We Indians love the US of A, so much that it was the third most popular overseas destination. In 2015 alone more than a million Indian tourists visited the USA and ranking high in their list along with New York and California was the state of Florida. Think about the Sunshine state and the first two things that come to your mind are Disneyworld Orlando and Miami. Apart from these there is a lot more to Florida and one of them is Fort Lauderdale, the city boasts one of the world’s busiest cruise terminals and hosts the biggest yacht shows in the world. Blessed with gorgeous beaches and round the year warm weather the city was the ultimate spring break destination until the 80’s. But over the years the city has evolved into a family-friendly destination with something for just about everyone. It draws many visitors for its miles of beautiful beaches, vibrant art scene, and a variety of attractions. Late in March I spent a week in Fort Lauderdale and was just mesmerized by this sun-soaked gem. Here are 7 reasons why you should include Fort Lauderdale the next time you pack your bags for the USA.
7) Diving and more – Water enthusiasts simply swear by Fort Lauderdale. Why? You ask.. The Greater Ft. Lauderdale area is also known as the “Wreck Capitol of Florida”, with over 50 shipwrecks in 23 miles making it the perfect spot for diving. Besides this it is a 69 mile natural reef system which draws a lot of sea life. For some good old over the water fun there are plenty of options and spots for parasailing, jet skiing, boating, and fishing.
6) Alligator spotting at the Everglades – The Everglades is a 20-minute drive from downtown Fort Lauderdale, making it an easy day trip. Made up of coastal mangroves, marshes, and pine flatwood, it is home to hundreds of animal species. Among the Everglades’ abundant wildlife are the endangered leatherback turtle, Florida panther, and West Indian manatee. Sawgrass Recreation Park has some great airboat adventures where you can learn about this impressive ecosystem and catch a glimpse of the wildlife.
5) Chic and classy hotels
With views that would put your computer wallpaper to shame, Fort Lauderdale has stunning hotels that offer beach and Intercoastal views. W Fort Lauderdale, Hilton, Hyatt Regency, B Ocean and Sonesta are some great options. These hotels provide it all cosy accommodations, stellar views and exceptional dining.
4) Million dollar homes and yachts –
The famous Millionaire’s Row stretches from Tarpon Bend all the way out to the Intracoastal Waterway. As you look around, you will see multi-million dollar homes of celebrities, CEO’s and billionaires lining the river banks. The best way to see these homes and their spectacular mega yachts (and if you’re lucky maybe even a celebrity or two) is by doing a river cruise. Jungle Queen River Cruise is a good option. This is a fully narrated cruise down the Venice of America and includes entertainment and an All-You-Can-Eat dinner.
3) Las Olas district
Las Olas Boulevard is a bustling boulevard filled with shops, restaurants, expensive cars, and is great for people watching. The beautifully lined palm trees and million dollar homes give it a very “Beverly Hills” look. Did you know that Fort Lauderdale is sometimes known as the “Venice of America” because of its expansive and intricate canal system? This means that you are bound to see swanky yachts anchored outside these million dollar homes. Las Olas is definitely the playground of the rich and famous. Stroll the boulevard and be delighted by what you discover.
2) Shop till you drop
Whether you’re a high-end shopper who worships Prada and Gucci or someone who swears by his Lacoste Polos and Ralph Lauren loafers, there’s something for everyone at Sawgrass Mills. A humongous outlet mall that has over 350 shops, restaurants, and cafes with rates that will make sure you end up with an overpacked suitcase (they have luggage stores too). Plan your shopping across days and make sure to wear comfortable shoes for you’re going to have to cover 2,383,906 square feet of retail space. A shoppers paradise indeed, isn’t it?
1) Stunning beaches
Fort Lauderdale is home to no less than 23 miles of beautiful sandy beaches to help you soak up the sun (to put it in perspective that is the distance from SoBo to the suburbs). Whether you’re looking for kayaking and jet skiing or a beach packed with sunbathers, you are sure to find a beach for yourself. The beaches are a delight for walking, jogging or to just to lay back get a tan. Better still, grab yourself a cold beer and watch as the world goes by. If you’re an early bird, catch the sunrise on beautiful Deerfield Beach.
The Blue ocean on one side and the gorgeous waterways on other. Fort Lauderdale from the top as seen from the Hyatt Regency Pier 66.
As you can see, Fort Lauderdale is a great place to visit for its beaches, crystal-clear water, beautiful white sand and great weather year-round. It is a tale of beauty in itself from shopping on Las Olas Boulevard, to gondola rides on the canals, to a historic riverfront cruise. Tourists and residents continue to be amazed by its beauty and we are sure it’s going to remain this way forever.
Last but not the least, Fort Lauderdale is now closer to India than ever before. Emirates in its true pampering fashion will now carry guests daily from Dubai to Fort Lauderdale. While the flying time is 14 hours and 20 minutes for the direct flight, passengers will be treated to the award winning Emirates service along with gourmet food, french wines and 2500 channels of in-flight entertainment which will make sure you have the best time in the skies.
Getting there – Return airfare from Mumbai to Fort Lauderdale costs around Rs 250,000 in Business Class and Rs 51,000 in Economy class. To book visit Emirates.com or call +912233773377
Note – The author was invited by Greater Fort Lauderdale convention & visitors bureau and Emirates. But all the opinions expressed herewith are his own.