Fort Lauderdale

Destination Location

Overview

Landing in Fort Lauderdale, you'll immediately understand why this beach playground is called the “Venice of America.” Hundreds of yachts and mansions line the city's 266 km of inland waterways, snaking through the heart of the city and its outlying communities. You'll be greeted by a cosmopolitan, cool and relaxed atmosphere here.

Water and water sports are a way of life in Fort Lauderdale for locals and visitors alike. Whether you splash, swim, dive, paddleboard or surf, make sure to treat yourself to a water-themed fun day.

In Fort Lauderdale, the landscape grabs your attention in every direction. The blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean are to the east, while the Everglades borders the west. When you visit, take a sightseeing or fishing cruise on the Intracoastal Waterway or out on the ocean. Then, tell the folks at home about the sights you saw or the big fish you caught.

Fort Lauderdale has more than its share of sunshine, sandy beaches and water activities. But it also has a rich restaurant, nightlife and cultural scene.

If you're feeling hungry, you can choose to dine at one of the more than 4,000 restaurants in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area. Located so close to the Atlantic Ocean, restaurants here serve up a tantalizing array of seafood daily. Not a seafood fan? There are a number of Italian, Mexican, Thai, Indian, French, American and Brazilian restaurants too. If you have kids or are looking for more affordable options, there are plenty of family- and budget-friendly restaurants here as well.

Kids will love the variety of indoor activities and cultural attractions in Fort Lauderdale. The museums and other venues will keep them engaged with fun and interactive exhibits.

Venture outside and launch your adventures on land or on water. You can glide along in an Everglades airboat and search for alligators or learn a new sport. Try a surfing or paddleboard lesson, or head to the links for a round of golf. Watch out for the water hazards though – courses here are known to include alligators!

Fort Lauderdale also has great shopping spots you won't be able to resist. Visit Sawgrass Mills, the world's largest outlet shopping mall, and give your wardrobe an upgrade with new clothes at enticing prices. There are also plenty of upscale boutiques, restaurants and cafes along Las Olas Boulevard. The numerous beach and surf wear shops are excellent for stocking up on warm weather essentials – and they just might bring out your inner surfer.

Fort Lauderdale is a fantastic destination for:

  • beaches
  • golf
  • shopping and dining

Airport served by: Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL)

Destination basics

Fort Lauderdale's sunny climate won't disappoint sun-worshippers. This destination boasts more than 3,000 hours of sunshine a year. With all that sunshine, don't forget to pack sunscreen, a pair of cool shades and a hat.

The average year-round temperature is a very pleasant 25 C – perfect for playing on the beach or in the water.

In the winter months, temperatures are very comfortable and warm, with highs between 15 C and 25 C. You can easily jog along the beach without breaking into too much of a sweat, especially in January, the coolest month of the year.

If you like singing in the rain, the two months with the most rainfall are August and September. Most of the rain occurs in the afternoon, in short-lived bursts. These short showers are a great way to cool off. And don't worry – the sun is always quick to shine again.

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for Fort Lauderdale

Native culture plays an important role in Fort Lauderdale's history, and its influence resonates strongly today. The Tequesta tribe originally inhabited the area for more than a thousand years, but their population dwindled over the centuries after the Spanish explorers arrived.

Fort Lauderdale is named after Major William Lauderdale. He commanded a detachment of soldiers who built the first in a series of forts during the Second Seminole War, from 1835 to 1842.

Today, the native Seminole tribe flourishes, with different cultural attractions for visitors. Visit the new Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum on the Big Cypress Indian Reservation, located in the Everglades. Discover how the tribe survived in the harsh conditions of the Everglades and view rare historical artifacts from the National Museum of the American Indian (Smithsonian Institution).

After getting your beach and surf fix, head down to the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Culture and music take centre stage at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. You can catch many concerts, opera and ballet performances and Broadway shows here.

For a peek into the visual arts scene in Fort Lauderdale, check out the eclectic offerings at various art venues across the city. The Museum of Art is a must-see stop. The museum hosts exhibits by modern and contemporary American and European artists. It also showcases Picasso ceramics and modern Cuban art. You'll also find an extensive collection of Northern European artists – something rarely seen at museums in North America.

If you like cutting-edge performance art, head to Hollywood Beach, a few miles south of Fort Lauderdale. It is a Mecca for culture enthusiasts. The Art and Culture Center of Hollywood is the spot to see outside-the-box artists and performers. Discover a wealth of contemporary gallery exhibitions, live stage performances and performance art in the area. Depending on the performance or art show, you can bring the whole family.

It is advisable to carry some U.S. cash with you for general expenses. For entertainment and shopping, your credit card will give you the exchange rate at the time of purchase. There are also numerous ATMs inside banks and public spaces where you can withdraw funds at your convenience. Just be aware that transaction fees vary by ATM.

Once upon a time, one could look down the road along Fort Lauderdale beach and inland along U.S. 1 and see flat land and the occasional scrubby palmetto as far as the eye could see. Now villages meld into adjoining towns, towns into cities, suburbs into each other and the entire county has become one sprawling megalopolis that stretches from the sea to the Everglades and from the northern border of Miami to the southern border of Palm Beach and beyond.

South
South of Fort Lauderdale is Hollywood, which has a small but significantly entertaining downtown area built around one of the several big traffic circles that characterize the city. Thanks to a redevelopment project that beautified downtown streets with intriguing architectural touches, trees and flowers, downtown Hollywood has become a popular. Restaurants like Henry's China House, and shops like Sigrid Olsen are popular among visitors.

Not far away, the tiny town of Dania, founded by tomato farmers, has left its farms behind and is best known for a street lined on both sides by dozens of antique shops brimming with an eclectic array of collectibles. Parimutuel fans flock here to Dania Jai-Alai and Simulcast, where talented handball players compete, slamming a wooden ball around at speeds up to 100mph and catching it in a hand-held basket.

Beach enthusiasts will find some of the region's most intriguing sands here, many of them tucked away behind forests of palms, pines and palmetto bushes. The standout is Hollywood North Beach Park, where you'll find many a sea turtle.

North
Traveling north of Fort Lauderdale, one wanders through a series of small towns including Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, which pretty much describes this tiny town that is home to a cluster of small inns and a few seaside cafes. The 180-acre Hugh Taylor Birch Recreation Area is filled with animals and tall, lovely trees. Beyond lies the city of Pompano, which gets its name from a coveted fish found in abundance here. Pompano is particularly proud of its sportfishing options and is home to a number of fishing competitions, a big fishing pier and a popular seafood festival. Hillsboro Beach, home to some of the region's most imposing seaside manses, is one of the loveliest parts of the drive, with the road rolling beneath massive trees and vegetation that must look much as it did a century ago when the fabled Barefoot Mailman strode the sand, armed with mail for the region's earliest settlers. Hillsboro Inlet is home to a fishing fleet so you can always find a fishing trip here and fresh-from-the-sea seafood at the Pelican Landing.

Continuing northward, you pass through Deerfield Beach, home to a few small resorts, before you reach Boca Raton. Boca's love and lure is its historic and elegant Boca Raton Resort and Club, a creation of architect Addison Mizner, whose pseudo-Mediterranean architecture is a wonder to behold.

West
To the west of Fort Lauderdale lies a host of smaller cities that are the bedroom communities of the region, their residents working in municipalities throughout the area or in Miami. Among those are Sunrise, Plantation, Tamarac, Miramar, Pembroke Pines, Coral Springs, Margate, Lauderdale Lakes, Davie—which is particularly proud of its farmland and celebrates it with Western-style architectural touches—and the newest town of them all, Weston, a developer's dream just minutes from the Everglades.

Fort Lauderdale is nothing if not entertaining. From—thankfully—long-gone days when an unremarkable film called Where the Boys Are skyrocketed the city to collegiate fame, to these simply sunny days when sophisticates have taken over the sands and ousted the undergrads, the city has learned many a lesson about entertainment.

Nature
Nature fans head to such spots as Everglades Holiday Park, where strange contraptions known as airboats skim across shallow waters for a look at that vast 'river of grass' heralded by authors and closely guarded by environmentalists. Here baby alligators play, deer seek refuge on high spots, birds swoop and squawk and visitors marvel at miles and miles and more miles of tropical trees, greenery and grasses as far as the eye can see. You can also explore the mangrove swamp at the Deerfield Island Park or discover the sea turtles at the 56-acre Hollywood North Beach Park.

For a man-made look at the creatures with whom we share the planet, a stop at Lion Country Safari is a not-to-be-missed diversion. Animals of the African veldt roam free while you stay caged in your car as they stare curiously at those strange creatures behind the glass—a nice twist on the zoo scene and an intriguing way to go nose-to-nose with a giraffe.

Museums
If history is your book, the city's small Himmarshee Village area focuses on the past. The city's first hotel sits serenely by the water, and some of its first homes are now on display, or in use as chic riverside restaurants. Star of the history scene is tiny Stranahan House, the antique, New River home of the city's founders: she a teacher, he operating the ferry that was once the only way to cross the river and make your way to Miami.

To learn a little about the Seminoles, whose flight from their own tribe ended in yet another flight from British, Spanish and American usurpers, visit Ah Tah Thi Ki Museum, in the heart of Big Cypress Reservation. One Seminole, a member of the Billie clan, created the Everglades' Billie Swamp Safari. You can paddle a dugout canoe, tune in to a Seminole storyteller or stay overnight in palm-thatched 'chickee' huts.

Art lovers will enjoy the displays at the Boca Raton Museum of Art and the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art.

Sports
If sports are the diversion of choice, Fort Lauderdale and environs present not dozens but hundreds of golf courses like Rolling Hills, and tennis courts like the Delray Beach Tennis Center, and plenty of oceanfront rollerblading and skateboarding space.

Performing Arts
Stage, ballet and opera performances take place at a variety of venues throughout the city, with touring Broadway plays going on stage at the showy waterfront Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Just across the street, the Museum of Discovery and Science offers its own kind of theater in a huge-screen Blockbuster IMAX 3-D Theatre, as well as in a variety of intriguing exhibits, even including a spot that's for children only, off-limits to adults. Theater productions also take place at cozy Parker Playhouse, the city's first full-fledged theater.

Nightlife
Finally, to unite history, water, nature—and to toss in a little dining, singing and comedy that's tame enough for any age or sensibility—a visit to Fort Lauderdale simply must include a lunch or dinner sail aboard the venerable Jungle Queen Riverboat, one of the state's oldest attractions. As you float by, homeowners come out on their lawns to wave, proving once again the joys of a small town that's small, but significant.

Once billed as the home of more restaurants per capita than any city in the nation, Fort Lauderdale loves—and virtually lives in—its restaurants. Hardly a day goes by in the city where the discussion doesn't turn to the latest great restaurant find: a favorite seafood haven, the best spot for steak, a great waterside spot or a new romantic-dining discovery.

Port Everglades
Trendy crowds head for the seaside H2O, where an intriguing menu is abetted by an equally diverting seaside location.

Downtown
Work does get done in Fort Lauderdale but much of it gets done over lunch at such popular downtown spots as Mango's, where street-side tables are packed by noon. Enjoy Southwestern fare at Canyon or have some pzazz and pizza at Bistro Mezzaluna. Dine with a view, waterside, at Casablanca.

Those who want the sand almost between their toes as they dine head for the north end of the beach where Aruba, an on-the-beach—casual dining spot offers views of swimmers and suntan fans frolicking alongside a fishing pier, where determined anglers dangle a hook in hopes of snagging supper. Have some fish and chips on the river at Shirttail Charlie's. 

If the focus of discussion is seafood, you are likely to hear enraptured tales of dinner at 15th Street Fisheries, tucked away in a marina where impressive yachts provide entertainment. 

North Beach Area
Not far away on chic Las Olas Boulevard, lines form on weekends at the Floridian Restaurant, where judges and lawyers, politicians and regular folks gather to gossip as they down a creative collection of egg selections—one even including a bottle of champagne—in the ultimate in casual surroundings, inside and out. Boulevardiers who aren't at the Floridian can likely be found at Croissan'Time Cafe, where French-speaking bakers create what the name suggests, along with baguettes, epis and a host of downright irresistible pastries, sandwiches and sweets.

Enjoy the elegant Oriental options at Rainbow Palace. Picadillo and plantains can be had at Las Vegas, or try the bouillabaisse at the beach at Sea Watch. If an evening that includes both fine food and enchanting entertainment is in order, no Fort Lauderdale devotee would fail to name the Mai-Kai, one of the city's oldest restaurants and perhaps its most revered. On the other hand, at Sage, you're likely to find the elegant French touches applied to a contemporary fare exceedingly divine.

Fort Lauderdale

State: Florida

Country: United States

Fort Lauderdale by the Numbers
Population: 172,400
Elevation: 8 feet / 2.4 meters
Average Annual Precipitation: 62 inches / 157 centimeters
Average January Temperature: 66°F / 18.9°C
Average July Temperature: 83°F / 28.3°C

Quick Facts
Electricity: 110 volts, 60Hz; round two-pin plugs are standard.

Time Zone: GMT-5; Eastern Standard Time (EST)

Country Dialing Code: 1

Area Code: 954

Did You Know?

There are 23 miles (37 kilometers) of beach in Fort Lauderdale. There are also 25 miles (40 kilometers) of Intercoastal Waterways and 165 miles (266 kilometers) of navigable canals.

Fort Lauderdale is renowned as a spring break headquarters for hundreds of thousands of party hearty refugees from colleges across the country.

Orientation

Fort Lauderdale is located in the center of South Florida's Gold Coast. Fort Lauderdale is about 47 miles (76 kilometers) north of Palm Beach and about 28 miles (45 kilometers) south of Miami.

At an elevation of only three metres, you never need to worry about altitude sickness in Fort Lauderdale. The city has more than 180,000 friendly locals, and is the seventh-largest city in Florida. Located 37 km north of Miami, the city is the tourism, business and cultural centre of the Greater Fort Lauderdale area, and for the 31 municipalities in Broward County.

The city incorporates an area of 93 sq. km, with 82 sq. km of land and 11 sq. km of water. There are 266 km of waterways within the city limits and 11 km of beaches.

Sneak a peek underwater and you'll see an incredibly diverse ecosystem featuring thousands of species of marine life. Take a closer look to see the extensive coral reef system featuring staghorn coral. You'll also see the creatures that live in the coral, including steely-eyed barracuda, green moray eels, fleeting strands of gorgonian and spiny lobsters.

The diversity of life in the ocean extends to the flora and fauna on land, including the famous Everglades. The Everglades represent one of Mother Nature's finest examples of preservation. This “river of grass” with its sawgrass and reeds is located west of the city and is home to blue herons, alligators, turtles and water snakes.

With its subtropical climate and sandy beaches, Fort Lauderdale attracts not only human snowbirds, but also hundreds of other species including hummingbirds.

Florida's Gold Coast, of which Fort Lauderdale is such an integral part, is proof that contemporary alchemy exists.

Seven decades ago, what is now seductive sands, swaying sea oats and glittering hotels and condominiums was palmetto scrub and swampland. Along these sands, only the occasional beached sailor and the fabled barefoot mailman strode.

Many generations ago, the Abaniki tribe of Native Americans lived beside the sea here, followed generations later by pirates who awaited an opportunity to attack Spanish galleons heading home from Central America, loaded with gold.

Some didn't just await an opportunity—they created it. Early entrepreneurs called 'wreckers' lured ships onto the spiky shoreline stones that gave Boca Raton, which translates loosely to 'rat's mouth', its unglamorous Spanish name, a salute to the rocks' resemblance to rat's teeth. Wreckers had a pretty easy job of it, however as hurricanes and inadequate navigational aids sent many a ship to a watery death. So often did this happen, in fact, that the locals often went to church to pray not only for booty, but for specific booty, designed to meet the need of the moment. So handsomely were some prayers answered that a massive party went on for days in Boca Raton when a Spanish shipwreck produced hundreds of barrels of sherry.

The wreckers were such a demanding crowd that, by the late 1800s, they were accusing shipowners of sending out worthless cargo to collect insurance money. Audacity like that is nothing new in these climes, where some of the nation's most flamboyant characters have made miracles and millions, trading on pride and sunny circumstances.

One of these characters was long-ailing architect Addison Mizner, who rode railroad entrepreneur Henry Flagler's train to Palm Beach to swim in healing sunshine. He ended up swimming in millions of dollars, happily paid by those who commissioned him to build massive homes along the Gold Coast. Palm Beach and Boca Raton soon became the stronghold of Addison's flashy 'Bastard-Spanish-Moorish-Romanesque-Gothic-Renaissance-Bull Market- Damn-the-Expense' architectural style.

In 1925, he created Boca's Cloisters Hotel, which stands still as part of a massive resort complex. He created the Breakers Hotel. He created Palm Beach's toney Worth Avenue. He created half of Palm Beach, at least, and what he didn't create, others created by copying his embellished style.

No shrinking violets when it came to promotion, he and his cronies lured the famed and infamous of the day, perfecting an enduring technique Mizner called, 'Get the big snobs, and the little ones will follow'.

Mizner's boom spread southward to Fort Lauderdale and environs, where canny characters salted the seaside with 'pirate gold' to lure buyers who already were pouring USD2 million a week into Mizner's sales coffers. So wildly farcical and often felonious did it all become that Boca Raton earned the nickname Beaucoup Rotten.

While this investors' feeding frenzy was luring wealth-seekers to the Gold Coast, down in Fort Lauderdale, a young man named Frank Stranahan was seeking his fortune in the sunshine along the city's New River. There he opened a general store and built a ferryboat to sail Miami-bound travelers across the river. To his humble home and store, which still stands, Seminoles paddled downstream from the marshes. They would sleep over on his porch before beginning the upstream return. Later, boarders of a more conventional nature slept in his extra rooms. When a young teacher named Ivy arrived, he married her, and the town of Fort Lauderdale, named for Maj. William Lauderdale, who had once commanded a fort on the site, was born.

All the bubbles burst when the Depression spread its depressing tentacles across the nation, but at least Addison Mizner sunk into fiscal gloom with characteristic style. Mizner sold a barren plot of land to an entrepreneur, whose efforts to grow coconuts failed miserably. The buyer sued Mizner, claiming he had been told he could "grow nuts" on the land. 'Oh no', Mizner responded to the judge, 'I told him you could go nuts on the land'.

In the years that followed, some went nuts, some went broke, but as the decades passed, the lure of year-round sun, sparkling sea and swaying palms proved irresistible to buyers.

That booms continued—and continues—as Fort Lauderdale became Greater Fort Lauderdale, encompassing a host of smaller urban areas stretching from the southern border of Palm Beach to the northern edge of Miami, luring thousands to a golden coastline that has become one of the nation's best-loved sunspots.

Getting around Fort Lauderdale is easy with its huge variety of public and private transportation options available to visitors.

Want to get around the traditional way? Rent a car and navigate this beach town's roads as you please. Or, catch a taxi to get you to your destination. Cabs here are either metered or charge based on zone distance, so it's worth looking into the cost before hopping in.

If you're in the mood for something unique, take a ride on a water taxi as it navigates the Fort Lauderdale area lakes, with stops at many popular destinations along the way.

Or catch a Sun Trolley anytime from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday through Sunday, and travel along 17th St. to Beach Place. These brightly coloured, wheelchair-accessible trolleys will get you where you're going in style and with minimal cost (fare is only US 50 cents each way and free on Fridays). There are even bike racks at the front to stash your bicycle if you want to bring it along for the day.

Arrival

The Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is a large airport serving over 21 million travellers a year. You'll pass through customs in Canada before leaving for the USA, so when you land, all you need to do is grab your bags from the baggage claim area.

For your convenience, taxis, shuttles, rental cars, buses and trains are all available just outside the doors.

Departure

Head over to the WestJet departure counter where you'll be greeted by friendly WestJetters happy to help you check in for your trip home. Or, check in and select your seat in advance using WestJet's simple Web check-in service.

Have some free time before your plane departs? This airport offers great spaces for the entire family. Stop by the unique rooftop Hibiscus Garage where you'll have a view of the entire airfield. Have a seat on a bench and watch the planes take off and land. Or, browse the retail shops and pick up last-minute souvenirs, as well as electronics, books, luxury items and clothing.

While in Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport, you can also make use of the free wi-fi and charging stations located throughout. Or, sit back and enjoy the live music in the terminal. You won't even feel like you're waiting for a flight.

Fort Lauderdale has always been a popular destination for the young and old, singles, couples and families. When you visit, take it one sunny day at a time. Experience as much or as little as you like because Fort Lauderdale is a no-pressure, just-relax zone.

Many destinations have beaches, but only a few can claim the designation of Blue Wave-certified beaches. Since 1999, the non-profit, Washington-based Clean Beaches Coalition has been recognizing communities for responsible beach management. It is based on strict criteria including water quality, safety, habitat conservation, cleanliness and public education.

Every year since 1999, the 37 km of beaches here, including Fort Lauderdale Beach in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area, have earned the Blue Wave designation.

Water is a big part of the daily rituals of visitors and locals. Catching a taxi here usually means a water taxi. Hop on and off at the various stops along the way, including the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District. You can easily go between landscaped trails, event venues, boutique shops and alfresco restaurants.

In Fort Lauderdale, many homes line the canals and waterways. For the more romantic types, this “Venice of America” even offers motorized gondola rides.

Always wanted to try diving? Take a diving course, complete with certification. Explore the 80 artificial reefs and shipwrecks that lie close at hand. Some are as close as 110 metres from shore.

Or try a sport that's a favourite with locals: paddle boarding. Stand on a surf-like board and, with a single paddle, cruise through the water and keep your balance.

In Fort Lauderdale, just minutes from the carefree atmosphere of the beach, you can be transported (by water taxi or trolley) to a world of art – from the classical to the whimsical. Art galleries, like the renowned Museum of Art, await your viewing pleasure. After spending time at the museum, take a leisurely walk along Las Olas Boulevard, the main upscale shopping and restaurant area.

When you travel to Fort Lauderdale, pack your sense of fun and adventure. This destination rolls out the welcome mat for everyone. The Wilton Manors area, just north of downtown, is a popular gay and lesbian area and welcomes travellers with its collection of shops, boutiques, bars and restaurants.

The Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is a large airport serving over 21 million travellers a year.

It is advisable to carry some U.S. cash with you for general expenses.

Getting around Fort Lauderdale is easy with its huge variety of public and private transportation options available to visitors.

 

Departing from:

^Total price one-way per guest. See terms and conditions.

*Prices are per guest, based on double occupancy and are limited; may not reflect real-time pricing or availability. See terms and conditions.

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