As the cold weather sets in across most of the U.S., I thought I would feature a destination that exudes warmth both literally in its annual temperature and figuratively in its charm and hospitality. Fort Lauderdale, Florida sits on the Atlantic coast with its calm, welcoming sophistication that feels a world apart from the frenetic culture that is only about an hour’s drive away – Miami.
Fort Lauderdale isn’t just another sleepy beach town. Sure, it has 23 miles of Blue Wave certified beaches, but it also has a thriving arts and entertainment scene, and exceptional shopping and dining options. I could eat my weight in fresh seafood when I am visiting this Florida coastal city!
AN EASY VACATION DESTINATION
This might be one of the best compliments I can give a vacation destination. Ft. Lauderdale is easy. Easy to get to, around, and depart from. Its airport (FLL) is easy to fly into. FLL offers the lowest fares in South Florida with 300 daily departures to over 100 destinations in the U.S., Latin America, Canada, the Caribbean and Germany. No-frills Spirit Airlines recently announced that it will begin daily service from Phoenix to Ft. Lauderdale.
Can’t resist Caribbean cruises? The city also boasts a thriving cruise port. Why not spend a few days on its beautiful beaches and then embark on a cruise out of Port Everglades? In fact, many area hotels have shuttles to the port for pre- or post-trip delivery.
THINGS TO DO IN FORT LAUDERDALE
You can’t ignore the indigenous surroundings unique to Fort Lauderdale. Immerse yourself in the heart of the swamp with a tour from Billie Swamp Safari and learn about the unconquered Seminole Tribe of Florida on the Big Cypress Indian Reservation. Swamp buggy eco-tours and airboat adventure tours depart daily through 2200 acres of everglades.
Fun for the whole family includes visits to Butterfly World and the Flamingo Gardens. Scooter, canoe, jet ski and other watersports are sure to thrill. Snorkel (no boat needed) from shore along Lauderdale-By-The-Sea’s three-tiered reef system and discover the many underwater treasures. Sea turtles nest along Greater Fort Lauderdale’s beaches. From May through October these creatures will return to their home beaches to lay eggs.
Downtown Fort Lauderdale Stroll, people watch, dine at an outdoor cafe and shop the chic boutiques along Las Olas Boulevard, a sophisticated mile of fashion, art and sidewalk cafes. Then “follow the red brick road” of Riverwalk, the landscaped park, to the Arts & Entertainment District.
IIGFA Fishing Hall Of Fame & Museum World-class state-of-the-art facility includes seven galleries, an outdoor marina, living wetlands, a theater, virtual fishing and indoor/outdoor demonstrations. Open Mon-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun noon-6pm. Adults $8, seniors and children 3-16 $5, under 3 free.
COMING UP IN FT. LAUDERDALE
The A1A Marathon on February 19 is the perfect setting for runners and spectators. The 26.2-mile course attracts athletes from South Florida, 40-plus states, and 12 foreign countries.
The Sistrunk Parade and Festival on February 25 is presented by the Sistrunk Historical Festival – a cultural organization that celebrates the accomplishments of people of African descent – featuring floats, marching bands, drill teams, step dancers, and vibrant Caribbean Carnival dancers.
From the sea grass to the saw grass, Greater Fort Lauderdale offers thousands of lodging accommodations at a variety of hotels, luxury spa resorts, and small inn/motels.
This hotel continually receives excellent guest reviews. Its staff is courteous and helpful, the rooms are well appointed and comfortable, and the restaurant is delicious. Be sure to arrange for an oceanfront view. The Atlantic is perfectly situated to walk to restaurants and nightlife.
Owned by the Seminole Indian Tribe, the hotel features a four and one-half acre lagoon style pool complete with waterfalls and a 182-foot waterslide. A 130,000 square foot casino adds the fun that includes 17 restaurants, 11 nightclubs, a European-style spa and 22 shops.
Set on the Intercoastal Waterway, this hotel will not disappoint. Take a convenient water taxi right from the hotel to experience fun in Ft. Lauderdale. This hotel offers five restaurants, three pools, an aquatics center, private cabanas, and a lot of relaxation.