With the 2017 Aramco Brat reunion just around the corner, why not visit Fort Lauderdale, Florida? The mention of Fort Lauderdale often brings to mind the ultimate beach party where rowdy college students wildly celebrate a break from the rigors of a long school year. But this thinking is out of date. Since 1985, numbers of spring break party-goers have dropped significantly - from a whopping 350,000 to a more manageable number around 10,000. While still a destination for beach lovers with a flair for partying, Fort Lauderdale has been reinvigorated with a nod to its historical roots and an eye on an art and culture-rich future.
Just 28 miles north of Miami and with an average year-round temperature of 75.5 °F (24.2 °C), it is no surprise that Fort Lauderdale is one of the nation’s largest tourist destinations. People flock to the beautiful beaches to soak up the sun. However, it wasn’t the beaches that attracted the earliest travelers.
It is only most recently that Fort Lauderdale became a destination at all. What started out as a series of forts during the Second Seminole War, remained largely undeveloped until the 20th century. The first significant land development began in the 1920s but soon stalled as a result of the 1926 Miami Hurricane and the Great Depression. Things picked up again during World War II when Fort Lauderdale became a major US naval base. Following the war, service members returned to the area and the population boom began.
In the 1950s, Fort Lauderdale became a favorite destination for college students to spend spring break. This tradition was made widely popular in the 1960 film Where the Boys Are. What followed was a massive surge in spring break tourism. Today, Fort Lauderdale has continued to build on its tourism industry while tamping down the extreme party scene by connecting the city’s arts and entertainment district, the historic downtown area, and Las Olas shopping and beach district.
If you are planning a trip to Fort Lauderdale, for sun or fun, or a little or a lot of both, here are a few things you won’t want to miss.
Fort Lauderdale Beach - if the sand and surf aren’t enough of a draw, the palm tree-lined, brick beachfront promenade will surely make you a fan. Fort Lauderdale Beach has been called a beach-chic destination. Get ready to people-watch! Learn more about greater Fort Lauderdale beaches here.
Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale - for a touch of culture, visit Fort Lauderdale’s Riverwalk where arts, entertainment, shopping, and dining combine to please every visitor. Riverwalk Park’s walkway exhibits the Old Fort Lauderdale Museum of History, the Florida Grand Opera, Broward Center for the Performing Arts, historic Second Street, the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, Las Olas Riverfront, the Museum of Art, and Stranahan House. You can explore by water taxi or a relaxing riverboat cruise. For a map and link to the GoRiverwalk magazine, click here.
Stanahan House - a historic house museum. Built in 1901, the Stanahan House is the oldest surviving structure still standing in Fort Lauderdale. Ohio native, Frank Stanahan who originally came to Fort Lauderdale to manage his cousin’s camp and ferry at Tarpon Bend on the New River, built a thriving business in trade. The structure was originally a trading post and community hall, however with business booming, Frank moved the trading post and the structure was converted into a residence for him and his wife, Ivy. For more information, including open hours, click here.
Las Olas Boulevard - Las Olas Boulevard has been called the very heart and soul of Fort Lauderdale. Las Olas meaning “the waves”, is a palm-strewn boulevard perfect for a stroll. It travels from Fort Lauderdale Beach and rises over the Intercoastal Waterway offering up views of million-dollar homes and yachts. Along the way is a 10-block main stretch of shopping and dining. To learn more, click here.
Gondola Rides on the Canals - pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a 75-minute gondola ride where you will see some of the most extravagant gardens and homes in Fort Lauderdale. While perfect for a romantic experience, the gondola rides are also kid friendly. For more information, click here.
Millionaires Row - take a narrated cruise along Fort Lauderdale’s beautiful inland waterways where one of the highlights is a tour of the spectacular homes of Millionaires Row. To find out more about the boat tour, click here.
With so much to see and do in Fort Lauderdale, it’s the perfect place to host the 2017 Aramco Brat Reunion from May 25-29. To register, click here.