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Things to do in Fort Lauderdale - free

Updated on February 25, 2016
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The best things in life are free - especially in Fort Lauderdale

Did you know that there are dozens of wonderful things that you can do in Fort Lauderdale (Florida) that are completely free?

At all times of year, visitors flock to the area for many reasons and below, as I've just been celebrating my twentieth anniversary of moving here, I have outlined just a few of my favorite Fort Lauderdale places that won't cost you one single penny to enjoy.

Fort Lauderdale is often referred to as The Venice of America and The Yachting Capital of the World and these two descriptions often make people think - quite wrongly - that Fort Lauderdale is an expensive place to have fun.

It's true that if you want to spend a lot of money here it's perfectly possible! But there are so many things you an enjoy locally without spending a single penny.

Here are some of our best-kept secrets; the places that the locals go. As well as free options, there are also many low-budget ways to see and enjoy our beautiful area.

Fort Lauderdale is justifiably famous for its beach but the area has so much more to offer! But let's start right there ... on the beach...

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Photographs © Andy Royston.

The Beach

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FORT LAUDERDALE BEACH

It's completely free to enjoy Fort Lauderdale Beach - you can even get married on the beach with no fees to pay. When it's time to leave the beach, head for Las Olas Boulevard. Right on the corner you'll see the famous Elbo Room - the spring break bar that was featured in the Iconic movie Where the Boys Are

INSIDER'S TIP

The best time to enjoy the beach is at dawn. The beach is almost deserted at that time apart from a few fishermen and energetic people who are enjoying their morning exercise as the sun rises over the horizon.

Millionaires' Row

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THE LAS OLAS ISLES

Walk west from the beach along Las Olas Boulevard and you'll come across the Las Olas Isles. See multi-million dollar homes and fabulous yachts. The isles are a great photo opportunity. Do you remember the scene in Marley and Me where the dog ran beside the car? That was filmed right here on the Las Olas Isles

INSIDER'S TIP

In addition to the luxury homes, you'll also see interesting Mid Century Modern architecture on the Las Olas Isles. Watch too for 'Wally's' - our MCM gas station. If you won the lottery, which wonderful home would you choose?

Historic waterfront park

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COLEE HAMMOCK PARK

A little further west is Colee Hammock Park. There is no charge to sit by the river in the park and watch the river traffic go by. This park was the scene of a massacre in the 1800s! But now, it's a peaceful place to sit and soak up the atmosphere and watch the boats go by.

INSIDER'S TIP

Colee Hammock Park is a great place to have a picnic lunch and there are several inexpensive places nearby that sell great takeout food from sandwiches to sushi. If you're lucky enough to be in the area on Sunday, enjoy strolling around the Las Olas Sunday Gourmet Market and choose tasty organic treats to take to the park for your picnic.

Famous Las Olas

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LAS OLAS BOULEVARD

Continue to walk west to experience Las Olas Boulevard itself. This street was the first thoroughfare in Fort Lauderdale and today offers an eclectic mix of places to shop and to dine. The avenue has a Mediterranean feel with sidewalk cafes, unique stores and galleries, plus exciting bars and restaurants. It's a great place for people-watching and a wonderful place to stroll and soak up the atmosphere.

INSIDER'S TIP

For the price of a cup of coffee or an ice cream, you can enjoy watching the world go by from a sidewalk cafe. Watch too for the covered breezeways along the boulevard. Many have water features and are a cooling place to sit and relax.

Historic Stranahan House

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THE HISTORIC STRANAHAN HOUSE

As you approach the middle of Las Olas Boulevard, there's a true gem to be seen - our own historic house. This is the oldest home in Fort Lauderdale and the city began right here when Frank Stranahan became the first permanent resident in 1897. The house is situated right on the New River and was a trading post in its early days.

INSIDER'S TIP

Although there is a fee to tour the interior of the house, it's free to enter and enjoy its grounds. Sit under the shade of the huge sea grape tree and imagine life in the days when Seminole Indians used to pole up the river in their dugout canoes to trade goods. As you sit at this peaceful spot, see the very place where Frank Stranahan took his own life by jumping into the river. The house is said to be haunted ...

Linear waterfront park

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RIVERWALK PARK

This beautiful linear park offers a wonderful stroll along the New River. There are also historic homes to be seen here too. As you can see from the photograph, there are numerous places to sit and enjoy the view along with picnic tables for a waterfront al fresco impromptu meal. Watch the boats go by. If you're at the Riverwalk on the first Sunday of the month, there's a free jazz brunch with many stages and performers.

INSIDER'S TIP

Near the end of the Riverwalk Park is the Museum of Discovery and Science. There is a fee to visit the museum and its IMAX theater but stop by and take a look at the amazing Gravity Clock in the foyer at no charge.

More things to see and do - Click on a thumbnail to see an enlargement of each photograph

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Fort Lauderdale is known as the Venice of America. Explore the waterways.See every type of boat imaginablePlay my favorite game - which boat would you choose if you won the lottery?Free art events, especially on Las Olas Boulevard and at FAT Village.Fort Lauderdale BeachBreakfast at a sidewalk cafe on Las Olas Boulevard and people-watch.Fort Lauderdale beach at sunrise - completely free art show every morning!The historic Stranahan House on the New River.The beautiful, historic Las Olas Boulevard.
Fort Lauderdale is known as the Venice of America. Explore the waterways.
Fort Lauderdale is known as the Venice of America. Explore the waterways. | Source
See every type of boat imaginable
See every type of boat imaginable
Play my favorite game - which boat would you choose if you won the lottery?
Play my favorite game - which boat would you choose if you won the lottery?
Free art events, especially on Las Olas Boulevard and at FAT Village.
Free art events, especially on Las Olas Boulevard and at FAT Village.
Fort Lauderdale Beach
Fort Lauderdale Beach
Breakfast at a sidewalk cafe on Las Olas Boulevard and people-watch.
Breakfast at a sidewalk cafe on Las Olas Boulevard and people-watch.
Fort Lauderdale beach at sunrise - completely free art show every morning!
Fort Lauderdale beach at sunrise - completely free art show every morning!
The historic Stranahan House on the New River.
The historic Stranahan House on the New River.
The beautiful, historic Las Olas Boulevard.
The beautiful, historic Las Olas Boulevard.

The Village - Las Olas is famous but many people miss out on the quirky, Key West-style village. Here are some features to watch out for.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
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Notes

GETTING AROUND IN FORT LAUDERDALE

This distance between the Elbo Room at Fort Lauderdale to the Museum of Discovery and Science is approximately three miles. This is a great and scenic walk, especially if you call in at various landmarks along the way. However, sometimes if the weather is warm, you might prefer to use public transport. As excellent budget options, I recommend:

THE FORT LAUDERDALE WATER TAXI

This is a great way to travel throughout the Venice of America. Buying an all day ticket gives you unlimited travel.

THE SUN TROLLEY

These brightly colored trolleys can be hailed in the same way you would a cab. Fares are low and the trolleys are air-conditioned and have facilities for the handicapped.

BROWARD BICYCLE

This wonderful service allows you to rent a bicycle and return it to any one of their rental depots.

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PHOTOGRAPHY

All photographs © Andy Royston and used with written permission.

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© 2013 Jackie Jackson

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    • profile image

      jpg615 3 years ago

      It's good to be back in Ft. Lauderdale! Left for 9.6 years......Very Cool place to be!!!

    • sandracollins lm profile image

      sandracollins lm 3 years ago

      Great photographs! They make me wish I hope I was there.

    • profile image

      deekshasingh 3 years ago

      Nice and informative blog!!

    • lrkn0311 profile image

      lrkn0311 3 years ago

      I miss Florida. Used to visit often when we lived in Mobile.

    • profile image

      ChristyZ 3 years ago

      Beautiful photographs! Makes me wish I was there!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      So many things to do in Florida, it's hard to fit it all in one trip. Just when you think you've seen all there is something new springs up on the must-do list.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @RobertConnorIII: That must have been a great job!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @kclowblog: That's so nice of you. They were taken by my other half :)

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      sandra-allen-16940 3 years ago

      I love this area. Hope to return some day soon.

    • RobertConnorIII profile image

      Robert Connor 3 years ago from Michigan

      Like the area when i worked for Hatteras Yachts!

    • kclowblog profile image

      kclowblog 3 years ago

      Thank you for the pictures. They must be done by professionals. I was at Palm Beach Garden and love Florida and not ruling out retiring in Florida. Thank again. A job well done.

    • VioletteRose LM profile image

      VioletteRose LM 3 years ago

      The pictures are so beautiful, sounds like a great place to visit. The picture in the introduction module is so lovely!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Adventuretravels: You'll get here one day :)

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Merrci: Thank you! It really is fabulous.

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      What a fun lens. Love the pictures. You make it sound like an ideal place to visit!

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from Perth UK

      I so want to visit!! Thanks for a great lens now I feel ll dreamy!!

    • BodyHairRemoval profile image

      BodyHairRemoval 3 years ago

      I've always wanted to visit. Looks for beautiful and peaceful. Thanks!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @rking96: Yep, it can be hot :)

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Ruthi: Isn't it wonderful?

    • profile image

      Ruthi 3 years ago

      Having lived in Ft, Lauderdale, raised my son there, for over 20 years, I can say it's a fabulous place to visit with much to offer in free things to do and fantastic restaurants too!

    • biorra2 profile image

      biorra2 3 years ago

      Great lens :)

    • rking96 profile image

      Rick King 3 years ago from Charleston, SC

      It's been a while since I have been to Ft. Lauderdale, but I always had fun there and always got a sunburn.

    • nikahexplorer profile image

      nikahexplorer 3 years ago

      I love travel and visit lovely places in the world, so interesting lens.:)

    • Carol Houle profile image

      Carol Houle 3 years ago from Montreal

      I love this place and I want to go back one day I believe the yachting capitol of the world is Rhode Island. Beautiful lens.

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      Radgrl 3 years ago

      I love Florida! One of these days I'm going to make it back there again.

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      hosibinh 3 years ago

      A good area for free time, I think i like this place

    • profile image

      susan369 3 years ago

      Looks like a lovely place. You're so lucky! great photos too!

    • JessicaLVine LM profile image

      JessicaLVine LM 3 years ago

      Sounds really nice!

    • aminebombom profile image

      Amine 3 years ago from Doha, Qatar

      a city without a beach and parks lacks so much, Fort Lauderdale looks like a nice place to visit.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @esmonaco: It certainly does! It's a truly wonderful place. I hope you come back with your grandson one day - that would be wonderful.

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      Eugene Samuel Monaco 3 years ago from Lakewood New York

      Thanks for the wonderful tour, our daughter lived in Ft Lauderdale for 4 years. We would visit every Thanksgiving for a week. Always had a great time. Our 1st grandson was born in Ft Lauderdale, that makes him a native of the area right!!!!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @trevorjb1406: We need as many Brits as we can over here so let me know when you come - we can have a drink on the deck, watching the boats go by:)

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      trevorjb1406 3 years ago

      Yikes another good lens. Haven't been for about 35-40 years! I wouldn't mind visiting again though.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Babu Mohan: The Stranahan House is simply stunning! I do hope that you get to Fort Lauderdale one day.

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      Mohan Babu 3 years ago from Chennai, India

      The waterfront parks and the Stranahan house are beautiful. For now, I am happy taking a tour through your lens.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @ebook-maniac: I remember one time we wanted a weekend break but couldn't decide where to go. We checked into a local hotel!

    • ebook-maniac profile image

      ebook-maniac 4 years ago

      I love Ft Lauderdale, too. You are very lucky to live there. Hope I can go back there some day!:-)

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @dellgirl: Thank you! Fort Lauderdale has so much to offer to everyone.

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      dellgirl 4 years ago

      I sure did enjoy this vacation, what a lovely way to spend time. Thanks for the tour and tips.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @jimporsche86: You'll come to see us one day, Jim. We'll have a wonderful time :)

    • profile image

      jimporsche86 4 years ago

      Talking about needing a vacation makes me want to go to Florida. This is as close as I'll get. Well this trip was fast. :)

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Diaper Bag Blog: Thank so much!

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      Stanley Green 4 years ago from Czech Republic

      It seems to be nice place to spend some time indeed... You have some delicious pictures here! Loved to read your lens ....

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      Max Globe 4 years ago

      great!!! thank you!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @mariacarbonara: Thank you - it's lovely.

    • mariacarbonara profile image

      mariacarbonara 4 years ago

      Looks absolutely stunning!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Charlieee LM: It is :)

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      Charlieee LM 4 years ago

      Looks beautiful!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @emma_07: That's so nice of you - thank you!

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      emma_07 4 years ago

      Hey..i am thankful to be part of Squid and meet so many talented people like you.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @emma_07: Thank you so much, Emma!

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      emma_07 4 years ago

      Breath taking !!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @DuaneJ: It really is lovely - thanks!

    • DuaneJ profile image

      DuaneJ 4 years ago

      Wow, what a beautiful place!

    • DuaneJ profile image

      DuaneJ 4 years ago

      Wow, what a beautiful place!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @marioaldebrandionline: You'll love it.

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      marioaldebrandionline 4 years ago

      That would be nice for a vacation. That will be in my list of vacation.

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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @injuryatty: You'll love it.

    • injuryatty profile image

      injuryatty 4 years ago

      @BritFlorida: Agree, I should take this place on my book. So that I can visit this whenever I'm free to do so.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @injuryatty: It's a wonderful place :)

    • injuryatty profile image

      injuryatty 4 years ago

      I actually get Awe. When I first saw the pictures. It entails every little beautiful place that we should check on. Thank you for imparting this information.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @TwilightLurker: What a lovely way of putting it - Florida really is the best! People tend to hear about the luxury and expensive things but the sun, sea and sand are free and so much more besides.

    • TwilightLurker profile image

      TwilightLurker 4 years ago

      Florida is really a beautiful place to live or visit and this lens demonstrates that wonderfully. So many great suggestions of possible destinations while in the Sunshine State! I agree with you that if you just take a little time to research, it's amazing how easy it is to discover ways to spend time with others or just on your own and enjoy oneself without spending money. Just because something doesn't cost money doesn't mean it's not worthy of your time!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @WinWriter: I have a lens with photographs ;)This won't be clickable but you can copy and paste:https://hubpages.com/travel/lauderdale-by-the-sea...

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      WinWriter 4 years ago

      @BritFlorida: That is so helpful - thank you! We're going to look up that resort :)

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @WinWriter: The snorkeling is great. But here's a secret. If you're staying in Fort Lauderdale (which is totally wonderful) then just a couple of miles north is Lauderdale-by-the-Sea which is a very mom & pop, 1950s resort. Personally,I prefer to snorkel there.(I love snorkeling!) There is a tourist welcome center that will give you all the info you need.

    • profile image

      WinWriter 4 years ago

      My husband and I are thinking about traveling there so I was so glad to see your lens! How is the snorkeling? We were looking for a fun spot on the U.S. mainland to do just that.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @DANCING COWGIRL: I hope you come here again soon!

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      Dancing Cowgirl Design 4 years ago from Texas

      Beautiful pictures. Thanks for letting us in on the free things to do. I have only been through there when I was a kid and don't remember much.

    • DANCING COWGIRL profile image

      Dancing Cowgirl Design 4 years ago from Texas

      Beautiful pictures. Thanks for letting us in on the free things to do. I have only been through there when I was a kid and don't remember much.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I Love these pics. Its really awesome.

    • opatoday profile image

      opatoday 4 years ago

      wow you captured magic in those amazing photos of Fort Lauderdale

    • am23g23 profile image

      am23g23 4 years ago

      This is an awesome lens. I've been wanting to visit Fort Lauderdale and I've heard a lot of good things, this confirms it. Thanks!

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      Peter Messerschmidt 4 years ago from Port Townsend, WA, USA

      This is a beautiful and informative lens! I never spent much time in Florida, but you paint a lovely picture of it.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Amazing pictures! I would love to visit that place!

    • victoriahaneveer profile image

      victoriahaneveer 4 years ago

      We went on a cruise 6 months ago and left from Ft Lauderdale (I'm English, my fianc is Dutch). It was a nice place. When we got back we toured Key West, Naples etc. Florida is great.

    • FatLossDiva profile image

      FatLossDiva 4 years ago

      Fort Lauderdale looks to be a beautiful place. I hope to get there some day. Great pics and info. Thanks.

    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 4 years ago

      Beautiful lens!

    • NuttSoRuff profile image

      NuttSoRuff 4 years ago

      You have an interesting story and I really enjoyed this lens. I've only been to Ft. Lauderdale once but always said I'd like to go back.

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 4 years ago

      Love the Lens, thanks for the tour; when my family first moved to Florida the lived in Pembroke Pines (they use to own Citywide Sanitation), now my uncle is retired, they live in Hollywood these days. Wish I were there right now, it's still snowing. Sigh.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Fantastic photos, well done :) Megan

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      Edita 4 years ago from Auckland NZ

      Want to go there now! So beautiful :-)

    • juditpaton profile image

      Iudit Gherghiteanu 4 years ago from Ozun

      great photos, giving me a bit of the athmosphere at that place.

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 4 years ago

      It's such a wonderful place. I haven't been to Florida for over 10 years, it's about time I visited again. :)

    • WorldsBestDad profile image

      WorldsBestDad 4 years ago

      I LOVE Fort Lauderdale! For anyone that hasn't been, you have to check out Lester's Diner while you're there, great food at great prices. =)

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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Suunnyy: I hope you do - it's a great place!

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      Suunnyy 4 years ago

      These pictures just make me want to go there :) Soo beautiful, I hope I'll be able to visit Fort Lauderdale once.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @AdamzPg: That sounds wonderful. There are several crew agencies in Fort Lauderdale that recruit staff for yachts - no experience required! I hope you make it to Fort Lauderdale soon!

    • AdamzPg profile image

      AdamzPg 4 years ago

      This is where a few of my friends went for a holiday and ended up sailing around the Caribbean for 8 months working as deck hands on private yachts.. I want to go there. Beach would be enough for me :)

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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @anonymous: I'm so glad that it was helpful. These are just a few of the special highlights that have no cost - I'm sure I'll be writing more about Fort Lauderdale in the future!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Our family is planning a trip to Florida later this year. We are going to take a visit to Fort Lauderdale to check it out. This guide was very helpful. Thank you.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @debnet: Las Olas is my favourite place. We live within walking distance so we're verylucky!

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      Debbie 4 years ago from England

      Being married to another Brit who lived in Florida for a while, we frequently go back to visit family in Hollywood Fl. Fort Lauderdale is a fav place to visit, especially Las Olas. Thanks for the memories :)

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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @anonymous: Come to see us soon :)

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I love Fort Lauderdale, but haven't been there in years.

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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @motobidia: Thank you for your comment and I definitely agree!

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      motobidia 4 years ago

      Fort Lauderdale is a beautiful city, indeed! The intricate network of waterways makes it particularly charming. I also have a tip for visitors to the general area - FLL is a less expensive and just as easily accessible airport as Miami's, so I highly recommend it even if your final destination is Miami (it's just a half-hour drive away).

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Phillyfreeze: Ah yes, Spring Break! The authorities clamped down and tried to make Fort Lauderdale more family-friendly. They succeeded but I think that the Spring Break was an important part of Fort Lauderdale's history.

    • Phillyfreeze profile image

      Ronald Tucker 4 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      I remember when Fort Lauderdale was the "go to" destination of tens of thousands of college students over a quarter of a century ago. Although "Spring Breakers" still flock to Fort Lauderdale, their numbers are much smaller than they were at their peak in the 1960's, 70's and 80's.Love the beautiful photo of historic Fort Lauderdale!