It was 1960 when Hollywood first came calling to Fort Lauderdale with the original spring break movie, "Where the Boys Are." Its title song became a perennial summer favorite, and a signature song forConnie Francis.|
Today, "the Strip" of pristine beaches and adjacent coffee houses, boutiques and restaurants that parallel A1A between Las Olas and Sunrise boulevards are filled with friends on getaways, families and a lot of foreign visitors that know value when it comes to a beach vacation. If a few Spring Breakers show up, they are few and far between.
The laid back tempo has a low-key appeal. In many ways Fort Lauderdale is reminiscent of California, and that friendliness isn't missed by the thousands of passengers embarking or disembarking from the cruise lines that use the massive seaport.
Fort Lauderdale Beach is one of five public beaches in the southeast Florida area that are Blue Wave Certified by the Washington, D.C.-based Clean Beaches Coalition.
The coalition is the country's first network of organizations and individuals committed to healthy, well-managed beaches around the world.
Since 1991, the beaches in the greater Fort Lauderdale area have been recognized by the Blue Wave program, America's first environmental certification for beaches. Fort Lauderdale Beach was named a top international beach destination and is the first Blue Wave certified beach in Florida.
Of all the beaches in the area, this one is the one for people watching. The waterfront is perfect to roller blade, jog or take a morning run. Then, kick back to enjoy the sun and surf, like visitors and residents have been doing for more than 100 years. Fort Lauderdale Beach celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2011.
Other certified beaches include Pompano, Deerfield, Hollywood and Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Each has its own personality.
For starters, Pompano is known as a friendly beach that welcomes surfers and fishermen as warmly as picnickers.
Foodies flock to Deerfield Beach and often stay after dinner for a little dancing.
If plans include pier fishing, snorkeling or scuba diving the Southeast Florida Coral Reef, head to Lauderdale-By-The-Sea. Or sit on the beach and people watch.
The reef is one of the 10 largest coral reefs on the planet. It curves toward and away from the Fort Lauderdale area beaches, providing habitat for tropical fish and Florida spiny lobster. The reef is so large, it can be seen from satellites circling Earth.
Fort Lauderdale is called the Venice of Florida for good reason. There's the Atlantic Ocean and beaches and also the New River and the Intracoastal Waterway, plus, Port Everglades and other watering holes and streams. Many tour operators offer half-day and full-day outings, including the River Taxi that picks up at 14 locations in the area.
IF YOU GO
Fort Lauderdale: Key in sunny.org for deals on vacationing in Florida's beach central. Be inspired by the live stream from the LIVE! video cam broadcasting from Fort Lauderdale Beach and 8 other locations in the area. sunny.org/webcam.
St. Barts Coffee Company was voted best breakfast on the beach by the New York Times; check email, savor a smoothie and grab a coffee. Food service between 6 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. itsbetteronthebeach.com/st-barts-coffee.
Pizza break: Pizza in four minutes? Yes, if it is Anthony's Coal-Fired Pizza, where pizza is billed as 'well done." Traditional toppings and some that are not, like roasted cauliflower pizza or eggplant with basil. Small pies priced from $12.95. anthonyscoalfiredpizza.com. Italian Soul Food like pork ribs with vinegar peppers also cooked in a coal-fired oven. 6 ribs, $11.25
Staying where: Take your pick of hotel chains, privately owned properties and B&Bs. Lodging list on the sunny.org website or check your hotel loyalty program to use points.
You should know: Check the Coalition for Clean Beaches before deciding on a beach vacation. cleanbeaches.com. Fort Lauderdale Beach consistently is named a top international beach destination and was the first Blue Wave certified beach in Florida.
Other Florida favorites
Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel tourism: fortmyers-sanibel.com. Enjoy the beaches, collect seashells and maybe paddle the Great Calusa Blueway. Follow a guided walk at Manatee Park, a non-captive refuge that allows these gentle giants to come and go, as they will. Mornings are best for sightings. For daily sightings reports, click through on the tourism website to Manatee Park. The park is free, parking is not and subject to change: $2 per hour with a $5 maximum.
Miami: City meets celebrated waterfronts in Miami. For tourism information, visit Greater Miami's website, it will help map out full days for a memorable spring break, miamiandbeaches.com. Be sure to check out Miami's live beach broadcast, miamiandbeaches.com/see-miami.aspx.
Tampa tourism and beach information: visittampabay.com. Kayak Tampa Bay surrounded by the city, then take the bridge over to St. Petersburg for time on the sandy shores of the Gulf of Mexico. For St. Petersburg/Clearwater tourism and beach information, log on to visitstpeteclearwater.com and click through to beaches.
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