Fort Lauderdale

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: 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.

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.

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.

Departing from:

ˆTotal 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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