Fort Lauderdale has come a long way since 1960, when Connie Francis sang “Where the Boys Are” in the eponymous film that established the South Florida city as the epicenter of Spring Break revelry. In the years that followed, the city would become a magnet for exam-weary college students. By the thousands they flocked to the beaches to forget about grades. But by 1985, when 350,000 party seekers flooded Fort Lauderdale, disrupting traffic and overburdening infrastructure, city officials decided it was time for a change. Fort Lauderdale set out to change its image and upgrade its offerings—and succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dream. Today, Fort Lauderdale boasts sophisticated features and amenities that attract millions of tourists from all over the world. Charming cafés along chic Las Olas Boulevard invite strolling browsers to pause and refresh themselves with a cold drink or frothy cappuccino. Museums house some of the finest collections south of New York City. Sprawling malls and one-of-a-kind boutiques tempt shoppers with unique products. Theaters stage Broadway-caliber productions, tiered arenas draw headliner concerts and pro sports events, and options for evening entertainment span the range from jazz, blues and comedy clubs to red-hot casino gaming. Of course, the city’s mainstays—23 miles of sparkling beaches, the Everglades, the Intracoastal Waterway, and enough canals to earn Fort Lauderdale the nickname “Venice of America”—continue to top tourists’ see and do lists. All grown up now, Fort Lauderdale is a cosmopolitan city with sophisticated amenities. Your concierge at the Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six Resort and Spa will be happy to help you experience it all. Attractions Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation about 20 miles west of downtown Fort Lauderdale. 863-902-1113. This modern museum, whose name means “a place to remember,” tells the story of Florida’s Seminole Indians through films, vignettes and exhibitions of Seminole artifacts, clothing, art and tools. Bonnet Ho use Muse um & Gardens, 900 N. Birch Road. 954-563- 5393. The 35-acre, plantation-style winter estate of the late art collector Frederick Bartlett is graced with formal gardens and art and artifacts from around the world. Buehler Planetarium, 3501 S.W. Davie Road, Davie. 954-201-6681. Hitch your wagon to a star at this state-of-the-art facility at Broward Community College’s Central Campus. Butterfly World, 3600 W. Sample Road, Coconut Creek. 954-977-4400. Stroll through 10 acres of lush gardens and admire brilliantly colored butterflies, fish, hummingbirds, orchids, roses and more. Flamingo Gardens & Wray Botanical Collection, 3750 S. Flamingo Road, Davie. 954-473-2955. Exotic and native plants are the star attractions at this 60-acre sanctuary. Fort Lauderdale Duck Tours, 17 S. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd. 954-761- 4002. See the sights on land and water in a state-of-the-art amphibious vehicle. Inte rnationa l Swimming Ha ll of Fame Muse um & Aquati c Complex, 1 Hall of Fame Drive. 954- 462-6536. Come daily for lap swimming and water aerobics. The center also hosts national and international aquatic competitions. A museum houses more than 10,000 square feet of Olympic memorabilia from more than 100 nations, honoring the world’s greatest aquatic stars. Jungle Queen Riverboat, 801 Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd. 954-462-5596. Step back in time by boarding an old-fashioned riverboat, which offers daytime and evening cruises along the Intracoastal Waterway and New River, complete with all-you-can-eat buffets and live entertainment. Las Olas Riverfront, 300 S.W. First Ave. 954-522-6556. A meandering outdoor entertainment complex filled with art galleries, boutiques, restaurants and bars. Museum of Art / Fort Lauderdale, 1 E. Las Olas Blvd. 954-525-5500. Rotating and permanent exhibits make this a must for art lovers. Muse um of Dis covery and Science and Blockbuster IMAX, 401 S.W. 2nd St. 954-467-6637. Highly attended by visitors, the museum features an IMAX theater, hands-on science exhibits and a simulated ride to the moon. Wannado Cit y, 12801 W. Sunrise Blvd., Anchor D, Sunrise. 954-838-7100. America’s first indoor role-playing theme park is a major attraction at Sawgrass Mills, Fort Lauderdale’s mammoth shopping and entertainment complex. The 140,000-square-foot “city” allows children to try out several options for answering the question grownups always seem to be asking: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Sports If the thought of snoozing in a deck chair makes you shudder, get ready for some real fun in the sun. With near-perfect weather all year long, Fort Lauderdale is a sports lover’s dream. Beaches. Fort Lauderdale’s palm treestudded beachfront promenade is the perfect place to stroll, jog or rollerblade. There’s a casual vibe at Hollywood Beach, where you can walk along a 2.5-mile-long oceanfront boardwalk. With playgrounds and picnic areas, Pompano Beach is a favorite spot for families. Everglades. Explore one of the world’s top primeval wilderness areas. As visitors skim over the sawgrass in airboats, they’re afforded once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to spy alligators sunning on the banks or blue herons stretching their legs. Diving and snorkeling. Grab your gear and jump in. Fort Lauderdale offers incredible opportunities for novice and experienced snorkelers and divers. Explore miles of live coral and artificial reefs, as well as sunken ships. Fishing. Serious anglers will tell you that Fort Lauderdale is one of the few areas where you have easy access to freshwater and saltwater fishing grounds. Line casters will discover more than 400 species of saltwater fish and more than 200 freshwater species. Golf. Fort Lauderdale boasts more than 40 public and private golf courses for players of all skill levels. Here you’ll find lush links and relatively low greens fees, as well as challenging holes and some of Florida’s most scenic views. Horseback Riding. Fort Lauderdale and nearby Davie feature several equestrian centers. Check out the riding stables at Tradewinds Park in Pompano Beach. Tennis. Home of tennis great Chris Evert, Fort Lauderdale offers more than 500 tennis courts. Shopping If you like to shop, you’ll love Fort Lauderdale, where you’ll find everything from high-end department stores to flea markets, outlet malls and chic boutiques. The city, in fact, offers some of the best shopping in South Florida and the southeastern United States. Serious fashionistas will want to head for Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale’s version of Rodeo Drive. Here, shops sell art, jewelry, antiques and designer fashions. Bargain hunters, on the other hand, can spend all day at the Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop. Vendors are on hand seven days a week, and the market stages regular entertainment. At the Festival Marketplace, just north of Fort Lauderdale, you’ll find hundreds of merchants selling name-brand merchandise at below-outlet prices. There’s also a food court and a farmers’ market. Meanwhile, treasures from the past await discovery along Dania’s Antique Row, a two-block district about a mile south of Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport on U.S. Route 1. Hundreds of dealers buy and sell just about everything, from furniture, lighting fixtures and silverware to china, glass, jewelry and linens. Wilton Manors also offers a number of antique shops in a charming, colorful setting. If outlet stores appeal to you, you’ll be in heaven at Sawgrass Mills in Sunrise. It’s one of the world’s largest discount and entertainment malls and, after Orlando, the state’s second-most-popular tourist destination. One of a dozen shopping malls in Broward County, Sawgrass Mills features scores of restaurants, brand-name and designer outlets, discount stores and specialty shops. Mall mavens have plenty of other options from which to choose, including Broward Mall, Coral Ridge Mall and Galleria Mall. Each is stocked with brand-name and specialty stores. Beach Place on Las Olas Riverfront is a retail and entertainment center that offers dozens of fun stores, along with restaurants and nightclubs. Dining Welcoming visitors from around the world, Fort Lauderdale is a cosmopolitan destination with eclectic dining options. Savor Japanese sushi or Korean barbecue, dig into hearty German schnitzel or the best pub fare this side of London or Dublin. But don’t forget that South Florida is the gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean. You’ll discover restaurants serving up delicacies from Peru, Nicaragua, Argentina, Brazil and El Salvador, not to mention the classics from Cuba, such as roast pork and black beans with rice. And don’t overlook dishes coming from the islands to the south of Florida, including spicy “jerk” chicken and pork from Jamaica and savory Creole stews from Haiti. Seafood, of course, is a top draw at many Fort Lauderdale restaurants. Don’t leave town without trying grouper, a prized local delicacy, as well as snapper and mahi mahi. Steamed or fried shrimp from Florida’s waters melt in your mouth, as do Florida oysters and scallops. Spiny lobster from the Florida Keys is a real treat. No claws to crack on these babies, but the tails are great grilled. Stone crab, of course, is a South Florida staple. Crack the hard claws, dig out the succulent meat and dip it in a tangy mustard sauce. Bounty from beneath the waves often forms the basis of “Floribbean” cuisine, a sophisticated, creative fusion of Floridian and Caribbean tastes. Floribbean cuisine is based primarily on fresh fish and shellfish; meats such as beef, pork and chicken; tropical fruits; Latin root vegetables; plus rice and other grains, pastas and potatoes. Indispensable are mango, papaya, guava, carambola (star fruit), pineapple, mamey, passion fruit and citrus. Collectively, these fruits are referred to as “tropical exotics.” The spicy side of Floribbean cuisine comes from a range of chili peppers with varying degrees of heat. Mellow flavors of honey, vanilla, coconut, rum and Key lime temper the flame from the chilies and make for a smooth taste. Adding to the “flavor print” are island spices such as ginger, allspice, cumin, cilantro, cinnamon, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, turmeric, thyme, oregano or black pepper. Is your mouth starting to water? What are you waiting for? Grab your fork and dig in! Nightlife Florida may be the Sunshine State, but in Fort Lauderdale the fun goes on long after the sun has set. Hop in a Water Taxi and off you go! Tap your toes to jazz, blues or rock tunes at any of more than 100 clubs and lounges throughout the city. Mingle with the sophisticated set at Las Olas nightspots and in nearby cities such as Hollywood. Need a good laugh? Grab a table at a comedy club and enjoy performances by some of the nation’s hottest comics. Or stop in at one of Fort Lauderdale’s many large nightclubs, along the beach or in other parts of the city. Sports bars see plenty of action in Fort Lauderdale and surrounding communities. You can take in games on wide-screen Tvs or swap stories with fellow fans of football, baseball, hockey, basketball and more. Feeling lucky? You can play poker and other games at several casinos in the area. In addition, tour boats will take you out to sea for an evening of slots. Fort Lauderdale’s Broward Center for the Performing Arts is a world-class venue for opera, theater, music and dance. Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in nearby Hollywood features a state-of-theart arena for music lovers and sports fans. After a night on the town remember that you’ve got a home away from home. It’s called the Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six Resort and Spa.
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