Fort Lauderdale appeals to family with its huge variety of attractions and pet-friendly accommodations and its affordable prices.
Summer is a great time for families to visit, says Joshua Winston, director of domestic sales for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“This is the best time of year for deals and affordability. We are not a theme park destination so lodging and other rates in the summer are not driven by theme park demand. There are a lot of great rates available at our hotels,” Winston said.
Fort Lauderdale lodgings run the gamut in terms of price, and even upscale properties offer deals.
The destination also welcomes the entire family including pets. Its www.sunny.org site lists more than 100 pet-friendly hotels, attractions and restaurants. Dog lovers can even find the locations where the movie Marley & Me was filmed.
In addition to lodging offers, is Fort Lauderdale’s Super Summer Savings program featuring discounts at more than 30 attractions, Winston said.
The promotion includes two-for-one offers on family-oriented activities like an airboat ride through the Everglades, a scenic kayaking excursion, a visit to Butterfly World, catamaran cruises, golf, fishing, and diving. Summer Savings cards are available at: www.sunny.org/summer.
Many other area attractions are ideal for families, according to Winston. “The Hollywood Broadwalk is a great place for families,” said Winston. “It’s a classic boardwalk, with games, shopping, ice cream and food and all the rest.”
Other options include educational, sports or shopping experiences.
Big news for families traveling to Fort Lauderdale was the recent opening of Barbie™ The Dreamhouse Experience at Sawgrass Mills, the sprawling mall just outside Fort Lauderdale.
The first attraction of its kind in North America, the attraction features two life-sized houses outfitted with pink elevators, a walk in “glitterizer,” an enormous closet and a display of diamond rings.
More than 350 Barbie dolls and other memorabilia are on display. The attraction includes interactive games and animation, including a feature that allows visitors to virtually “try on” fashions from Barbie’s wardrobe.
An attraction in itself, Sawgrass Mills has huge appeal for families, according to Luanne Lenberg, the facility’s vice president/general manager.
“There is so much more than shopping at our mall. If there is a family member who is not a shopper, we have lots of restaurants, a games area, a billiards club a 23-screen theater and other options.”
Also new is the Museum of Discovery & Science’s recently-opened EcoDiscovery Center, featuring hands-on exhibits.
Visitors to this downtown attraction can ride on the Everglades Airboat Adventure, enjoy the antics of river otters, experience hurricane force winds in the Storm Center, or dig for fossils alongside a giant megalodon shark—all indoors.
Butterflies and birds
For animal lovers and budding environmentalists, options include the Florida Everglades; Butterfly World, where visitors stroll among thousands of exotic butterflies and free-flying birds in the Tropical Rain Forest Aviary, and Flamingo Gardens, which offers daily live wildlife encounters and guided tours of the historic 1930’s Wray Home.
Among other attractions geared to families:
• Funderdome, an indoor, activity-based, family entertainment center that integrates state-of-the-art, interactive play systems in a weather-independent environment.
• The Funky Fish Kids Day, an ocean adventure camp where children learn how to snorkel in the pool, dive for shells in the shallow ocean, catch a wave on a boogie board, or slide along the shoreline on a skim board.
• Fort Lauderdale Duck Tours offers eye-opening 90-minute rides narrated by entertaining guides.
• Broward B-Cycle, the country’s first bike-sharing system, has 26 stations for pick-up and drop-off, including Fort Lauderdale Beach, downtown Fort Lauderdale and Lauderdale-By-The-Sea.