Savoring Greater Fort Lauderdale
Going for a swamp buggy ride at Billie Swamp Safari is fun and relatively inexpensive when compared to theme park fun. Also, the kids have a good chance of spotting alligators and other wildlife.*
On a Few Dollars or Less
By Marcia Levin
While you might be aware of the many things you can pay for in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area —hotels, restaurants, scores of exciting excursions — it’s also true that many exciting activities in the destination come with only a nominal charge, or none at all.
Set between glitzy Palm Beach County to the north and Miami-Dade to the south, Broward County runs more than 20 miles along the Atlantic Ocean, extending west to the Everglades. Here are 10 Broward choices that are fun and won’t break your bank.
1. Ka-Ching! Play the new Las Vegas slots at Gulfstream Racetrack (954-454-7000 or www.gulfstreampark.com), 901 S. Federal Hwy., Hallandale Beach. There are 516 slots, with more due after the horse-racing season ends this spring. They also happen to be the newest and hottest games in town.
Parking is free. Plus the $11.95 buffet is a safe bet when it's time to break from the action and chow down.
2. Sawgrass Mills (954-846-2300 or www.sawgrassmills.com), 12801 W. Sunrise Blvd., Sunrise, recently added designer outlets at the adjacent Colonnade Shops. Sawgrass offers shopping in a lovely setting at the western edge of the county.
If you can't find it at Sawgrass Mills, you probably can't find it anywhere.*
Food courts, movie theaters and an arcade provide a family day in which everyone is likely to find something that suits their fancy.
3. Learn about the Seminole nation’s rich and colorful culture at Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum (800-683-7800 or www.ahtahthiki.com), 5710 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki means “a place to learn.” The museum is located in the Hard Rock Hotel and Resort. Free.
You'll learn about Seminole culture at the Ah-Ta-Thi-Ki Museum.*
4. For more of the Native American experience, ride out to Billie Swamp Safari, (863-902-1113 or www.ahtahthiki.com or www.seminoletribe.com/safari), 17 miles north of Alligator Alley (Highway I-75), Exit 14 on the Big Cypress Reservation. Walk the grounds and visit various exhibits.
If you head for Billie Swamp Safari you will see alligators, both captive or wild.*
Families might pay to take a swamp buggy or airboat ride through the wetlands; call for the pricing options. It's possible to see Asian water buffalo, bison, wild hogs, hawks, ostriches, eagles, alligators and even Florida panthers, although the latter is a rare sight.
A more complete Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki museum on the reservation offers additional insight into Seminole culture. Adult admission is $6, while children pay $4.
5. Fishing aficionado? The International Game Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum (954-922-4212 or www.igfa.org), 300 Gulf Stream Way, Dania Dania Beach, provides an introductory film, exhibits about the sport and a collection of seagoing vessels.
Adult admission is $6; seniors and children up to 16 get in for $5. Kids under 3 are admitted free.
6. Taxi! More specifically, the Water Taxi (954-467-6677 or www.watertaxi.com), 1850 SE 17th Street Causeway, Fort Lauderdale. Savvy travelers hop onboard for an unusual (and up close) way to see some of Fort Lauderdale’s most elegant residential areas, restaurants and cultural and shopping areas.
The Water Taxi is a great way to sightsee along the canals of Fort Lauderdale.*
Boats go along the New River and into downtown Fort Lauderdale. An all-day pass is only $10.
7. The International Swim Hall of Fame (954-462-6536 or www.ishof.org), One Hall of Fame Dr., Fort Lauderdale, offers more water opportunities.
What do Buster Crabbe, Johnny Weissmuller and late President Ronald Reagan have in common? All were actors, Crabbe and Weissmuller were Olympic swimmers and Reagan captained his college swim team. And all are among the honorees in this Hall of Fame.
Adult admission is $8, seniors are admitted for $6 and students for $4.
8. The Anne Kolb Nature Center at West Lake (954-926-2480 or www.visithollywood.org, 751 Sheridan St, Hollywood, is spread over 88 acres. It offers a five-story tower with incredible views.
Here you’ll have the chance to fish, hike and bike. You can also go kayaking amid wonderful mangrove swamps and exotic flora and fauna.
9. The Museum of Discovery and Science (954-467-6637, www.mods.org), 401 SW Second Street, Fort Lauderdale, is perhaps the best-named museum around. A perfect day excursion, the facility has activities and exhibits for visitors of all ages, plus a 3D IMAX theater on the premises.
The Museum of Science and Discovery is in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale and offers hands-on activities for kids and adults alike.*
A hands-on section for toddlers is always a hit. The exhibits have made this museum popular with locals as well as visitors. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and $8 for kids 2-12. Combination tickets that include IMAX screenings are also available.
10. Take a leisurely stroll or a power walk, rent a bike or opt for a surrey ride along the white-sand beaches of the Atlantic Ocean on Hollywood Beach’s two-and-a-half-mile Broadwalk (www.visithollywood.org), along the Atlantic Ocean, south from Sheridan Street.
A quiet section of the Broadwalk in Hollywood Beach.*
Stop for a bite to eat at restaurants featuring French, Turkish, Mexican or Argentinian food. You’ll find lots of funky shops and a fun ambience all along the way. (Hollywood takes a broad look at things, so it’s “broadwalk,” not “boardwalk.”)
For More Information
Contact the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau: 800-22-SUNNY or 954-765-4466, or www.sunny.org.
Marcia Levin is a travel writer based in South Florida. She specializes in writing about Florida, the Caribbean and cruising. She is a past president of the Society of American Travel Writers.
*Photos owned, copyrighted and used here with permission of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau or Susan J. Young, SouthernTravelNews.comTM. All rights reserved. Please do not link to these photos nor copy them. Thank you.