Fort Lauderdale

In Fort Lauderdale you ‘Stay’ in Miami you ‘Play’ – well, ‘play’ awhile then ‘stay’ awhile in Fort Lauderdale which is now becoming the sophisticated ‘sister’ to Miami’s ‘wilder’ side – whether you are a ‘snow bird’ or just a tourist looking for sun, this is the place to be.

Fort Lauderdale is called the Venice of USA due to its beautiful Water Canals that meander through this lovely city. Many people miss this amazing coast line as they jet in and jet off or jet in and sail off from Port Everglades which is the third busiest port in America. Cruise ships come and go to the Caribbean or South America so the area is very transient – but stay awhile if you can and enjoy the ‘American Dream’ that can be found in the beautiful, sunny south area of Fort Lauderdale. No ‘Fort or Castles’ in sight but lots of feelings of the good life, the sun is shining and people look fit and healthy. 

Glynis at the harboursideWe flew into Fort Lauderdale and even though this is an International Airport, be prepared to wait to go through customs. Take some water and some comfortable shoes, it may be a shortish wait or an exceptionally long wait!, so be prepared. Once you are through take a taxi or your transport to your hotel. The taxis are plentiful and cost approximately $20 to get down town. Try to share with other passengers to keep the cost down, just ask around people are very friendly after a long wait. Our hotel was the Best Western Oceanside, a well-positioned hotel with a short walk to the beach, a beautiful room and comfortable beds.  The breakfast area is situated overlooking the pool, which is very pleasant and the breakfast was very good; walk out of the hotel to the right and a short walk take you to the beach area. No evening meal is provided at this hotel but just along the road is a lovely place to eat and they do have a ‘happy hour’! Whichever hotel you choose, Fort Lauderdale has an abundance of hotels and boutiques that are of a high standard. Ask the concierge at your hotel for lots of information and depending on how much time you have I am sure you will not be disappointed.

A long stretch of white, sandy beach with seating and picnic areas greets you, people jogging, walking or picnicing all add to the life style of a sunny state. Fort Lauderdale has something for everyone, you can shop ’till you drop!!! Wonderful malls that have inexpensive shops – watch out for cruise ship staff as this is a ‘mecca’ for a bargain. This canal-laced city has been renovated and renewed with upmarket restaurants that have replaced fast food stands and T-shirt shops. For shopping dining and nightlife go to Las Olas Riverfront or go to Hollywood Beach – yes, Hollywood which lies on the southern end of Fort Lauderdale with Dania Beach or take a trip to the Everglades for a touch of ‘wild life’.  There is a lot to do and see in the area. Cruise around the city’s water channels, with the convenience of hopping on and off, on the Fort Lauderdale water taxi. Whether you are in the mood for shopping on Las Olas Boulevard, sipping a drink at a cafe or merely for up for some sightseeing, jump on the water taxi. The cost is $21 for seniors. Sit back and enjoy seaside mansions, restaurants and extravagant yachts as your captain talks about the sights seen along the way. Trevor about to go fishingIf you have only a limited time in Fort Lauderdale or more time then one of the other transport ways to get around is to go on the Sun Trolley – this is a ‘Wave Down’ service, which mean you see the bus and you ‘wave’ it down – the bus will stop and for $1 you can go a distance but for $3 you can have an all-day pass – excellent value.

The beauty of Fort Lauderdale is that not only is it a really good base to stay but a good area to visit other interesting places on the east coast. Visit lively Miami – a day trip can cost around $75 and it will take you to South Beach with its art deco buildings and ‘beautiful people’ parading along Collins Avenue. Restaurants which can be rather expensive greet you and tempt you to sit down to eat lovely food – check the prices before you sit down. The trip takes you to Little Havana and through the busy international commercial areas, a good trip if you are on a tight schedule. Visit the Everglades see the alligators and go on a air boat – travelling at speed along the swamps, but keep your hands in the boat!! – you never know what is lurking in the muddy waters!!

‘Playing’ in Miami, with enormous cocktails and beautiful people is fun but I would rather ‘Stay’ in Fort Lauderdale with its feel good factor and a touch of ‘normality’, it feels like a place to call home and 165,000 people cannot be wrong. Relax in the sun, eat, drink play golf, go fishing, go shopping, don’t just fly in and sail out it is definitely  an excellent place to’ Stay Awhile’ and enjoy.

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Glynis Sullivan

Traveller and writer for Silver Travel Advisor

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