Where else could you run into Oprah Winfrey shopping at a gourmet bakery, or Sharon Stone sipping Cuban coffee. You might even catch a glimpse of Elton John taking in a sunset, Nicholas Cage breezing through the airport, or former President Clinton playing golf. Celebrities are flocking to South Florida particularly Miami like moths to a bright light. Some are just visiting, and some are putting down roots by buying up properties. All are enjoying the good life on Florida's Gold Coast... and you can too.
Fort LauderdaleLife is more than a beach in Fort Lauderdale it is a life of striking contrasts. The area is becoming Florida's fastest growing, most diverse, and dynamic vacation and business travel destination.
Fort Lauderdale has tried to shed its frat party image made popular in the 1960 movie Where the Boys Are and the ensuing years of wild spring breaks. On one end of its famous palm tree-lined Los Olas Boulevard, it has matured into an urban playground of the sophisticated set where a procession of Rolls Royces form a gridlock on weekend nights. Yet, on the other end of the Boulevard, the Elbo Room, made famous in the movies, still catches the ocean breeze along with the beer crowd while nearby shops sell drug paraphernalia and racks of postcards.
Fort Lauderdale is also at odds with its latest reputation of being a popular gay and lesbian destination. One website touts over 100 gay-owned businesses of which 30 cater to the gay and lesbian market. Recently, there has been a push by tourism officials to bring back families to the area. In my opinion it is a hard sell.
Still, Fort Lauderdale has a lot to offer visitors. Besides having superb convention and hotel facilities, there are loads of golf courses, dining both fine and trendy is plentiful, and the nightlife glitters. Some 300 miles of navigable inland waterways that winds through palatial estates, citrus groves, the exotic Everglades and stretches south to Miami has earned it the nick-name of "Venice of America."
Greater MiamiWhether it's the Art Deco delights of America's Riviera South Beach or the calmer family-oriented Surfside to the north, Greater Miami and the Beaches is a unique mosaic of cultures, sights and sounds with a unique sense of place now known as Tropicool. As one of the world's favorite playgrounds, it offers visitors the cutting edge of urban chic combined with the beauty and splendor of a tropical paradise within a sprawling territory of 30 municipalities with a population of more than two million, nearly half of whom speak Spanish as their native language.
It is perhaps the unparalleled combination of ethnic heritages that mirrors the diversity of peoples that creates this powerful cultural kaleidoscope. No other Florida destination offers a crossroads of arts and culture that has become an attraction for travelers that love world-class theater, music, art and big-name entertainment not to mention a year-round calendar of fun festivals and events.
The area's laid-back and live-and-let-live attitude makes everyone feel comfortable and capable of finding a slice of this lush, sub-tropical pie that suits their personalities and their pocketbooks.
There is lodging for everyone from historic Art Deco hotels in the heart of popular South Beach to bed and breakfast inns snuggled amid neighborhoods throughout the area, and even inexpensive lodging for budget or youth travelers. Also, Greater Miami and the Beaches is one of the nation's most popular golfing destinations with some of the best golf resorts including spas guaranteed to pamper even the fussiest guest.
Miami's downtown is booming with growth and activity from the bustling Bayside Marketplace to the Gusman Cultural Center which is home-base for the Miami Film Festival.
Older neighborhoods and ethnic enclaves offer off-the-beaten-path excursions. Coconut Grove has long been a bohemian hang-out which has attracted artists, writers and non-conformists. It remains today an important player in Miami's cultural renaissance. Little Havana and Little Haiti are brimming with immigrant optimism and saturated with Cuban culture, music, and food. The Moorish architecture of Opa-Locka is a stunning inner-city collection of minarets, domes, and horseshoe arches. The waterfront city of Key Biscayne can only be described as an island paradise, and South Dade features must-see spots such as the Everglades, Biscayne National Park, Miami MetroZoo, Parrot Jungle, Monkey Jungle, and more.
No wonder those that "have it all" come here... Greater Miami has it all!