USA, Florida: Ft. Lauderdale

Kategorie: Spotlight on ...

As of May / June 2011

Arriving by plane from Germany in Ft. Lauderdale is quite easy, as you only need to pick up your bags and are ready to start your vacation or else. We came in via Atlanta, GA, where we had to go through customs and recheck the bags for the flight to Ft. Lauderdale.

So once we picked up our luggage from the previously assigned carousel we were ready to find the shuttle to the Rental Car Center which is a bit further away from the airport.

It was quite easy then to find the way to the Hampton Inn & Suites Ft. Lauderdale West-Sawgrass / Tamarac as we researched the location before we arrived in the States. The hotel is a bit far out, but nevertheless nice.

Here is what you definitely should do when you are in the Ft. Lauderdale area:

Drive up north to see the beautiful houses and mansions of Palm Beach. It is very easy to get there. But keep in mind that you have to cross bridges to get to the island! There are only a few of them. I recommend driving North on I-95 and exit at Okeechobee Boulevard, which takes you east. Then take the Royal Palm Way, a beautiful street with amazing palm trees. Continue east until you get to A1A, turn left and go north. This will take you into the area with all those beautiful homes. Just keep your eyes moving left and right … and take enough film with you.

In case you want to shop for some Louis Vuitton or Gucci accessories on your way just stop by at the Esplanade Worth Avenue Shopping Center. There are also some fine restaurants to spend a cool lunch time.

If you are in to kind of a longer break from driving around and gasping at those incredible mansions, head to The Breakers Palm Beach, one of the ultra luxurious hotels in the vicinity. Enjoy lunch, just a cool drink or even dinner there: Or you might want to cancel your booking at your Ft. Lauderdale hotel and rebook and stay here.

To return to Ft. Lauderdale I recommend taking the scenic drive along A1A South. You get a multitude of glimpses of the beautiful beaches. Yes, you can even stop along the way and take a dip into the nice and pleasant water. Hang loose and watch the pelicans diving for their dinner.

In case you are in to really spectacular birds and magical butterflies the magnificent Butterfly World will be a big must on your agenda. Highly recommended!

Once you decide on doing an airboat ride I can recommend the Sawgrass Recreation Park near I-75 from Ft. Lauderdale towards Naples. The airboat ride was a really cool tour, but looking at the animal park afterwards made me quite sad as they held those amazing creatures like the Florida Panther, the beautiful birds or even the big snakes in really small cages.

Of course once in Ft. Lauderdale I also wanted to do a cruise to see those mega yachts, the Venice of America and surely the oldest house on the New River. There were quite a few options. In case you would like to spend three or four hours cruising along the scenery (in the evening including dinner on board) there is the Jungle Queen Riverboat. I instead decided to go for the Carrie B harbor cruise, which took about 90 minutes. And I can highly recommend this tour.

You can also take a Water Taxi on a day trip from Ft. Lauderdale and Hollywood to South Beach Miami, which will give you a good three hours to enjoy the Art Deco District and South Beach itself. But those Water Taxis also operate on kind of a *hop-on / hop-off* basis in the waters of Ft. Lauderdale. Just check on their website – I did not use them, though.

Hollywood Beach, one of those laid-back-beaches south of Ft. Lauderdale would be a recommendable place to go for *Music and Dancing Under the Stars*. Check out the schedule of the Hollywood Beach Theatre as they play live music on a regular non-daily basis. Just google *Hollywood Beach Theatre Ft. Lauderdale* and you get right into the respective schedule.

Spending your money on shopping at those nice malls is easy in Ft. Lauderdale. I checked out these malls, which were all quite nice and stylish:

Aventura Mall on Biscayne Boulevard, Aventura,
Sawgrass Mills on West Sunrise Boulevard, Sunrise,
Galleria on East Sunrise Boulevard, Ft. Lauderdale,

As I travel to Dubai, UAE, on a regular basis and do some shopping there as well, I was really amazed at how reasonable shopping in Dubai is compared to the above malls.

Finding places to dine out in Ft. Lauderdale? This is so easy as there are enough restaurants all over the city and beach area.

If you are in to tasting the American Way of preparing Italian Food look out for Olive Garden. I almost dined there every day because of their really delicious salads and their great service:

My favorite location: 1555 North University Drive, Coral Springs, FL
My second choice in Ft. Lauderdale: 807 South University Drive, Davie, FL

I also dined at Denny´s, 5710 University Drive, Tamarac, FL, as it was quite close to the hotel and I did not want to drive any further. Food and service were ok, but nothing more, nothing less.

In case you would like to gamble and feel like being in Las Vegas for some time, check out the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood on 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood, FL 33314.

Ft. Lauderdale is a good place to start your Florida vacation as – compared to arriving in Miami – it is a bit more laid-back and easy.