Fort Lauderdale


I still vividly remember my family trip to Fort Lauderdale about 10 years ago: it was just before easter and the city was crammed full with American students on their spring break. The beaches were crowded, the streets were overflowing with drunken students having a good time and I doubt there were any hotel vacancies anywhere.

After a drunken student fell off a balcony and killed himself, the good people of Fort Lauderdale decided they'd had enough. Hotels refused to accept bookings from students, the police would cracked down on even the smallest misdemeanours and Ocean Drive A1A was turned into a one-way street (going north) to prevent cruising. Spring Breakers took the hint and most of them decamped to Daytona Beach. Then a considerable amount of money was spent on beautifying the beach and the place has turned into a rather nice upmarket resort - one of the nicest in Florida.

TIP: there are no direct flights from Britain to Ft. Lauderdale at the moment. If you see a flight advertised to Miami at 290 and one to Ft. Lauderdale for 420, don't take the more expensive option! It is bound to involve a stopover somewhere (e.g. Atlanta). Instead fly to Miami, where you can get the Tri-Rail from the airport to Ft. Lauderdale (and on to Palm Beach) for only about $5. The journey to Ft. Lauderdale takes about 30 minutes.

The telephone area code is 954.

Lodgings: (back to top)
There are some beautiful upmarket and expensive hotels on or near the 17th Street Causeway with pools, tropical gardens, tennis courts, fitness centres etc. Recommended are:

Amerisuites (1851 SE 10th Avenue Tel: 763 7670)
Bahia Mar Beach Resort (801 Seabreeze Blvd. Tel: 764 2233)
Florida Marriott Hotel (1881 SE 17th Street Tel: 463 4000)

Lago-Mar Resort (1700 South Ocean Lane Tel: 523 6511)
Highly recommended by many guides. Secluded, perfect for a relaxing holiday. Has private beach and several pools.

They are all over $200 a night, but look for special offers and packages.

More reasonably-priced hotels are located one or two blocks from the beach, which has the advantage of being much quieter and some of them are family run. They are located in Bayshore Drive and the Birch Road area. Some offer special weekly or monthly rates and have efficiencies (a small, one-room apartment) and one-bedroom apartments.

Coral Marquis (4011 North Ocean Blvd. Tel: 563 0600)
Recently renovated with a heated pool. Inexpensive. The AAA awards it three diamonds.

The Pillars - Waterfront (111 N Birch Road Tel: 467 9634)
2 blocks from the beach recently rennovated and well-kept. Many satisfied holidaymakers are coming back year after year.

St. Tropez Resort (725 North Atlantic Avenue Tel: 564 8468)
Perfect location, right on the beach. A bit noisy, however, from traffic the A1A. Recommeded by the Frommers 99 guide.

Three Suns Inn (3016 Windamar Street Tel: 563 7926)
Family-run resort, has special weekly & monthly rates. Very close to the beach.

Tropi Rock (2900 Belmar Street Tel: 564 0523)
Unusual place, much different to normal motels, due to its decorations, which the owners call "Latin fusion". Numerous facilities including fitness room, two tennis courts, barbeque grills and of course pool. Highly recommended; a friend would not stay anywhere else but here. (P.S. We were just informed that the Broward edition of the New Times declared this place as the best resort motel. Rightly so.)

See also the Superior Small Lodgings listings for Fort Lauderdale, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea and Pompano Beach.

Restaurants: (back to top)
Aruba Cafe (1 East Commercial Blvd. Tel: 776 0001)
Very popular with the local residents. Central location, right on the beach. Good salads, sandwiches and seafood. Moderately priced.

Mark's Las Olas (East Las Olas Blvd. Tel: 463 1000)
Local media praise this place, which was opened four years ago. New world cuisine, very expensive. (N.B. There are at least another 30 great restaurants in this street.)

Mrs. Smokeys (1970 Sawgrass Mills Circle Tel: 846 0550)
A nickname for Elisa Caplan Hight, the boss of this best barbeque restaurant in S Florida. Mrs Smokeys claims that her secret is her special sauces. Who are we to dispute this?

O'Hara Pub (722 E Las Olas Blvd. Tel: 524 1764)
Lively music, very popular and crowded most of the time. Food is inexpensive but good.

Sunfish Grill (2771 East Atlantic Blvd. Tel: 788 2434)
Constantly one of the most outstanding seafood restaurants in Broward County. Menu changes frequently, depending on the fresh catch.

Galleria Mall Very posh with some first-class department stores. Smallish food court. The only mall in Fort Lauderdale. Nearby malls: Broward Mall, Fashion Mall, Pompano Mall and, not to be forgotten, Sawgrass Mills.

Swap Shop (3291 West Sunrise Blvd. Tel: 791 7927)
A place that has to be seen to be believed. Houses numerous shopping stalls with an incredible range of goods; the biggest drive-in cinema in the world (plus 12 others!), a circus; aligator wrestling and more. We were not that impressed, but one million people visit every month. Maybe we are too picky.

Sports (participating): (back to top)
Opportunities for water sports are too numerous to mention here, check local listings. Recommended for fishing is Pompano Pier, the longest pier in S Florida.

Sports (watching): (back to top)
One or two major American basball or football teams have winter camps in the area before their season starts. It is interesting to watch top sportsmen training and playing in practice matches. You can also see the premier basketball, ice hockey, baseball and American football in nearby Miami. See our Miami Sports section.

Miami Fusion (Major League Soccer) (Lockhart Stadium, 5300 NW 12th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale Tel: 928 1584)
Plays March to October in the top American football division. Chance to see world-class players past their prime.

International Swimming Hall of Fame (501 Seabreeze Blvd. Tel: 462 6536)
Houses one of the first Olympic-size swimming pools in Florida. Another was added recently. Many famous swimmers have practiced there (and some still do) and there are occasional inter-college U.S. Championships held there. There is also a lovely swimming museum on site.

More Links: (back to top)
NY Times Article Great article about Ft. Lauderdale

New Times Broward Palm Beach Just as great as the Miami New Times 

Fort Lauderdale Area Guide Very good directory

Fort Lauderdale Beach Cram-packed site with lots of good info

Fort Lauderdale Visitors Guide Good guide