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On the chic Las Olas Boulevard in the heart of Fort Lauderdale, you'll encounter boutiques, narrow alleyways, brick walkways, tiny white lights twinkling in windows and dozens of trendy restaurants. Among the shopping and dining options, you might come across homemade ice cream at a dessert cafe or a live jazz bar that is always packed. Clothing boutiques, gift shops, hair salons and art galleries round out the list. The wide variety of shops and services available ensures you’ll be able to find exactly what you need.
Dating back to 1901 and built by the “Father of Fort Lauderdale,” Stranahan House is also referred to as the Pioneer House. In 1984, this mansion was opened for public viewing as a house museum and almost 10,000 tourists visit this landmark annually. Now a historic riverside museum, the elegantly restored house contains antiques, turn-of-the-century furnishings and old photographs of the area. It is also an example of classic Florida Frontier architecture. The house has previously been used as a post office, town hall and general store. The events hosted here includes tours, the Pineapple Jam, the Peter Pan Pirate Party and more. This lovely museum can also be hired for private events and special celebrations.
Dating back to 1921, this historic two-story, 35.4 acres (14.16 hectare) waterfront house was once the winter home of artist Frederic Clay Bartlett and his wife Evelyn. The Bonnet House is serenely elegant and preserved amidst the urban expansion of Fort Lauderdale Beach, which is what makes the land so special. Mrs. Bartlett, who died in 1997, gave the estate to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation in 1983 to keep the property unchanged. Several concerts and events are held here throughout the year, and the house is available for private events such as weddings. Named for a waterlily that once inhabited the property, the Bonnet House is open year-round for guided tours.
This massive park was Hugh Taylor Birch’s donation to the state of Florida. Birch came to Florida in the latter part of the 19th Century and promptly fell in love with the area. He eventually purchased more than three miles of oceanfront property in the little town of Fort Lauderdale. More than a century later, Fort Lauderdale is now a busy metropolis, and Birch's land thrives as a wildlife preserve and botanical wonderland. A number of animal and plant species have found a safe home here. Visitors are free to hike or bike the designated trails, canoe around the lagoon, take a dip in the ocean and visit Birch's home. Excellent camping facilities can also be availed here.
This enjoyable museum for children of all ages is known for its interactive, hands-on displays, which change frequently. The Special Exhibits Gallery features some of the best science exhibits in the United States. Museum of Discovery and Science also allows its guests to touch live animals that are native to Florida and to view the world's largest captive Atlantic coral reef. The blockbuster IMAX 3D theater is also on-site.
These water taxis arrive at various waterside destinations, including dozens of restaurants and shops and a surprising number of offices as well. The Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi, traverses between Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale, giving visitors a glimpse into various city attractions. These little green and yellow boats will also take groups on tours. Piloted by licensed captains, the taxis depart from downtown via the canals, Intracoastal Waterways and rivers. The schedules vary so call for details.
Located in downtown Fort Lauderdale, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts hosts a wide variety of events, including Broadway shows, philharmonic orchestras, the Florida Grand Opera, the Gold Coast Jazz Society and the Miami City Ballet, just to name a few. Established in 1991, it encompasses 5.5 acres (2.22 hectares) of space. The Abdo New River Room, Au-Rene Theater and Amaturo Theater are the three stages within this performing arts center.
For more than 50 years, visitors have traveled on the stately Jungle Queen Riverboat. Tours sail past estates while an entertaining monologue by the captain points out the homes of the famous and the infamous. On three-hour day tours or four-hour dinner voyages you can sail to an island where you will dine amid tropical foliage. Evening cruises feature a dinner of barbecued ribs and shrimp, with a variety revue and sing-a-long cruising back.
Located to the southwest of Fort Lauderdale, on Broward College campus in Davie, this modern, state-of-the-art facility teaches about the universe amid academic surroundings. The Buehler Planetarium & Observatory provides matinee and evening shows for adults and children, as well as science classes and lectures. After evening shows, guests can personally view the heavens through the telescopes located in the observatory. See their website for prices and further information.
One of the most intriguing attractions in the region, this diversion focuses on things that fly. Butterflies take center stage. Learn how they grow, what they eat and how to lure them into your garden. Part of Tradewinds Park, Butterfly World includes a breeding laboratory, butterfly museum, and insectarium with displays of unusual insects and butterflies from around the world.
Comprising serene 60 acres (24.28 hectares), the Flamingo Gardens have an impressive collection of rare tropical plants, massive oaks, native birds and other tropical critters. The gardens are one of the region's few remaining citrus groves and are home to a large collection of wading birds. You can chug around the grounds on a narrated tram tour or explore the Wray Botanical Collection and historic Wray Home.
Sawgrass Recreation Park offers all kinds of nature-oriented and historic activities. Take an airboat tour of the Everglades, see a replica of an Indian village or visit the wild animal exhibit. RV camping facilities are available on the grounds. The half an hour airboat ride will take you on an insightful tour of the flora and fauna in the Everglades.