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Love Is in the Air: Three Days in Fort Lauderdale

Seniors in Motion: Three Days in Fort Lauderdale
Taking the Kids: Three Days in Fort Lauderdale

fort lauderdale beach hollywoodBalmy days and sizzling nights exemplify the South Florida lifestyle for romantics. Sun, sand, surf, fine dining and torrid nightlife are all available here, as are glorious sunrises over the Atlantic, glowing sunsets over the Intracoastal Waterway and lazy strolls along the Riverwalk and the beaches. You can be as active or as laid-back as you want to be, see or do as much or as little as you choose.

Fort Lauderdale is a couple's dream destination. Culturally, the city shines with museums, galleries and live theater. There are sports venues, boating, shopping, romantic restaurants and little take-out joints. You can choose to stay in a luxury hotel on the water or a little apartment motel with a kitchen; Fort Lauderdale is a destination where the choices are limitless.

Home Away From Home
The Pillars Hotel at New River Sound: The ultimate in sophisticated romance, this little award-winning inn has only 23 rooms and suites. The hotel is a member of Small Luxury Hotels, a consortium of independent small hotels that have to meet very specific and rigid criteria to be invited and to maintain membership. The rooms are dressed in designer plantation style -- dark woods and shuttered doors, colorful soft furnishings, and artwork -- with most having views of the Intracoastal Waterway. Water-taxi transportation is available to take you anywhere in town.

The Atlantic Hotel: Take advantage of the personalized service and the European-style spa at this gorgeous luxury hotel (more expensive than Pillars) with only 123 rooms and suites, many with full kitchens.

Tropi Rock Resort: Couples on a budget will appreciate this cute little tropical paradise on the north end of town. It's a two-minute walk from the beach, but the gardens, pool and original artwork are so lovely they make it worth "the trouble." Choose a room with a microwave and fridge, or go all out and get an efficiency or apartment with full kitchen to save even more on dining for two.

Day One
Take some time to settle in, relax and get to know your lodging. If you're at a beachfront hotel or resort, get out there and soak up some sun; if you're staying inland, either hang out around the hotel pool or make your way to the shimmering sands of Fort Lauderdale's beaches. You need to rest up for some swinging nightlife. (Don't forget your sunscreen!)

Dress up for dinner and head downtown to Johnny V, the restaurant du moment that food writers and just about everyone in Fort Lauderdale's high society are talking about. The cuisine and ambience are casual chic, with contemporary American eats and a sidewalk seating area. Reservations are required.

If it's a Friday night between June and September, head to Holiday Park for a free musical concert; if it's the second or fourth Friday, the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk is where you'll want to be to enjoy an outdoor concert, also free. And if it's a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, the Hollywood Beach Theatre on the Broadwalk has dancing under the stars, free, with everything from country-western to boogie-woogie to ballroom.

Day Two
Today, try something exciting. Head over to Adventure World for a guided Jet Ski or Air Cat tour, or just get a sea kayak and have at it.

Have lunch at the 15th Street Fisheries while you enjoy the view of the boats and yachts along the Intracoastal Waterway. After such an active morning, take it easy during the afternoon by meandering along the Riverwalk or shopping in the hip and cool boutiques along Las Olas.

For dinner, go to Seminole Paradise, an entertainment and dining complex located at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, where you can choose to dine elite (Bluepoint Ocean Grill or Council Oak) or casual (Johnny Rockets or Renegade Barbecue). After your supper, enjoy one of the night spots located in the complex, which includes the Improv Comedy Club, 88's Dueling Pianos and Murphy's Law (an Irish pub).

Day Three
SPA DAY! Start your day with an exquisite, romantic couples massage at Spa Atlantic, where you will be pampered in elegant luxury.

Once you're relaxed and noodle-like, take some time to walk along the Broadwalk at Hollywood Beach; you can rent in-line skates or bicycles from several shops in the area. Casual restaurants line the Broadwalk along its two-mile-plus stretch, so you can just stop for lunch at any one of them on your whim.

If you're energized enough after your walk, this would be a great time to explore the Everglades on an airboat. You can't be this close and not go. Drive to Sawgrass Recreation Park at the edge of the Everglades and take a wild ride on a guided tour through the wild grasses; learn about the delicate eco-balance of the area.

After a rest, head to dinner at Charley's Crab for a romantic terrace dinner overlooking the water, then to Full Moon Kayak Co. for an even more romantic end to your mini-break: a moonlit kayak excursion around Fort Lauderdale (advance reservations required). If for some reason you don't fancy a night-time trip on the water, end your evening with a super-romantic carriage ride around Old Fort Lauderdale from Royal Horse Drawn Carriages.

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    --written by Jana Jones
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