Tag Archives: 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

 

Encore Resort at Reunion, Florida

Encore Resort at Reunion offers visitors to Orlando a great alternative to hotel rooms with large,  luxury vacation homes. Choose from a four to 13-bedroom, fully furnished home with private pool – perfect for families, sports teams and other large groups.

Encore Resort Vacation Home
Encore Resort Vacation Home
Living & Dining Area at Encore
Living & Dining Area at Encore

All homes include fully equipped kitchens, washers/dryers , over-sized living/dining areas, multiple flat screen TVs, complimentary WiFi, key-less entry and two-car garages.

Kids bedroom at Encore Resort
Kids bedroom at Encore Resort

Some homes even include game rooms, theater rooms, and a mini golf putting green. Concierge serves include meals for delivery and cupboards and fridge stocked on arrival.

Chef Scott and Daniel at Encore Resort
Chef Scott and Daniel at Encore Resort

Not in the mood to cook? Head to Finns Restaurant, on the second floor of the Encore Clubhouse. Order the cedar plank grilled salmon or the blackened fish tacos. Like the food? Hire their chef for a  catered private dining party.

Things to do

Explore the neighborhood by bicycle or work on your tennis game or swim at the Encore AquaPark  just a 5-minute walk away.

AquaPark Encore Resort at Reunion
AquaPark Encore Resort at Reunion

Float down the lazy river in an inner tube or ride a three-story water slide or take  break in your cabana with an ice cream treat or a frozen cocktail.

Disney Springs, Disney World, Universal Orlando and three championship golf courses are only a short drive away. Disney Springs features major retailers and many dining and entertainment options.

Amphicar at Disney Springs
Amphicar at Disney Springs

The Boathouse offers rides around the lake in a rare collector car, the Amphicar – car that can travel on land or water. Enjoy a happy hour beer while people watching at The House of Blues. Shoppers beware, you’ll find everything here, so budget accordingly.

Complimentary shuttle transportation is available to and from Disney.