Fort Lauderdale Area:
Fort Lauderdale affectionately nicknamed the “Venice of America”, encompasses over 33 square miles of scenic beauty. Bordered at one end by the deep, blue-green hues of the Atlantic Ocean and 23 miles of golden, sandy beaches, the city is filled with an extensive series of canals and waterways, including the scenic, New River. In fact, the greater Fort Lauderdale area encompasses more than 300 miles of Intracoastal waterway and navigable canals, reminding visitors and residents alike how well the city lives up to the charm of its nickname. As the eighth largest city in Florida and largest in Broward County, Fort Lauderdale is home to a population of 176,000. The residents of this lively city enjoy a semi-tropical climate, providing an average of 3,000 hours of sunshine and a temperature of 75.5 °F (24.2 °C), all year long. The ever improving economic climate is also a sense of comfort to the residents of this picturesque Florida city. In 2014 over 14.3 million visitors flocked to Fort Lauderdale, bringing in an estimated $11.4 billion dollars to the local economy. Port Everglades in the Great Fort Lauderdale area is known as Florida’s “powerhouse port”. While the port is one of the most active cargo in the United States it is one of the top three cruise spots in the world. In 2014 over 4 million people sailed to and from Fort Lauderdale on the 9 cruise lines servicing the port. In addition to the flourishing port the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport provides service to 24.6 million passengers every year on any of the 34 airlines, every year. Once, this ocean-side getaway was known as merely a spring break hotspot. However, through the efforts of a progressive city government and involved residents it has been transformed into an affluent and first-class international business center that offers its residents a high standard of living and an excellent quality of life. Echoing in this new era for the city are an array of luxury districts, boasting hotels, shopping, and fine dining. Mansions and yachts dot “Millionaire’s Row” on the Intracoastal waterway traveling through Fort Lauderdale and make the area a world renowned yachting capital.
Fort Lauderdale History:
The area which is today known as Fort Lauderdale was originally settled in the 16th century by Spanish Explorers and was originally called the “New River Settlement”. The region was ceded to the British along with the rest of Florida in 1763 by the “Treaty of Paris”, which signaled the end of the Seven Years’ War.
Decades later the area would earn the name Fort Lauderdale after a series of three forts were built by Major William Lauderdale of the Second Seminole War. Also known as the “Florida War”, Major William Lauderdale led a group of Tennessee Volunteers against the newly aggressive Seminole Warriors who were threatening the safety of the settlement. The United States was able to officially lay claim to the land after the war ended in 1842.
The area remained largely unpopulated until the 1890’s when the Florida East Coast Railroad granted easier access to the region. In 1911 the city was officially incorporated and began a fast track toward growth through the 1920’s during the “Florida Land Boom”. While the 1926 Miami Hurricane and the Great Depression both caused a strain on the city’s relatively new economy, this resourceful town would not be slowed for long. After becoming a primary US Naval base during World War II the end of the war brought many service members who had fallen in love with the area home to Fort Lauderdale. The surge of new residents signaled the population boom of the 1970’s, the largest the area had ever seen. After years of economic success and population growth, the city became the success it is today.
Fort Lauderdale Attractions:
One can only hope to discover the vast offerings of Fort Lauderdale by experiencing it first-hand. An enchanting cultural scene invites visitors of all ages to enjoy a wide range of activities. From arts, shopping, culture, events, to exquisite beaches, there is no shortage of entertainment.
“Follow the Red Brick Road” of the Riverwalk to experience some of the city’s arts, science and history scene; including the Museum of Art, Old Fort Lauderdale Village and Museum, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, and the Museum of Discovery and Science, all by way of the attractively landscaped park. A healthy appreciation for the arts is alive and well in Fort Lauderdale with blooming art districts and a $100-million “art in public spaces program” that encompasses the entire county. Year-round arts festivals bring artist and art aficionados alike to the city.
For the shopping enthusiast, Las Olas Boulevard has been acclaimed as a world-renowned center for fashion, fine dining, and entertainment. Las Olas Boulevard offers luxury and quaint allure and has been designated the “Style Mile”. In addition to the charm of outdoor shopping the city also has two world-class malls, The Galleria and Sawgrass Mills. The Galleria caters to the upscale style of the area as a premiere shopping destination that is home to over 100 specialty shops. Sawgrass Mills was one of the first mega-outlet malls in America and today claims the title of the largest outlet and value retail shopping destination in the US.
The culture and events of Fort Lauderdale abound with the city as a stunning backdrop. With year round cultural and historic events to beach concert series, there is always something going on in this thriving metropolis. The film appreciation, venues, and festivals of Underground Lauderdale bring an eclectic blend of cinema enthusiast to the area. The historical significance of the city is also a huge draw to the area, including an antique car museum, the Naval Air Station Museum, and Stranahan House. Consistently voted in the top 10 attractions of Fort Lauderdale the Stranahan House is a history buff’s dream. Built in 1901 by Frank Stranahan, known as Fort Lauderdale’s “Founding Father”, the house is the oldest surviving structure in Broward County. Visitors are encouraged to take the guided tour offered at the house to experience a face-to-face encounter with the history of the city. For more modern fun, there are a variety of betting venues and free-standing casinos offering tables, slots, thoroughbreds, dog racing, and private poker rooms. However, experiencing the “Venice of America” would not be complete without a traditional gondola ride. Take a leisurely, romantic tour of the New River or explore the back waters of the region in an electric gondola. The available fine dining and regional cuisines of the area are also a huge draw. Whatever your taste may be, from a cozy romantic waterfront table for two to a family-friendly steak house, or an ethnic treat from one of the many different cultures that call the city home, the options are endless. A thriving nightlife scene adds to your night out in Fort Lauderdale, find your rhythm at any of the cities many nightclubs or dance clubs. Wind down at a wine bar or liven things up at a comedy club or sports bar.
Perhaps the longest running attraction of Fort Lauderdale is the golden sand of Fort Lauderdale Beach, or any of the 23 miles of beaches that line the city. In addition to the natural beauty of the beaches, 6 beaches are “Blue Wave Certified” by the Clean Beaches Council. This ensures visitors will be welcomed to a clean, safe, and economically thriving beach. Fort Lauderdale Beach is known as a safe location for families while still allowing for an active array of entertainment for all ages. To improve your time on the beach, chairs and umbrellas are available to rent and concessions are obtainable from several locations. These offerings are run by the city so every dollar spent is put back into the local economy. Step a few feet off the shore and into a world teeming with a different kind of lively inhabitant, snorkeling, and scuba diving are available on flourishing reefs that start at less than 15 feet deep. A natural three-tiered living coral reef and over 76 artificial reef systems make for hours of available diving adventure. In addition to underwater adventures, there are a variety of fishing experiences and water sports available throughout the area.
All of Fort Lauderdale can be appreciated through a variety of tour options. Perhaps that might be on a guided Segway or bike tour weaving through the bustling streets. Or any of the multiple water way tour options available, from a harbor cruise or sailboat, an airboat, a paddleboard or a riverboat cruise. Come back on land for a guided trolley tour through the cities art and historical districts.
The constant and varied nature of the events of Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding area might seem impossible to keep up with. Yet, this progressive city has an answer for that too, in 2013 the city started the #HelloSunny campaign. The social media savvy can quickly ascertain the events of the day down to the moment as well as share in the experiences of others.