DREAMSCAPES Fall/Winter 2017
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(2016 - Fall Issue)

Writer: BRYEN DUNN



The good life comes easy in Greater Fort Lauderdale.

With more than 2,630 hectares of Broward County parks (1,416 of which are preserved for native and endangered species), 37 kilometres of clean, sparkling coastline, and countless animal and plant species, Greater Fort Lauderdale is the perfect destination for visitors to explore some of the world’s most diverse landscapes and ecosystems.

Since 1982, the county has installed more than 112 artificial reefs that have created new underwater habitats while protecting existing reefs from boats, anchors and other dangers. Shipwreck Park at Pompano Beach offers divers an opportunity to explore a sunken ship less than a mile from shore. The venue even includes rotating exhibits of underwater art! At least 16 other shipwrecks are in the vicinity, making this one of the most easily accessible major dive sites in the nation.

Also, while in the area, check out Flamingo Gardens & Wray Botanical Collection, Butterfly World and Hugh Taylor Birch State Park where visitors can rent canoes and paddle a freshwater lagoon, fish from the seawall, hike, bike, Segway or relax in a hammock. With nearly 30 stations throughout Broward County, the B-Cycle bike-sharing program is a great way to get around.

NOW, THIS IS ENTERTAINMENT!

Renowned for its stage performances, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, a 5,455-seat, multi-venue waterfront theatre and entertainment complex, is undergoing a US$56-million renovation to include the addition of a waterside restaurant, a glass-walled pavilion, intermezzo lounge, education centre, and luxurious premium upgrades to seating and facilities. The Casino @ Dania Beach has reopened after a US$60-million complete makeover, and the Lauderhill Performing Arts Center, a brand new 1,143-seat theatre, opened in January 2016. Movie buffs should check out the International Film Festival, mid-October to mid-November; the Gay & Lesbian Film Festival in October; and the Women’s International Film Festival in March 2017. 

Families love the Greater Fort Lauderdale area. The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau lists a selection of kid-friendly “FUNtinerary” programs, which highlight activities, attractions and top-notch family programs and amenities at a variety of resorts and hotels. If you’re visiting in February 2017, be sure to check out the A1A Kid’s Fun Run. Or for some peace and quiet, drop the kids off at Funky Fish Kids Day, a “liquid playground” day camp (overnight options available) for kids ages four to 14, which includes snorkelling lessons, skimboarding and more. Other family-friendly attractions are the Museum of Discovery and Science, Tropical Sailing’s Spirit of Lauderdale catamaran, sightseeing cruises aboard the Water Taxi and the Jungle Queen.

When it comes to events and festivities, Greater Fort Lauderdale knows no bounds. Take in annual holiday celebrations such as Christmas on Las Olas (last Tuesday in November) and the Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade (second Saturday in December). Lauderdale Live happens each December at Huizenga Plaza on the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale, while the KISS Country Chili Cookoff is held every January at C.B. Smith Park in Pembroke Pines. Also, check out the Las Olas Art Fair in January and March. The live music scene heats up with the annual Rock the Ocean’s Tortuga Music Festival on Lauderdale Beach and the ’80s-themed RockFest in Sunrise, both held in April. Foodies mustn’t overlook the Pompano Beach Seafood Festival in April and the Las Olas Wine and Food Festival in May. The Flagler Arts & Technology Village, known locally as FAT Village, hosts an Art Walk on the last Saturday of each month (excluding December) from 7 to 11 p.m. And, much to the delight of avid sports fans, teams play throughout the year, including the Fort Lauderdale Strikers soccer franchise (April to November) and the NHL Florida Panthers (October to April).

MORE REASONS TO VISIT

Greater Fort Lauderdale also boasts the highest concentration of same-sex couple households in the United States and has one of the country’s most diverse gay capitals. With hundreds of gay-owned and operated businesses, it continues to be a destination-of-choice for LGBT travellers. In addition, Greater Fort Lauderdale features one of the largest Pride Centres in the country, the first and only World AIDS Museum and Educational Center, and is also home to the Stonewall National Museum & Archives, the only permanent space in the U.S. devoted to exhibitions relating to LGBT history and culture. The city also recently won a bid to host the Southern Comfort Transgender Conference for three consecutive years.

Love cruising? A number of cruise ships sail out of Fort Lauderdale, making this Florida destination a perfect pre- or post-cruise layover. Costa Cruises returned to Port Everglades with the 2,826-passenger Costa Delizios. Royal Caribbean’s newest Oasis-class cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas, will offer a seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itinerary through its inaugural season beginning November 12, 2016. And, following its inaugural season in the Mediterranean, Holland America Line’s MS Koningsdam will sail from Port Everglades on 10- and 11-day sailings in November 2016.

Shoppers must check out Sawgrass Mills, which continues to expand with shops opening soon at its new 7,432-square-metre Colonnade Outlets. The Galleria refines its shopping experience with recently opened and coming soon stores including H&M, Free People, REM French Riviera, Pink, and a transformed food court. As well, Las Olas Place shopping and dining space is scheduled to open next to the Riverside Hotel on Las Olas Boulevard in Spring 2017. Also under construction is Town Center at Sawgrass, a 10,963-square-metre venue with four sit-down restaurants, 25 full-price retailers and a 2,000-vehicle parking deck, set to open in 2018.

Travel Planner

For more information, contact the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-22-SUNNY or sunny.org.

 
 
 
 
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