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Discover the Surprising Fort Lauderdale Art Scene

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When you think of Fort Lauderdale, I bet images of sandy shores and sunny days spring to mind. The beach may draw you to this city, but the art scene will make you want to extend your stay. Take a break from the beach during your Florida vacation to explore the incredible Fort Lauderdale art scene.

Discover Fort Lauderdale's Surprising Art Scene

(Top photo: sepavone, Depositphotos.com. Bottom photo: Peter Vahan)

FATVillage

The Flagler Arts and Technology Village, a.k.a. FATVillage, is a stretch of formerly a neglected warehouses that have been reimagined to become Fort Lauderdale's go-to spot for arts and entertainment. The funky FATVillage boasts art galleries, art studios and creative businesses. Even the local coffee house and barbershop have partnered with local artisans to create intriguing places to sip a latte or get your hair snipped. From handcrafted household goods to elegant sculptures and beautiful paintings, go here to peruse art at a wide range of price points.

On the last Saturday of each month, FATVillage opens its warehouse doors and welcomes people of all ages (and their pets!) to a nighttime art walk. Come roam from studio to studio to take in the art displays, indulge in live music and food, and just maybe purchase some appealing art. After a day enjoying a Florida beach day, families with teens will especially enjoy the hip feel of the FATVillage Art Walk.

Can't make it to Art Walk? The FATVillage office and FAR Gallery have walk-in hours Wednesday through Friday 1 – 5 pm. Plus, there are a lot of companies in FATVillage that have normal business hours during the week. Take a look at this list of FATVillage businesses.

FATVillage Art Walk ~ Fort Lauderdale Art Scene

FATVillage Art Walk (Photo credit: FATVillage.com)

Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale

Spend a day strolling the bustling Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale, which extends the length of New River. This birthplace of Fort Lauderdale was home to the Seminole Indians prior to becoming an important trading post between the Seminole people and settlers. A stroll through Riverwalk is like waltzing through a living art masterpiece, replete with attractive cafes, boutiques, cultural attractions and palm trees aplenty.

Riverwalk is also home to Bonnet House Museum and Gardens, an open-to-the-public 35-acre 1921 courtyard-style waterfront home surrounded by ponds with bonnet water lilies and tropical gardens. Meanwhile, history buffs will be interested in the Historic Stranahan House Museum. This is Fort Lauderdale's oldest surviving structure, built in 1901 by the city's founding father. It's open daily for guided tours at 1, 2, and 3 pm.

For transportation around the Riverwalk Performing Arts District, Sun Trolley Fort Lauderdale offers a free land or water trolley. Water taxis are also widely available.

The beautiful River Walk Fort Lauderdale ~ Fort Lauderdale Art Scene

The beautiful River Walk Fort Lauderdale (Photo credit: jovannig, Depositphotos.com)

Broward Center for the Performing Arts

Broward Center for the Performing Arts is the anchor of the Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale, offering up theatrical and musical performances including Broadway shows. Look for Family Fun shows, which are performed at kid-friendly hours and include pre-show activities. Children will love that they conclude with a sweet treat. Explore the riverfront boardwalk before the show to give young legs a chance to run off energy.

Broward Center also provides educational opportunities for people of all ages and abilities. Children age 3+ and adults can enroll in an impressive array of creative classes here. Take a look at their class offerings before your Fort Lauderdale vacation. You just might find a short-term “Intensive” workshop that matches the dates of your visit.

Broward Center for Performing Arts

Take in a show at Broward Center for the Performing Arts (Photo credit: Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB)

Downtown Hollywood, Florida

Drive about 20 miles south of Fort Lauderdale to explore Hollywood, Florida‘s picturesque, art-focused downtown. Boasting its own art walk, Hollywood is a town reminiscent of old Florida. It's worth the journey for live performances of jazz, pop-up shops, and a bevy of food trucks.

Mural by Yuhmi Collective in Hollywood, Florida

The Yuhmi Collective for the Downtown Hollywood Mural Project (Photo Credit: Peter Vahan)

During my visit, I was treated to a tour of the Downtown Hollywood Mural Project. This collection of curated murals adds flare to downtown Hollywood and draws art lovers to the area. Vibrant oversized murals created by local, national and international artists appear on the sides of local businesses. Appreciate the imaginative murals while enjoying a self-guided stroll through Hollywood's tree-lined downtown. Better yet, join a free tour every third Saturday at 6 pm at Anniversary Park to learn about the artists and history of the project.

Artist Diana Contreras painting a mural in Fort Lauderdale

Artist Diana Contreras painting a mural for the Downtown Hollywood Mural Project (Photo credit: Jill Weisberg)

MAC Fine Art Gallery

Fort Lauderdale art seekers will relish a visit to MAC Fine Art Gallery. The MAC's impressive 12,000-square-foot space is the largest in South Florida. Despite its reputation for flawless service and as a go-to locale for serious art collectors, this gallery does not feel stuffy or imposing. I appreciated the knowledgable staff who guided us through the gallery answering questions, and pointing out items of interest. The welcoming atmosphere makes it a perfect place to introduce children and teens to the Fort Lauderdale art scene.

Art installations at the MAC Fine Art Gallery - Fort Lauderdale Art Scene

Art installations at the MAC Fine Art Gallery (Photo credit: Steven Brooke)

NSU Art Museum

Families looking for a break from the sun, or a place to while away a rainy day would do well to visit the NSU Art Museum. In addition to temporary exhibitions, the museum's permanent collection contains more than 7,000 works. Educational opportunities are abundant via lectures, films and even a book club. Wine lovers, take note: the museum hosts a monthly Art of Wine & Food Series featuring different wine varietals paired with small bites.

The NSU Art Gallery lit up at night ~ Fort Lauderdale Art Scene

The NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale lit up at night (Photo credit: NSU Art Museum Fort Laudedale)

Discovering the vibrant Fort Lauderdale art scene was such a refreshing surprise. Who wouldn't want a beach vacation with a side of artistic beauty and creativity?!

To explore the musical arts while in Fort Lauderdale, check out Friday Night Soundwaves, free weekly concerts offered spring through fall. If you're looking for unusual things to do during your Florida vacation, you need to read all about swimming with manatees, Florida's gentle giants.

Would you like to experience the Fort Lauderdale art scene? Let us know in the comments below!

A Note from The Animal Loving Travel Mama: I was hosted by Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB. Travel Mamas did not receive any monetary compensation related to this story. All opinions are mine, as always.

About Debbie Ferm, The Animal Loving Travel Mama

Debbie Ferm is a mom, animal lover, avid traveler, and recent empty nester. She can be found online at EmptyNestExpress.com, where she blogs about living life and traveling after the kids are grown. Debbie and her husband, Steve, share their home in Minnesota with two big goofy dogs and two semi-tolerant cats. She can be found on Twitter at @dkferm and would love to connect!

Comments

  1. That is wonderful! I have to be honest, I’ve never thought of anything but partying graduates when I thought of Fort Lauderdale. This makes me wonder what else it has going for it that I don’t know about.

    • Debbie Ferm, The Animal Loving Travel Mama says:

      Hi Stacie, thanks for your comment. I think a lot of people still have that impression. Sounds like it’s a great time to check out the possibilities!

  2. Melissa Chapman says:

    I a;ways think of Fort Lauderdale as the spring break capital from years gone by, but it really seems like a great art scene hub. I love that they have indoor and outdoor venues.

    • Debbie Ferm, The Animal Loving Travel Mama says:

      I agree. When I’m in Florida, I like to spend the maximum amount of time outside, but it’s also nice to get out of the heat occasionally and have alternatives for a rainy day. Fort Lauderdale has come a long way!

  3. Angela Milnes says:

    Wow, that is absolutely GORGEOUS! I’m from the UK but would love to make it to the states again to see stuff like this.

    • Debbie Ferm, The Animal Loving Travel Mama says:

      Thanks for the comment, Angela. I truly hope you get a chance to enjoy the sunny climes and vibrant art of Fort Lauderdale. It is truly a spectacular part of the US!

  4. Kelly Reci says:

    I love that Yuhmi Collective murale! Those colors are just absolutely brilliant and would make the perfect Instagram photo!

    • Debbie Ferm, The Animal Loving Travel Mama says:

      The Yuhmi Collective murals were some of my absolute favorites! Great for Instagram love and even better in person.

  5. Joyce Brewer says:

    This is exactly the kind of scene my husband would love. He’s obsessed with warehouse districts and how they’re being revitalized.

    • Debbie Ferm, The Animal Loving Travel Mama says:

      Thanks for the comment Joyce. Your husband is definitely in for a treat should you visit Fort Lauderdale. It’s a fabulous example of revitalized warehouse districts and cooperative businesses. I hope you get a chance to visit!

  6. Claudia Krusch says:

    Gorgeous pictures! I didn’t remember Fort Lauderdale being so beautiful!

    • Debbie Ferm, The Animal Loving Travel Mama says:

      I agree. I think the college spring break reputation hung on, but Fort Lauderdale has worked hard to reinvent itself, and all of the spectacular art is just one part of that. And of course they’ve always had the gorgeous beaches. What’s not to love?

  7. Fort Lauderdale is quite a distance from where I live but if I had the opportunity, I would love to visit someday. It looks like a really cool vacation destination. Our travel plans are currently on hold due to health issues but soon as we get a go signal from our doctors, we’re going to start traveling again.

    • Debbie Ferm, The Animal Loving Travel Mama says:

      I wish you well with your help, and hope you resume traveling soon! Fort Lauderdale is definitely a worthy destination. Thank you for your comment!

  8. Toni | Boulder Locavore says:

    This is amazing! I didn’t know there are a lot of fun activities in Florida! Awesome!

  9. Wow I didnt know Ft.Lauderdale had an Art Scene. I love Miamis art scene in Wynwood so I need to check out Ft.Lauderdales.

    • Debbie Ferm, The Animal Loving Travel Mama says:

      I hope you do! A lot of the same great artists involved in the Miami are scene can also be seen in Fort Lauderdale, along with some amazing newcomers. Enjoy!

  10. Flyingkids says:

    Wow, that’s amazing. Ft.Lauderdale is known for its amazing beaches. But this article shows there’s more to the beautiful destinations. Those paintings are spectacular.

    • Debbie Ferm, The Animal Loving Travel Mama says:

      Yes, the murals add such a modern feel, and there are so many wonderful things to do and see!

  11. It’s amazing how much Ft. Lauderdale has changed over the years! My girls and I just visited a few weeks ago and had a blast!

    • Debbie Ferm, The Animal Loving Travel Mama says:

      I agree! Glad you and your girls had fun. I know I was impressed with the fresh feel of the city!

  12. I love the murals. I think they’ve definitely got a vibrant artistic community there. Our town does art walks too, I think it’s important to recognize the arts.

    • Debbie Ferm, The Animal Loving Travel Mama says:

      I agree, and even more so the older I get. It adds so much to an area. Thanks for visiting!

  13. I’ve never been there before- it looks amazing! I had no idea the art scene there was so incredible. Now you have me wanting to plan a trip haha!

    • Debbie Ferm, The Animal Loving Travel Mama says:

      I recommend it! You can’t go wrong with sunny beaches and funky art walks!

  14. This looks like a beautiful place! The art is stunning!

    • Debbie Ferm, The Animal Loving Travel Mama says:

      Thanks for the comment. It certainly makes me more appreciative of art and artists!

  15. Wendy Polisi says:

    There are some crazy good artist down there. I love seeing all of the different styles when I am there.

    • Debbie Ferm, The Animal Loving Travel Mama says:

      I agree. Such a large variety of styles, and with a different flair from where I live in Minnesota.

  16. I was born and raised in this area. It definitely has a beautiful art scene. I’ve spent many days at the Broward Center for Performing Arts 🙂

    • Debbie Ferm, The Animal Loving Travel Mama says:

      Lucky you, it’s such a beautiful area. The Broward Center for Performing Arts was so impressive!

  17. I’m all about the arts and the new upcoming artists. We loved visiting Fort Lauderdale.

  18. This reminds me of our own River Arts District here in the city. It’s one of our favorite places to go. I would love to visit Fort Lauderdale one day. Love those murals!

  19. Gemille Sleweon says:

    This looks like so much fun! I’m actually planning a trip to Ft. Lauderdale towards the end of May to see a friend. i’d love to visit FATVillage while i’m in town!

    • Debbie Ferm, The Animal Loving Travel Mama says:

      You definitely should! Definitely check to see if the art walk is scheduled during your visit. Thanks for the comment!

  20. Stephanie Ziajka says:

    All of these pictures are stunning. You truly capture Ft Lauderdale beautifully! I would love to plan and visit soon!

    • Debbie Ferm, The Animal Loving Travel Mama says:

      Thank you. Fort Lauderdale is a beautiful place. Hope you are able to visit!

  21. I love a good mural and Ft Lauderdale seems to be full of them! I would love to visit there one day!!

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