Fort Lauderdale Travel Guide
Miami’s near-neighbor to the north, Fort Lauderdale has its own style and feel like the ‘Venice of America,’ with miles of waterways linking its rich mix of boutique shopping, original attractions (like the Seminole Indian Billie Swamp Safari), and eclectic restaurants.
Spend an evening on Las Olas Boulevard and stay late into the night; visit the family-friendly Museum of Discovery & Science, with its hands-on attractions; or just retreat to the beach, where the wide-open sands and gentle surf can lull you into a sense of splendid holiday relaxation. But don’t miss the Sawgrass Mills shopping mall – it’s one of America’s biggest outlet centers, jam-packed with bargains for empty suitcases!
Fort Lauderdale is Florida’s fastest growing, most diverse and dynamic vacation and business travel destination.
More than 300 miles of navigable inland waterways wind through palatial estates, citrus groves and the unique and exotic Everglades – beckoning boats of all sizes and shapes. It is the Intracoastal Waterway and the waterfront homes which dot it, that have earned Greater Fort Lauderdale its reputation as the “Venice of America” and, with more than 44,000 registered boats, the label “yachting-capital-of-the-world.” Then there are the cultural attractions, museums, sports, sailing and Scuba, dining, entertainment, shopping, natural wonders, festivals and celebrations, friendly folk, cruise ships, water taxis, horse-drawn carriages, butterflies, alligators…..
With some 33,000 hotel rooms in Greater Fort Lauderdale, finding the right one is never a problem. Accommodations range from small inexpensive, family-run inns to deluxe resorts. The area also has great spa resorts like Hyatt Regency’s Pier Sixty-Six SPA LXVI, Marriott’s Harbor Beach Resort & Spa, and the Diplomat Resort Country Club and Spa.
From diamonds and precious antiques to discounted designer wear, Greater Fort Lauderdale has no shortage of shopping opportunities, from Sawgrass Mills, the world’s largest value and entertainment mall, to the famed The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale. Festival Marketplace in Pompano and The Millennium Hollywood’s City Place offer bargains in air-conditioned comfort.
Landscaped, gas-lighted and chic Las Olas Boulevard is lined with one-of-a-kind boutiques, galleries and restaurants. Antique lovers head for Antique Row in nearby Dania, with 100 shops in a one-block area. For treasure and trivia hunters, 80 acres of garage sales, farmers market, international bazaar, county fair and free daily circus are all rolled into the south’s largest flea market at the Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop. The Outdoor World Bass Pro Shops mega sporting goods store will delight sportsmen and women.
Broward Center for the Performing Arts
With the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Greater Fort Lauderdale is the center for theater, music and dance in South Florida. Here, the biggest Broadway musicals make their first and frequently only stop in the region. The Broward Center joins other performing arts venues, such as the Office Depot Center in Sunrise, offering popular musical concerts.
For a look at “Old Florida”, historic sites abound: Bonnet House (named for the lilies which are native to the nearby Everglades) is the Fort Lauderdale oceanfront estate of the late painter Frederic Bartlett; Stranahan House is the oldest home in Broward County and Flamingo Gardens and Wray Botanical Collection, one of the area’s first citrus groves, is now a botanical garden.
Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art
The Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art is home of one of the world’s premier collections of early 20th-century art and site of many prestigious traveling shows. The Museum of Discovery and Science, and Blockbuster 3D IMAX Theater, the most visited museum in Florida, helps kids of all ages explore science, space, and the environment.
Not to be missed is Butterfly World, set in Tradewinds Park, featuring a specially designed screened enclosure that lets thousands of butterflies fly free in their native habitats. A hummingbird exhibit and a hatchery complete this unique “world.”
Broward County’s 288 parks offer horseback riding, nature trails, picnicking and camping areas, waterskiing and freshwater lakes – for some of the best bass-fishing in the county.
More than 3.6 million people cruise out of modern Port Everglades each year, making it one of the world’s largest cruise ports. There is casino gaming aboard the Discovery, St. Tropez and SeaEscape cruise ships, which offer daily “cruises to nowhere” and to the nearby Bahamas. Hop onboard The Cat, a fast speed ferry to Freeport.
Golfers will recognize the names of famous courses, among the more than 56 throughout Broward County. Tennis too, is world-class here with 550 public and private tennis courts.
Scuba divers will find clear water and coral formations as elaborate and spectacular as those in the fabled Florida Keys. More than two dozen sanitized freighters and other vessels have been sunk and strategically placed off the coast, primarily around Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach.
The Jungle Queen offers guided day tours and dinner cruises through the canals and waterways. The Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi service provides a delightful and scenic mode of transportation to and from many hotels, attractions, restaurants and shops.
In Davie, a “western” town by mandate, every structure must be built to a western theme. Weekly “Jackpot” rodeos are popular with local cowboys and cowgirls and a monthly professional rodeo draws participants nationwide. This is also the place to come for horseback riding, where stables offer English-and Western-style, with miles of trails for exploring.
But of course The Beach in Fort Lauderdale has the final call. The 23 miles of Blue Wave certified beaches are magnets for vacationers and beach adventures range from parasailing and windsurfing to basketball and badminton. But quiet, uncrowded stretches remain, where sea turtles lay their precious eggs, protected by tall grasses and seagrape trees; where exotic birds congregate in the early morning to feed on sealife left by the tide and where beach lovers can walk for uninterrupted miles, accompanied only by the surge of the incoming sea.