Many of Fort Lauderdale's major attractions and amenities are within walking distance of each other.
By Dalia Colon
Footloose and Car-Free
Between its waterways, beach walks, public transportation and totally pleasant pedestrian promenades, Fort Lauderdale makes driving practically obsolete.
Big city meets carefree beach within a three-mile stroll along Fort Lauderdale's most fashionable streets and walkways. The beach stretches long and wide at one end; at the other there's a lineup of cultural must-visits; in between art galleries, boutiques, candy shops, a historic site, restaurants, fashionable clubs and a lively river walk make this metropolitan setting equally relaxing and stimulating.
When your feet are done walking, you can always catch the Water Taxi back to point A, a scenic, relaxing, oh-so-Lauderdale alternative to fighting traffic and out-waiting red lights. The Tri-Rail through town can deliver you to Miami or West Palm Beach without you having to lift a turn signal.
The walk along the beach provides yet more pavement to explore by foot or by bike, which you can rent from resorts or shops in the neighborhood. A three-mile stretch takes you from Port Everglades' pass to lovely, green Hugh Taylor Birch State Park to the north.
This tour is best started at the beach, Fort Lauderdale's famed beach-blanket beach, star of film and fantasies. You may want to stay the night so you have one day to explore action along the beach and another to head west and delve into Fort Lauderdale's cultural side.
Hotels and resorts are plentiful on Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard and along Las Olas Boulevard, the famed shopper's street that intersects with it. Stay and walk at convenient spots such as Bahia Mar Beach Resort, Largo Mar Resort and Club, Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa and Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort. From Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six Resort you can hop the Water Taxi for quick access to uptown fun. It's an especially popular mode for club hopping. On Las Olas, Riverside Hotel is a handsome choice for good-timers who want to stay right where the action happens.
Walk This Way
Fort Lauderdale Beach makes me feel young, so naturally I spend as much time as possible strolling the main drag, starting from the cruise-ship traffic in the pass at its south end. I then head north to the International Swimming Hall of Fame, the beach shops and the flurry of sunning and water sports on the wide, hard-packed sands hemmed in by a graceful wave wall. Beach Place, a festive plaza of surf shops and casual tavern-eateries, is a favorite stop for liquid refreshment and supplies before heading to quieter quarters. Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, just off the beach at Sunrise Boulevard, offers a garden sanctuary for the soul. The adjacent Hugh Taylor Birch State Park brings to an end an energetic walk with opportunity for canoeing on a dunes lake, nature hiking or just sinking into the sea-breezed beach scene.
Las Olas Boulevard strikes the beach right at its heart. Make your way along its storefront-lined sidewalks selling everything from cheeseburgers to designer housewares and fine art. Drop in at Stranahan House, the county's oldest home, for a taste of life and trade on the frontier of the turn of last century. Las Olas Riverfront complex has cropped up at the boulevard's west end, a Mediterranean-style conglomeration of casual movie theaters, shops and restaurants and clubs with outdoor seating overlooking New River. Weekend night musicians further liven up the atmosphere.
Riverwalk Park paves the way along the river from Las Olas Riverfront with green space and blue views that engage the senses. The first Sunday of each month, it sets the scene for a morning jazz concert. The linear park leads to a cache of fine museums and arts venues. Visit the Fort Lauderdale History Center at the edge of Riverfront, then proceed to the Museum of Art, which features headlining traveling exhibits; the Museum of Discovery & Science with its IMAX theater and engaging interactive learning experiences; and the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, host to all that's big in Fort Lauderdale entertainment.
For more information on exploring Fort Lauderdale by foot, visit www.sunny.org.