Fort Lauderdale’s best sights, according to a new to-do list book


This is the Fort Lauderdale bucket list of all Fort Lauderdale bucket lists.

The new book, “100 Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale Before You Die” ($18; Reedy Press), is a guide that leads readers through the city’s historic landmarks, restaurant gems, quirky shops and the intoxicating cultural scene.

Make it Grand Fort Lauderdale, because the dizzying array of must-see things simply can’t be contained by the city’s borders.

“You know, the nature of Fort Lauderdale is that it goes beyond the city of Fort Lauderdale,” says author Christiana Lilly. “So there are definitely a lot of places that we associate with these classic Fort Lauderdale institutions that aren’t actually in Fort Lauderdale like The Tub [Saloon in Hollywood] and that of Jaxson [Ice Cream Parlour & Restaurant in Dania Beach]. If I didn’t include them, people might freak out, and they’re not in Fort Lauderdale.

Lilly — a freelance writer who lives “virtually on the line” in Pompano Beach with her Fort Lauderdale-born and raised husband — went on to say, “Sawgrass Mills Mall is the best store we have in Broward County. , but it’s in Sunrise… The [Bergeron] Rodeo Grounds in Davie is really fun and it’s not in Lauderdale. The Everglades aren’t even in Fort Lauderdale, technically. So I said [the publisher] it has to be Greater Fort Lauderdale, and they were like, ‘You live there. We trust you. ‘ “

Born in Panama City to parents who worked for the US State Department, Lilly grew up overseas in Asia before returning to Florida, where she has family. She graduated from the University of Florida, then decided to venture into the South Florida media industry and also worked with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Visitors & Convention Bureau, a perfect recommendation for the guide.

Still, there were doubts – not about his talent but about the subject of the book.

“You know when I was telling people I was working on this, people who don’t live in Broward [and] don’t spend a lot of time in Broward, they say, ‘Is there even 100 things to do?’ And I’m like, wait, I reject the premise of your question, first of all. There’s so much to do in Fort Lauderdale…from culture, to historic sites, to shopping, to food and drink…and we have some great annual activities you won’t see anywhere else. , such as the Winterfest Boat Festival and the upcoming Day of the Dead festival. I’m really excited for this.

Florida Day of the Dead celebration in downtown Fort Lauderdale with a procession of skeletons on Tuesday, November 2, 2021.

Lilly will host a free autograph session open to the public from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on November 7 at the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society, 219 SW Second Ave. For more information, call 954-463-4431.

Below, find some of Lilly’s favorites from the guide.

Sea turtle walks: “I think something really interesting is going on the sea turtle walks that take place during the summer on the beach in Fort Lauderdale. During the summer, the Museum of Discovery and Science hosts sea turtle walks. They give a presentation and tell you how such a home we are for this wildlife [and explain] …that the streetlights are orange right now because it’s sea turtle season and that helps…the hatchlings can focus on the moon and not start crossing the street. I would definitely recommend people do this to experience Fort Lauderdale beach in a different way.”

Shooters Waterfront on Fort Lauderdale's Intracoastal Waterways.

Waterfront Shooters: “To eat, I always think Shooters is really fun, because it’s a really good fine dining restaurant, they have the [Intracoastal] water, they have a very nice outdoor area. But it’s also fun to tell them the story: it used to be a place where they held wet t-shirt contests, and they still have some of those black-and-white photos from the 80s. So it’s a really nice place to have a good meal, but you can also tell a story about it and say it’s kind of an institution. And I like that they kept the name, they didn’t change the name.

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Winterfest Boat Festival: “If they’re here for Christmas, the Winterfest Boat Festival is absolutely so strong of Fort Lauderdale. You know, why would we have a parade on land if we can do it by sea? And we have all these great entertainers and just the way the event blew up and now they’re broadcasting it all over the east coast so they might have seen it on TV but being able to experience it in person is really awesome. , of course, we have Christmas in Las Olas where it ‘snows’ and you can ‘ice skate’ and everything.

Light from Stranahan House reflects off the water of the New River at sunset.

Historical stops: « Fort Lauderdale Historical Society [campus of historical buildings] on the Riverwalk…because that was another thing where people were like, “Oh, I think I missed it.” … The Fort Lauderdale Historical Museum, which is the former [1905] New River Inn, was kind of this epicenter where the Fort Lauderdale that we know comes from. It was a swampy riverside, and I just can’t imagine what it must have been like then… And they also had some really fun events [there] … Fort Lauderdale Historical Society offers ghost tours, Stranahan House offers ghost tours. I love that kind of stuff. So that might be something that if you’ve been there, but haven’t been to some of those special events, definitely check that out.

Christiana Lilly stands in front

Island City Stage: “Island City Stage always pushes boundaries and features works by local playwrights. It’s LGBT theatre, celebrating LGBT talent, history and humor. While many theaters can tap into LGBT themes , this one is completely shrouded in it. A tip I share in the book is that the parking lot is tight, so consider carpooling or parking in a larger lot and walking around. It’s also in the heart from Wilton Manors so it’s perfect for dinner and a show. I went to see a show here with a friend and we both had a great time. It was a fundraiser for a nonprofit organization local nonprofit that I volunteered for and all the actors came out at their own pace and director Ronnie Larsen was there to greet the audience.The show was “Now & Then” and it was such a moving mix of comedy, of drama and music, taking the audience on a tour following two men on their journey together as partners. It was the epitome of local theater with big stage talent.

Day of the Dead celebration: “[It] is one of my favorites, and I think it’s so much fun. And you know, [event founder and puppeteer] Jim Hammond just put on such cool stuff… he’s sort of that predecessor of the Fort Lauderdale art scene. Day of the Dead, I think, is a really fun festival because it brings all these artists and creators and musicians and cultures together.

The Fort Lauderdale Swimming Hall of Fame is part of the newly renovated Aquatics Center, which is set to begin its $50 million makeover in December.

Lilly calls herself a “story nerd” and says she tried to incorporate interesting stories.

For example, the book includes the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, which “obviously talks about the history of swimming…but then that’s how, that’s how spring break is. arrivals, it’s because all the swim teams were coming and they would be training here in the winter. They’re like, ‘We have to come back for spring break.’ And so we got the whole spring break culture because of [competitive] swimming.

“I really wanted to make sure we were talking about all the different cultural institutions that we have here,” she adds. “We have The Wade-In in 1961 [to desegregate Fort Lauderdale beach], and there is a large plaque on Fort Lauderdale Beach right in front of the Elbo room. It’s just crazy to think that all my friends… wouldn’t have been allowed to go swimming. The fact that Fort Lauderdale recognizes this and they have registration…the NAACP and local students have made such a fuss here…So while you’re at the Elbo hall, cross the street and just take a second to read this panel and really think about what it means.

The Wade-In Memorial commemorates the protest events that sought to desegregate the beaches of Fort Lauderdale in 1961.

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