With delightful weather and a wide variety of activities, South Florida is the place to dwell for feeling well.
Spending time outside is considered a key component of maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. That can be difficult to do in many places, as extreme temperatures or the lack of easily accessible natural settings often keep people confined indoors.
Such is not the case in Greater Fort Lauderdale, where the combination of consistently delightful weather (an average median temperature of 76 degrees), 23 miles of beaches and a wide array of parks and natural areas provide plenty of opportunities for fun (and exercise) in the sun.
“People these days are trying to figure out a better balance in life between work and play. In Greater Fort Lauderdale, you can do that on your lunch break.”
Stacy Ritter | Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau
“You can leave your office for an hour and walk along the beach and dip your toes in the water or go to a park and experience the beauty of the area, says Stacy Ritter, president and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. “It provides a sense of peace and relaxation, even in the middle of a workday.”
While the surf and sand might be the top draw, outdoor recreation extends well beyond the beach through Broward County’s extensive parks system, with a total of more than 50 regional parks, neighborhood parks and natural areas across approximately 6,500 acres.
“From the seagrass to the sawgrass, our parks cover the entire county,” says Dan West, Broward County Parks & Recreation Division director. “No matter where you are in Broward County, there is a park just a few minutes away.”
Among the local favorites are Boulevard Gardens Community Center, Dillard Green Space, Everglades Holiday Park, Franklin Park, Lafayette Hart Park, Lewis-Chisom Park, Reverend Samuel Delevoe Memorial Park, and Roosevelt Gardens Park.
These areas provide access to all sorts of outdoor recreation activities, including water parks, campgrounds, a target range, a stadium, a skate park, an observatory, mountain bike trails, an educational farm with stables and a velodrome.
“People love being in nature, and for our residents, that’s right out their front door,” West says. “The most important components to our regional parks are easy access and being within walking or biking distance. We have a lot of parks like that, with trails and pathways that are very accessible for walkers, hikers and bikers.”
In addition to the obvious presence of the Atlantic Ocean, Greater Fort Lauderdale also offers recreational opportunities along the Intracoastal Waterway and farther inland on the rivers and streams closer to the Everglades.
“The water culture surrounds us, whether you live along the ocean or in the western part of the county,” Ritter says. “You can smell the ocean from a mile away. You can see water from almost anywhere you are in the county. Everyone here enjoys some aspect of the water culture.”
Kate Goldman is one of those people. A 20-year resident of Greater Fort Lauderdale, Goldman took up paddleboarding seven years ago and spends as much time as possible enjoying the area’s water recreation.
“There’s so much to do related to water activities,” Goldman says. “And it’s not just the ocean, but also all the waterways. They’re phenomenal – very safe, clean and accessible. There’s a big paddleboard community here. You can pretty much launch your paddleboard from any location along any of the waterways, including the intracostal. All my circle of friends and colleagues take advantage of being outdoors as much as we can.”
Bountiful and Beautiful Beaches
Then there are the beaches, which unquestionably are the main attraction in Greater Fort Lauderdale. There is a sandy scene fit for nearly every age and activity, from famous Fort Lauderdale Beach with its younger crowd, to the quieter vibe of Deerfield Beach, to snorkeling off Pompano Beach, to the 2.2-mile pedestrian promenade along Hollywood Beach.
“My kids were raised here in shorts and flip-flops,” Ritter says. “Greater Fort Lauderdale is a place where you can be outdoors year-round, and you want to be.”