Tag Archives: Florida vacation

Hello Sunny Fort Lauderdale

Mention Fort Lauderdale and the first thing most people think of is spring break. But if you’re worried about being caught in a hazing ritual in a hotel elevator, fuggetaboutit. The spring break crowd has long graduated, gotten jobs and moved on.

Not that Fort Lauderdale doesn’t have a youthful vibe. Fort Lauderdale’s arts and entertainment area, known as the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District, has the impressive NSU Art Museum.

Frank Stella at NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale
Frank Stella at NSU Art Museum photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Highlights of  the permanent collection’s 6000 pieces include the largest US collection of William Glacken’s work, avant-garde CoBrA artists from Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam and works by leading Latin American artists.  

Its distinctive modernist building, designed by the renowned architect Edward Larrabee Barnes is a short walk to the shops, restaurants and galleries of vibrant Las Olas Boulevard as well as to the picturesque Riverwalk waterfront promenade.

The district runs east-west along Las Olas Boulevard, from the beach to the heart of downtown, easily traversed aboard a cute trolley.

Homes along canals Fort Lauderdale
Homes along canals Fort Lauderdale photo credit: John Cameron

Another fun way to see Fort Lauderdale is by water taxi. Often called the Venice of America for its extensive network of canals, Fort Lauderdale has Venice beat with its 165 miles of waterways compared to Venice’s 26 miles of waterways and canals.

Fort Lauderdale has something for history buffs as well. But If you’re hoping to see forts here, like the 315-year-old Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, you’ll be disappointed.  At the end of the conflict the forts were abandoned and it took 50 years before the development of the city began. Fort Lauderdale is named for William Lauderdale who built the first fort during the Second Seminole War in Florida.

Bonnet House Museum & Gardens
The Bonnet House Museum & Gardens photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Instead, for a rare glimpse into old South Florida, visit the colorful Bonnet House, listed on the National Register of Historic places. Hugh Taylor Birch gave the house and property to his daughter Helen and her husband, Chicago artist Frederic Clay Bartlett as a wedding gift in 1919.

Hugh Taylor Birch came to Florida in 1893 and purchased ocean-front property for a dollar an acre. Wishing to keep the natural environment from development, he donated his estate to Fort Lauderdale with the proviso that it remain a public park.

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, is a 180-acre island of trees and greenery in the middle of urban Fort Lauderdale. The park features nature trails, canoeing, camping and picnicking areas, and features the Terramar Visitor Center, with exhibits about the ecosystem of the park. The on site outdoor tiki-type bar makes a fun happy hour stop after a warm afternoon of hiking.

For swimmers and fans of the sport, there’s The International Swimming Hall of Fame, that houses a large aquatic complex as well as a museum, theater, and research library.

Where to Stay

Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach

Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach
Lobby Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Overlooking Fort Lauderdale beach, Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach hotel features 240 modern guest rooms with on-site amenities, open to guests throughout the day and night. Guests of the hotel can sample daily happy hour creations such as Taco Tuesdays.

The “ beachy chic” Bistro at Sonesta Fort Lauderdale is the perfect blend of contemporary casual and a professional full-service restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner in a recently redesigned space with white-washed wood floors and cool blue, leather furnishings and walls.

 Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort

Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort
Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort photo credit: John Cameron

Just steps from the beach, the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort features spacious guest rooms with great ocean views from private balconies.

Guests have three great options for dining at the Hilton, the casual and contemporary S3, Ilios and Marche. At S3 try the burrata salad with faro, the chili-rubbed bavette steak perfectly grilled medium-rare and the grilled octopus sitting atop giganda beans and salsa verde. For dessert, try their panna cotta served with strawberries and blackberries.

Atlas Lobby Bar at The Conrad
Atlas Lobby Bar at The Conrad photo credit: John Cameron

Next door to the Hilton Beach Resort, The Conrad, the Hilton’s hip younger sister offers a cool, contemporary cocktail bar.  Try the Old & Smokey if you enjoy an Old Fashioned – the great presentation matches the drink. WOW. We also enjoyed the swordfish empanadas and the smoked salmon pizza.

South Florida Food Tours

Tailored for small groups of foodies, South Florida Food Tours offer a great introduction to local ethnic restaurants. The tour operates on a “dine-around “ system so that different course and drinks occur at different venues punctuated with lively commentary and fun facts on the scene.

Fort Lauderdale Travel Planner

Visitors have the option of flying direct to Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport or into Miami International. From the Miami airport Fort Lauderdale is a 40 minute drive north on I-95 with Sunpass tolls – or catch the new Tri-Rail train in the Miami airport to Fort Lauderdale, about an hour’s journey for $5.

Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach  

999 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd, Fort Lauderdale
On the corner of Sunrise Blvd and A1A,  across from the tranquil Hugh Taylor State Park.

Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort

505 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd, Fort Lauderdale

 

Top Resorts in Palm Beach County

If your perfect Palm Beach Florida vacation features a range of surf and turf activities, we have the ideal resorts for you. These properties offer everything from snorkeling amidst sunken ships to historical tours on beach cruisers to waterside golf.

You’ll find ample opportunities for paddleboard and surfing lessons, state-of-the-art indoor/outdoor fitness facilities and even a 15-mile jogging trail along the Intracoastal Waterway.

The Breakers
The Breakers photo credit: John Cameron

Inspired by the Italian villas of the 1400s, The Breakers Palm Beach is run by descendants of founder Henry Flagler. Guests can do a free, two-hour cycling tour of local historical sites.

Golfers will love the challenging Rees-Jones course, the oldest 18-hole course in Florida. Dating from 1896, the Ocean Course sits on 140 acres overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, adjacent to the 540-room Breakers Hotel.

The Breakers Clubhouse
The Breakers Clubhouse photo credit: John Cameron

After the round, guests head to the Flagler Steakhouse upstairs in the golf clubhouse for excellent steak and seafood dishes.

The Breakers Pool
The Breakers Pool photo credit: John Cameron

Gym enthusiasts appreciate the contemporary 6,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor oceanfront fitness center, while all can enjoy the 20,000-square-foot spa, Mediterranean-style beach club overlooking one-half mile of private beach, four swimming pools, five whirlpool spas, 10 lighted tennis courts and an extensive program of family activities including water sports.

Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa
Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa photo credit:John Cameron

The Eau Resort offers free beach cruisers so guests can cycle three miles north to golf along the ocean and the Intracoastal at the Palm Beach Par 3 Golf Course.

Palm Beach Par 3 Golf Course
Palm Beach Par 3 Golf Course photo credit:John Cameron

The helpful water sports staff can arrange fishing trips or set you up with paddle boards, kayaks and catamarans to explore the marine life or improve your sailing skills.

Divers can see the old A1A highway, 30 feet below the surface, while snorkeling kids can discover schools of fish closer to shore. There’s an Aquanuts program for children ages five to 12 and a COAST Teens Program for ages 13 to 17.

An onsite tennis pro offers lessons on three Har-Tru clay courts, while a state-of-the-art fitness center, complete with personal trainers, offers spinning, yoga and Pilates classes.

The Seagate Hotel & Spa
The Seagate Hotel & Spa photo credit: John Cameron

The Seagate Hotel and Spa in Delray Beach is a gold-certified Leed property boasting five beautiful aquariums, including a shark tank. At their ocean club, guests can take a guided snorkeling tour to sunken ships or explore the area in single or double kayaks, paddleboards or rent masks and fins.

Golfers enjoy a private country club featuring an 18-hole Joe Lee-designed championship course and eight Har-Tru tennis courts, a fitness center and a pool.

Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa
Marriott Singer Island Palm Beach photo credit: John Cameron

A key feature of the Marriott Palm Beach Singer Island is the grotto-style, heated outdoor Lagoon Pool with a two-story waterfall and water slide. Guests congregate here on Friday evenings for the popular dive-in movies on the resort’s big-screen. Beach volleyball and morning meditation classes round out the group activities.

3800 Ocean is the signature restaurant at Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island.  It’s always a treat when the chef takes away your menu and says, leave it to me. Chef Sergio Rivera presented us with a delicious starter of plump Wellfleet oysters, dredged in a breaded coating, fried and presented in their shell, followed by a duck breast au jus on black olive risotto and a sea bass wrapped in prosciutto, perfectly paired with a California chardonnay.

At the water sport rentals desk, you can book a pedal boat tour to nearby Burnt Ridge or sign out a motorboat to explore the waters on your own.

Waterstone Resort & Marina
Waterstone Resort & Marina photo credit: John Cameron

In Boca Raton, the Waterstone Resort and Marina, popular with boaters, has 139 guest rooms with private balconies overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Intracoastal Waterway or Lake Boca.

The polished chrome against whitewashed teak wood millwork both indoors and out creates a seamless transition between the main floor and waterfront promenade. Easy access to water activities on all three include reef snorkeling trips, fishing charters, boat rentals, surfing lessons, jet skis, ocean kayaks and paddleboards.

The Boca Raton Resort & Club’s award-winning amenities include two 18-hole championship golf courses, 30 tennis courts, seven pools, a 32-slip marina with full fishing and boating facilities and a half-mile of private beach with water sports and family activities.

Previously published on USA Today 10 Best