The outdoor outlook in Greater Fort Lauderdale calls for a 100% chance of fun.
Sun’s out, the surf’s up and the temperature is “oh, so right.” That describes a typical day in Greater Fort Lauderdale, where the forecast always demands outdoor fun.
That is what you get when you combine 246 days of sunshine each year, an average temperature of 76 degrees, the Atlantic Ocean, 24 miles of beaches, 300 miles of navigable waterways, a diverse collection of parks and — just as a bonus — gorgeous sunsets over the stunning Everglades.
“We live in paradise every day,” says Sheila Rose, deputy city manager for Coconut Creek. “This is a fabulous place to be outdoors.”
On the Water
The water and the beaches are the main draws for tourists and many residents, as evident by the 100 marinas and 50,000 registered yachts in Greater Fort Lauderdale.
But you don’t need a big boat to have a big time on the water in Greater Fort Lauderdale. A surfboard, paddleboard or kayak will do just fine.
Island Water Sports in Deerfield Beach offers rentals as well as free surfing and stand-up paddle lessons. Meanwhile, kayakers can explore the narrow canals at the Anne Kolb Nature Center in Hollywood and beyond.
“You can kayak along all these inland waterways in the morning and then paddle over to the beach for the afternoon,” Rose says. “That’s a great way to spend a day.”
Biking around the region also is an option through the Broward BCycle electric-bike service. With multiple rental stations, it is easy to travel to such popular spots as Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard, Hollywood Beach Broadwalk, Parkland, Weston, El Mar Drive in Lauderdale-By-The Sea, Rio Vista and Coral Ridge.
If you want to let others do the driving, the Water Taxi makes ten stops in Fort Lauderdale and one in Hollywood and the LauderGO! Water Trolley is a free service supported by the city with eight stops along the New River. And for the adventurous, Everglades Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale offers airboat tours through the South Florida wetlands (alligator sightings usually included).
“You can go out on the Everglades and watch the most magnificent sunset you’ve ever seen,” Rose says. “It’s just spectacular.”
For those who prefer to remain (mostly) on land, Broward County has two state parks — Hugh Taylor Birch in Fort Lauderdale and Mizell-Eula Johnson in Dania Beach — 50 regional parks and numerous neighborhood parks and natural areas.
These green spaces grant a wide variety of activities, ranging from Butterfly World at Tradewinds Park in Coconut Creek to a genuine cricket stadium at Central Broward Park in Lauderhill. Other parks’ offerings include a target range, a skate park, an observatory, mountain bike trails, an educational farm with stables and a velodrome.
Literally in the center of it all is Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, a slice of seclusion located on 180 acres between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to beach access, the park contains a lagoon, several short nature trails and a 1.9-mile paved loop road that is popular with cyclists.
“This is a very outdoor-centric area. The beaches are a big draw, but there are also a lot of other things to do. It makes it fun to be a tourist in your own town.”
Michelle Schmitz, Friends of Birch State Park
“You can come here and hike, bike, canoe, kayak, jet ski, fish or just sightsee, all within a 1-mile span at one place,” says Michelle Schmitz, executive director of Friends of Birch State Park. “It’s just a nice, affordable place to bring your family.”
There are palm trees and oaks throughout the park and a 120-year-old banyan tree that Hugh Taylor Birch himself reportedly planted. (Birch is the Chicago attorney who purchased the land that is now the park in the 1890s.) This wooded canopy is home to a colony of gopher tortoises and provides a restful stopover for migrating birds during the spring and fall.
“And what we have at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is only a tiny drop of what Fort Lauderdale and Broward County have to offer,” Schmitz says. “This is a very outdoor-centric area. Of course, the beaches are a big draw, but there are also a lot of other things to do. It makes it fun to be a tourist in your own town.”
If you’d like to learn more about the Greater Fort Lauderdale Region, check out the latest edition of Livability: Greater Fort Lauderdale.