Fort Lauderdale, FL
Crisscrossed by more than 300 miles of canals and natural waterways, Fort Lauderdale is the Venice of America. With a staggering 50,000 registered yachts, this sunny Atlantic Coast community is also nicknamed the Yachting Capital of the World. Every year the city hosts the International Boat Show—the world’s largest—and captures the hearts of boating enthusiasts near and far.
Redevelopment is helping Fort Lauderdale shed its former image as a haven for college kids celebrating spring break. A more upscale crowd now strolls along the 22-block, mile-long Riverwalk. Starting from the west at Cooley Landing Park, this delightful walkway meanders beside the New River to the intersection of Southeast Fifth Avenue and Las Olas Boulevard. Along the way, visitors ramble through Esplanade Park and past the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. A few blocks to the east, the trail passes by the Las Olas Riverfront Plaza and Bubier Park, where it finally ends.
Crowds flock to the fashionable boutiques and restaurants lining Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas Boulevard. Blessed with a dozen art galleries, three museums, a historic hotel and 65 shops and boutiques, this must-see destination is also known for its nightlife. And then there are the restaurants! From Brazilian sirloin at the Chima to a 15-piece sashimi dinner at Sushi Rock, Fort Lauderdale restaurants serve up a dazzling array of delectables. At least 30 of these establishments offer al fresco dining, allowing locals and tourists to soak up the Florida sunshine or glittering night lights.
At the west end of Las Olas Boulevard stands the prestigious Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale. Works by William Glackens, an American artist devoted to urban art known as the Ashcan School, are among the more than 6,000 pieces on permanent display. The collection also boasts works by contemporary Cuban artists as well as by adherents of the CoBrA movement. These latter works, in the style of the groundbreaking Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam artists for which they are named, are spontaneous, colorful and full of fantasy.
Two other significant Fort Lauderdale museums are located nearby. The Stranahan House lies just south of Las Olas Boulevard and is the oldest home in the city. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it functions as a museum of local history. Three blocks west and one block north of the end of Las Olas Boulevard is the Museum of Discovery and Science, where visitors can experience simulated hurricane-force winds, pilot a DC-9 simulator, or fly like a bird in a giant wind tunnel.
Fort Lauderdale’s selection of luxurious beaches ranges from quiet family settings like Deerfield Beach to the chic oceanfront promenade of Fort Lauderdale Beach. The black-and-white striped, 1907 lighthouse adds historic charm to Hillsboro Beach, in the north. And for a glimpse of pelicans and mangroves, tourists head to the undeveloped and unspoiled John U. Lloyd Beach State Park, to the south.