Why You’ll Love: Florida’s Fort Lauderdale
Situated on the south-eastern coast of Florida, Fort Lauderdale is worlds away from the theme parks of Orlando, its famous cousin. Aside from miles of gorgeous beaches, Fort Lauderdale is dripping in culture and home to some of the best restaurants in the state. You’ll truly be spoilt for choice.
Where to go
Among the many, many things to do and see in Fort Lauderdale, a trip to the Flamingo Gardens wildlife sanctuary (flamingogardens.org) has to be on your list. Its 60 acres of beautiful botanical gardens feature more than 3,000 species of rare and exotic plants, as well as some of the oldest trees in Florida – making it a must-see for anyone with green fingers! It’s also a sanctuary for injured and abandoned animals and is home to otters, panthers, an adorable black bear called Josh – and, of course, flamingos!
Continue the nature theme by heading to Sawgrass Recreation Park (evergladestours.com) for an airboat tour deep into the sawgrass (sedge), where you’ll look out for hidden wildlife (including alligators!) in their natural habitat. After your tour, there’s the exotic wildlife exhibit which, like the Flamingo Gardens, is home to adopted animals. You might even get the chance to handle a baby ‘gator.
If you like art, make your way to downtown hollywood for its mural Project. here, artists are commissioned to brighten up the buildings with beautiful, original works of art. there’s a free tour of the murals on the third Saturday of every month, often with a chance to talk to the muralists, as I did. It’s a great opportunity to find out just what goes into their incredible designs.
Where to stay
the W Fort Lauderdale (wfortlauderdale.com) is right on the beach, with stylish rooms, two great pools, bars with just the right amount of buzz, and staff who can’t do enough to help. But, as nice as the onlocation restaurants are, I recommend you venture outside a few times…
What to eat
One of the most well-known restaurants in Greater Fort Lauderdale is Billy’s Stone
Crab, where you’ll find delicious, freshly caught seafood, including the eponymous stone crabs. Fish lovers absolutely have to try the swordfish at Beach house on Pompano Beach. For great food in a super-stylish setting, spend the evening at Point Royal in the very special diplomat hotel (diplomatresort.com).
A double room at the W starts from £172 per night. British Airways flies direct from London Gatwick to Fort Lauderdale. taxis are easily available, and we used Florida tours (floridatours.com) to get around.