Yes, it rained on and off almost every day of our four-day trip, but it was actually a nice respite from the humid weather. And it didn't spoil our fun. Fort Lauderdale was a pleasant surprise for this southern California native and here's why.
Lounge chairs and umbrellas are included in the resort fee. Beverage service is available on the beach from the comfort of your chair. As tempting as it was to stay at the resort, I couldn't resist exploring nearby attractions.
It was about a 20-minute drive to this park in Florida's Everglades. The facility gives tours via airboats and has animal exhibits. On our tour through the river trails, our guide (Gator Tim) made a sound that attracted an alligator or two to swim toward our boat. It was an amazing experience to ride through the vast acres of Everglades and see these allegedly shy creatures make their way toward us.
After about an hour, we docked and visited the rescued and injured animals that live in the park's exhibits. Among the numerous animals are alligators, leopards and panthers. The onsite Alligator Grill food truck serves gator bites, burgers and many other items. The most popular food item? Gator bites and tacos!
The glass bottom boat affords views of the underwater world while cruising but the best part was jumping in the ocean to snorkel. Gear is provided and a crew member points out starfish and other creatures. The aquamarine water was warm and clear, making it easy to see the abundant colorful plants, reefs and sea life.
One flat rate ($26 adults, $12 ages 5 - 11) gives you unlimited boarding all day. Hop on and off at any of the 15 stops or stay onboard for the full narrated tour of mansions, mega yachts (shown left is Steven Spielberg's), restaurants and shopping districts. It's a relaxing way to get around and learn a bit about the area.
The Marriott's three diverse restaurants all offer ocean views, so meal times are always pleasant here. I especially liked the casual Sea Level restaurant, which as the name states, is on the beach. Burgers, wraps, tacos, salads and a bar make this a quick and easy meal option. 3030 Ocean is an upscale restaurant featuring a new menu daily. After a day in the sun or sightseeing, it's ncie to dress up and enjoy a more formal meal here.
Off property we ate at the Mai Kai restaurant, featuring a somewhat tropical cuisine and an authentic Polynesian show complete with pulling guests up on stage to hula.
Hands-on activities include fancy finger painting, soaked shirt relay race, beach soccer, freeze tag, Velcro laser tag and beach volleyball. The open-door policy allows kids who are registered and wearing a wristband to come and go as they please.