Beach Vacations to Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
People relaxing at the beach, Fort Lauderdale, Florida (Mark Lewis/Digital Vision/Getty)

Fort Lauderdale Beach Travel Tips

  • Come summer, the ocean is calm and warm and the hotel deals more plentiful. Overall, room rates are a little less here than in Miami, especially if you bunk in Hollywood, the next town over.
  • May through October is the nesting season for loggerhead turtles on Fort Lauderdale's beaches. Keep a distance from the animals and resist the urge to shine flashlights on them, as artificial lights are disruptive.
  • The Sebastian Street area of Fort Lauderdale Beach is the most gay-friendly stretch of sand in the area, with close proximity to many of the city's LGBT resorts.
  • The two-mile stretch of beach between 1014 Seabreeze Blvd. and 1200 N. Atlantic Blvd. has lifeguards every day from 9:45 A.M. to 5 P.M.

For years, Fort Lauderdale has been fighting to shake its reputation as Miami's less-sophisticated sister to the north (the cities are a half-hour drive apart). And its efforts have finally paid off. What was once a tawdry spring- break destination of dumpy bars and drunken college kids now draws properties with names like Ritz-Carlton, W, and Hilton. In the past few years, this city of 200,000 has also excelled in the arts-and-culture department. Highlights include the Museum of Art (King Tut came through here), Broadway-style performances at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, and the one-of-a-kind International Swimming Hall of Fame.

But perhaps the city's greatest feature is the one it's had all along: seven miles of spacious beaches (linked to another 20 or so miles of sand in the surrounding region). The shore scene is decidedly less pretentious, less crowded, and less expensive than celeb-crazed Miami. Newer hotels line the renovated beachfront along State Road A1A (North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard), home to spotless Fort Lauderdale Beach. And about two miles inland, you'll find a nice, pedestrian-friendly downtown beneath the flashy high-rises. Visitors can stroll along the New River atop the modern Riverwalk, an outdoor mall with excellent shops and restaurants, and learn about the area's history, too. Fort Lauderdale's first settlements popped up here in the early 1800s, and historic landmarks include the Stranahan House and Museum, which was built as a trading post for settlers and the Seminole Indians in 1901.

Fort Lauderdale calls itself "the yachting capital of the world" and "the Venice of America," and you'll quickly understand why—the city has 300 miles of navigable waterways and some 40,000 resident yachts. You'll often see private vessels tied up in canals behind grandiose homes. But if it's a spectacle you're after, come in December for the Winterfest Boat Parade, when more than 100 illuminated craft float through the city along the Intracoastal Waterway.

Fort Lauderdale has one of the largest gay populations in the U.S., and the LGBT presence here has further boosted the arts scene and rejuvenated the older neighborhoods. So if you're over Miami, come visit her mellower and humbler sister—you may be surprised to find her all grown up.

Published: 27 Dec 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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