In the 60's, the coming-of-age film, 'Where the Boys Are' introduced the world to South Florida's Spring Break party scene. At its peak in the 80's, Fort Lauderdale drew masses of sun-starved college kids and quickly gained notoriety as Florida's lively 'it' spot. The city was virtually overrun with revelers alienating residents in the process. Slowly, the crowds dispersed and spread north to Daytona and elsewhere leaving Fort Lauderdale to catch its breath and re-establish its identity. Read more about Fort Lauderdale
Today, Fort Lauderdale exists as a more mature, if not affluent destination but is still able to get down with the best of 'em. The super-connected network of inland water routes (the inter-coastal waterway and New River) made Fort Lauderdale America's yachting and boat capital, aptly dubbed 'Venice of America'. Waterfront bars and restaurants eagerly cater to thirsty boaters here and most come complete with boat slips. Boat-less visitors to the city, fear not. The Water Bus serves the city's waterways ferrying riders between hotels, to bars and restaurants, from beaches and shopping.
Chic and trendy Las Olas Blvd. is a shopper's dream. While the eastern part of the strip is older and more upscale with new condos and high-end shops and eateries, the western side is young and playful with night clubs and funkier establishments. In between, the New River developments of RiverSide and RiverWalk glisten with specialty shops and boutiques and you guessed it, more bars. If you prefer your shopping a little more relaxed head over to the Swap Shop. Claiming to be world's largest daily flea market and drive-in movie theatre, the eclectic collection of 'stuff' here covers just about everything.
The town-within-a-town district of Wilton Manors is Fort Lauderdale's gay friendly district and packed full of stylish guesthouses, restaurants, bars and nightclubs, all catering to South Florida's growing gay and lesbian clientele. Nearby, fun Cooley Hammock is a young, 2-block club area near the Science Center and the Performing Arts Center, drawing swaths of dancing youngsters every weekend.
But, like most coastal Florida cities, the real action is at the beach. 'The Strip', between Las Olas and Sunrise Blvd. is the place to be for locals and tourists alike and is still the area's biggest draw. While golf, tennis, pier and deep sea fishing are all popular activities here, splashing around on miles and miles of perfect Atlantic beach is what occupies most people's time, and rightfully so.