Tag Archives: vacation

Pet- Friendly TradeWinds St. Pete Beach

A 25-acre beachfront playground on the Gulf of Mexico, the pet-friendly TradeWinds Island Grand on St. Pete Beach, Florida features two tennis courts, five heated pools, and endless water-sports, perfect for the whole family and their furry companions.

TradeWinds Pet Area
TradeWinds Pet Area photo credit: Sherel Purcell

There are 48 pet-friendly suites at the hotel and a leash-free Pet Play Zone with a doggie drinking fountain, fire hydrants, and photo op display. Room service is also available for pets through the Paw Court Bistro. TradeWinds Island Grand welcomes two pets up to 80 lbs for an additional fee of $30 per night.

St. Pete Beach at TradeWinds
St. Pete Beach at TradeWinds photo credit: John Cameron

For the 7th year running, the 2020 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice named St. Pete Beach one of the top 10 beaches in the nation. The icing sugar white sands of St Pete Beach are ideal for beachcombing and shelling.

TradeWinds Paddleboat
TradeWinds Paddleboat photo credit: John Cameron

Hop aboard a paddleboat and explore the canals that meander around Tradewinds. The waterways are home to swans, Japanese Koi, turtles and a variety of herons and egrets. Fish feeding stations are located along the banks.

Not to be confused with paddleboats,  the stand-up paddleboards available for purchase, are the first choice for the more athletic guests. You can claim your paddleboard tickets online on an hourly basis. Visit the Tiki Hut on the beach behind TradeWinds Island Grand for a kayak on a first-come, first-served basis.

TradeWinds Water Slide
TradeWinds Water Slide photo credit: John Cameron

Kids will never be bored with the inflatable, three-story tall, 200-foot-long water slide located on the TradeWinds beach. Unlimited rides are included in every stay. Book a newly renovated one-bedroom suite with  juliette balcony facing the gulf that includes a kitchenette with full-size fridge, two -burner cooktop, microwave, coffee maker, toaster and dishware.

Salty's Tiki Bar at Tradewinds
Salty’s Tiki Bar at Tradewinds photo credit: John Cameron

Dining options at Tradewinds include Sharktooth Tavern and Flying Bridge. Enjoy a sunset with live music at beachfront Salty’s tiki bar. For a fun night out, Karaoke Mondays at RedBeard’s Sharktooth Tavern is the place to be.

Rumfish Aquarium
Rumfish Aquarium photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Don’t miss Rumfish Grill, Tradewinds sister property just next door. Featured on Animal Planet’s hit show Tanked, a 33,500-gallon aquarium with more than 200 fish is the focal point of the Rumfish dining room. Rumfish also has a welcome happy hour from 3 to 5pm.

St. Pete Beach Sunset
St. Pete Beach Sunset photo credit: Sherel Purcell

And when you want some quiet time, escape to a hammock right on St. Pete Beach.

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. The 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 get around 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.

The History of Fort Lauderdale

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. The city 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 and currently celebrating its 100th year anniversary. 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 the city 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.

International Swimming Hall of Fame Fort Lauderdale
International Swimming Hall of Fame Fort Lauderdale

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. The public can swim laps at regularly scheduled hours.

Where to Stay

 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.

Where to Eat

Greek Islands Taverna

A perennial favorite, always busy and worth the wait. Traditional Greek cuisine and impeccable service that never disappoints. My favorites are the grilled octopus and lamb chops.

Located on A1A just north of Oakland Park Blvd.

Zona Fresca

Fresh Mexican cuisine with a contemporary health conscious approach – all natural, no preservatives, nor MSG. Perfect example is their chile relleno – not breaded, deep-fried and over sauced. Great varieties of salsas and the gringo beer is just 2 bucks. Take out or eat-in – there are tables but the vibe is more fast food.

N. Federal Hwy near the Best Buy, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.

Mod Pizza

While there is yet no Fort Lauderdale location, it’s  a short drive to Coral Springs. Great artisan style, 11” wood-fired pizzas. Honey on a pizza? Sounds crazy but you have to try it. A drizzle of chili-pepper infused wildflower honey takes a pizza to another place. Mike’s Hot Honey is now a permanent item at all Mod locations. Foodable Network named Mod Pizza as the most loved pizza brand in 2017.

2702 N University Dr. Coral Springs.

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.

The Atlantic Hotel & Spa

601 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd, Fort Lauderdale

Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach  Hotel

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