Fort Lauderdale Travel Guide

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Fort Lauderdale Travel Guide

Fort Lauderdale Local History

The Seminole Indians arrived in Florida during the 18th and 19th centuries and were the first inhabitants of the area. In 1838, Major William Lauderdale led his Tennessee Volunteers into the area. Although Lauderdale and the volunteers left after a minor battle, he gave the city its start and its name. The first trading post was built after the arrival of Frank Stranahan in 1893 and he became the first postmaster of the area and operated the first ferry. He opened the first bank which kick-started the local government.

Fort Lauderdale was incorporated as a town in 1911 and was selected as the Broward County seat in 1915. The population of the town stagnated after it was hit by a hurricane in the late 1920s, but started to rise again after the town was rebuilt by the late 1940s and early 1950s. The town was labelled as a tourist destination during the 1960s, when teeny-bopper films began to promote it as America's Spring Break centre. The city has worked hard to stamp out its Spring Break image and is now encouraging a more refined beachside atmosphere.

Fort Lauderdale Attractions

Fort Lauderdale Shopping

Festival Flea Market Mall - 2900 West Sample Road Pompano Beach. Over 800 vendors sell their wares from kiosks and booths at this flea market. You can buy anything from brand-name electronics, toys, perfumes, jewellery and designer clothing and accessories at below-outlet prices. A farmer's market, a full-service beauty salon and an international food court are also available. If you plan to visit on the weekends, when the mall is extremely busy, go early. Free parking is available daily.

Beach Place - 17 South Atlantic Boulevard (A1A) Fort Lauderdale Tel (954) 525 5022. Start with breakfast in one of the restaurants before moving on to a day of shopping. The Black Market handles only black clothing for women and The White House, features only white items. There are 35 shops, restaurants and pubs including Howl At the Moon Saloon, Sloppy Joe's, Lulu's Bait Shack and a smattering of popular chain clothing shops, a la The Gap. If you still have energy to spare after a hectic day of shopping, you can have dinner or go dancing.

Mack's Groves - 4405 Ocean Drive Lauderdale by the Sea Tel (954) 776 0910. This gift shop is located in a quaint shopping district in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. It features many unique Florida-themed gifts, clothing and cards. The shop specialises in locally grown fruit gifts, which can be shipped far and wide. You will be able to choose from whole citrus fruit from south Florida groves to fresh-squeezed juices and all are guaranteed to arrive fresh. Have fun perusing the wide variety of books and home accessories while choosing a gift for friends and family.

Fort Lauderdale Activities

Butterfly World - 3600 W Sample Rd, Tradewinds Park, Coconut Creek Tel (954) 977 4400. This screened-in aviary that looks like a tropical rain forest, is filled with some two thousand caterpillars and multicoloured butterflies. The extensive gardens outside the aviary, include a rose garden, a small pond, and a gift shop. A pavilion contains mounted specimens of exotic insects and butterflies from around the world. Open Monday to Saturday 9 am to 5 pm and Sunday noon to 5 pm.

Museum of Discovery and Science - 401 SW 2nd St, Fort Lauderdale Tel (954) 467 6637. The entire family will enjoy this interactive museum. It features exhibits on ecology, health, and outer space. Displays of a real coral reef with sea creatures and tropical fish and a replica of an oak forest complete with mosses, lichens, and air plants that grow without soil, are featured. The IMAX theatre with a five-story 3-D screen, is where you can catch one of the amazing films on shown. The museum is open on Monday to Saturday 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday from noon to 6 pm.

Buehler Planetarium - 3501 Southwest Davie Road, Davie Tel (954) 475 6680. This modern, state-of-the-art facility is located approximately one mile south of I-595 on a college campus in Davie. The planetarium provides matinee and evening shows for adults and children, as well as science classes and lectures. Guests can personally view the heavens through the planetarium's telescope after evening shows. Admission is $4.

Fort Lauderdale Parks & Gardens

John U. Lloyd Beach State Park - 6503 N Ocean Dr, Hollywood Tel (954) 923 2833. This 251-acre park is situated four miles south of Fort Lauderdale. If you are in need of a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding urban area, this is the place to go. The uncrowded beaches, lovely views, shady picnic spots, and the sea-turtle nesting areas, are the main attraction.

The northern part of the park is home to manatees and birds of all kinds. The sea turtle program, during June to July on Wed and Fri nights at 9 pm, will require a reservation. The park's full-service Loggerhead Cafe, caters for picnic supplies, canoe and kayak rentals and bait. Open daily from 8 am to dusk.

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park - 3019 E Sunrise Blvd, Fort Lauderdale Tel (954) 564 4521. This 180-acre park, lying on a barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and the Inland Waterway, is popular for its tranquil beaches and swimming. Other available activities include salt water fishing and surfing on the north shore.

The area includes freshwater lagoons, mangrove swamps, and a hardwood coastal hammock. The nature walk and the exercise course, is perfect for those who are in search of some exercise. You can rent a canoe or have a leisurely picnic. A ranger-guided tour of the beach hammock nature trail is available on Fridays at 10.30 am. The park is open daily 8 am to dusk.

Tree Tops Park - 3900 Southwest 100th Ave Davie, Fort Lauderdale Tel (954) 370 3750. As you hike through the dense woods of this 358-acre park you will discover varied terrain. The 1,000 foot boardwalk will take you past a freshwater marsh. The park has 15 acres of waterways and a marina for water sports enthusiasts. Fishing equipment, canoe and paddleboat rentals are available. Take time to visit the park's Pine Island Ridge section, where the Tequesta Indians used to inhabited the area. The entrance fee is $1 per person for visitors 6 years and older.

Fort Lauderdale Beaches

Fort Lauderdale's beachfront offers easy access not only to a wide band of glorious beach but also to restaurants and shops. For 2 miles heading north, from the Bahia Mar yacht basin along Route A1A, you'll have clear views of rows of colourful beach umbrellas, the ocean and ships passing in and out of nearby Port Everglades. At night the wall is accented with ribbons of fibre-optic colour.

The are between Las Olas and Sunrise boulevards, are the most popular and crowded part of the beachfront.

Fort Lauderdale Restaurants and Bars

Fort Lauderdale Restaurants

Brazil Brazil - 3485 North Federal Highway (US1), Fort Lauderdale Tel (954) 561 8200. An evening at this all-you-can-eat spot will take you to the heart of Brazil. The steak, pork, chicken, sausage and other options, are grilled on a Brazilian grill and served on skewers. It is accompanied by plantains, yuca and other Brazilian specialties. On Saturday and Sunday nights you are in for a treat when a Las Vegas style cabaret-style show is presented.

Thursday and Friday nights feature magic shows, an Elvis impersonator and mystery dinner theatre. Most evenings end up with exuberant dancing and a conga line is almost always formed. There is a full bar and show prices are $28 which includes dinner. Open from 11.30 am to 9 pm Tuesday to Wednesday and 11.30 am to midnight in Thursday to Sunday.

Black Orchid Café - 2985 N Ocean Blvd, Fort Lauderdale Tel (954) 561 9398. Visit The Black Orchid for a truly rare and exotic dining experience. Each meal, from start to finish, is a palatable adventure. Cold and hot appetizers include beluga caviar, carpaccio, buffalo, blackened seafood trio (shrimp, scallops and fish) and escargot cassolete. Deciding what to have as an entree, will prove a difficult task. Choices include loin of Canadian elk, grilled ostrich, osso bucco, and veal Shalimar. Open for lunch Monday to Friday 11.30 am to 2.30 pm and dinner is served on Monday to Friday 6 pm to 11 pm. An average main course will cost you about $30.

Canyon Southwest Cafe - 1818 E Sunrise Blvd, Fort Lauderdale Tel (954) 765 1950. This is the place for the curious and the adventurous. The cuisine is a fusion of Southwest, Asian and Italian with an emphasis on fresh seafood. You will be able to choose from fare including ancho chili crusted tuna with crispy pancetta and white bean ragout, red snapper with tomatoes, roasted corn and purple Peruvian potatoes.

For a non-seafood dishes, the filet mignon with poblano pesto goat cheese, the chicken Milanese with garlic-tomato-mozzarella salsa or wasabi ginger marinated beef with soba noodles, are recommended. For an alternative to the usual, be sure to try the prickly pear margarita. Open for dinner on Sunday to Thursday 5.30 pm to 10 pm and Friday to Saturday 5.30 pm to 11 pm. Happy Hour Sunday to Fri 5.30 pm to 7pm. An average main course will cost you $20.00.

Fort Lauderdale Bars & Clubs

Cheers - 941 E Cypress Creek Rd, Fort Lauderdale Tel (954) 777 6337. Like the television show, Cheers is a watering hole popular among locals, where everyone seems to know your name. They feature live blues and rock shows every night of the week. Join in on a friendly game of darts or pool and don't miss out on the extensive buffet during Happy Hour. This friendly hang out is recommended for a casual, relaxed night out. Open daily 11 am to 4 am. Cover Charge/Admission is $5.

Mangos - 904 E Las Olas Blvd, Fort Lauderdale Tel (954) 523 5001. This is the place where everyone gathers after a great dinner on the fashionable Las Olas Boulevard. The high energy bar/restaurant hosts many local and regional acts and live music. The crowd spills out onto the sidewalk, and you can't help but want to party with these people. This is the place to be seen in Fort Lauderdale. Open for lunch and dinner Sunday to Thursday 11 am to 11pm and Friday to Saturday 11am to midnight. The bar stays open later.

Atlantis - 219 Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd, Fort Lauderdale Tel (954) 779 2544. Atlantis is one of the city's busiest nightclubs. It occupies 70,000 square feet of beachfront property and attracts a mostly young and attractive crowd. The decor of fish, mermaids, and several waterfalls compliments the oceanic theme perfectly. There are 11 bars on site so you will not be bored. The club plays top forty, techno, and hip-hop on the 60,000 foot dance floor and it rocks until 4 am nightly. Or you can go out on the patio for a relaxed drink and an ocean view. You have to be over 21 to enter. Open daily noon to 4 am, and the nightclub is open nightly from 9 pm to 4 am. Cover Charge/Admission is $5.00.

Fort Lauderdale children's activities

Butterfly World - 3600 W Sample Rd, Tradewinds Park, Coconut Creek Tel (954) 977 4400. This screened-in aviary that looks like a tropical rain forest, is filled with some two thousand caterpillars and multicoloured butterflies. The extensive gardens outside the aviary, include a rose garden, a small pond, and a gift shop. A pavilion contains mounted specimens of exotic insects and butterflies from around the world. Open Monday to Saturday 9 am to 5 pm and Sunday noon to 5 pm.

Museum of Discovery and Science - 401 SW 2nd St, Fort Lauderdale Tel (954) 467 6637. The entire family will enjoy this interactive museum. It features exhibits on ecology, health, and outer space. Displays of a real coral reef with sea creatures and tropical fish and a replica of an oak forest complete with mosses, lichens, and air plants that grow without soil, are featured. The IMAX theatre with a five-story 3-D screen, is where you can catch one of the amazing films on shown. The museum is open on Monday to Saturday 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday from noon to 6 pm.

Buehler Planetarium - 3501 Southwest Davie Road, Davie Tel (954) 475 6680. This modern, state-of-the-art facility is located approximately one mile south of I-595 on a college campus in Davie. The planetarium provides matinee and evening shows for adults and children, as well as science classes and lectures. Guests can personally view the heavens through the planetarium's telescope after evening shows. Admission is $4.

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