Fort Lauderdale Is Much More Than Beaches

Posted 12/13/2009

When I tell people that I had a trip to Fort Lauderdale where I spent almost no time at the beach, I get some funny looks. I admit, it sounds crazy that I visited one of the country's top beach destinations only to shun all that gorgeous sun, sand, and water. The truth: I did hit the beach on day one. I apparently took complete leave of my senses since I neglected sunscreen before my 3 hour beach frolic and nap. (Pale girl + no sunscreen+ mid day sun= painfully red screaming girl).

Of course from that point forward I was using mega block SPF (by the way, be smarter than I am and use this from the beginning if you go!), but I was pretty much cured of wanting to lay out on the beach. I resolved to find other Fort Lauderdale fun, if indeed there was any. Did I find stuff to do? Much more than I had even hoped for! Here are some of my favorites for "non-beach" fun in Fort Lauderdale.

I opted for an indoor, blessedly air conditioned activity first: The Museum of Art was a wonderful surprise. It was quite uncrowded (guess everybody else was baking on the beaches!) and I really enjoyed my couple of hours wandering the collections. The Norman Rockwell exhibit was especially interesting, and I saw a lot of paintings, such as close up portraits, that we don't usually see from this artist. I also loved the CoBrA art collection, which is huge and filled with art from Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam. If I could have spent a whole day here, it would have been pretty easy to do so- plenty to see and do!

I knew that there were certainly plenty of touristy type shops around the city of Fort Lauderdale, but when it comes to shopping I really prefer to find something a bit more unique. I found exactly what I was after on Las Olas Boulevard. Dozens of high end shops, restaurants, and art galleries are scattered all through the area, and I was highly impressed with the offerings. I especially enjoyed Pocock Fine Art and Antiques. It is a huge place, and full of really charming little discoveries. They have an especially nice collection of 19th and 20th century oil paintings, and the staff was very courteous and helpful. I found one of the best malls I have ever been to at the Sawgrass Mills Mall. This is actually about 15 minutes from downtown Fort Lauderdale, and is an easy drive. This is outlet shopper nirvana. I thought I had landed in heaven when I saw the True Religion outlet. In fact, I considered my whole trip a success when I got my True Religion jeans for half off. There is also Burberry, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Miss Sixty, and much more. I spent a whole day there, and I would have kept shopping if my feet would have been able to carry me any further.

Since I had been longing to get a closer look at the amazing mansions that dotted the Intracoastal waterway here, I decided to purchase a ticket for the water taxi. For only about 13 dollars, I was able to take a boat ride that zipped all along the canals that go through the city of Fort Lauderdale. This city has been aptly nicknamed the "Venice of America", in fact. I had a great time seeing all the mansions and listening to the captain's interesting tidbits of info about the celebrities who inhabit them. My ticket purchase allowed me free boarding from any of the 13 points of water taxi entry in the city, so I ended up spending the whole day hopping on and off as I explored different areas. This is by far the very best way to see the city, and it is also the best way to navigate Fort Lauderdale. Next time, I won't bother to drive anywhere since the water taxi can get me to all the best spots, and I don't have to worry about the traffic and parking.

This is one trip where I can actually say I am glad I got sunburned. I admit it was not the most auspicious start for my trip, but it ended up allowing me to see a side of this city I may have never otherwise discovered. I learned that there truly is much more to Fort Lauderdale than just the beaches.

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