You’ve always loved looking at the world from an unexpected viewpoint. From your seat in a gondola, you watch a dazzle of white light shine on a turquoise ocean swell as it rises to kiss a beaming sunray. Aqua wave, white sparkle, golden sunbeam, azure sky: This is a view to commit to memory. You watch the elegant tango of light touching light as an expert gondolier guides your vessel down a narrow canal, past a stately mansion, toward the welcoming sea before you. Your senses are captured by the reflection of stucco and tile on the rippling water, by the whisper of wind through plants that hang over the aquatic alleyway, by the cool breath of ocean breeze on your face. Surely, this breathtaking afternoon is only possible in the luxury of the Mediterranean, on the canals of Venice. But no—what a delightful surprise: This is Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The “Venice of America.” A miraculous Atlantic oasis that invites you to view your home country as you never have before.
With white sand beaches as soft and warm as any bed you’ll find in the top hotels in Fort Lauderdale, you begin your adventure at the seaside. Head out of one of the Fort Lauderdale beach hotels to John U. Lloyd Beach, a perfect place to watch birds, look for sea turtles, and delight in the restfulness of tidal fauna. Vista Park is where you eagerly put on your flippers and underwater mask before swimming out to its coral reef for the sublime experience of snorkeling over this fascinating ecosystem. You feel like a mythical sea creature yourself as you glide across an underwater garden of coral and rock inhabited by boldly-patterned subtropical fish. Deerfield beach lets you relax while you read on its wide, warm swathe of sand, beachcomb with the kids, and contemplate its teal waves during a drowsy afternoon. And of course, even cheap hotels in Fort Lauderdale often have access to a stretch of beach. After recharging on Fort Lauderdale’s welcoming shores, walk to the upscale Galleria shopping center for a discerning afternoon of sophisticated style-hunting.
The canal district is more than just one of the best places to stay in Fort Lauderdale: It grants you a taste of picturesque Mediterranean charm such as you’ll find nowhere else in America. A gondola spirits you away on a relaxing waterborne tour of Fort Lauderdale’s lush palms, magnificent mansions, quaint cottages, gleaming motorboats, and astonishing horizons; they are picture-perfect at any time of day or night. As you glide, you’re bewitched by the easy elegance of life on the canals, and you ponder how much more relaxed life seems in Fort Lauderdale, as if the rippling water carries away anxiety and stress, leaving behind contentment and satisfaction. If only every city had fairytale streets enjoyable by boat!
With so many beautiful views to dazzle your eyes and such comfortably balmy weather, it’s no wonder that al fresco dining is so popular in Fort Lauderdale. A number of restaurants (just like hotels in Fort Lauderdale) sit at the water’s edge for easy access by boat. Dock your watercraft and step out on solid land for some of the most satisfying dining you’ll ever experience. Coconuts offers unfussy seafood, a lively patio, and a glittering view of lights on the water. For fine dining a little further inland, Valentino tempts you with reimagined Italian classics in a luxe atmosphere. The bright exterior of the Floridian Restaurant, a local favorite, hints at the warmth of its classic diner fare, and you feel right at home comfortably mingling with visitors and residents alike within its cheery walls. And of course, this is Florida, so the nightlife is as hot and inviting as its weather. You catch up with a friend during happy hour at an intimate wine bar, then spend a stylish night at a martini lounge that might even tempt you into some salsa dancing.
Amid its labyrinth of waterways, Fort Lauderdale has enough solid ground to play host to a number of beautiful green spaces. Share leisure time with your whole family in Holiday Park, where a playground and many recreational areas ensure hours of fun. Merle Fogg Park invites you to stroll a cool stretch of grass along the waterfront under the shade of scattered trees. You remember that Florida, distinctive as it may be, is indeed part of the fabled American South when you meander elegant Riverwalk Linear Park. The warmth and courtesy of Southern charm follows you along a winding brick-and-stone path under the canopied arbor of many species of trees and modern but graceful lampposts. Colee Hammock Park is the place to settle in for a peaceful picnic with views of hardwood hammocks (or, clusters of native trees) and gliding boats.
Just outside the city lies one of America’s most exotic sanctuaries: The Everglades. Everglades National Park is a short trip away from Fort Lauderdale hotels by car but a whole world away in its unearthly beauty. An excursion through these subtropical wetlands by foot and boat gives you a new mental and visual perspective to relish long after the day is done. You are intrigued by the diversity of vegetation and wildlife you encounter: Vast sawgrass marshes spread out before you like a prairie. Mangrove clusters send their slender roots snaking into the shallow water. Shrubs and low trees hanging with vines and moss convince you for a moment that you’re moving through the Amazon. A lurking alligator surfaces like a submarine, moving through the water with a watchful eye and a knowing smile. Wading birds on stilted legs dip their long, elegant beaks into brackish water. You aren’t just a spectator in the Everglades—you’re there in the very midst of the mysterious swampland. Can this foreign territory really be part of your own country, you wonder? Then you remember the Mediterranean splendor of things to do in Fort Lauderdale and reflect that anything seems possible in this corner of the world.
Your sense of wonder and your faith in magic are joyfully renewed as you dip your hands into the pure blue waters of Fort Lauderdale. Cupping a handful of this briny elixir, you wonder if it is here that the enchantment and beauty of Fort Lauderdale lies. Since Travelocity has shown you where to stay in Fort Lauderdale, you can’t wait to delve into this exquisite quandary on your next visit through a Fort Lauderdale vacation package. It won’t be long before sunlight-bedecked ocean waves beckon you back to Fort Lauderdale’s spellbinding shores.