This canal-laced city is a far cry from its spring break party image of the past. Today, following renovation and renewal, upscale stores and restaurants have replaced fast-food stands and T-shirt shops. But the city’s biggest draws are its stretch of gorgeous beaches, great swimming, nearly year-round sunshine and close-to-ideal climate. For great shopping, dining and nightlife, you can’t miss at Las Olas Riverfront, a waterfront entertainment center with topnotch clothes and jewelry stores, bars and free entertainment.
The city has a host of family-friendly options, such as Everglades Holiday Park and the Museum of Discovery and Science. With the network of canals and waterways, boats are part of the Lauderdale lifestyle, and tourists can get in on the act by renting a boat or hailing a water taxi. There’s a lot to do here, but be sure to spend some quiet time just soaking up the sun or strolling along the beach at dusk.
:Billie Swamp Safari
The Seminole nation’s Big Cypress Reservation on the edge of the Everglades has rivers of grass, forests of mangroves, and islands of hardwoods. Wind through this region in a swamp buggy as your guide describes native traditions. Alligators sleep on the creek banks, razorback hogs grunt through the grassland, and the panthers, once prominent in these parts, lie in the shade of an enclosure (there are thought to be less than 50 of these native Florida cats left in the wild). Also available are airboat rides and overnights in a traditional dwelling.
:The World’s Best Beaches
Why go to Florida if you’re not going to hit the beach? Stroll the renovated Fort Lauderdale Beach promenade or head to Hollywood Beach, with its six miles of pristine sands, to walk or bike the paved Boardwalk. The John U. Lloyd Beach State Recreation Area in Dania, three miles south of Fort Lauderdale, is a 251-acre park with sandy beaches and nature trails.
:Museum of Discovery & Science
Eight interactive areas plus special exhibits teach kids about science the fun way at this Fort Lauderdale establishment. In Sound, children whisper, scream, and sing to change colors and shapes. Gizmo City is (unsurprisingly) loaded with gadgets. Learn about levers by lifting a 500-pound weight and (try to) understand electronics programming by operating a robot. In Runways to Rockets, learn about gravity by “launching” a space vehicle.