Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Florida's Unsung Hero

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Florida's Unsung Hero

Article excerpt

Byline: helen coffey

BIG WEEKEND FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA SAY you're off to Fort Lauderdale and you'll likely get more than one response along the lines of: "Oh, great! Um Where is that again?" Which wouldn't be too surprising this beachside city bang in the centre of Florida's Gold Coast is somewhat overshadowed by its brash neighbour, Miami. Forty minutes' drive north, Fort Lauderdale is the more demure, less expensive big sister to Miami's party town. But that's part of the attraction. It offers laid-back charm to accompany the year-round sun, long stretches of sandy beach and warm, turquoise waters.

This part of Florida is often assumed to be synonymous with Snowbirds elderly visitors who migrate south for the winter but there's a lot more to Fort Lauderdale than shuffleboard and bowls. Scratch the surface and you'll find a vibrant arts scene, specialist craft beer bars and Fort Lauderdale's USP: canals. Not for nothing is this city known as the Venice of America.

If it's previously gone under the radar, Fort Lauderdale is about to get a significant boost British Airways has a new direct route from London Gatwick launching on July 6.

Bed down: beachside digs The newly-opened Hyde Resort and Residences (001 754 212-3083, is as oceanfront as it gets, plonked right on the beach in Hollywood. This town lies between downtown Fort Lauderdale and Miami's South Beach, making it wellplaced to experience the best of both. It's a condominium hotel of one, two and three-bedroom apartments, each complete with walk-in wardrobe, a fullystocked kitchen and sprawling balcony. A ninth-floor pool area and gym are free for guests to use. Rates from PS185 a night for a one-bed apartment, room only.

Fed and watered: sustainable seafood Staying this near the ocean means it's a safe bet that the seafood will be exquisitely fresh. One of Fort Lauderdale's signature dishes is stone crab. Found on menus all over town, it's served cold with a tangy mustard dip. Some of the best on offer is at Billy's Stone Crab (001 954 923 2300, in Hollywood. This delicacy is sustainably sourced the crabs aren't killed, their claws are simply removed before they are let back into the wild, where their claws grow back. Be sure to catch them in season from mid-October to mid-May.

In the evening head to Las Olas Boulevard in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

The city's main boardwalk, it's dotted with bars, restaurants and galleries boasting artwork ranging from the surreal to the sublime.

There are pre-dinner watering holes aplenty; American Social (001 954 715 1134, has an extensive drinks list with more than 40 craft beers on tap. Enjoy a local IPA with a side of classic Americana: comfy booths are strewn with US flag cushions.

The Royal Pig (001 954 617 7447, royalpigpub. …

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