Fort Lauderdale, Florida


Fort Lauderdale Beache

Fort Lauderdale beaches lies at the heart of the tourist area in Fort Lauderdale. Once known for spring break madness, when thousands of college students descended on the beach, the Fort Lauderdale beach area is now more sedate but still an entertaining stretch of sand and one of the best beaches in Florida.

Knowing where to go to make the most of Fort Lauderdale's seven miles of beach is important. One of the best access points is Fort Lauderdale Beach Park. Located just south of where famous Las Olas Boulevard intersects with Florida State Road A1A, this wonderful stretch of sand has one of the best features of any beach in Fort Lauderdale: extensive parking.

You'll generally be able to find a spot here, except on the busiest of days, and from the parking lot to the sand is a very short stroll. The beach is well equipped with facilities that include restrooms, changerooms, showers, volleyball courts, basketball courts, BBQ grills, picnic tables, and a playground.

Other major beach areas include Las Olas Beach; Sebastian Street Beach; and the area north of here, known simply as Fort Lauderdale Beach.

No matter where you choose to access the beach, you'll find that it is backed by a pedestrian walk that runs for miles and miles. Numerous condo towers and hotels are just across the street from the beach, as are restaurants, and shops. In the streets leading away from the beach, visitors can still find smaller, more economical hotels and motels.

Las Olas Boulevard

Las Olas Boulevard stretches from downtown Fort Lauderdale to the ocean and is the place to see and be seen. Here, you'll find plenty of tourist attractions and things to do, including shopping at more than 100 stores and restaurants. The stores, some of Fort Lauderdale's best, include high-end clothing shops, art galleries, and jewelry stores.

Las Olas Boulevard is also a popular place to visit for dining; the street is packed with cafés and bistros, many with patios. A popular pastime is to grab a prime seat on a comfy patio and prepare to engage in some serious people watching. Or, after the heat of the day, have a candlelit dinner under the fairy lights in the palm trees that line the roadway.

The area with the most shops and restaurants runs from South Andrews Avenue to SE 15th Avenue. Once you get east of SE 15th, the retail shops peter out until you reach the beach area. Paid parking is generally easy to find, either right on Las Olas Boulevard, or on one of the side streets at meters, or in commercial parking lots.


Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk

Hidden from view and overlooked by most visitors, the Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk is well worth seeking out if you have the time. Off the traditional tourist route, this sedate and lovely 2.5-mile-long trail follows the New River as it makes its way towards the ocean past historical homes and condos.

The Riverwalk passes by 10 parks along its route, and each park has attractions all their own. Some have beautiful gardens, others workout stations, and some playground structures for the kids. Walk the route, or if you'd rather, just hop on the free Riverwalk Water Trolley plying the waters on a daily basis. A variety of restaurants with shady patios line the river and are the perfect place for a leisurely lunch or pleasant evening dinner.

The Riverwalk has been in existence for over 30 years and has been a gathering spot for locals and tourists alike. For the latest events and happenings, pick up the Go Riverwalk magazine the group publishes every month.

Access to the Riverwalk is easy from any one of the cross streets, like SE 3rd Avenue, South Andrews Avenue, or South Avenue of the Arts. One of the largest parking structures is off SE 3rd Avenue by the Broward Judicial Center.

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Bonnet House Museum & Gardens

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a Fort Lauderdale landmark, Bonnet House Museum & Gardens is a mix of art, architecture, history, and ecology.

The historic house was designed by Frederic Clay Bartlett and built in 1920. On display are collections of art and personal treasures.

The estate covers 36 acres and was once the winter retreat of the Birch/Bartlett family. The surrounding grounds of the estate remain a virtual oasis of coastal wilderness, nestled amid the commercial development of the Fort Lauderdale beachfront.

Containing five ecosystems, the grounds serve as a barrier island habitat that includes a beach, dunes, a maritime forest, freshwater slough, and delicate mangrove wetlands. The formal gardens include a hibiscus garden, desert garden, and the Orchid Display House.

Address: 900 North Birch Road, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

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Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park

This wonderful state park features a 2.5-mile stretch of beach on the Atlantic Ocean. It's an ideal place to set up your beach chairs and umbrella and gaze out at the ocean.

If you have your own boat, the state park's excellent launch facilities are one of the best places to get your boat in the water. This is due to the park's proximity to Port Everglades Inlet; from here, access to the Atlantic Ocean is fast and easy.

Scuba diving is a popular pastime here on the three reef systems offshore. One is reachable by swimming 300 yards, the other is half a mile, the third is two miles out.

Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park is also a local birding hot spot. Warblers, sparrows, pelicans, and various shorebirds can be spotted by the keen observer.

Address: 6503 North Ocean Drive, Dania Beach, Florida

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Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

This state park was a gift from Hugh Taylor Birch to residents of Florida. His former estate is a 180-acre park that sits between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean.

This green space is a welcome oasis, perfect for a quiet walk on the trails or an afternoon picnic. Canoes are available for rent, or bring your own stand up paddleboard and head onto the freshwater lagoon to view the wildlife or even do some fishing.

The park has beach access, as well as paved trails for cycling and rollerblading. Guests should not miss the Birch House Museum, where you can learn about the history of the park and its benefactor, as well as the ecological significance of its position as a barrier island.

Address: 3109 East Sunrise Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

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Flamingo Gardens and Wildlife Sanctuary

If you were wondering what sort of plants and animals populate the wilderness areas of Florida, plan for a trip to Flamingo Gardens. Spread out over 60 acres, the park has flora, fauna, and historical components.

The fauna component is a botanical garden with over 3,000 plants from the tropics and subtropics. A highlight of the garden is the arboretum, home of Florida's largest trees. Take some time to wander through the 11 different gardens, ranging from beautiful orchids to a live oak hammock.

The flora consists of a wildlife sanctuary, Florida's largest of native species, with non-releasable residents including bobcats, eagles, alligators, and bears. One of the highlights, of course, is the Flamingo Pond, where these colorful birds go about their daily lives. For an additional fee, you can feed them by hand.

The historical component is the Wray Home. This one-time weekend residence of Floyd L. and Jane Wray has been lovingly restored to its 1930s glory.

Address: 3750 S. Flamingo Road, Davie, Florida

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