The city of Fort Lauderdale, north of Miami, is often referred to as the “Venice of America” and “Yachting Capital of the World“. We had the opportunity to spend three wonderful days in Fort Lauderdale. In this travel report we will tell you something about our hotel, the beach, the great ride with the water cab through the canals of the city and about our excursions to the Museum of Discovery and Science, the Butterfly World and Flamingo Gardens.
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Things to know about Fort Lauderdale (Florida)
The major city of Fort Lauderdale is located on the Atlantic coast of Florida about 45 kilometers north of Miami. With its founding year in 1911, it is quite a young city (at least by European standards). Today Fort Lauderdale has about 200,000 inhabitants and exudes the flair of a relaxed beach metropolis.
Because of its numerous canals, which stretch over a total length of more than 230 miles throughout the city, Fort Lauderdale is considered the water capital of the U.S. and is also known as the “Venice of America“. The traffic on these canals is mainly determined by water cabs that connect the hotels, restaurants and stores. Especially lovers of yachting and boat owners get their money’s worth here: Fort Lauderdale has over 100 marinas with 50,000 registered yachts and is therefore considered “Yachting Capital of the World“. We have seen countless villas during our trips through the canals, all of which have their own boat or rather large yachts standing “in front of the door”. We have never seen an accumulation of so many boats in one city before. The city also hosts every year the “Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show“, the largest boat show in the world.
Fort Lauderdale’s major museums include the Bonnet House, the Fort Lauderdale History Center, and the Antique Car Museum and Museum of Discovery and Science. What we also found quite interesting: Fort Lauderdale has the largest drive-in movie theater (14 screens) and the largest daily flea market in the world at the same time with the “Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop”.
Our hotel The Kimpton Goodland Fort Lauderdale Beach
During our stay in Fort Lauderdale, we stayed at The Kimpton Goodland Fort Lauderdale Beach for three nights. This boutique style hotel is located in North Beach Village just steps from the beach. Opened in 1949 as the “Escape Hotel,” it was the first hotel near the beach at the time to have a swimming pool and to be open year-round. Over time, numerous other hotels of well-known hotel chains have sprung up around the hotel.
We really enjoyed our stay at The Kimpton Goodland Fort Lauderdale Beach. The hotel has a beautiful design, tastefully decorated rooms, in a quiet location and close to the beach. Fortunately, we have always found a free parking space directly on the street in the area, because the valet parking at the hotel with 47 USD (plus 7% sales tax) expensive. As with many Florida hotels, there is an on-site resort fee of $40 per room per night which pays for things like free Wi-Fi, a daily morning yoga session in the courtyard, and other amenities.
We stayed in an air-conditioned Essential Double Room with 2 queen beds which also has a sitting area, flat-screen TV, desk with refrigerator, and bathroom with shower, bathrobes, and hairdryer. In terms of size, we found the room almost a bit small for 2 adults, a two-year-old child (with his own crib), and three suitcases. But since we were on the road all the time during the day anyway, it wasn’t all that bad.
The hotel has a total of two heated outdoor pools. One is in the leafy, quiet courtyard and the other is up on the roof terrace of the annex. The view from here of the city’s waterways is an absolute highlight. Both pools are equipped with seating, loungers with towels and a bar in each. Nothing is missing here!
Every morning we enjoyed an à la carte breakfast at the hotel. Choices range from avocado toast & bagels to egg dishes to salads, granola and fruit bowls. It was for us in any case a change from the typical German breakfast with rolls, salami & cheese and also tasted really good.
Sights & Attractions
For our three days in Fort Lauderdale we had planned a well-filled program with visits to the beach and museums, rides with the Water Taxi as well as animal encounters. Here we tell you what you can experience and discover in the city and its surroundings.
The beach & the promenade
The beach and promenade, along with the many waterways, are certainly the heart and flagship of Fort Lauderdale. The Fort Lauderdale Promenade is an elongated coastal strip of 11 kilometers and runs to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Here you can wonderfully relax and go swimming, walking, jogging, cycling and skating. In any case, our first to-do in the morning was always to visit the big sandbox by the sea. This is ideal, because then it is still nice and empty on the beach and the temperatures are not yet as extremely hot as during the day 🙂
Museum of Discovery and Science
The Museum of Discovery and Science located in the heart of the arts and science district, is a Fort Lauderdale institution: founded in 1977 as The Discovery Center, it now houses 150,000 square feet of science exhibits, an outdoor science park, a collection of live animals, a rotating program of science demonstrations, a café, a store and a large atrium.000 square meters of science exhibits, an outdoor science park, a collection of live animals, a rotating program of science demonstrations, learning labs, a café, a store and a large atrium that houses the museum’s main attraction: the nearly 16-meter tall ‘Great Gravity Clock’ is the largest kinetic energy sculpture in Florida and one of only three gravity clocks in the world. The other two are located in Mexico and Japan.
The Museum of Discovery and Science is one of the largest museums of its kind in Florida and has the most visitors of any museum in the state (about 425,000 annually). Its mission is to engage visitors with science through interactive exhibits, programs and films. The focus is on the natural sciences, health, environmental sciences and early childhood.
We really enjoyed our visit to the museum: especially with the many different interactive stations, there was a lot for young and old to discover.
By Water Taxi through the canals
Fort Lauderdale is also known as “Venice of the USA” because about 165 miles of waterways run through the inner city area. The best way to discover them is with the official Water Taxi. The Water Taxi runs 2 routes daily from 10am to 10pm with a total of 11 stops; with boats leaving approximately every 30 to 45 minutes. With the day ticket (35 USD per person) you can ride both routes as often as you like and get on and off again and again.
In addition to the captain, there is another staff member on each Water Taxi who checks the tickets and tells all kinds of interesting facts during the ride – be it about the history of the city, the magnificent houses or the opulent yachts.
We were on the boat for a few hours with the Water Taxi and were really amazed how many incredibly large villas and impressive boats & yachts there are to see here. We even saw a yacht for 81 million USD. Crazy!
We took the Water Taxi directly to downtown Fort Lauderdale, where the official Water Taxi route ends at Stranahan House. You can still explore downtown from the water, however, because from here the city’s free Water Trolley runs to Esplanade Park. We got off here to walk part of the nearly 2-kilometer Riverwalk that runs from the Stranahan House to the Boward Center of Performing Arts. We totally enjoyed the walk right on the water. Here are countless skyscrapers, restaurants, cafes and stores, as well as some museums.
One route of the Water Taxi – the so-called ‘Hollywood Express’ – also goes directly to Hollywood Beach, a nearby town south of Fort Lauderdale, without a stopover. Along the way, you’ll pass Port Everglades, the Port of Fort Lauderdale, which is one of the largest shipping terminals in the world. It hosts nine major cruise lines and more than 40 large ships. After about 1 hour of driving we arrived in Hollywood Beach, got off the bus here and took a short walk along the 4 kilometer long Hollywood Beach Broadwalk.
Butterfly World is located about 15 kilometers north of Fort Lauderdale and is one of the largest butterfly gardens in the world. Opened in 1988, the Butterfly Garden is home to more than 20,000 live butterflies from all parts of the world, a recreated tropical rainforest, as well as exotic birds, fascinating flowers, an insectarium and a breeding station. The facility as a whole is very nicely laid out and we liked it very much.
Parking is free on the Butterfly World grounds and admission is $32.50 per person (plus sales tax). As actually every day in our vacation, the weather was also hot and sunny during our visit. And these are the very best conditions for a visit to Butterfly World, because butterflies are heat-loving, cold-blooded animals, which means that the hotter, the more butterfly activity 🙂
What we found quite interesting is the answer to the most asked question in Butterfly World “How long does a butterfly actually live?”: The average lifespan of a butterfly in an aviary is about 14 days. In the wild, however, it is only about 7 days. However, some species can live up to 10 months or even longer if the conditions are suitable.
Another zoo we visited near Fort Lauderdale is Flamingo Gardens. Again, on-site parking is free and admission is $21.95 (plus sales tax). At the cash desk you can buy food packets (for 1 USD each) for flamingos and other birds. Of course, we did that directly to go to the flamingos right at the beginning and feed them first – that had been great fun for our little daughter.
The beginnings of the zoo date back to 1927. This makes it one of South Florida’s oldest botanical gardens, which also provides a home for permanently injured or non-releasable native Florida wildlife. The park is home to thousands of rare, exotic and native plants, some of Florida’s largest and oldest trees, and over 90 species of Florida native wildlife.
After walking once across the zoo, we finished by taking a streetcar through other parts of the huge garden and were able to see tropical forests, orchards, wetlands etc. The streetcar tour is offered every half hour between 11 am and 4 pm and is included in the ticket price. We spent a lovely afternoon at Flamingo Gardens, which, by the way, is home to the Historic Wray Home Museum in addition to the animals and lush greenery.
Of course, Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding area is also a great place to go shopping. Las Olas Blvd, which translates to “the waves” in Spanish, is known as the “style mile” of Greater Fort Lauderdale, lined with numerous boutiques and restaurants.
If you’re in the mood for an extensive shopping experience, be sure to check out Sawgrass Mills, one of the largest outlet malls in the world with over 320 stores. Another tip is the Aventura Mall south of Fort Lauderdale, which is the fifth largest mall in the United States by total square footage of retail space and the largest mall in Florida! Here you can find 50 restaurants and over 300 stores.
All travelogues of our Florida round trip (2022)Sun, beaches, palm trees, sightseeing, beautiful hotels, pools and the fun of Sea World, Walt Disney & Co.... we were really looking forward to this vacation in Florida. We planed a beautiful itinerary for our almost 3 week trip through the Sunshine State, with places we mostly didn't know yet. In the following travel reports we will tell you about our experiences in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers Beach, Fort Myers, Tampa and Orlando.
➥ Miami Beach » Arrival, Route, Rental Car & Hotel in Miami Beach
➥ Miami » Our Top 10 Sights & Attractions
➥ Fort Lauderdale » Sights, Beach & Attractions
➥ Fort Myers » Fort Myers Beach, Downtown & Lovers Key State Park
➥ Sanibel Island » Sanibel Island, Captiva Island & Cayo Costa State Park
➥ Tampa » Top Sights & the best Attractions
➥ Tampa » Theme Park Busch Gardens & Adventure Island
➥ Orlando » Theme Park SeaWorld & Water Park Aquatica
➥ Orlando » Magic Kingdom Theme Park (Disney) with toddler