Greater Fort Lauderdale, 7 girls, 100 bikinis, sunrise yoga, sunset wine, a whole lot of exploring and most importantly the best sushi of my life. That pretty much somes up my trip to Fort Lauderdale this November, apparently their Autumn yet we had beautiful sunshine, blue skies and 28 degree sunshine every day.
I honestly hadn’t experience heat that intense since I was little on Summer holidays in places like Turkey and Lanzarote but I was not complaining. With hail stones and crisp Winter starting back home, I was soaking up all the sun I could get.
THE SUNSHINE STATE
We were outdoors as often as we could be from kayaking to meandering through the Everglades spotting alligators to snorkelling, beach runs, alfresco dining and lighthouse climbing we sure did make the most of the outdoorsy life Greater Fort Lauderdale has to offer.
Greater Fort Lauderdale is know as the Venice of America and we discovered this on our first evening as we caught the Water Taxi to dinner. Now I’ve never been one to want a lot of money but seeing how the other half live here did for a second make me dream of having a mansion on the river, a pool and a private yacht.
I felt really excited that first night, I’d never been to Florida before and really didn’t know what to expect, everything was new and I felt like I was in a film. I’m such a people watcher and find it so crazy that people live somewhere like this all year round.
The lovely man who took us kayaking, which was so epic by the way, had grown up and lived in Greater Fort Lauderdale his whole life and only left the state twice. I realise it’s no different to the fact I’ve lived in south east London my whole life but Greater Fort Lauderdale is sunny ALL YEAR ROUND and full of incredible nature and wildlife and green holiday drive road signs. I just find it fascinating. We met some really lovely people during our stay; every one is so friendly it’s impossible not to make friends.
Going back to the first night, we headed to a full of life pizzeria, Louie Bossi’s, in Las Olas Boulevard which is the main strip in Greater Fort Lauderdale. I ordered a seafood risotto which was so unbelievably tasty and honestly the perfect post 10 hour flight meal.
So let’s talk about food. I’m a foodie and very pleased to be amongst other girlies who happily will revolve their day around meals. And we were completely spoilt. I had some of the tastiest food of my life out there. The highlights for me were modern asian, Japanese restaurants, Etaru and Kuro and then a cute gluten free spot called Fresh First where we had breakfast one day and then had to go back the next for lunch even if it did mean walking 35 minutes in the midday heat.
Kuro really was one of the best meals of my life, we had a 6 course tasting menu which was completely tailored to all our dietary requirements. Yes you can imagine amongst there was everything from gluten free to vegan to absolutely no mushrooms. By course 4 we were absolutely stuffed but then comes the sushi which was melt in the mouth heaven, fresh and morish and just oh so good. I mean have you ever heard sushi described as morish! It was!
To balance out all the food and the wine and cocktails we were enjoying each night we all started our day at sunrise with movement. The time difference means you wake up quite early and really make the most of your day. The Fort Lauderdale Marriot Beach Resort & Spa where we were staying had a private beach and after watching the sunrise from my room, we’d all head out either for a run, some sunrise yoga or swim in the ocean. Oh if I could start my day that way every day.
The beach on our doorstep was so so expansive, it honestly felt like we were the only people on it many times and we maximised every tanning opportunity we could. Although I must say gone are the days of laying horizontal all day applying oil and baking myself until the sun goes down. I like to explore when I’m travelling now and exploring is exactly what we did.
I’ve never felt so much like I’m in the film Jurassic Park then when boarding our airboat in the Everglades. The scenery is utterly breathing taking. As the airboat stopped out in the river, there was just us, the water, the sky, oh and wild alligators. They came right up to the boat. I’ve never been so close to being eaten in my life but there was also such a calmness that only animals in the wild like that have. It was really beautiful to witness them in their natural habitat. I’m also very happy we didn’t witness them eat the brave tortoises they share the water with.
Another dora the explorer moment came when we kayaked through the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, again just such breath taking scenery. Kayaking is one of my favourite activities, I just wish I could do it more. It was so peaceful and I loved that there was no rush, we just took our time in the sunshine and tried to avoid getting stuck in the bushes. Nat and I hadn’t quite figured out our steering cues. I almost knocked a man off his paddle board at one point (watch the trip vlog to see this very near miss).
We headed to Downtown Hollywood in Florida’s Hollywood one morning to check out the Downtown Hollywood Mural Project. Tatunga’s wall of mermaids was my favourite but each one had it’s own magic and instagram worthy backdrop. I would have loved to explore this area a little more infact as the Jill who lives there and showed us around said she goes to Pilates often and was also in the middle of planning an art showcase that coming weekend. I feel like the neighbourhood has more of a cool urban vibe. We stumbled into a ceramic shop and met Alex Teikemore who told us how had had been making ceramics since the 70s and felt like he had never worked a day in his life. Now that’s cool.
I’LL BE BACK
My favourite moment of the whole trip though was an evening on the beach when the sun had just set but the air was still warm and the girls and I sat in a circle, chatting, laughing and feeling very grateful to Greater Fort Lauderdale for bringing us all together across the Atlantic. And as I write this blog post on the plane home somewhere across the Atlantic on my way back to London, I already feel like I miss this beautiful part of South Florida a little. So this may have been the first but definitely was not the last of my trips there.
*This was a free trip courtesy of Greater Fort Lauderdale. All opinions, words and images are my own. If you’d like to find out more about Greater Fort Lauderdale, visit their website here.