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Glitzy Miami and posh Palm Beach may buzz with celebrity sightings, but visitors more interested in relaxing in Southern Florida’s legendary sunshine gravitate to Fort Lauderdale in Broward County. There’s still a certain level of luxury to be found here — the waterfront mansions and mansion-sized yachts are proof of that — Fort Lauderdale is more laidback than its big-name neighbors.
The city’s 165 miles of waterways have earned it the nickname the “Venice of America,” and you’ll likely stay or dine along the water. Be sure to stroll the Riverwalk, located in a popular arts and culture district, and hop on the Water Taxi, which brings you from the beach to the trendy shops and restaurants of the Las Olas neighborhood.
While you could spend all your time sprawled out on the soft-sand beach, there are also historic homes, excellent museums, nature centers, and state parks within easy reach. And when the sun goes down, lively stretches of beach bars, dance clubs, and salty dives light up the night.
Five miles from the city center, busy Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) offers direct and connecting flights on more than a dozen airlines. Additionally, Miami International Airport (MIA) is just 30 miles from Fort Lauderdale and is served by a larger selection of international airline carriers.
Attractions in Fort Lauderdale are fairly spread out, so it’s easiest to get around by car. The city is also a good base to explore the coast, from Miami to Palm Beach and all the charming Old Florida enclaves in between. In town, consider ditching the car for a day to soak up the Florida vibes on a rented scooter. You can also catch a ride on the Water Taxi or Sun Trolley for downtown transportation with a sightseeing twist.
Fort Lauderdale’s busy season is between December and April, but a year-round average temperature of 77 degrees Fahrenheit means it’s always a good time to visit. There are essentially two seasons in this subtropical destination. The wet season lasts from April through October and brings humid weather and temperatures in the high 80s, as well as occasional heavy rain showers and a chance of hurricanes. Mild winds and ocean breezes cool things off, but even the nights are hot, so you’ll want to pack light, loose clothing. In the dry season, expect daytime temperatures in the mid-70s; in December and January, you may even want a light jacket and a sweater, because low temperatures can dip to 60 degrees.
Greater Fort Lauderdale boasts 23 miles of beautiful, wide, golden-sand beaches. In Fort Lauderdale proper, Fort Lauderdale Beach Park features a playground, volleyball and basketball courts, and picnic areas. Head north along the shore and you’ll reach popular Las Olas Beach and its bustling promenade lined with beach bars and souvenir shops. Continue along the promenade (or the shore) and you’ll hit calmer Fort Lauderdale Beach.
One of the best ways to experience Fort Lauderdale is on the water, whether it’s a canal tour through quiet residential waterways and past the mansions and private yachts of Millionaire’s Row, or a cruise up the New River where the city abruptly gives way to nature. You may even encounter the occasional manatee.
Everglades National Park is just over an hour’s drive southwest of Fort Lauderdale. Take a classic airboat tour through parts of the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States in search of wading birds and alligators.