Discovering Fort Lauderdale

This little Floridian paradise is perfect for a relaxing get away. Just close your eyes and imagine the light breeze of salted air brushing past your cheeks, with the warm sun beating down on to your smiling face. That’s what a holiday in Fort Lauderdale feels like. Pure bliss.

Fort Lauderdale Beach
See… Isn’t this absolutely AMAZING.

It’s stunning scenic views are enough to make you want to pack up your normal day-to-day life and move. I actually did that for a year in 2010. Since that year I have been returning to Fort Lauderdale on a regular basis, why? It’s amazing.

It’s a very family friendly vacation spot. There’s things to do for the whole family, whether you’re with your best friend, significant other, or barrage of kids in tow, it’s a great location to get your Vitamin D fix with a side of great shopping.

No matter if you ‘re visiting for a couple of days or weeks, or you just got up and moved to this magical land, here are a couple things for you to know and do. Hold on guys, there’s about to be a lot of valuable information:

Before you book

I have been to Florida more times than I can count, and every time we learn something new:

1. Check for flights during the most optimal times.

I’ve searched the internet and all the travel experts give slightly different advice. I’ve heard booking 6 weeks before is the best, or even 59 or 60 days before your desired holiday time. Personally, we have always booked our tickets in January or August and the prices have always been decent. Check when airlines are having flash sales. British Airways does this twice a year (at least) and they’re always amazing prices. 

There are a few websites and apps you can use that will help you to determine the best time and price. On my iPhone I use Hopper, it tells you when the best times are to book your flight for the destination you want. SkiplaggedSkyscanner and Google Flights are useful sites to find the best airlines and prices.

Tip: If you want to save the pennies, I would suggest going off-peak. That would include from May-August (the hottest time of year). Christmas is very expensive and so is February/ March (Spring break and Easter).

2. Choose between a hotel or a rental

I once stayed in California and Arizona for two weeks, in and out of hotels. The amount of money we spent on food was criminal. I could not believe it, but we ate every breakfast, lunch and dinner at a restaurant every single night. The end result: ten extra pounds on the scale.

Tip: If you’re looking to go to the Fort Lauderdale/ Miami for more than a week, I would consider finding a hotel room with a kitchenette or rent an Airbnb. It’s so much easier (and cheaper) to buy and cook your own meals instead of eating french fries and cheese for two weeks.

Booking in Fort Lauderdale

Ask yourself: Do I want to stay in a quiet area or a lively area? Do I want to be near the beach? There are so many hotels and properties along the seafront, but if you go north the hotels are surrounded by residential properties, the most southern part is more touristic.

3. Rent a car

No explanation needed. Rent a car otherwise you will struggle to get anywhere in Florida

Parking in Fort Lauderdale 

A lot of the street parking now requires you to buy the parking ticket with your phone. Download the PayByPhone app before you go, and once you get your rental car, register it in to the app. It only works in WiFi or with data.

4. Check for deals

Groupon, Groupon and more Groupon. There are so many deals and fun activities to do in and around the Miami area.

Shopping

Depending on where you come from, the shopping in the USA can be quite a lot cheaper than your hometown. No matter where you travel in the country there are always shopping malls. BIG ones too. You need a map and maybe a segway to get around the inside of the mall.

Las Olas Boulevard

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Starting on the beach, Las Olas is the main hub for Fort Lauderdale with over 30 alfresco style restaurants, boutiques, and eloquent architecture.

It’s a buzzing place where locals and tourists mix to unwind from the day’s activities. On occasions they host street events and festivals. They always have something going on it’s all a matter of research.

Galleria Mall

Galleria Mall
Original photo source

Shopping in Fort Lauderdale can be expensive, and this store is no different. However, depending on where in the world you’re coming from the stores will still be cheaper than in your home town.

The Galleria Mall is an upscale and extremely clean mall, located Sunrise Blvd, very close to the beach front.

This is a great place to spend time if you’re looking not to venture out of Fort Lauderdale too much, and need to kill time because the weather decided to change it’s mind and pour down. P.S. That tends to happen quite a lot.

There’s a large variety of stores, and like I said before, if you’re not American then the deals are great no matter if there’s a sale or not. However, it will never beat the outlets. The parking is free, the restaurants (not to be mistaken by the food court) are fabulous, and it’s close to the beach… what else can I say?

Sawgrass Mills

Sawgrass mills
Original photo source: Simon.com

 

Sawgrass mills 1
Original photo source: Simon.com

If you haven’t heard of an outlet mall then I feel for you, and then urge you to go here (or somewhere similar). Outlet malls are generally cheaper, the products are from a few seasons behind, but the prices are [usually] cheaper than regular retail prices. Depending on where you shop.

I have seen reviews moaning how the stores are just as expensive… well let me tell you, if you’re going to Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Coach, etc. then the prices are never going to be cheap, they are going to be ever so slightly more affordable. However, if you venture inside the mall, to where Victoria Secrets, Banana Republic, Forever 21, and many other stores are, then I am sure you find prices that are budget friendly.

Insider Tip: Try and avoid on a weekend when it’s over crowded by tourists, locals, families, and big shopppers. Also, go as early as you can. This mall is so big it will eat away at your day.

For more information go here

Aventura

AVENTURA MALL

Aventura mall is an upscale mall, located in the northern suburbs of Miami. It’s the fourth most visited mall in America, so it obviously it has some appeal. There are numerous restaurants, over 300 stores and hours worth of people watching – a great place to lose your self in shopping heaven.

To find more information, visit aventuramall.com

Location: 19501 Biscayne Blvd, Aventura, FL 33180, United States

Things to do

Watch the Turtles hatch

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Did you know 90% of sea turtles nesting in the USA are in Florida? From March to October, sea turtles crawl up on to the beaches to lay their eggs in the sand. During that time the residents and tourists are urged to assist the towns effort to control the surrounding environment, such as dimming artificial lighting along the beach, keeping the beach clean and making sure the nests are clearly signed.

Sea turtle walks are a great way to get to see some baby eggs hatch. From June to August there are guided tours along the beach. For times and more information go to sunny.org,

Air boat Ride in the Everglades

The most stereotypical thing you can do in Florida is go on an air boat to see the everglades and the 2 million alligators they have swimming around. Most people think the everglades is swamp land, fun fact, it’s actually a river of grass.

I went to the Cooper Town Air Boat Ride, and it was great (we bought a Groupon for 4). When you get there they start the “show” with an explanation of the alligators, why they are there and how many there are in the surrounding waters. Then you are given the opportunity to hold a snake or feed one of the turtles.

Next, they take you on an air boat for about 40 minutes or so, and head off in to the long grassed rivers. You might see some reviews stating they never saw an alligator. It’s hard to judge if you will definitely see one, I saw 4 the day I went. Regardless if you see them in the wild or not, it’s about the experience.

22700 Southwest 8th Street Miami, FL 33194

Top tip: It’s more than likely that the sun will be shining bright when you go, make sure to cover up or where high factored sun screen.

Beach Place

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It was once a great local hang out spot, however it has been given the reputation of a tourist trap. HOWEVER… I would like to rebut those comments because the majority of Miami is a tourist trap, and Beach Place is just a tiny area located on Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd, filled with restaurants, bars, and beach style retail stores.

Pro Tip: DON’T GO DURING SPRING BREAK. Around March, the crazy students around the country flock to the beaches to drink too much and party hard.IMG_4515

Fort Lauderdale by the Sea

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Fort Lauderdale by the sea is a quieter part of the beach. Mainly because the area is filled with residents snow birds, and the odd tourist. There’s not a lot of action going on other than sitting by the beach and absorbing your surroundings.

South Beach

South Beach is the pulse of Miami, where the music never dies and the flavor for fun is always in the air. By night time South Beach turns into an adults playground with sea-side nightclubs and bars that are not to be missed. When night turns to day, the streets are calmer but still filled with vibrancy. 

It’s a unique place and a couple of sentences cannot and will not justify the madness of South Beach. In between Lincoln Road Mall and Collins Avenue, there’s lots of action for tourists and locals. Collins Avenue is directly in front of the ocean, and Lincoln Road Mall is walking distance, filled with restaurants, retail stores and quirky tourist traps. 

Original photo source: Miamiandbeaches.com

Tips:

  • Don’t go during Spring Break season (beginning of March). It will be packed with young people drinking, partying and most likely puking. It’s great but it’s crazy.
  • Check if there is a festival or a weekend long event happening the time you are going. Especially if you aren’t a fan of crowds.
  • Be careful of the tourist traps along Ocean Drive. This is the main street that runs directly parallel to the ocean. There are countless amount of restaurants with staff outside, wooing you to take a seat and eat.

Key Biscayne

Key Biscayne is best described as a secluded island town located within the Miami county. To get there you have to drive over a toll bridge in to this little island of paradise. It’s a relaxing and quiet beach destination, with miles of golden coasts, with the majority of it’s visitors being residents in the area, which is great if you’re looking for a less crowded beach.

Original photo source: Miamiandbeaches.com

To discover more about this beautiful little island, filled with people driving golf carts and their magnificent coast, check out miamiandbeaches.com.

 Palm Beach

Even though it’s nearly 2 hour drive (without traffic) from Miami, and it’s around an hour from Fort Lauderdale. Palm Beach is home to luxury beaches, beautiful mansions and sky high palm trees. It’s not a cheap place to visit, but it’s worth a day trip.

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To get more information on visiting this elegant area, inhabited by the rich and beautiful visit: http://www.palmbeachfl.com/

Hotel:

Atlantic Hotel

The Atlantic Hotel is located on Fort Lauderdale Blvd, directly in front of the ocean, it’s wonderfully convenient. The staff are friendly and will help you no matter what, like bring you bags of ice at all times of the day, it’s amazing. The hotel itself is clean, well air-conditioned and has great amenities: spa, pool with a bar, 24 hour gym and a delicious restaurant called Beauty and the Feast (I got a kick out of that one).

The room was enormous. We had an ocean view room, with a kitchenette, dining room table, walk-in shower, a bathroom the size of a bedroom, and a pull out couch in the living room (yes, there was a living room too).

I had a 10/10 experience at this hotel, mainly due to its location – directly opposite the ocean AND near all the main action.

Overall, Fort Lauderdale is a great place for a vacation. It doesn’t matter who you go with, it’s a great location for all. Let me know your thoughts, questions or experiences below.

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