Las Olas Boulevard is one of Fort Lauderdale’s most-loved shopping and dining strips, lined with unique boutiques, art galleries, restaurants and bars. Its easternmost section boasts some of Fort Lauderdale’s most luxurious waterfront homes, set along a series of picturesque canals and ending at Las Olas Marina and Fort Lauderdale Beach.
Las Olas translates as “the waves” in Spanish and is set within the “Riverfront” area of downtown Fort Lauderdale. The boulevard is lined with luxury brand stores, tequila bars, cigar shops and one-of-a-kind arts and antiques, reflecting the cultural makeup of the Fort Lauderdale area and its Latino influences. It is renowned for its lavish celebrity mansions, with beautifully manicured gardens and large yachts fronting many of its properties, with guided tours taking visitors along its canal waterways for a glimpse into the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Gondola tours are also available during the evenings, offering an undeniably romantic way to explore what has been dubbed the “Venice of America”, while the Riverside Hotel is the place to spend the night and renowned for its classic charm. The historic trading post at Stranahan House lies between Las Olas Boulevard and the New River, built in 1901 and later occupied by Frank and Ivy Stranahan who were considered the boulevard’s first residents. Las Olas is also home to the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, set within a modernist building designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes and renowned for its Picasso ceramics and contemporary Cuban art collection. Just to the west of Las Olas Boulevard is the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, as well as the Museum of Discovery and Science with its giant IMAX theatre and eco-centre.
Las Olas Boulevard is easily accessed by Fort Lauderdale water taxis or by one of the public bus services which connect it to destinations across the region. The boulevard itself is relatively short, stretching just 1.6 kilometres, with its shops, restaurants and sights best explored on foot.
Las Olas Boulevard was originally built in 1917 from a dirt road which traversed the swampy wetlands that led to Fort Lauderdale Beach. During the 1920s, the Las Olas Isles were dredged to create the upmarket residential area seen today, while the commercial strip was added following World War II and has been revamped numerous times since.