The Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale
1 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
The Ritz-Carlton gets it right in Florida, and the Fort Lauderdale property deserves its own—from the rooftop—shout-out. This hotel is as close to perfect as a big, showy resort gets. First of all, rather than going over-the-top, the Ritz is understated with a gentle blue-and-cream nautical theme throughout. There are no loud, dazzling colors competing with the view. The swimming pool is elevated on the seventh floor, so all you see while swimming laps is the turquoise ocean, not a parasol in sight. The Everglades are just twenty-five minutes away, and there’s a kids’ program to keep the littles entertained, while parents can grab a drink on the balcony or settle into the (incredible) spa for a lazy afternoon.
Old Fort Lauderdale Breakfast House
333 Himmarshee St., Fort Lauderdale
One of the many pleasures of vacation is the breakfast. The leisurely kind. The kind you roll up to after 9 a.m. and order the waffles, the French toast, and too many cups of coffee. Old Fort Lauderdale Breakfast House—the OB House in local-speak—serves one of the best breakfasts in town. And better yet, serves it until 2:30 in the afternoon. The owners take provenance seriously—the maple syrup drizzled on the skillet pancakes is from Vermont, the milk is from a nearby farm, the eggs are free-range, and so on. We loved the signature Dutch baby pancake, served with a thick dusting of powdered sugar and a proper cup of Earl Grey tea.
Hugh Taylor Birch Park
3109 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
Between the Atlantic and the Florida Intracoastal Waterway is a sliver of wilderness that will take your breath away. This park was gifted to the state by Hugh Taylor Birch to preserve the lush greenery and animal habitats that have long existed on this historic piece of land. Every acre is packed with ancient palms and birch trees, long branches dipping into and trailing in the water, gopher tortoises, and the sound of birds and other wild things. It’s almost Amazonian. Rent bikes and ride the many tree-lined trails, cruise through on a kayak, or just hang on the beach with a book or a picnic with the kids.
Bonnet House Museum & Gardens
900 N. Birch Rd., Fort Lauderdale
The Bonnet House is an eccentric slice of Americana. It’s the kind of rambling, historic property you hope to stumble upon on a spur-of-the-moment road trip. The 1920s home belonged to artists Frederic and Evelyn Bartlett, who made the house their own by filling the shady palms outside with live monkeys and the interior with murals and other artwork. The house itself is magnificent, each room full of curiosities and sculptures. And the grounds—one of South Florida’s last surviving native barrier island habitats—are worthy of their own visit: Five ecosystems exist on the land, including mangrove wetlands and a maritime forest. Don’t miss the orchid house; Evelyn Bartlett, who lived on the property until 1995, was an enthusiastic collector.
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