you can sip daiquiris and take in the beachside sunset all at once. If that's not a perfect last look, we don't know what is.