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    Fort Lauderdale what to see: tours and attractions of the Venice of America

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    Martí Micolau

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    Venice, Rimini or Fort Lauderdale? The southeastern coast of Florida is home to a large conurbation divided into several cities. Miami is the best known, but it's not the only one worth a visit on a trip to Florida.

    Among the most interesting places stands out Fort Lauderdale, known as Venice of America due to the numerous channels that cross it and the lagoon environment on which it is built. It is no coincidence that it is twinned with Venice, but the twinning with Rimini is perhaps more curious. In fact, even in Fort Lauderdale, much of the economy is based on seaside tourism and on discos: it is not difficult to find an analogy with the Romagna Riviera.

    US capital of the Spring break, the spring break from school lessons, Ford Lauderdale has also earned the nickname of Fort Liquordale, for the habit of young people to spend their school holidays here under the banner of nightlife. In the 80s, 350.000 students also arrived here, ready to enliven the nights of the Atlantic coast. Today this aspect has been reduced, but it remains a city where those who love to live at night certainly do not get bored.


    • Fort Lauderdale: a bit of history ...
    • How to visit Fort Lauderdale? Gondolas, water taxis and means of transport
    • What to do in Fort Lauderdale
      • The beaches of Fort Lauderdale
      • Fort Lauderdale nightlife
      • Fort Lauderdale events
    • What to see in Fort Lauderdale
      • Las Olas Blvd
      • Fort Lauderdale museums
    • Where to eat in Fort Lauderdale?
    • Where to sleep in Fort Lauderdale
    • Tour around Fort Lauderdale
    • Fort Lauderdale airport
    Any more info on Florida?

    As for the climate in Florida, attention should be paid to possible hurricanes, especially along the coast, from June to November. The best times everywhere go from February to May with an increasingly summery climate as you move south. Speaking of mild climate, seaside towns and sun, it's easy to think of Florida's beaches: the state borders the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Gulf of Mexico to the west, thus offering 2.170 kilometers of coastline.

    Although the “state of the sun” is the 22nd largest among the 50 in the union, it is the 3rd in terms of population density. Given its geographic location, Florida is home to a large community of Cuban immigrants (think of the characteristic Little Havana, the famous Cuban neighborhood of Miami). But there are also Latinos of other ethnicities, in particular Puerto Ricans, Mexicans and Colombians. About 23% of the inhabitants are Hispanic, followed by 16% of blacks and 3% of Asians.

    Florida is an ideal destination for American retirees, especially those who do not live in a mild climate, in fact many of them spend the colder months here or even move. That doesn't mean this is a destination for grandparents only. Not at all: young people, families, college students and couples live here or visit the state. In fact, tourism is one of the most important sectors in Florida's economy and our destination Fort Lauderdale makes an important contribution to everything it has to offer to visitors.

    If you want to know more about Florida and all the beauties it has to offer take a look at our dedicated section!

    Fort Lauderdale: a bit of history ...

    The name of the city originates from William Lauderdale, the major of the army who had a military outpost built right here in 1838, during the war against the Seminole. This tribe had exterminated both the Tequesta natives and a small outpost of settlers in 1830, taking over the area. The Lauderdale fort resisted for a few years, before giving way again to the inhospitable swamp that had occupied this area for centuries.

    It was in 1893 that the city really began to be built, when impresario Francis Strahan arrived with his project of a ferry service on the New River in support of the construction of the Atlantic Railroad. The 20s and 40s were the periods of greatest expansion in Fort Lauderdale, which today is the hub of a metropolitan area of ​​2 million inhabitants.

    How to visit Fort Lauderdale? Gondolas, water taxis and means of transport

    As mentioned, one of the main characteristics of the city is the fact that it is crossed by numerous canals, as well as lakes and ponds of various sizes. For this reason, boats are one of the main means by which to move around the city. THE water taxi they are convenient for moving quickly from one area of ​​the city to another and you can buy a day ticket to use them at will.

    Alternatively, you can rely on a guided boat tour or perhaps, if you are traveling with children, on a pirate ship. If, on the other hand, you want to live a more romantic or suggestive experience, you could think of one river cruise at sunset with champagne or dinner on board.

    All boat tours

    In addition to boats, there is no shortage of the most classic means of transport. If you do not have a car, taxis allow you to move wherever you do not arrive by waterways, but you can also use the city public transport, which are divided into three types: bus, tram (so called to distinguish it, despite travel by road and not on the tracks) and water trolley, that is a boat that acts as public transport as an alternative to water taxis. On the official website you can find the different types of public transport, with the relative routes.

    What to do in Fort Lauderdale

    Every major American city has something to do at all hours and at all times of the year. Fort Lauderdale is not excluded: from the beaches to the nightlife, to the themed events, here is an overview of what awaits you in the Atlantic metropolis of Florida.

    The beaches of Fort Lauderdale

    Florida attracts millions of visitors each year, who choose the State of the Sun as their vacation destination. The reason? In addition to the many forms of entertainment, starting with the Orlando theme parks, Florida is full of beaches, perfect for both relaxation and numerous activities by the sea.

    Across from Fort Lauderdale they stretch well 11 kilometers of beaches of white sand, accompanied by palm trees and overlooking the water of the Atlantic facing the archipelago of the Bahamas. Among others, we recommend two beaches: Fort Lauderdale Beach, just a stone's throw from the center, and Hollywood beach, in the homonymous district south of the city. The first has the verdant Hugh Taylor Birch State Park behind it, so you will be standing on a long strip of light sand, with the ocean on one side and the greenery of the park on the other. The second is lined with a beautiful promenade with shops, bars and restaurants.

    The best beaches in Florida

    It is important to underline that there are no bathing establishments here, but there is the possibility of renting umbrellas. Therefore, regardless of the beach you choose, if you want to spend the whole day at the beach it is advisable to rent an umbrella to shelter from the scorching Florida summer sun. There is also no shortage of opportunities for water sports, snorkeling or other activities. A walk on the Beachfront promenade: the long coastal pedestrian street, ideal for taking a stroll in the evening with the ocean breeze refreshing the air.

    Watersports in Fort Lauderdale

    Fort Lauderdale nightlife

    Fort Lauderdale, as we said, is to the Atlantic coast as Rimini is to the Adriatic coast. It is known as the ideal city in which to spend evenings to the rhythm of music in the numerous clubs, bars and discos. If you love to stay awake until dawn to the rhythm of music, and then maybe fall asleep on the beach in the morning, this is the city for you. You will be spoiled for choice, but we give you some suggestions of clubs in different neighborhoods and for different kinds of evening.

    • Americas Backyard (100 SW 3rd Ave). It is located in Downtown Fort Lauderdale and is the largest outdoor venue in the city. From dinner to cocktails, you will have a great evening, especially if you attend one of the recurring themed events.
    • YOLO (333 E Las Olas Blvd). An acronym for You Only Live Once, it's the Happy Our club par excellence in Fort Lauderdale. Located on swanky Las Olas Boulevard, it's a place to eat in the restaurant or drink in the lounge bar until late, in an elegant way.
    • Culture Room (3045 N Federal Hwy). This is one of the best places to hear live music. Do you want to drink and listen to a band playing? Here is a great option in the Oakland Park area.
    • Original Fat Cats (320 Himmarshee St). Another great place where musical groups perform and you can party until late at night.
    • Euro Club (120 Nugent Ave). Are you looking for a nightclub where Hip Hop, Salsa and Reggaeton are among the music selected by DJs? The Euro Club will make you dance all night long!
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    Fort Lauderdale events

    The city is full of events throughout the year, of different types and which attract varied audiences. At the beginning of the year we find the Greek festival, che if you have February and its main seat is the orthodox church of San Demetrius. The Greek atmosphere envelops the participants with food, music and themed decorations. Participating is also an opportunity to admire the beautiful Greek Orthodox church from inside.

    Always a February and March is held on Florida Renaissance festival. It is a large fair with food and craft stalls, shows and games, usually organized over a series of consecutive weekends, set in the 16th century. It must be said that even just looking at the photos of past editions, there is a bit of confusion between the historical periods of ancient Europe and not everything is perfectly relevant to the Renaissance, however if it happens in those days it can be a pleasant way to spend a few hours.

    In October, instead, theInternational boat show, which gathers a large number of boats and yachts, especially in two points: the Hall of fame Marina and the Bahia Mar yachting center. During the days of the show, performances and exhibitions of boats of all kinds alternate, but it is also nice to simply walk along the promenade to see the great variety of boats.

    November, on the other hand, is the month ofInternational film festival, which is based at the Savor Cinema and has celebrated the beauty of independent world cinema since 1986. In December, or at the beginning of the new year, you cannot miss the Disney on ice celebrities, the spectacular show of professional skaters held at the BB&T Center, also home to the Florida Panters hockey team. Athletes perform as characters from the Disney world.

    What to see in Fort Lauderdale

    Hugh Taylor Birch state park

    The coastal city is full of opportunities that go beyond the golden sands of the great beaches. A walk in the area is a must Hugh Taylor Birch state park, a large park where it is also possible to rent a bicycle or perhaps a canoe, to paddle on the placid waters of the lagoon surrounded by large tropical trees.

    If you like trinkets, but also just to take a stroll in a bizarre place, go to the Swap shop in N. Federal Hwy: a large flea market with 2000 stalls, as well as an indoor mall space and a small Ferrari car museum.

    Las Olas Blvd

    Las Olas Boulevard is Fort Lauderdale's most famous street: a large avenue perpendicular to the coast, which from the sea goes towards the city center, along which shops, restaurants and clubs are concentrated. A section of the street is bordered by canals and a residential area where well-known personalities have also lived. Among others Johnny Weissmuller (Olympic swimmer and famous Tarzan performer), Lucille Ball (star of the sit-com I love Lucy), billionaire Gloria Vanderbilt and former vice president of the George W. Bush administration, Dan Quayle.

    The avenue perfectly reflects the name it bears: "The waves" in Spanish. It is a continuous coming and going of people at all hours, moving between the shops, cultural activities, churches, services of all kinds that are distributed along this road. If until 1917 it was a route through the marshes, decidedly unattractive, today there is even one website dedicated to Las Olas Boulevard, where all the activities that can be done every day here are collected, from the daily ones for the locals to those of entertainment, catering and culture for tourists.

    Between one shop and another, walking along Las Olas Blvd we can stop and admire the contemporary sculptures and paintings of waves fine art and the paintings and antiques of Pocock fine art & antiques, as well as visiting the art museum of the city which is located right on this avenue.

    Fort Lauderdale museums

    Although Fort Lauderdale is a city dedicated more to fun and beach life than to art and museums, compared to other American cities, here too there is an opportunity to learn about some local history or to appreciate works of art. contemporary art. Let's see the main museum sites of the city.

    • NSU Art Museum. An art museum opened in 1986 where more than 6.000 works are exhibited that represent the cultural expression of South Florida and the Caribbean. Here, exhibitions are set up and painting and drawing courses are held.
    • Museum of Discovery and Science. This is a museum dedicated to science and nature, especially aimed at children. Here the little ones can learn while having fun, both things related to the nature of Florida and related to wide-ranging science.
    • Historic Stranahan House Museum. The oldest house in the city has now become a small museum. It contains the story of a family and, with it, that of the birth of the city. The residence of Frank Stranahan and his wife Ivy, built in 1901, has over time served as a trading post, post office and even Fort Lauderdale City Hall. Since 1984 it has been a house museum, in which the history of the city is learned together with that of the family who lived there. A curiosity: at the end of the visit it is possible to participate in the River Ghost Tour, a ride on the river listening to stories of spirits and ghosts.
    • Bonnet House. Another historic residence that can be visited is the Bonnet House, built in 1920 and entered in the register of historic places. It is a home-studio of Frederic Clay Bartlett, a Chicago artist who graduated from the Royal Academy of Monaco and then returned to the United States. Some of his works can be found at the Carnegie Institute and the Art Institute of Chicago, while others are right here at the Bonnet House. However, one of the best parts of the house is the garden, where you can walk among five different ecosystems: two different dunes, a freshwater swamp, a mangrove wetland and a maritime forest.
    • History Fort Lauderdale. The museum dedicated to local history is a structure that hosts cultural exhibitions and social and educational initiatives. 
    • Antique car museum. Classic car enthusiasts will be fascinated by this exhibition of Packard cars and historical memorabilia from the twentieth century. In addition to the numerous cars, car ornaments, old gas station signs and other items are displayed that intrigue fans of the genre.

    Where to eat in Fort Lauderdale?

    Fort Lauderdale has no shortage of options for where to dine. Both in the center and on the seafront, the choice of restaurants is very wide and everyone will easily find the solution that best suits their needs. But let's try to give you some tips.

    • Lobster Bar Sea Grille (450 E. Las Olas Blvd). From lobster and seafood to steaks and grilled fresh fish, this elegant venue is perfect for those looking for a quality dinner.
    • Floridian (1410 E Las Olas Blvd). Low prices but good quality for quick dishes. One of the best places to stop for lunch not to limit yourself to a sandwich on the fly on the street, but safeguarding your wallet.
    • Ink-Westin (321 N Fort Laurderdale Beach Bldv). This seafront restaurant serves both American and Mexican dishes and is ideal for a quiet meal while looking out over the ocean.
    • Riverside Market (608 SW 12th Ave). A wide selection of beers, to be accompanied with simple but varied pub-style dishes. Ideal for those who do not want to spend a lot, but have a nice evening.
    • Hoffman’s Chocolates (920 E Las Olas Blvd). Are you looking for chocolate or sweets? This is probably the most famous chocolate shop in the city. Your greedy side will not be disappointed.
    • Macabi Havana Lounge (1219 E Las Olas Blvd). Do you love cigars and liqueurs? Here is a cigar bar: a place where you can smoke a quality cigar combined with a good liqueur.

    Where to sleep in Fort Lauderdale

    There are no major difficulties in finding accommodation in Fort Lauderdale, but the city is large and therefore some advice for finding a good hotel can be useful.

    • Riverside (620 E. Las Olas Blvd). Dating back to 1936, this historic hotel on the famous Las Olas Boulevard has the curious characteristic of being reachable directly by boat (and therefore also by water taxis) having its own dock. Equipped with two restaurants and three lounge bars, it offers rooms equipped with all comforts and balconies overlooking the city center.
    • The Pillars (111 N. Birch Rd). Located along the canals, it is a yellow building with white columns: a mixture of classic British architecture and 30s Art Deco. The 4-star hotel has an elegant yet casual atmosphere. The rooms have fine furnishings and beautiful views over the city.
    • La Quinta Inn north-east (5727 N. Federal hwy). This affordable three-star hotel of the famous chain is well located for the cruise terminal and the beaches.
    • Holiday Inn Express hotel (1150 W. State Rd. 84). If you need accommodation near the airport, perhaps because Fort Lauderdale is the first or last stop of your trip and you have an awkward flight, this hotel is located just a mile from the terminal.

    All accommodations in Fort Lauderdale

    Tour around Fort Lauderdale

    The visit of Fort Lauderdale can be combined with that of other cities in Florida in particular Miami and Miami Beach which are about 1 hour drive south, or you can stay there before or after a cruise when boarding and disembarkation is in nearby Port Everglades. Fort Lauderdale is crossed by the scenic Broward County A1A that runs from Miami to Delray Beach along the coast. The 48-kilometer scenic route is ever-changing and in close contact with nature with ocean views, forests, a riverside walkway, picnic areas and the chance to observe local flora and fauna.

    Tour departing from Fort Lauderdale

    • 1 day trip to Key West: a tour suitable also for families with the possibility to customize the itinerary
    • Everglades Airboat Tour with Park Animal Spotting: The airboat ride lasts 30 minutes
    • Everglades Private Airboat Tour with Park Animal Spotting - Airboat ride lasts 60 minutes

    Fort Lauderdale airport

    Fort Lauderdale can be reached via the city airport Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood (precisely located in Dania Beach, in Greater Fort Lauderdale - we talked about it in our in-depth study on Miami airport), from Palm Beach which is about 50 minutes along I-95 North, from Miami about 45 minutes along the Florida Turnpike and from Orlando approximately 3 hours along the Florida Turnpike or Interstate-95.

    All airport transfers available

    Are you planning a Florida tour?

    I recommend these articles:

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    • Florida climate: when to go and what temperatures to expect
    • Miami Travel Guide: Useful Tips for Planning a Vacation
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