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Fun In Fort Lauderdale

Great Escapes

01/23/2012

Are you making plans for a cruise, or do you just want to have some fun in the sun? With year-round average temperatures of 77 degrees, Florida attracts snowbirds of all types and ages. Specifically, Fort Lauderdale has all of the amenities but not the sky-high prices.

After a recent visit before and after a cruise, I want to tell you about the great time I had in Fort Lauderdale! First, I want to point out that I’ve found Miami to be expensive. It’s expensive to fly in and out of and pricey to stay and eat there. Option B for my recent trip was to fly into and stay in nearby Fort Lauderdale. After doing this, I was ready to shop for a condo and relocate!

This beachfront city is a great destination for any type of traveler. With plenty to do and being easy on the pocketbook, I bet you’ll have a fantastic time and still catch your cruise in Miami for less than you would staying there. Or better yet, look into cruising in and out of Fort Lauderdale itself. Here is the itinerary I followed and had a great time with. I highly recommend checking out the following:

DAY 1

Check-in day is always busy, so you don’t want to overdo it after traveling. Rent a car at the airport and make your way to the impressive B Ocean Fort Lauderdale (www.bhotelsandresorts.com) right across from the beach. Ask for a beachfront view and just stare out the picture windows at the beautiful blue waters. You are now officially on vacation!

Take a dip in the warm ocean or stroll along the beach and explore a bit. Just about all of the attractions in Fort Lauderdale are within walking distance, so don’t worry about what you eat—you’ll walk it off.

Both B’stro on the Beach and SA1A restaurants at B Ocean are amazing. Make sure you go back to B’stro on the Beach in the evening to “play” with its Cruvinet (self-serve wine bar) as you snack on a plate of fruits and artisan cheeses.

DAY 2

Now that you are rested, it’s time to get active. Right across the street is the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. Rent a canoe and paddle around the lagoon or take a nature walk on paved trails. It’s a great place to pack a lunch and have a picnic.

Now it’s time to see more of Fort Lauderdale. Head over by foot to Las Olas Boulevard (www.LasOlasBoulevard.com) for some shopping and sightseeing. Don’t miss the popular Johnny V Restaurant—it has delicious seafood. And I am hooked on those self-serve yogurt and topping shops, which is a refreshing treat any time of day. Check out Yogurt Ur Way.

When you are ready to move again, catch the popular water taxi and see the area by water (www.WaterTaxi.com). Just sit back and relax as you float by some very impressive properties and yachts. The great thing about the water taxi is that you can buy a ticket that lets you get on and off as you please. If you see something that looks interesting, hop off and check it out. Then come back to the stop when you are ready.

DAY 3

If you haven’t gotten much beach time in, now is the time. Call Paddles and Boards for a SUP (stand-up paddle surfing) lesson and rental (www.PaddlesAndBoards.com), and enjoy the views with a great and easy workout. It’s easy to learn how to SUP, and it gives you an opportunity to play in the water in a different way, whether it’s on the beach or in the canals admiring all the waterfront properties. Lay out and soak up the sun before you have to go in for the day.

Driving around the different areas was another favorite pastime. Once you get there, you may find out that there are more things you will want to do and see. The city’s Web site, www.Sunny.org, even has a list of free things that you can take advantage of.

After talking to some of the locals, almost everyone suggested a trip to the Bonnet House. Again in walking distance, you can quickly arrive at the museum (www.BonnetHouse.org), which is surrounded by lush gardens and has a Caribbean plantation-style house museum.

Another not-to-be-missed event is the turtles! Fort Lauderdale takes its sea turtles and conservation very seriously, even changing the street lighting during nesting season: May through October. Sign the whole family up for a turtle walk through the Museum of Discovery and Science, John U. Lloyd Beach State Park, or Anne Kolb Nature Center at West Lake Park. Here participants will have the opportunity of a lifetime watching a 300-pound Loggerhead come ashore to lay her eggs or a tiny hatchling getting released. Almost 90% of sea turtle nesting in the United States takes place in Florida, so take advantage of your time here to see it.

While the purpose of my trip was to relax after a cruise, my next one will definitely include some day spas and more watersports. Get more ideas and even better deals when you talk with your travel agent about staying in Fort Lauderdale. Some future events that foodies might be interested in are the Las Olas Wine and Food Festival April 20 and the Pompano Beach Seafood Festival April 20-22. Or if you are a runner, make the A1A Marathon an excuse to come (February 19), which starts at the Museum of Discovery in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

You will love every minute spent here. You might even make it an annual tradition.

Jackie Williams

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