David Abolafia

Fort Lauderdale: Going Beyond the Beach

David Abolafia

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While it’s known primarily for its beaches, its boating canals and its popularity as a Spring Break spot for college students, Fort Lauderdale offers much more as a travel destination for visitors looking to take advantage of the weather and its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean.

For example, any trip to “Venice of America,” as Fort Lauderdale is known, should be sure to include a jaunt along Las Olas Boulevard – 17 blocks of sidewalk cafes, world-class shopping, internationally acclaimed art galleries, fine dining, sizzling nightlife and more. Twinkling lights set the stage each evening for South Florida’s most architecturally unique, authentic and eclectic shopping and dining district. Stroll the boulevard, duck in and out of the cool breezeways and be delighted by what you discover – the video below offers a sneak peek.

And while you’re in town, don’t miss the opportunity to catch a show at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Ranking among the top ten most-visited theaters in the world, the Center presents more than 700 performances each year to more than 600,000 patrons. Overlooking the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale, this premier performing arts venue hosts Broadway musicals, operas, ballets, concerts, plays, multi-cultural performances, lectures, workshops and educational events. It also offers one of the largest arts-in-education programs in the United States, serving more than 150,000 students annually.

The Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum – a must for fans of classic vehicles – offers a unique look at a single bygone automotive manufacturer: the Packard Motor Company. The museum is a reproduction of a Packard showroom from the 1920′s. When you visit, you will see a piece of this great American automotive history. On display are 22 Packard motor cars from the 1900′s to the 1940′s, all in full working order. There are Roadsters with compartments for golf clubs, a doctor’s coupe with a compartment for his medical bag and a 1929 645 Dual Cowl Phaeton that can self-lubricate its chassis as it drives along the road. The 18,000 square foot building is also stocked with thousands of pieces of memorabilia, as well as a gallery dedicated to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

If you prefer to get back to the natural wonders of Florida, then head over to Everglades Holiday Park. With miles of wetlands before you, you’ll journey deep into the Everglades, zipping across the “River of Grass” at top speeds, an expert tour guide leading the way. The fleet of airboats that patrol the area is unique because each watercraft has a covered passenger compartment for you to enjoy your airboat tour in any weather and you won’t get sunburned! Lock eyes with an American alligator and snap amazing pictures as you come face-to-face with some of the Everglades most unusual and exciting animals. After your tour concludes, the excitement continues as you take in a live alligator presentation compliments of the Gator Boys Alligator Rescue team. With adrenaline-charged fun, the Gator Boys and Gator Girls of Animal Planet fame delight people of all ages with exciting stunts, tricks and important information about the conservation and preservation efforts surrounding the American alligator and the wetlands they call home.

To get a sense of the modern history of Fort Lauderdale, check out the Stranahan House. This home was built in 1901 by Frank Stranahan, credited as Fort Lauderdale’s founding father, and his wife Ivy Cromartie Stranahan, the area’s first school teacher. It is the oldest surviving structure in Broward County and has served as a trading post, post office, town hall and home to the Stranahans. The house is a wood-frame vernacular structure with wide porches and a stunning view of the New River. The Stranahan House has stood at the center of Fort Lauderdale’s growth since it was built and has played a significant role in the economic and social life of the community. A guided tour of the Stranahan House Museum is like a journey through time, back to an era when Seminole Indians made friends with a young Ohioan who settled in the frontier town now known as Fort Lauderdale.

Another fitting attraction in this waterfront city is the International Swimming Hall of Fame. This dynamic shrine is dedicated to the history, memory and recognition of the famous swimmers, divers, water polo players, synchronized swimmers, open water swimmers and persons involved in life saving activities and education, throughout the world, whose lives and accomplishments will serve to inspire and educate. Further, the Hall of Fame promotes the benefits and importance of swimming as a key to fitness, good health, quality of life and the water safety of children.

And as a tasty coda to your Fort Lauderdale adventure, why not check out a cooking class with Chef Jean-Pierre? The Chef Jean-Pierre Cooking School offers a variety of classes, from “Cooking 101” to more advanced pastry and baking classes, as well as classical French classes like duck confit or charcuterie.

As “Venice of America,” Fort Lauderdale of course offers gondola rides. You can also see the city by boat, water taxi or Segway. No matter how you get around, you’ll find plenty to see and do. If you have any questions, or are interested in booking a vacation to Fort Lauderdale or any of our other dynamic destinations, please call (888) 269-0182.

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Coast to Coast Grand Getaways
7560 Commerce Court
Sarasota, FL 34243
877.718.1400