Posted September 24, 2015
By ANDREA FERNANDEZ-BRAVO
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Walking on the strip of Las Olas Boulevard, visitors will see firsthand the smiles on both locals’ and tourists’ faces when they set foot onto this intrinsically charmed filled strip that is filled with decadent restaurants and boutiques, unique art galleries, live bands and even festivals.
“I’m from here and every time I come to Las Olas Boulevard, I always have so much fun because there is so much to do,” local Demi Hernandez said.
Even bigger smiles are seen when tourists learn that the beach is less than one-mile away.
Las Olas Boulevard Association Executive Director Amber VanBuren says the area is the experiencing lots of visitors.
“Tourists mostly come in the months of October through March, but because of the boom and growth in Las Olas, downtown Fort Lauderdale, and in real-estate, Las Olas Boulevard is seeing this wonderful, electric and energetic movement for both tourists and locals,” she explained.
This landmark location that is overlooked by non-Floridians is the strip known as Las Olas Boulevard. This South Florida signature destination has everything Fort Lauderdale has to offer in less than a three-mile radius and is reason enough for tourists to diverge from other South Florida destinations and visit the charming, relaxing and true beach-goer feeling that Las Olas Boulevard has to offer.
Locals constantly take advantage of their local beauty practically every weekend, so there is nothing better for tourists to experience than the food, shops, and sense of community Las Olas has to offer. Notable and trip-worthy restaurants that are a must are Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar, La Bonne Crepe and Cafe Europa.
Both locals and tourists rave about a Rocco’s Tacos burrito covered with a special red sauce and their locally recognized and homemade tortilla chips and guacamole that have a spicy kick. However, it is highly recommended to make a reservation in advance because the wait time to get a seat can go up to four hours (yes, it’s that good!).
La Bonne Crepe is another trip-worthy restaurant that specializes in homemade, enormous, and mouthwatering appetizer, entrée and dessert crepes.
“I still can’t believe how big these crepes are,” tourist Chris Puzycki said. “After I took my first bite, I already knew I was going to eat it all and I already wanted to take a look at the dessert crepe menu.
Locals say that one of the best dessert crepes on the menu is called “Johnny’s Favorite” which includes a warm crepe laying on a bed of Nutella with powdered sugar sprinkled on top and then filled with strawberries and bananas. La Bonne Crepe doesn’t call this desert a favorite for nothing.
Although La Bonne Crepe is known for crepes, Cafe Europa is one of the many best authentic Italian restaurants that reside on Las Olas Boulevard. Just with the aroma of the fresh food and rich smelling wine from outside the restaurant, tourists will be running to come inside and taste the food that they smelled.
With pictures of Italian monuments and the cites of Rome, Venice, and Santorini decorating the restaurant walls, kind waiters are scrambling around serving customers coal fired cooked specialty pizzas, freshly made pollos and veal alla parmigiana, pastas with just off the boat seafood and garden-fresh salads.
No reservation is needed because service is usually attentive and quick. But, prices are moderate to high so be prepared to put some cash down for that second glass of wine and homemade ice cream.
Tourists and locals alike are constantly impressed with the restaurants on Las Olas Boulevard and how the food sweeps them off their feet. However, another reason that makes Las Olas such an attraction for tourists is the number of fashionable boutiques, such the one and only Zola Keller. What makes Zola Keller unique and a must-see for tourists is that it is a consignment store that sells beautiful and high-end evening and wedding gowns.
Local Daniela Arellano said, “I was never into consignment stores, but now this is the first place I go to when I look for evening gowns because I know no one else will be wearing the same thing.”
Even though some people may not be interested in consignment store shopping, just like Arellano, once they stepped inside Zola Keller for the first time, they end up trying on numerous gorgeous and very different gowns and maybe even purchasing one.
A great quality of this store is that if a dress doesn’t fit right in a certain area, once the dress is purchased the store’s seamstress will fix it free of charge. This one-of-a-kind store sells dresses from $300 up to $12,000, so it certainly has a large range of items to provide for all kinds of customers.
When shopping or eating isn’t on the list of things-to-do, even just taking a stroll down Las Olas Boulevard makes this strip travel-worthy enough. The crisp smell of the ocean accompanies visitors and locals while they walk by numerous live bands and if they are lucky, they may even take a stroll on the strip during a festival weekend.
Tourists of all ages and interests have such a fun time and feel the great energy of the community when they come to a festival on Las Olas. Two of the numerous festivals that Las Olas has are the annual Las Olas Art Fair (Jan. 9-10 and Oct. 17-18, and the Las Olas Wine and Food Festival (May 1 each year). These highly anticipated events for locals bring out some of the best moments that tourists can have on Las Olas Boulevard.
One of the top 100 art festivals in the nation, the two-part annual Las Olas Art Fair shows and sells hand-made paintings, life-size sculptures, one-of-a-kind jewelry, and breathtaking photography. Artists speak to more than the 100,000 tourists and locals alike on Las Olas Boulevard about their inspiration for their artwork and tourists have the opportunity to purchase and take home handcrafted, timeless, and original art pieces. Admission is free.
What makes the Las Olas Wine and Food Festival so unique is that tourists have the opportunity to try more than 50 of South Floridian restaurant food and enjoy wine from almost 50 wine tables and vendors. The best part about this smoke-free festival is that all money spent is donated to the American Lung Association. General admission tickets are $100 and you must be over 21 years old to enter. (More information about these two festivals and other trip-worthy festivals can be found on www.lasolasboulevard.com/events/)
So, no matter vacation-goers are looking for on their trip to South Florida, they will find it at Las Olas Boulevard. From the variety of restaurants and boutiques to having the beach just less than a mile away, this endearing strip will provide everything that tourists want to find when visiting South Florida. Las Olas Boulevard provides endless experiences and memories for tourists and just another reason for them to come back to South Florida really soon.
If You Go
- Address: East Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 33301
- Hours: Earliest 9 a.m. to latest 1 a.m.
- No admissions fee (unless going to a festival)
- Meter and valet parking available
- All major credit cards and cash accepted
- Riverside Hotel, Courtyard Fort Lauderdale Beach, The Ritz-Carlton (prices vary from $116-$299 per night)
- Family friendly
- From I-95, get off on U.S. 1 and make a right on East Broward Boulevard. Then make another right onto SE 12th Avenue and turn left on East Las Olas Boulevard.
- For more information visit http://www.lasolasboulevard.com