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A 3-day Ft. Lauderdale vacation

Ft. Lauderdale skyline

Last year, my grandmother asked me to take her to visit her first cousin, who was turning 90. As it turned out, her cousin’s family was heading off on a cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale to celebrate. We decided to surprise her in Florida before her cruise left, and plans for a three-day Ft. Lauderdale vacation were born! Below are details on the trip in case you’re planning your own winter getaway this year.



My mother, grandmother and I flew down to Ft. Lauderdale from New York, which we visited beforehand, and that gave us a lot of options. For one, New York has three airports to choose from—JFK, LaGuardia and Newark. But in addition to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Ft. Lauderdale has other airports within striking distance, too. If you’re looking to visit the area and prices are high, check out Palm Beach International Airport (just over 40 minutes away by car) or Miami International Airport (half an hour away by car).


We stayed for three nights at the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach, a beautiful hotel that I highly recommend if you find yourself in the area. I loved the location right on the beach; even though it wasn’t warm enough to swim or even really spend too much time sitting out, it was great to be able to enjoy sunrise views and take walks along the ocean. There are also so many high-quality restaurants within a few blocks of the Conrad, thanks to its neighboring strip of high-end hotels. They were easy walking distance that I could even do with my grandmother without a problem. 

The Conrad itself was also perfect for our needs since it’s an all-suite property. Having the space to spread out in the room—especially considering that there were three of us, with very different sleep schedules—was clutch.

Stay tuned for a full review of the hotel and our stay there, coming soon!


We spent our first night at Lona Cocina Tequileria, and it couldn’t have been more perfect. Between the food, the margaritas and the interior decor, we seriously felt like we were in Mexico—especially since it was dark out, the similar evening climate and sound of the ocean outside were enough to transport us! The staff there was phenomenal and my grandmother raved about her fish dish for the rest of the trip. It’s a spot I’ll definitely return to in the future!

El Vez was another favorite find in the Mexican food department. We sampled its baja-style dishes while sitting outside enjoying ocean views on a sunny day, and afterward we headed inside to check out its colorful interior. 

For lighter fare, JB&C was the perfect spot. Grab one of its pretty acai bowls—I dare you not to Instagram it!

Terra Mare, located within the Conrad, was the site of our fancier dinner. It’s focus is on locally sourced food, which means if you’re a seafood eater, you should take advantage.


While my grandmother and I largely stuck to the Conrad’s bar, Atlas, for cocktails, I did get a chance to briefly pop into The Wilder. While I didn’t sample anything, the interior design was beautiful, and I tend to assume places that pay that much attention to detail will put just as much care into their drinks.

We also hit a couple of coffee shops in the vicinity of Flagler Village, which is a hip neighborhood filled with colorful street art. If you’re in the area, definitely give Wells Coffee Co. and Bean to Brew a try.


After having done a few trips to Ft. Lauderdale in the past few years, this time, I made it a goal to try to dig up some different things to do in the city. My grandmother and I really enjoyed seeing the street art in and around Flagler Village and popping into different small businesses in the area (there are tons!).

We also checked out Wilton Manors, home of The Yard—a little enclave that’s home to food, drinks, pop-up shops, a vintage market and more on weekends. And speaking of street art, it can definitely hang with Flagler Village in that department.

Frida Kahlo mural

Las Olas Boulevard, a main artery of the city, provides another area to stroll and pop in and out of shops and restaurants. And obviously, we also spent some time walking along the beach. The Conrad’s location was perfect for that!


If we’d had more time, I would have loved to get out to Everglades National Park, which has been high on my list for years. The park—which encompasses 1.5 million acres of wetland—is a one-of-a-kind ecosystem that’s home to a range of activities, including touring by boat, kayaking, biking and more. There also abundant wildlife-viewing opportunities, with the chance to see alligators, crocodiles, manatees, dolphins, turtles, birds—the list goes on.


To make this trip happen, we first turned to Hilton Honors—and specifically, the free weekend nights that come along as a perk of the Hilton Honors Aspire credit card. With rates in points through the roof thanks to our trip’s holiday timing and cash rates higher than we wanted to pay out of pocket, the certificates were a great way to avoid paying a lot of either currency. I had one from my card that I used and my dad had his own that he generously put toward the cause, meaning we only had to pay for one night of accommodation.

Had I not already used the Aspire’s annual resort fee credit in the Maldives earlier in the year, we could have pared down the cost of even that one night. As long as you don’t prepay the room rate, you can use your card to pay for the room at checkout at any Hilton resort and $250 will come right back to your card.

For the flights, we looked to the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal since saver awards were scant and prices coming from New York, which we visited just before Florida, were high.

For more on earning and using points and miles to travel for free, visit the 52 Cities free resource library or register to join me on an upcoming points and miles masterclass

Ft. Lauderdale Beach

What would you do on a Ft. Lauderdale vacation? Let me know in the comments! >>

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