rom kayaking to kite surfing, and from getting up close with alligators to going weightless, the opportunities for adventure in Greater Fort Lauderdale are varied. Whether it’s enjoying the unique natural flora and fauna of the Everglades or learning a new sport, or even coming as close to space flight as non-astronauts can, visitors to Greater Fort Lauderdale will find an adventure they’ve always wanted to try. Here’s some that top our list:
10. The Everglades: Where the Wild Things Are
Greater Fort Lauderdale is the gateway to the Everglades, where wild beauty makes up almost two-thirds of the destination’s total area. There’s the option of staying overnight in a traditional Seminole Chickee hut.
At Billie Swamp Safari (863-983-6101), located on the Big Cypress Reservation, visitors are taken on an in-depth wildlife viewing tour aboard swamp buggies and airboats. Traversing through wetlands, hardwood hammocks, visitors will view Asian water buffalo, bison, wild hogs, hawks, ostrich, eagles, alligators and even Florida panthers. www.billieswamp.com/
9. Snorkeling: Discover Down Under…From the Surface
Looking to get your “feet wet” but not quite ready for SCUBA diving? Greater Fort Lauderdale is the premier place for snorkeling with its three-tiered natural coral reef system located just 100 yards off shore at an average depth of only 20 feet. Snorkelers can fully appreciate the myriad of sea life dwelling just off the destination’s shores. www.sunny.org/scuba
8. Parasailing: Views of 23 miles of Blue Wave Beaches from the Air
Parasailing combines parachuting and skydiving – without the airplane and the fright factor. Instead the rider is strapped into a harness beneath the parachute and pulled aloft on a long-tow rope. Parasailing is available through watersports operators, many of whom have offices in the beach resorts including Aloha Watersports (954-462-7245), an operator located at Marriott’s Harbor Beach Resort, or Neptune Parasail (954) 588-8588).
Combine surfing, water skiing and parasailing and the result is one of the country’s newest and most popular beach activities – kitesurfing. Essentially it works just the way it sounds: riders hop a surfboard, hold onto a control bar connected to a large, colorful mini-sail, and take off, jumping high above the waves.
Experts can reach heights of 50 feet or more and travel long distances down the beach. Typically, there is a three- to five-hour training session provided before riders can launch themselves. Tiki Beach Watersports offers instruction and all rental equipment (954-763-4020).
6. Hiking, Paddling and otherwise Exploring Nature
In addition to the Everglades, beaches and watersports, Greater Fort Lauderdale offers endless adventures in nature. The Anne Kolb Nature Center at West Lake Park, Hollywood (954-926-2410), for example, is a 1,500+ acre wetland mangrove forest habitat for wading birds and other native wildlife. Situated along the Intracoastal Waterway, the Center also includes a fishing pier, a five-story observation tower, trails for nature walks, canoe and bicycle rentals, boat tours, and an environmental exhibit hall.
Other adventures in nature include a day at John U. Lloyd Beach State Park in Dania Beach (954-923-2833). The park offers fishing, canoeing and other boating, and one of the area’s most important turtle nesting beaches.
5. Horseback Riding: Get in Touch with Your Inner Cowboy
Saddle up and mosey on down to the Bar-B-Ranch (954-424-1060), South Florida’s largest and most experienced riding stable. The Bar-B-Ranch offers everything from horse rentals (from $30 per hour and up) to scenic guided trail rides (from $40 per 90 minutes and up). Some of the scenic guided trail rides pass through Robbins Open Space Preserve, a 160-acre park boasting one of the last remaining oak hammocks in the area. www.bar-b-ranch.com. Tradewinds Stables at Tradewinds Park offer hourly guided rides, pony rides and equestrian programs to the public. (954-968-3880)
4. Segway Tours
The Segway Human Transporter, a two-wheeled, self-balancing, electric scooter that uses a body’s natural motions to steer and guide it, is now a popular vehicle for commuting, running errands and, particularly, for seeing the sights of a vacation destination. Fort Lauderdale Beach Segway Tours (954-522-1770) has a Welcome Center on A1A, 500 ft. south of Las Olas Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale. M. Cruz Bicycle Rentals (954-235-5082, www.mcruzrentals.com) in Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, offers Segway tours and bicycle rentals.
3. Go Weightless
ZERO-G (888-664-7284) is not the ultimate diet. Rather, The ZERO-G Experience™ is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience true weightlessness. On a specially modified Boeing 727, parabolic arcs are performed to create a weightless environment allowing you to float, flip and soar as if you were in space.
Your ZERO-G Experience includes 12-15 parabolas, your own ZERO-G flight suit, ZERO-G merchandise, a Regravitation Celebration, certificate of weightless completion, photos and video of your unique experience. For vacationers age 15 and over, some of the thrill seekers who have enjoyed this adventure include Dr. Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 Astronaut; Professor Stephen Hawking, Astrophysicist; and Martha Stewart. www.gozerog.com (Photo at top of page)
2. Kayaking Through the Mangroves & Intracoastal Waterway
It is not surprising that the “Venice of America” is a boater’s paradise. In fact, much of Fort Lauderdale and neighboring communities, residential areas, even downtown business districts, have more canals than streets. The Intracoastal Waterway passes right through the city, connecting the Mid-Atlantic states with the Florida Keys. Inland lakes, rivers, and tidal mangrove swamps and creeks create a kayakers paradise.
Blue Moon Outdoor Centerin Fort Lauderdale (954-923-6711,www.bluemoonmiami.com) is one of the leading providers of kayaking adventures in the area, offering everything from a “full moon” paddle to a Fort Lauderdale History Tour. Atlantic Coast Kayaking (954-781-0073,www.atlanticcoastkayak.com) offers guided tours in natural and urban settings viewing historical sites, wildlife and mega yachts. Anne Kolb Nature Center in West Lake Park (954-926-2410) is another option, offering a recreational center for the whole family, including tidewater educational boat tours, an Intracoastal fishing pier, five-story observation tower, nature, canoe and bicycle trails and environmental exhibit hall. www.broward.org/parks
1. Scuba Diving: Explore the Real “Down Under”
Of all the many adventures offered in Greater Fort Lauderdale, scuba diving reigns supreme. This is the destination that has earned such top honors as: Top Ten World’s Best Wreck Diving, Top Ten World’s Marine Life and Top Ten World’s Value Dive Destination by readers of Scuba Diving magazine. Greater Fort Lauderdale offers 69 miles of live coral reef and more than 80 “wrecks.” Dive sites begin at only 100 yards from shore, in 20 feet of water. At depths of 30 feet or more there are more than 100 dive sites with permanent mooring buoys. Among the most popular: Barracuda Reef, a steep diving ledge on the inside of the reef at Dania Beach; Copenhagen Wreck, a 325-foot steel hull that is a State Marine Archaeological Preserve; and Hog Heaven, an upside down barge 50 feet down that is home to a number of marine wildlife. www.sunny.org/scuba.
For more information on Greater Fort Lauderdale contact the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, 100 East Broward Boulevard, Suite 200, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301, visit http://www.sunny.org or call 800-22-SUNNY (in the U.S. and Canada). Travel agents call 1-800-356-1662.
Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau
Billie's Swamp Tours
Blue Moon Outdoor Center
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