Since the '60s, Greater Fort Lauderdale has been considered the premier Spring Break destination; however, there is much more to this year-round cosmopolitan destination than meets the eye. Rich in culture and brimming with unforgettable attractions, Greater Fort Lauderdale is the ideal destination for families, couples, and solo travelers alike.
The bustling metropolis, which boasts a diverse resident population of 1.9 million, comprises 31 neighborhoods. More of a cultural salad bowl than a melting pot – with inhabitants that acknowledge and appreciate all of its unique cultures – Greater Fort Lauderdale's slogan is "Everyone under the sun." Better, this welcoming coastal city invites wanderers to fully dive into the rich cultural experiences that await.
Presently, Greater Fort Lauderdale's greatest minority group is Hispanic. The beach-bound destination is also home to a considerably large Caribbean population. In fact, the largest Jamaican community in the United States calls Greater Fort Lauderdale home.
"Visit Lauderdale’s 'Everyone Under the Sun' slogan celebrates our diverse population and spreads the message that inclusion and acceptance are embraced across our 31 neighborhoods," Stacy Ritter, President & CEO of Visit Lauderdale tells EBONY. "Our community is welcoming to all, and when we say, ‘Everyone Under the Sun,’ we mean it."
Florida residents affectionately refer to Greater Fort Lauderdale as the LGBT+ capital of the state, which stems from its progressive culture and authentic vibes. It also has the largest population of same-sex households.
Blanketed by 24 miles of golden, sandy beaches, Greater Fort Lauderdale is home to 8 seaside cities: Deerfield Beach, Hillsboro Beach, Pompano Beach, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Fort Lauderdale, Dania Beach, Hollywood, and Hallandale Beach – each one exuding its own unique vibe. Greater Fort Lauderdale is not all beaches though. Alligators and hundreds of animal species inhabit the Everglades, which visitors can spot during an airboat ride and the "wild west" section offers a rural experience, equipped with rodeos and guided horseback riding trails.
"In Miramar, we truly have a diverse group of cultures. Events at the local parks vary from weekend to weekend. It could be reggae one weekend, jazz the next, and salsa on another! In Southwest Ranches, people ride their horses from house to house," says Neki Mohan, Visit Lauderdale's Vice President of Multi-Cultural Business & Community Engagement. "It’s also where we have our fall pumpkin patches and haunted houses. In Fort Lauderdale, you can live in a neighborhood where you can fish off your backyard just 15 minutes away from Las Olas Boulevard."
There is no shortage of things to do when you arrive in Greater Fort Lauderdale, which is recognized as the Yachting Capital of the World. Its 300 miles of navigable inland waterways lend themselves to an abundance of water-centered adventures such as yachting, sightseeing cruises, independent charter boating, authentic Venetian gondola boating, snorkeling, scuba diving, shore diving, and the Water Taxi. Dock-and-dine opportunities are plentiful thanks to the destination's abundance of waterfront restaurants and bars.
"It’s easy to see why we’re known as the 'Yachting Capital of the World' and the “Venice of America” with our eight beaches, winding canals, and waterway attractions. Greater Fort Lauderdale is the gateway to the Everglades, where wild beauty makes up almost two-thirds of the destination’s total area," gushes Camila Clark, Visit Lauderdale's Senior Vice President of Marketing & Communications. "We have gorgeous nature parks, such as Secret Wood Nature Center and Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. You can visit a native barrier island habitat with lush gardens and a historic artists’ estate at the Bonnet House."
Attractions like the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center, the Island SPACE Caribbean Museum – the first and only Caribbean heritage museum in the U.S., Butterfly World, and The Museum of Discovery & Science are great for families as well as science and history buffs.
For cricket enthusiasts, visiting the Central Broward Park & Broward County Stadium in Lauderhill – the only cricket stadium in the United States – is a must and art lovers will love Greater Fort Lauderdale's 30+ walkable, curated outdoor murals in Hollywood, which can be enjoyed solo or with a group on public guided tours.
Visitors who touch down in Greater Fort Lauderdale during the summer months can enjoy the sunny utopia's amazing hotels, attractions, dining, spas, and more at a reduced price by way of LauderDeals – a savings event that kicks off on June 1 and concludes on September 30.
The cultural fusion that exists in Greater Fort Lauderdale comes to life within the coastal destination's culinary scene, which includes more than 4,000 restaurants to choose from. The craft brewery and distillery scenes offer an array of mouth-watering flavors unique to the region. The assortment of rooftop bars that line the beaches and the heart of downtown Greater Fort Lauderdale help to set the scene for breezy nights and picture-perfect brunches. Addtionally, the Sistrunk Marketplace & Brewery features ten food vendors, a brewery, artisan shops, a DJ academy, culinary classes, and more.
"Since I relocated last year, I’ve literally tried to eat my way through the county. The dining scene is so eclectic. I tried vegan BBQ at The Rabbit Hole, empanadas at the hip dining hall, Sistrunk Marketplace, and fresh seafood while dockside dining at the historic 15th Street Fisheries," adds Clark. "There’s simply something for every tastebud and budget. The nightlife is nothing to sleep on either, from rooftop bars to swanky nightclubs and chic speakeasies, we could rival any big city."
In need of retail therapy? Catch a Water Taxi to The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale or head over to Sawgrass Mills – the largest outlet mall in the nation. The premier shopping destination features more than 350 stores and boasts 70+ premium designer outlets. If boutique shopping is more your speed, you won't want to leave without visiting Las Olas Boulevard, which is lined with smaller shops.
Greater Fort Lauderdale is the destination for a series of exciting annual events, including, but not limited to:
- The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in October
- The Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade in December
- The Visit Lauderdale Food & Wine Festival in January
- Pride of the Americas in February
- Tortuga Music Festival in April
- The Fort Lauderdale Air Show in April
"I love Hollywood Arts Park for a concert! Their amphitheater is awesome, and the vibe is always on point. The beach is around the corner, and you can dine on the water at local favorites like Le Tub," adds Mohan. "Watching cricket in our cricket stadium in Lauderhill brings back memories of growing up in the Caribbean, complete with all the hometown flavors close by. The Pompano Beach or Deerfield Beach pier is always a great outing with beach views and great people-watching, and during high tide, you can enjoy the surfers. Whiskey Creek in Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park in Dania Beach is a great spot to do a Full Moon Kayak tour."
When visiting Greater Fort Lauderdale, rest assured that relaxation, amusement, and unforgettable experiences are in store for everyone.
To learn more or to plan your next stay, visit www.visitlauderdale.com