“Art” and “Florida” might not be two words you think about pairing together—unless, of course, you’re thinking of Miami’s famed international art fair, Art Basel. Beyond that, the state’s reputation as one that solely houses drunk college students or vacationers generally prevails. It’s a reputation that the state can’t seem to shake—despite its efforts.
Because, as it turns out, many Florida locales have been actively looking to rid of their “party and bullshit” reputation by fostering crucial spaces full of art and culture. And while we’ve watched Miami transform as both the state’s go-to art hub and party district over the past few years, another city on the rise is one of the state’s most notorious party havens—Fort Lauderdale.
It’s difficult to ignore any prejudices you might have about a city that you’ve never been to before, but upon seeing Fort Lauderdale’s efforts to implement and foster change within their community, all of my preconceived notions faded away. Aside from all of the eye-catching murals, sculptures, and exhibitions the city had to offer, two key aspects that separate Fort Lauderdale’s art scene from any other I’ve ever witnessed is the sense of community and the accessibility of the art.
Many art districts in major cities are often hyper-commercialized, unfriendly, and inaccessible to the public, but Fort Lauderdale’s growing art scene is anything but. Case in point: Almost all the excursions are free and live in public spaces—save for the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale and the Broward Center For Performing Arts. So, if you’re looking to free yourself from the chilly weather and opt to get away to a tropical destination bursting with culture (without the tourist hype), let Fort Lauderdale be your underground art haven. Check out the seven best art destinations to visit in the city, below.