FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — About 30 miles north of Miami, along the Atlantic coast, Fort Lauderdale was once a hotspot among college spring breakers, but now cruise passengers, beach bums and affluent travelers converge in this chic oceanfront destination. Greater Fort Lauderdale attracted 13.1 million visitors in 2013, and that is partly because the area […]
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — About 30 miles north of Miami, along the Atlantic coast, Fort Lauderdale was once a hotspot among college spring breakers, but now cruise passengers, beach bums and affluent travelers converge in this chic oceanfront destination.
Greater Fort Lauderdale attracted 13.1 million visitors in 2013, and that is partly because the area has one of the three busiest cruise ports worldwide. Eight cruise lines and more than 40 ships dock at Port Everglades, and, with more four- and five-day cruises available this year, port officials expect 4 million travelers to sail out of Fort Lauderdale in 2014.
To accommodate cruise lines increasingly larger ships, Port Everglades began its sixth cruise-terminal renovation within five years in mid-March. The $24 million project, expected to be completed in November for the 2015 cruise season, provides covered loading and drop-off areas, an additional 172 parking spaces, 50 check-in counters and new elevators, escalators and restrooms.
“This latest expansion effort is a direct result of the cruise industry’s movement towards building larger ships,” said Steven Cernak, Port Everglades Chief Executive and Port Director, in a press release. “We are continuously reinvesting in our cruise facilities to keep them fresh, convenient and efficient for the cruise lines and their guests.”
Fort Lauderdale’s beach vacationers will find luxe accommodations across from the palm-tree lined waterfront. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the family-friendly Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort and the hip W Fort Lauderdale offer guests stunning beach views from rooftop pools. At night, sip berry mojitos around the fire pit at S3, the steak-and-seafood restaurant with a sushi bar, expansive wine list and beautiful ocean views at the Hilton.
A short drive from the beachfront hotels, Las Olas Boulevard has a trendy shopping, art and dining scene. At rustically chic Rocco’s Tacos, diners share pitchers of fruity sangria and fresh guacamole prepared tableside.
The city’s wealth of art galleries and performing arts landed Fort Lauderdale at No. 6 on Moveto Real Estate Blog’s list of the 10 snobbiest mid-sized American cities. A diverse array of concerts, cultural events and art galleries can be found throughout the city’s Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District.
Called the Venice of America, Fort Lauderdale is a maze of Intercoastal Waterway canals. While sightseeing on the Carrie B paddlewheeler or splashing down on a Duck Tour, tourists will see sprawling multimillion-dollar mansions of the rich and famous, stark-white yachts and sailboats, cruise ships at port and waterfront eateries.
Dining options along the Intercoastal Waterway range from fine seafood restaurants dishing up a local favorite — stone crab — to casual burger joints like GQ- and Gayle King-approved Le Tub in nearby Hollywood, Fla. Le Tub earned its nationwide credibility serving 13-ounce grilled sirloin burgers in a quirky bar full of character and washed up toilet seats.
While in Hollywood, beach-lovers and people-watchers can bike, roller blade or walk the retro Hollywood Beach Boardwalk and recall the spring break heyday of decades past.