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Ft. Lauderdale - Attractions


With more than 300 miles of navigable inland waterways and 40,000 resident yachts, it's no wonder Greater Fort Lauderdale is known as the "Venice of America." Although once known primarily as a mecca for college students on spring break, Fort Lauderdale has become a dynamic family-oriented vacation destination. Families can enjoy water taxi rides to various entertainment venues or stroll along the meandering Riverwalk to many downtown cultural sites.

fort lauderdaleDowntown Fort Lauderdale is home to the Museum of Discovery and Science, Florida's most visited museum, which helps kids of all ages explore science, space and the environment. The museum's five-story Blockbuster 3-D IMAX theater offers thrills of another kind in panoramic films such as "Rolling Stones at the MAX" and "The Living Sea."

The Jungle Queen plies area waterways on daily sightseeing and dinner cruises through Old Fort Lauderdale, past the palatial estates of Millionaires Row, with colorful commentary on interesting sights and celebrity residents past and present. Dinner cruises stop at a tropical island paradise for "all-you-can-eat" barbecue dinners and an old-fashioned vaudeville show. The return trip features a sing-along of old family favorites.

For an unforgettable trip to the beach, families choose from more than 23 miles of sparkling sand, stretching from Deerfield Beach in the north to Hallandale in the south. Some popular spots include Pompano Beach and its famous 1,800-foot municipal fishing pier and plentiful oceanside playgrounds and mini-picnic pavilions; Fort Lauderdale Beach for its new $26-million pedestrian promenade, where families and couples can stroll arm-in-arm; and Dania for John U. Lloyd State Recreation Area, which offers 244-acres of canoeing, swimming, fishing and picnicking.

With headquarters in Greater Fort Lauderdale, the Seminole Tribe has developed eco/heritage attractions for the whole family. West of Fort Lauderdale on the Big Cypress Reservation is Billie Swamp Safari. The Seminole Tribe's official Everglades attraction includes swamp buggy tours, airboat rides, exotic animals, alligator shows and Seminole arts and crafts.

Five minutes from Billie Swamp Safari is the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki museum, the nation's finest museum of the Florida Seminole. The museum features rare artifacts on loan from the Smithsonian Institution.

Shopping opportunities range from Sawgrass Mills, the world's largest discount outlet mall, to the 2,000-vendor, 75-acre Swap Shop. Kids will love the Swap Shop's giant carousel, while everyone will enjoy the free daily entertainment, including a real circus complete with elephants and a man on the flying trapeze. While parents shop nearby malls, kids can explore the Young at Art museum and Art Center in Davie. Here, kids will learn about computer art, how to build sculptures and even attend art classes.

Visitors to Fort Lauderdale can enjoy a number of free activities, including jazz concerts the first weekend of each month at Riverwalk and a broad, serpentine pedestrian promenade along Fort Lauderdale's famed beaches. Get into the spirit of the "Venice of America" by hopping aboard a water taxi, which provides an economical and interesting way to tour area historical and cultural locations. In addition, the city's Superior Small Lodging program features a selection of 50-room or less, owner-operated hotels, which offer affordable accommodations in distinctive settings.

Greater Fort Lauderdale also features some of the world's best golf bargains. During the value season - May through October - green fees range from $15 to $45 a round, while peak-season charges average from $25 to $65 a round. Fees can be trimmed even further by taking advantage of special packages offered by area golf resorts or by working through a discount tee time service such as Next Day Golf, which provides its clients with access to private courses normally closed to the public, at no extra charge.

Just west of Fort Lauderdale, travelers can stop in the "western" town of Davie, where every structure must be built to a western theme and even the McDonald's has hitching posts and a "ride-thru" for resident cowboys on horseback. The 5,000-seat Davie Rodeo Arena sports local cowboy action every Thursday night, and the Jackpot Rodeo is the real McCoy, complete with steer-wrestling, calf-roping and bull-riding. Davie is also the place to come for horseback riding, with miles of trails for exploring and stables with both English- and Western-style riding.

Greater Fort Lauderdale features more than 288 county parks, including the Fern Forest Nature Center in Pompano, where visitors can explore hardwood hammocks, open prairies and a cypress-maple swamp and the Deerfield Island Park, which is accessible only by boat and offers the opportunity to take an elevated boardwalk through mangrove swamps and hike along nature trails. Inland, visitors can enjoy a one-stop eco-experience at Flamingo Gardens in Davie. The gardens exhibit all five natural habitats indigenous to the area - coastal prairie, mangrove swamp, cypress forest, sawgrass marshlands and sub-tropical hardwood hammock. The gardens also feature one of the largest concentrations of Champion Trees, Florida's largest tree, and nearly every known specie of flamingo. Visitors can take narrated tram tours of a working citrus grove or explore the 60-acre garden on foot.

From the broad sidewalk and wave wall lining its famous beaches, inland to its newly expanded Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport, Fort Lauderdale is causing people to sit up and take notice. In 1996, Money Magazine voted Fort Lauderdale the "best big city in America to live in." Broward County now offers event planners a wide range of meeting options, including the area's premier site, the 370,000-square-foot Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center. Encompassing 17 acres at the northern end of Port Everglades, the world's second largest cruise port, the three-level meeting and exhibit facility includes 28 meeting and break-out rooms, ranging in size from 476-square- feet to 5,841-square-feet. Expansion plans include adding a 500-room, on-site hotel as well as 100,000 square feet of additional meeting space. With dozens of cruise ships docked near the Convention Center, meeting planners will find unique opportunities for themed events and spouse programs featuring floor shows and casino gambling. The new $212 million Sunrise Civic Center scheduled to open in October 1998 is the home of the Florida Panthers hockey team.

Unique venues range from barbecue parties at Davie Rodeo or Flamingo Gardens to the ultimate pool party at the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Greater Fort Lauderdale offers more than 28,000 hotel rooms, including nearly 10,000 that are ideal for meeting and convention business. The area also boasts three spa resorts.

The newly expanded Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport is served by more than 40 carriers from most air-departure points across the U.S. and Canada. The airport's location makes it easy to land, collect luggage, rent a car and make a meeting at the convention center in minutes after arrival.

For unique dining experiences, Greater Fort Lauderdale offers more than 3,000 eating establishments, reputed to be more per capita than any other area in the United States. The area also boasts more award-winning restaurants than any other county in Florida. Delegates can sample savory dishes from Bahamian conch salad and New Orleans jambalaya to Jamaican jerk chicken and alligator tail.

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