Las Olas is Spanish for “The Waves,” a fitting name for this 2.5-mile (four-kilometer) boulevard that starts at the beach. It runs west beyond Federal Highway to S. Andrews Avenue in downtown Fort Lauderdale. The commercial area of the boulevard covers about a mile (1.6 kilometers). Here small independent shops, restaurants and cafes line either side of the street. Striped awnings shelter outdoor tables and rows of shady trees provide respite from the sun.
Cars drive up and down the popular shopping street but speed bumps and pedestrian crossings make it safe for those exploring on foot. There are plenty of parking lots one block behind the boulevard.
The stores are fun and eclectic, whether you’re buying or just browsing. Pick up signed posters of famous rock groups, designer wear for Harley fans, gemstone jewelry, fine arts and boutique clothing. Find exotic spices at specialty food shops and a pair of limited edition sneakers from The Archives, a store selling exclusive apparel and accessories. Charming shops are interspersed with upmarket cafés, restaurants and steakhouses.
Enjoy a beer at the historic 1930s Riverside Hotel. The building is typical of the quaint older properties and individual shop fronts along the boulevard.
Other attractions to enjoy around Las Olas include the Riverwalk, the Museum of Art, Huizenga Plaza with its fountain that lights up after dark, and the famous Elbo Room Bar with its roof terrace overlooking Fort Lauderdale Beach.
After dark, join in the nightlife at bars, clubs and restaurants lining the boulevard. Some venues have live music and most have outdoor dining.
In January, March and October, Las Olas turns into an outdoor gallery over a designated weekend when artists display their works along the street.