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Life's More Than a Beach in Greater Fort Lauderdale
by
Christine Roberts

Sensational, that's Fort Lauderdale. As one of the USA's most accessible destinations, it does not rely only on its crown jewel of 23 miles of spotless, safe, sandy beaches to attract seven million visitors a year. It offers much more.

There's fishing, golfing and three hundred miles of navigable inland waterways to negotiate. You can wind past palatial millionaire's waterfront mansions in a water taxi, boat or luxury yacht. Best of all is its closeness to the Everglades wilderness where a wide variety of birds and other wildlife are observed.

Labeled "yachting capital of the world" and "Venice of America", names earned through its extensive intracoastal waterways and registration of over 44 000 boats, Fort Lauderdale is renowned for superb cultural attractions and an enterprising water taxi system.

If you would like to join an historic cruise by water taxi, simply call one on the' phone to take you to dinner at one of a wide choice of waterfront restaurants, or to the shops and other attractions. Among a host of interesting museums is the Old Fort Lauderdale Museum of History, renovated to include a state-of-the-art museum of history, living history programs, a research facility and historical re-enactments. The Museum of Art has similarly been expanded.

Shopping, here, is a big attraction. Downtown Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District is peppered with trinket and gift shops with an enjoyable designated walk alongside the river.

The upscale downtown Las Olas Boulevard - Las Olas means "waves" in Spanish - offers fashion boutiques, art galleries and sidewalk cafes. This charming district is considered Florida's equivalent to Los Angeles' Rodeo Drive, boasting restaurants serving world-class cuisine.

For the bargain hunters, there are factory outlets such as Tanger and the world's largest discount outlet mall, Sawgrass Mills with 300 shops and restaurants http://www.sawgrassmillsmall.com

For the avid treasure and trivia seeker, Fort Lauderdale's Swap Shop is the South's largest flea market with 2 000 vendors. After shopping, there's a giant carousel to ride on and in summer, free circus shows daily.

Not to be missed is the International Game Fishing Association's Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum in Dania, near to the Bass Pro Shops' Outdoor World. The facility comprises an aquarium, restaurants, four-story waterfall, trout pool, log cabin and indoor shooting range. A highlight is the Catch Gallery exhibit where you can virtually deep-sea fish for marlin, sailfish, tarpon or bass without getting wet. It's tremendous fun but is hard going, depending on the size and weight of your catch. I had to call for help!

There's also a Discovery Room where kids can participate in a broad spectrum of sport fishing activities, to educate and entertain.

Boating tours include glass-bottom boats for viewing the coral reefs and intracoastal sightseeing by water taxi which you simply call up and book like a normal taxi. The locals or your hotel will advise you of the nearest point to embark. What an economical and memorable way to explore the region. You can opt for a day pass, or confine it to one or two trips only.

The International Swimming Hall of Fame complex provides a primary facility for past (Esther Williams and Olympic dive medallists) as well as future Olympians. Even Tarzan ( Johnny Weissmuller) trained here! The Henning Library is contains the world's largest aquatic library - more than 5 000 volumes and over 300 ancient documents dating back to 1696. Swimming information and memorabilia are stored in the Museum.

Tips

* For details of hotel and attraction specials be sure to contact the Greater Fort Lauderdale. Convention & Visitors Bureau on arrival. See website http://www.sunny.org.


* Airboat tours of the Everglades Park and Sawgrass Recreation Park reveal alligators, egrets, blue heron, white ibis and anhingas.

* See dinosaurs including the Bambiraptor, the missing link in the dinosaur-bird evolution at the Graves Museum of Archaeology & Natural History in Dania Beach, home to the new Dania Beach Hurricane Roller Coaster.

* Florida's natural wonders are encountered among citrus groves, botanical gardens and free flight aviaries of Flamingo Gardens. 

* Dive to one of the many wrecks and natural reefs in GFL - pet the sting rays and feed the moray eels.

* Take the glass-enclosed elevator to the top of the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 for a bird's eye view of the "Venice of America".

* Look for manatees at Port Everglades from November to April and experience turtle walks on the beach from May to August.

* Walk back in time in the midst of Fort Lauderdale beach and enjoy the shell and orchid collection, and the elegant swans and monkeys at 
famous Bonnet House. 

* Play a round of golf at TPC at Heron Bay, home of the Honda Golf Classic.

For further information about travel to Greater Fort Lauderdale consult web site http://www.sunny.org. And for travel throughout the USA web site; http://www.SeeAmerica.org

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Email:  Christine Roberts

 

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