A breathtaking journey through nature awaits in Greater Fort Lauderdale, Florida’s LGBT+ capital and home to the ‘gayborhood’ of Wilton Manors, which has hundreds of businesses owned and operated by LGBT+ residents – all ready to give UK visitors a warm welcome. This community is just one of many reasons why the area is so popular. Another stand-out offering that’s sure to make your holiday unforgettable is the spectacular nature that awaits your exploration throughout the area.
Don’t miss two of Greater Fort Lauderdale’s top nature attractions: Butterfly World and Flamingo Gardens. Butterfly World is the largest butterfly park in the world, where you can see more than 20,000 live butterflies from every corner of the globe. Explore six different Free-Flight Aviaries filled with hundreds of exotic birds, including lorikeets that you can feed by hand. Flamingo Gardens offers 60 acres of native and exotic plants and some of Florida’s largest and oldest trees – numbering more than 3,000 different species. You can also see more than 90 species of Florida native animals, from alligators, otters, bobcats and flamingoes (obviously) to even a Florida black bear.
Greater Fort Lauderdale is home to the world-famous Everglades and offers vast, untouched wilderness like no place else on earth. You can enjoy an exhilarating airboat ride for an amazing look at wildlife, from exotic birds like peacocks, bald eagles and wading birds to alligators and Florida panthers. Dozens of other parks, preserves and nature centers also offer pristine settings to marvel at tropical beauty, where you can hike, bike, kayak and more.
Just one of these parks, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, offers full moon kayak tours – an experience you won’t soon forget! This popular park has direct access to Fort Lauderdale beach, a freshwater lagoon, nature trails, shaded picnic areas and rentals for kayaks, paddleboards and bikes. It’s home to butterflies, gopher tortoises, sea turtles, gray squirrels and marsh rabbits, plus more than 200 species of wading birds, hawks and ducks. Stop by the visitor centre, which was formerly the Art Deco home of the park’s namesake, Hugh Taylor Birch, a Chicago attorney who fell in love with this part of the Sunshine State, acquired 180 acres, and built his dream home in 1940, naming it ‘Terramar’ (‘land to the sea’). Today the park is revered by locals and visitors as Fort Lauderdale’s ‘Central Park’.
Visit the Anne Kolb Nature Center at West Lake Park to see one of the largest urban parks in Florida that stretches 20 acres along the Intracoastal Waterway. Climb (or take the elevator) to the 68-foot observation tower or follow the boardwalk to see wading birds and other native wildlife. Drop a line at the Intracoastal fishing pier, explore nature trails or paddle through this park’s mangrove estuary. More unforgettable nature encounters await at Snake Warrior’s Island, a 53.3-acre nature preserve along the Great Florida Birding Trail; and Tree Tops Park featuring 23 acres of nature trails.
The area’s 38 kilometres of golden beaches and 482 kilometres of scenic waterways also provide unforgettable nature encounters with the chance to see dolphins, manatees and more. Scuba divers can explore the largest collection of warm-water wrecks in the Western world, where thousands of fish and other creatures abound. Or dive or snorkel among living coral reefs just 100 yards off the beach in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea and Hollywood, the only places in the continental USA where you can do this straight off the beach.
Boating is another popular way to get a fascinating view of nature in this water wonderland, whether you arrive by boat, charter one or take one of the many eco-tours. Endless waterways give you the chance to see natural beauty and wildlife at every turn. Tours and rentals are also available for kayaking and standup paddleboarding for an even closer view of sea life.
Learn more about all of the exciting possibilities for your next holiday at VisitLauderdale.com/lgbt.