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The best beaches and canals

Dip your toes into the wa­ters of Greater Fort Laud­erdale’s beaches

and canals, but maybe not the al­li­ga­tor- in­fested Ever­glades...

Greater Fort Laud­erdale is a cluster of 14 cities on Florida’s Atlantic coast, just a 40- minute drive north of Mi­ami. The area boasts 23 miles of sandy beaches, lined with palm trees and wooden life­guard tow­ers over­see­ing the swim­mers, sun­bathers and para­sailors. Just in­land from the beach are more than 300 miles of in­ter­con­nected water­ways. it could be the Venice of the Amer­i­cas, if the Ital­ian city traded its gon­do­las for mega yachts and cen­turies- old ar­chi­tec­ture for mod­ern mil­lion­aires’ man­sions. Con­ve­niently there is a wa­ter taxi ser­vice to get around but if you are plan­ning to go fur­ther in­land, make sure you have Uber and Lyft apps on your phone to help you reach your des­ti­na­tions.

The city has a thriving gay com­mu­nity and the area’s Pride event — held on the beach, of course — marked its 40th an­niver­sary last year. It’s so pop­u­lar that Fort Laud­erdale de­cided to cre­ate Pride of the Amer­i­cas — like EUROPRIDE — which will launch in 2020.

Where to stay

You are spoilt for choice when it comes to ho­tels, with The Ritz- Carl­ton and Con­rad of­fer­ing a slice of the lo­cal mil­lion­aires’ lifestyle, and there are a fair few men- only spots, such as The Grand Re­sort and Spa. Mean­while, the Mar­riott Har­bor Beach Re­sort mega- com­plex of­fers ev­ery­thing a fam­ily could want, in­clud­ing a pool, ten­nis courts, stun­ning views of the sun­rise over the Atlantic and plenty of beach- based wa­ter sports. The newest kid in town is The Dal­mar in down­town Fort Laud­erdale. This sleek ho­tel has a Cal­i­for­nian vibe, a sixth- floor out­door in­fin­ity pool and a rooftop bar, which of­fers amaz­ing views.

What to do

Af­ter you have soaked up some rays on the beach, head up Las Olas Blvd, a road that runs from the beach for three miles to the im­pres­sive NSU Art Gallery. Be­tween the two points are

Fort Laud­erdale’s canals, lined with man­sions and 17 blocks of art gal­leries, an­tique shops, fash­ion bou­tiques and restau­rants. Fur­ther in­land, shopa­holics can bag a bar­gain at the Saw­grass Mills mall which has more than 350 out­lets. While you are in the area, visit Saw­grass Recre­ation Park for thrilling Ever­glade air- boat ex­cur­sions in search of al­li­ga­tors. For some­thing more tran­quil, visit Flamingo Gar­dens in the city of Davie, which cov­ers 60 acres of­fer­ing botan­i­cal gar­dens, the 1930s Wray House Mu­seum and an Ever­glades wildlife sanc­tu­ary host­ing 45 species of bird na­tive to Florida, as well as ot­ters, pan­thers, bob­cats and even a bear. Fur­ther south, in Hollywood ( no, not that one), you can take a tour of the fan­tas­tic graf­fiti mu­rals of lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional artists.

Where to eat

Make sure you pack an Amer­i­can- sized ap­petite be­cause just like ev­ery­where else in the States the por­tions are su­per- sized com­pared with the UK.

Try Louie Bossi’s for a slice of rus­tic Ital­ian cui­sine from piz­zas to pasta and cuts of meat caramelised in the wood- burn­ing stove. There are plenty of restau­rants with sun­set views along the coast, but Co­conuts is a lo­cal favourite with a menu heavy on seafood such as crab cakes, fish tacos and the lo­cal mahi- mahi sand­wich. Rosie’s Bar and Grill is an in­sti­tu­tion in the gay­bour­hood of Wil­ton Manors, serv­ing up Amer­i­can clas­sics and co­coloco deep- fried co­conut shrimp. For a caf­feine hit, try War­saw Cof­fee Com­pany that serves hot and cold cof­fees and sweet pas­tries. In June this year, War­saw utilised its mas­sive floor space and added Milk Money, a cock­tail bar and restau­rant, so the venue be­comes a bit live­lier in the even­ings.

Where to party

Wil­ton Manors — once named the sec­ond gayest city in Amer­ica — is the place to be when the sun goes down. You’ll find dozens of gay- owned bars, restau­rants and shops along Wil­ton Drive. Start the night with a glass of vino at the Naked Grape Wine Bar, then head to the trendy DrYnk Bar & Lounge. Ge­orgie’s Al­ibi Mon­key Bar and Hunters are also well worth a visit. Lo­cated in what the Amer­i­cans call a strip mall, pa­trons can of­ten be found en­joy­ing their drinks al fresco in the car park.

How to get there

Nor­we­gian have direct flights to Fort Laud­erdale from Lon­don Gatwick, from £ 175 one way.

“Take a thrilling Ever­glades air- boat ex­cur­sion in search of al­li­ga­tors or visit the more tran­quil Flamingo Gar­dens”

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