There is no disputing the allure of the glistering acres of warm, golden sand that border
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL
A 2-mile-long section of the ocean coastline is fronted by a beachfront promenade with palm threes and white wave walls where tourists like to walk while locals jog even before the sun rises. Arriving here, we were lucky enough to find a room at Sea Club Resort conveniently located right across the beach. (I would recommend this hotel as a good option if you want to stay on a budget in a great location by the ocean, attractions, and shops.) In fact, we arrived in Fort Lauderdale late at night, but nothing could stop us from going to the beach and jumping in the warm ocean under the clear night sky of the Sunshine State. Moments like that are unforgettable and are our simple answer to the decision of spending our money on experiences, not things. Seriously, there is a science behind prioritizing experiences over material goods. A psychological study suggests that you will get more happiness spending money on experiences like traveling, going to art exhibits, outdoor activities, learning new skills, etc. For the reason that "while happiness from material purchases diminish over time, experiences become a bigger part of us and part of the stories we will tell to one another." And if you think about it, you would agree that a road trip can provide all of these experiences and stories all at once, can't it?
I read in a tour-book guide that there is a good reason why Fort Lauderdale is known as the Yachting Capital of the World and the Venice of America. In my opinion, in regards to yachts – yes – there are many yachts in Fort Lauderdale and most of them are big, humongous ones that made me ask "why". In addition, these boats replace cars as the type of transportation because of city's extensive network of canals and multimillion-dollar mansions with mega yachts casually parked in front of them in the water is a normal view in Fort Lauderdale. However, having been to Venice many times, I think the comparison with the "City of Bridges" is much exaggerated. Canal road systems aren't reserved for quaint European towns and there are canals in nearly every corner of the globe. We have to stop calling every city with canals "the Venice of (this geographical location)" because cities lose identities and uniqueness in this way. Fort Lauderdale has its own charm and vibe. It is beautiful and refined. And while we were strolling and window-shopping through Las Olas Boulevard, filled with shops, restaurants and galleries, we sensed downtown's Mediterranean ambience that invited us to stop for a latte at a side-walk cafe and engage in some beautiful life's moments watching.
We enjoyed Fort Lauderdale for five days (as one of them we spent in Miami) and then we headed to Key West.
Within an hour drive south from Fort Lauderdale through Ocean Drive, we reached one of the most vibrant, edgy and exciting cities
We started our "one day in Miami" with an early morning visit to The Juice Spot as our son requested. It is an organic cold pressed juice and wifi bar, hidden away on a not so busy street, but it is LeBron James' wife's spot and that is why our big basketball fan and player himself was secretly wishing to see the King there. Guess what! He was there, sitting with his manager at the corner, frequently biting his nails. My son was ecstatic! How often does a boy who has been for the first time in his life to Florida, travelling 2600 km from Toronto to Miami on a family spring break, find himself randomly talking to one of the greatest basketball athletes of our time? It was quite an experience for all of us. Of course, James didn't sign an autograph, nor his own brand shoes, nor did he take a photo with my son, blaming the rules of the shop. However, no one stopped me from taking photos of my son in which LeBron James casually appeared in the background. It, in fact, raised a good conversation among us and lately our friends and relatives about famous people's privacy, personal space, star-fan relationship and so on. As mature as my son is, he didn't take any of this personally, he understood the "policy" and he was more than grateful for this opportunity fully realizing that such an encounter is one of those that would be remembered for life and should be celebrated. He even made a good joke out of it "I was so hoping it would turn kind of like a "Like Mike" moment where a teenage boy becomes an NBA superstar after trying on a pair of sneakers signed by "M.J"
Who knows, one day James' children might ask for my son's autograph, right?
Our day continued with exploring South Beach and its Art Deco District. Pastel pallets and symmetry and at the same time glamour and exuberance are perhaps what make this early Modernists style architectural area (some call it Tropical Deco) fascinating. There is no surprise that many filmmakers, fashion designers, artists and photographers find inspiration among these classic hotels, fanciful bars, dunes and magnificent beaches.
Traffic begun its slow crawl past the popular Colony, Boulevard and Beacon Hotel, a classic example of South Beach deco design. Colony Hotel (1935) is particularity noteworthy for being the earliest building to incorporate blue neon into its exterior and use this neon tactic to attract customers. Located one block north is the area's most infamous residence – the large white, 1930 Spanish style mansion, once the home of the Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace, who was shot to death on the steps. Few blocks from that well-beaten path of Ocean Drive, full of beautiful people, we walk through the pedestrian-only Lincoln Road only to be amply rewarded with a nice urban sophisticated spot for comfort food and great desserts Icebox Café (highly recommended).
I would most likely never move to live in Miami (first on my current list of places in the USA is Savannah, GA :), but I can understand why many people choose to do that. Miami is exciting. Life happens here in a very colourful, fiesta kind of way. Miami feels like a never-ending feast for the senses especially to tourists. Glamour seems part of everyday life. Light is different and makes the city glow. Cultural diversity and cultural heritage are tangible. It is a magnificent blend of people who bring their music, food, aesthetic and zest for life to the party and "everyone wants to join that party."
Miami may be indeed the Magic City (and not only because of its rapid growth from where the city's nickname originates).
Have you been to Florida? Are you planning on visiting the Sunshine State? What do you like most about Miami?
I would love for you to share your thoughts here.
Thank you kindly.