Long disparaged as Miami's lesser northern neighbor, Fort Lauderdale has recently come into its own with a renovated waterfront, a burgeoning culinary scene, and beaches worthy of palm-swept daydreams bringing rightful attention to the Venice of America. Stretching 3,000 miles (4,800 km) between the United States' Atlantic and Gulf coasts, the city's Intracoastal Waterway provides easy access to maritime activities and on-shore attractions along the 300 miles of inland canals that wind through south Florida's unmistakable sky-high resorts and Everglades ecosystem.
Aside from serving as a means of transportation, the Intracoastal Waterway offers countless opportunities for recreation, especially in Fort Lauderdale's year-round sunshine. From classy dinner and sightseeing cruises to riverfront gondola tours, visitors can enjoy the water in whatever fashion floats their boat as they travel past forested coasts at Port Everglades; high-end real estate at the famous Millionaires Row; luxury resorts at Hyatt Pier; the drawbridge at the 17th Street Causeway; and the entertainment complex at the Las Olas Riverfront. Didn't pack your sea legs? The water-wary can opt for a walking or Segway tour along the coast, or even see the sights from above on a helicopter excursion over turquoise waters.
The waterway offers activity options for every type of traveler, from families to the adventurous solo explorer.
Book tickets for higher-end tours in advance, as limited-passenger options fill up more quickly than less exclusive tours.
Be sure to bring plenty of sun protection and dress for sunshine and ocean breezes.
Waterside restaurants are generally casual, but travelers should dress to impress at the fine dining establishments.
How to Get There
Fort Lauderdale's Intracoastal Waterway functions as the city's artery; it's impossible to miss. Aside from organized boat tours and sightseeing tours near the water, you can take a hop-on, hop-off water taxi through the city's canals and access 15 popular stops, including Seville Street Beach, Las Olas Boulevard, the Stranahan House, Bahia Mar Marina, and the Hilton Marina/Convention Center.
When to Get There
Fort Lauderdale's tropical climate remains warm and wet year-round, with average highs of more than 80°F (27°C) for eight months of the year. Heat and humidity lovers will thrive from May to October; otherwise, opt for a winter or spring tour.