Ultimate Relaxation, Culture and Italian Eats in Fort Lauderdale

Ft. Lauderdale: a city notorious for being a few seasons behind bigger cities when it comes to fashion, five-star restaurants and nightlife, but that’s all about to change.

Just 28 miles north of Miami and easily accessible via the Brightline, this South Florida city is experiencing a revival. There are great new places to eat and even an artsy bar crawl Wynwood-type neighborhood perfect for the hipster in all of us.

I spent a night there last week and while I’ll admit I did not want to leave the room—who would with an infinity ocean view, cold AC and a bottle of wine?––there were a few standouts in my immediate vicinity that made it easy to stay busy and just a stone’s throw from my plush hotel bed.

A stay at the Atlantic Hotel & Spa—a Four Diamond boutique all-suite property that opened in 2004—is the ultimate lesson in relaxation. The oceanfront hotel and spa is undergoing renovations that will be completed in the winter and now has a great restaurant, Coastal, that will soon be celebrating its first anniversary, too.

With indoor and outdoor ocean view seating, Coastal is dog-friendly and offers up contemporary Italian dishes and mouthwatering seafood by Executive Chef David “Rocco” Honig. The restaurant’s Very Important Dog (VID) program means there’s a Bark Bites menu, too, curated by local gourmet dog food company barkBISTRO.

For dinner, order the jumbo seared scallops and grilled octopus with fingerling potatoes and green beans to start. A salad is always a good idea—try the beet salad with arugula, ricotta cheese and pistachios when you’re trying to stay balanced.

Complete your meal with the perfectly sized (for sharing) house-made ricotta gnocchi with Sicilian pesto cream and toasted pine nuts and, of course, save room for dessert. The chocolate mousse cake with hazelnut gelato came highly recommended and didn’t disappoint.

In the rooms, the Atlantic now includes bottled Fiji water and Lavazzo coffee machines for all its guests. The hotel also has a partnership with Gay Travel for LGBTQ+ travelers and a new fifth-floor SKYBAR with a pool, hot tub and magnificent ocean views in collaboration with Campari.

Spa offerings are one in a million. Spa-tember $99 specials have been extended through October at Spa Atlantic, also on the fifth floor, and the spa features a different treatment each month. October will include seaweed and November, the fall mascot, pumpkin.

That’s not all—the hotel is mere steps away from Breakers Ave., a block chock-full of culture where you’ll find Wine + Garden, open Thursday through Saturday. The restaurant spotlights Italian dishes, a happy hour menu and, of course, a great wine selection.

There’s also Village Design Art Gallery; the gallery hosts a Sip and Shoppe with free admission the first Saturday of every month that includes live music, art, food and drinks. If you can’t make it then, no worries. The event space hosts ongoing exhibitions and is a haven for creativity as well as local and international artists who want to expose their work.

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