A school of thought exists that Fort Lauderdale is a poor relation to brash, sassy Miami. Wrong. Let me count the ways in which the city just to the north can captivate you for a few days before or after your Caribbean cruise.
The beaches are extraordinary. Mile after mile of dreamy blond sand washed by warm Atlantic surf, blessed with a more languid, laid back vibe than it’s southern sister. Less neon, more mellow, night time people watching along the waterfront.
The nearby Everglades are worth a day of anybody’s time. Here, you can skim in an airboat, through literally acres of silent, quietly swaying saw grass in a stunning natural park. Where else can you watch alligators being hand fed on raw chicken?
One of Fort Lauderdale’s main attractions is the many miles of canals that bisect it like so many maritime arteries .These give Fort Lauderdale it’s nickname; ‘Venice of America’. If you’re lucky, you might see huge, graceful manatees that call this part of the world home as they swim downstream. A sunset dinner cruise amid all this sublime, palm fringed scenery might show you flocks of pink flamingoes, wheeling against the sunset. it’s a feast on more than one level.
The shopping is first class, with the vast Aventura Mall just south of the city capable of absorbing your attention for a full day or so, not to mention emptying your bank account. Fort Lauderdale restaurants run the gamut of every taste, from classical Italian to authentic, down home American diners, with everything in between catered for.
Night life is as varied as you want, with casinos, clubs, show lounges and piano bars aplenty. Check out Waxy O’Connor’s, an open air bar cum restaurant with great food and live music, just opposite the Embassy Suites hotel. However, Fort Lauderdale is not as exuberant or ‘full on’ as Miami. Truth be told, many find the laid back pace here to be more to their liking.
There are beautiful riverside walks such as Las Olas, and bar lined piers on nearby Surfside that jut out into the Atlantic, offering magnificent ocean sunsets and, just as often, great food at good prices. An hour or more spent here is the quintessential Fort Lauderdale experience.
Fort Lauderdale may not have the ‘wow’ factor of Miami, but there is enough going on here- at all hours of the day and night- to make it well worthy of your consideration. I give it an A plus for effort.