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Beyond the Sea: Port Mini-Breaks
Families | Couples | Seniors
Fort Lauderdale: Couples

Why You Need to Spend Three Days Here: Balmy days and sizzling nights exemplify the South Florida lifestyle for romantics. Sun, sand, surf, fine dining and torrid nightlife are all available, as are glorious sunrises over the Atlantic, glowing sunsets over the Intracoastal Waterway and lazy strolls along the Riverwalk and beaches. You can be as active or as laid-back as you want to be and 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.

Most Romantic Musts: Some of our top picks are: catching stunning sunrises over the Atlantic and equally stunning sunsets over the Intracoastal Waterway, kayaking at night, dancing under the stars in Hollywood on the Broadwalk, walking along the pier at Dania Beach, picnicking in the shade at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, shopping on ritzy Las Olas Boulevard, exploring miles of canals and waterways, visiting Millionaire's Row, playing jai-alai or watching a greyhound race or visiting world-class museums and live theaters.

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, artwork and colorful, soft furnishings -- with most having views of the Intracoastal Waterway. The whole inn is nonsmoking, and although infants in cribs are allowed, no kids younger than 12 will be shrieking and splashing around in the pool. Water-taxi transportation is available to take you anywhere in town.

Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six started life as a simple gas station; now its 17-story tower is a landmark. A tower room might get you a great view over the city or Port Everglades, but a cabana room at poolside sounds so much more romantic....

The Atlantic: 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 it makes 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 -- is 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. The Hollywood Beach Broadwalk is where you'll want to be to enjoy free outdoor concerts or Dancing Under the Stars, also free.

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. If you prefer, Ballistic Speedboat Adventure will give you the waterborne thrill of a lifetime on a 1,000-horsepower speedboat.

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 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. And then, try one of the new signature Everglades rituals, using herbs and treatments based on Florida's Native American cultures and beliefs.

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's two-mile stretch, so you can just stop for lunch at any one of them on a whim.

If you're energized enough after your walk, it would be a great time to explore the Everglades on an airboat. You can't be that 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, learning about the delicate eco-balance of the area.

After a rest, head to dinner and 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 nighttime trip on the water, go instead to the Fort Lauderdale Ghost Tour for a 90-minute walk along the New River's most haunted places. End your evening with a super-romantic carriage ride around Old Fort Lauderdale from Royal Horse-Drawn Carriages.

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

Photo appears courtesy of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau.
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