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Fort Lauderdale, the Venice of America
Over 3,000 miles of canals, rivers, inlets and bays, striking waterfront attractions, fantastic waterfront dining… no, we’re not talking about Venice. Known as the Venice of America, Fort Lauderdale’s Intracoastal Waterway is a winding hub of long canals with plenty to explore. So, how do you get around these lively waterways? Which sightseeing opportunities are best to discover? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Making its way through the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, and providing a route for ships, Fort Lauderdale’s Intracoastal Waterway is the focal point for many sightseeing cruises, taking travellers to the lavish houses of the rich and famous, or dropping them off at a plethora of cool waterfront restaurants and shops. The vibrant Jungle Queen Riverboat is a popular choice of transport, offering romantic al fresco dinner and sightseeing cruises in the morning, afternoon or evening. Sip on a cold drink as you sail past Millionaire’s Row and float along the Riverwalk full of lively entertainment and attractions, or even stop off at Jungle Queen Indian Village to discover fascinating macaws, lemurs, rare birds and alligators – the city is full of exciting opportunities to keep things new and interesting. For something a bit more quirky, give yourself a giggle by hopping on a Duck Tour. Doubling as a coach and a boat, this bright tourist cruise can go from whizzing along the streets, to plunging into the water and floating along canals, taking visitors on an exciting 90 minute tour through Fort Lauderdale and South Beach in Miami. Many have raved about their Duck Tour through the Intracoastal Waterways, with fun staff, brilliant viewpoints, and great facts about the city. The water taxis dotted around the town are also ranked as one of the city’s best attractions – running every 15 to 30 minutes, these bright yellow taxi boats glide between 12 different destinations, meaning you can hop-on and hop-off wherever you fancy exploring or dining.
So what are the most popular destinations found between Fort Lauderdale’s canals? Millionaire’s Row is certainly a winner - if only the prize was gaining a massive celebrity house for yourself, sigh. Stretching across Tarpon Blend, Millionaire’s Row is the best place to see the huge mansions of the rich and famous, getting an insight into the hefty house prices and celebrity stories as you get up-close to the luxurious back yards. You’ll even get to see the house used in Miami Vice. Your cruise boat will certainly feel rather tiny next to the opulent yachts that anchor near here too – Fort Lauderdale is definitely known as the yachting capital of the world for a reason. Ridiculously big and gorgeously lavish, you’ll be pining for your own as you take in the view.
It’s no wonder Las Olas Boulevard is known as the heart and soul of Fort Lauderdale with its luxurious shopping and dining, fabulous fashion boutiques and fascinating art galleries. This is definitely the perfect place to while away an afternoon. Why not have a spot of lunch at an all-American restaurant like The Floridian? Its walls are filled with happy photos of celebrity visitors and the menu is adorned with large salads and hearty burgers. The long stretches of palm lined beaches will be sure to entice the sun chasers, or spend some time in the shade and wander through Las Olas Fine Arts, before ducking in to a plethora of spectacular boutique shops. There’s so much to see and do here, you’ll never utter the words “I’m bored”. Don’t forget the lively nightlife either, where you can dance the night away after a delightful al fresco dinner and cocktail (or two) at fine dining waterfront restaurants like Grille 401.
"Las Olas Boulevard is simply charming. If you love boutique shops and galleries, this should be top of your list to visit. It’s also got plenty of lovely restaurants sitting along the waterway, so after you’ve shopped your feet off, you can rest them over a drink or meal and take in the beautiful view".
Lisa, Product Executive, North America
Walking along the bustling Riverwalk is a brilliant way to see everything the city has to offer, with picturesque boardwalks and bright, verdant gardens nestled in the city’s downtown area. There’s plenty of arts and entertainment to enjoy, as well as an abundance of year-round activities that will keep you on your feet. Cycle through the lush gardens with the wind in your hair, take a breather with a soothing pilates class in Esplanade Park, or wander through the park in style with a fun Segway tour – there’s plenty to see and do in between cruising through the canals. You could even drift through a two hour kayak tour along the New River, looking out for manatees and dolphins along the way.
Worried your children won’t be interested in millionaire mansions and boutique shopping? Never fear, there’s a cruise that will keep all the family occupied as you sail through the canals. Bluefoot Pirate Family Adventures offers an incredible, interactive cruise on board a rowdy pirate ship, where mum and dad can take in the views as the kids pop on an eye-patch, learn buccaneer lingo, search for buried treasure and shoot water canyons at rival pirates.
With such a remarkable al fresco, waterfront lifestyle, it’s no wonder Fort Lauderdale’s Intracoastal Waterways are known as America’s version of Venice – and what a splendid version it is.