Hotspots in Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Making a splash in 2011, B Ocean Fort Lauderdale has debuted as a flagship for what's to expand as an innovative lifestyle hotel brand. B Ocean, across A1A from the beach, pampers with its signature bedding package -- The Blissful Bed-- and signature branded retail items including B Bags. Hungry? Get your B sustenance at B'Stro (breakfast, lunch and tapas bar), SAIA (for sushi), or slake thirsts at Quench (a patio bar with infinity pool.) B's 240 rooms and suites are classified as Chic (for direct ocean views), Captivating and Stunning (for views to Fort Lauderdale allure either north or south. Curve rooms, in the hotel center, have built-in work desks. Want to B Wed at B Ocean? Packages are designed for 3 to 20 guests, 21 to 49 ... or more.
Boomers! is every kids' dream -- a land filled with go-karts, mini-golf, arcade games and bumper boats. Oh wait, there's more. Roller coasters, a rock wall, batting cages, bowling and laser tag. Although it can be done with younger kids, Boomers! is geared towards the ten and up crowd with height requirements on some of the attractions. Don't forget to pack some water bottles and snacks to avoid having to buy them at the park!
Want to explore the everglades on a high-speed airboat, hold a baby alligator and get up close and personal with some Florida wildlife? Check out Sawgrass Recreation Park. This is a true Floridian experience and kids of all ages, even the young ones, love it. If you're feeling brave, make your reservation for the Red Eye Tour, an after-dark gator hunting excursion.
For boutique-style elegance and sophistication along the shoreline in Fort Lauderdale, it would be difficult to top Lago Mar, owned and operated by the Banks family since the early '50s. This romantic resort, the scene of oo-la-la destination weddings and near Port Everglades' cruise ship entrance, provides 500 feet of private beach and 24-hour room service. Accommodations include 164 suites and 40 over-sized guestrooms, with amenities such as clock radios with iPod docks and Keurig coffee makers. Besides four tennis courts, a children's playground and a lagoon-style pool for freestyle frolic, a pool near the ocean is suitable for laps. The Palm Garden Dining Room/Seagrape Terrace serves buffet breakfast and ala carte lunch, the Soda Shop tempts with sundaes and smoothies and Acquario specializes in bistro cuisine for dinner.
When you're in Ft. Lauderdale, plan on dedicating an entire day to the Museum of Discovery and Science. With over 200 exhibits, including a shark tank, the largest living Atlantic coral reef, an IMAX movie theater, space exhibits and so much more, there is truly something for everyone to enjoy. For the littlest ones, try the Discovery Center, specially designed with them in mind. Insider Tip -- check out the cheaper parking lot behind the museum!
Catering to what so many singles, couples and families seek for sun-drenched Florida getaways, Winterset Suites beckons with two swimming pools, a pair of shuffleboard courts, and three barbecue grills for kick-back cookouts. To that, you can add lush, green soul-soothing environs featuring more than 40 varieties of palm trees and tropical plants. Suites (efficiencies, one- and two-bedroom units) provide views of tropical gardens, with amenities including direct dial phone with voicemail, coffee maker, in-room safe and Internet access. Select units have kitchens with larger refrigerators and stoves, if you feel like pulling a Rachel Ray with 30-minute meals. A washer and dryer is on premises and there's free parking. Oh, and it's an easy walk to the beach.
In the midst of the city, The Bonnet House Museum and Garden is an oasis, including tropical gardens with five different ecosystems, an extensive orchid collection and the Bonnet House itself, which is a fun peek into life in the 1920s. Kids will be most drawn to the gorgeous grounds of the property and the animals that call it home, including Amazon parrots, swans, tortoises, manatees and even a gang of squirrel monkeys.
Arriving in Greater Fort Lauderdale from Canada in 1961, the Novak family has run this ultra-friendly boutique enclave ever since, more recently expanding to embrace the adjacent Nautilus and Sea Foam hotels, all now operating under the High Noon banner. Loll poolside or laze under abundant palms while gazing out to sea. Altogether, this amenity-packed oceanfront property with 300 feet of balmy shoreline has 40 units, with hotel rooms, efficiencies, and one- or two-bedroom suites featuring ocean or pool/courtyard views. Some rooms have private balconies. Ask about the Beach House, ideal for week-long family or girls' getaways. You'll be within easy walking distance of restaurants, shops, and the pier amid village-like atmosphere of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, north of famed Fort Lauderdale Beach.
Flamingo Gardens is one of the area's favorite destinations. The entire family will love the natural look into Florida's wildlife, not just flamingos, but alligators, otters, peacocks and more. Everyone agrees that the narrated tram ride to the back of the gardens is a must to check out all of the creatures. Admission is a bit high at $17 (ages 12 and up, $8.50 for ages 4-11, 3 and under are free), but it is a non-profit organization, so the money goes right back to helping these beautiful animals.
Located at West Lake Park, the Anne Kolb Nature Center is a must-do for families who love to explore the outdoors because the possibilities are endless. Rent canoes or kayaks to paddle through the mangroves or for the younger crowd, try seeing the sights from a guided pontoon boat. The Nature Center can also be explored on foot (bring strollers or carriers for the little ones!) and if you're up to the challenge, climb the staircase to the top of the 68-foot tower that overlooks the entire 1500-acres. Don't worry, there's also an elevator that can take you to the top!