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Fort Lauderdale
The home of soft beaches and laid-back charm, Fort Lauderdale offers sun, sights, sports and sand for all ages.

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Fort Lauderdale
Beyond the Sea: Port Mini-Breaks
Fort Lauderdale: Pre- or Post-Cruise Mini-Break
This vibrant community, sandwiched between the go-go-go metropolis of Miami to the south and the upscale, swank enclaves of Palm Beach to the north, is a vacation spot for sun-seekers, nautical types, water-sports enthusiasts, budding naturalists, golfers and those inclined to shop 'til they drop. In fact, the communities that make up Greater Fort Lauderdale seem to have settled comfortably into a niche that is both family-friendly and sophisticated. All manner of lifestyles mesh comfortably -- it's one of the (if not the) premier gay destinations in the U.S. -- and the city is extremely accessible to seniors. Fort Lauderdale is artsy, folksy, culturally advanced, gastronomically diverse and geographically gorgeous.

Fort Lauderdale started out as a swamp nearly 200 years ago, with a fort built in 1828 by Major William Lauderdale to defeat the Seminole Indians. The swamps were managed with the construction of a series of canals, and today, the city's 300 miles of intracoastal waterways have earned it the nickname "The Venice of America." As Fort Lauderdale grew and became more attractive to developers and hoteliers, and as its fabulous expanses of beaches became renowned, the area turned into a magnet for the raucous spring break crowd. This lasted from the early 1960's well into the 1980's, when city management put its collective foot down and effectively chased away the riff-raff. Today, "The Venice of America" is a magnet of a different sort, appealing to all ages and offering family activities, luxurious spa retreats, beachfront resorts and mom-and-pop motels, dancing under the stars, gay nightclubs and gay-friendly resorts, deep-sea fishing excursions, art galleries and theater.

Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale is the year-round home for many ships -- including Royal Caribbean's elaborate behemoth, Oasis of the Seas -- but it would be a shame to miss the attractions and vacation opportunities in the surrounding communities. The beaches are lovely. (Hollywood Beach, Fort Lauderdale Beach, Dania, Deerfield, Pompano and Lauderdale-By-The-Sea are favorites.) The golfing is great (with 54 courses), the arts and entertainment are stellar, and the shopping -- whether in the Sawgrass Mills outlet mall or the upscale shops along Las Olas Boulevard -- is fabulous.

Seniors, families and romantics will all find something to treasure in Fort Lauderdale, and all it takes is a three-night mini-break.

--by San Diego-based Jana Jones, Cruise Critic contributor.

Photo appears courtesy of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Ft. Lauderdale: Family Mini-Break Ft. Lauderdale: Couples Mini-Break Ft. Lauderdale: Senior Mini-Break
Ft. Lauderdale: Family Mini-Break
Family venues have become the norm in Greater Fort Lauderdale, from kid-friendly resorts to beloved attractions like Butterfly World.
Ft. Lauderdale: Couples Mini-Break
Romantics won't want to miss glorious sunrises over the Atlantic or glowing sunsets over the Intracoastal Waterway.
Ft. Lauderdale: Senior Mini-Break
Today's South Florida senior population is active and engaged -- teeing off on golf courses, biking along canals and basking on the beach.
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