Top 5 Tuesday, Ft. Lauderdale Style

Posted by Eric Helms in Florida, Fort Lauderdale, Top 5

John U. Lloyd State Park

Welcome Eric Helms back to the Tripbound Blog. You may know him on twitter as @milkmoneyhelms   Fort Lauderdale is an ever popular tourist destination, and for good reason.  Yet, there are quite a few experiences that lie slightly off the beaten path, but are well worth your time.  Come with me as I explore some of the best in this week’s Top 5 Tuesday Blog.

Hidden Beaches...

Dania Beach Ocean Park 100 North Beach Rd. Dania Beach, FL 33004 (954) 924-3613 Leave the bustle of the famed Fort Lauderdale Beach to the frat boys.  In fairness, over the last several years, the city has done an excellent job of turning Fort Lauderdale Beach into a much more family friendly environment.  But if you want to play it safe and skip out on the endless games of drunken, shirtless, beach football, then there is a much more secluded spot certain to deliver. Dania Beach Ocean Park has long been considered one of the area’s hidden gems; boasting some of the least crowed, most spectacular shores in Greater Fort Lauderdale.  Take in the salty coastal breezes and stunning seascapes from either the pristine beach or the famous fishing pier.  Enjoy a fantastically fresh ocean catch at the Dania Beach Grill or the Quarterdeck Restaurant.  You can even cast a line and try your luck reeling in your own lunch.  On second thought just leave that to the pros.  Nearby John U. Lloyd State Park is an excellent spot to enjoy some of the area’s best kayaking and most interesting shore diving opportunities in the area.

You can't see his hat, but trust me it's backwards.

Millionaire’s Row...

Fort Lauderdale has been referred to as the “Venice of America”, however, this city certainly does not have the pizza to back up that claim.  But what it does have is a stunning system of canals that rivers that are truly unique to the area.  Touring the Intracoastal Waterway you will see some of the largest concentrations of wealth on the entire east coast.  The area that stretches from the Tarpon Bend all the way out to the Intracoastal is famed as “Millionaire’s Row”, and for good reason…these people are really rich.  Much richer than you are. Taking a tour along the waterway gives you an up close view of the estates of rich and famous, as you essentially cruise through their backyards.  Kind of creepy, but actually pretty interesting.  In the past, Sonny and Cher, Lucille Ball and Merv Griffin lived in these homes.  Now, many of these exclusive addresses belong to likes of CEOs, inventors, and investment bankers.  Many tours  include yacht watching at the Bahia Mar Marina, which hosts the largest Yacht and Boat show in the world.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention rich people also love yachts.  Be sure to check out Carrie B Cruises for some of the highest rated Millionaire’s Row tours in Fort Lauderdale.

  • A rich person’s house.

  • Tie Dye is strongly discouraged.

The Highest Point in South Florida…

Many people just assume the highest elevation in the state is just a pile of fill dirt at some random construction site.  Well those people would be mostly wrong.  It’s a bikram yoga stretch to call this sand dune a mountain, but none the less this humble hill in Johnathan Dickinson State Park takes the title of South Florida’s tallest natural point; sitting at a staggering 86 feet above sea level.  So leave your oxygen masks and ice picks back at the hotel, because the path to the summit is a short 10 minute hike up a boardwalk.  At the end of the path is the Hobe Mountain Observation Tower.  From here, extraordinary views of the Atlantic Ocean, Intracoastal Waterway, and the preserve abound.  Make sure to spend the day at this park and explore the landscape as the original settlers would have seen it.  Sand Pine Scrub, centuries-old cypresses, and mangrove forests sit on the black backwater banks of the Loxahatchee River (I’ll pause while you try to pronounce that).  Rent a canoe or kayak from the park concession stand and dip a paddle into these untamed waters.  Also, I hope you like alligators because at this park you…will…see…gators.   Hours:                   8:00 a.m. until sundown, daily Fees:                    $6.00 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle. $4.00 Single-occupant vehicle or motorcycle. $2.00 Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass.

  • View from Hobe Mountain Observation Tower

  • Panoramic View from Florida's 2nd Tallest Peak

World Class Shopping…

You’ve seen where they live, now shop where they shop.  All kidding aside, Las Olas Boulevard is home to some of the most renowned shopping and dining experiences in all of Florida.  It’s like Rodeo Drive meets South Beach meets alligators.  Ok, there are definitely no gators here.  But you will find 17 city blocks full of fine dining, cozy sidewalk cafes, unique boutiques, and internationally recognized art galleries awaiting to be explored.  Enjoy an evening of cultural richness; set against the backdrop of coastal beauty and interlacing canals.  Start with a truly elegant French dining experience at Café de Paris, take in an art-house movie at Cinema Paradiso, and cap the night off with a stroll through any number of galleries.

Mixed nuts…

200 E 13th Street, Riviera Beach (Ferry Location) Slip 517 (561) 339-2504   Located in Riviera Beach, along the Intracoastal Waterway, is beautiful Peanut Island Park.  Maybe because it’s small, maybe because it’s shaped like a peanut…ok they actually got this one right when they named it.  This 80-acre reserve is full of natural beauty and rich with adventure, making it a tropical playground for families and couples alike.  Swim and snorkel in the warm, shallow waters that surround this well-maintained island park.  Plenty of grills and picnic tables are also available to make this a full day trip.  While on the island, make sure to visit the Palm Beach Maritime Museum, which is home to President Kennedy’s cold war bunker.  Separate entrance fees apply to the museum.  Access to the island is only available through private ferry services.  Check out Captain Joe’s Peanut Island Water Taxi, the cost is reasonable at $10 roundtrip ($5 for Children 14 and under), and service runs from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm daily during the summer.

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