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Quality of Life
Known for its inviting year-round warm climate, robust cultural offerings, fine restaurants and recreational attractions, Greater Fort Lauderdale offers an unsurpassed lifestyle. In fact, many communities have been recognized nationally for their high quality of life, including “family friendliness,” top schools, recreational programs and housing programs.
With miles of sandy beaches, hundreds of parks, golf courses and tennis courts, gardens, festivals, as well as boating and diving facilities, residents of Greater Fort Lauderdale can enjoy the outdoors at any time of the year. And as a cosmopolitan urban center, the region offers an abundance of music, art, opera, theater, dance and multi-cultural attractions.
In Greater Fort Lauderdale, a typical weekend often involves choosing among inviting cultural and recreational options:
• Watching the Florida Panthers National Hockey League team at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise or enjoying a Broadway musical at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.
• Enjoy the Riverwalk Sunday Jazz Festival along the New River.
• Visiting one of many art gallery walks in Fort Lauderdale, Wilton Manors or Hollywood; or strolling along the Atlantic Ocean on Hollywood’s historic Broadwalk.
• Shopping and dining along Las Olas Boulevard or enjoying “family time” at a favorite bistro in Coral Springs, Weston or Plantation.
• Playing a challenging round of golf or heading out to the Gulf Stream for deep sea fishing.
In Greater Fort Lauderdale, it’s easy to pursue favorite leisure-time pursuits or explore new and exciting activities.
Along with its natural beauty and urban sophistication, Greater Fort Lauderdale offers a wide array of neighborhoods – each with its own distinctive lifestyle. There are cozy bungalows near the beach, historic estate homes along the New River, family-oriented suburban neighborhoods and western-style ranches. Many communities are among the most appealing in the nation. For example:
• Pembroke Pines, Tamarac and Sunrise were recognized by Business Week magazine as best places to raise children.
• Coral Springs, Miramar and Weston have been named among the 100 best small cities in America by Money magazine.
• Fort Lauderdale – long known as the “Venice of America” for its canals and nautical ambiance – was recently ranked as one of the country’s “100 Best Places to Live and Launch a Business” by CNN Money.
• Cooper City was named “One of the Ten Best Towns for Families” by Family Circle in 2007.
• Hollywood was selected as a 2007 “All-America City” for its initiatives on behalf of early childhood literacy, community involvement and affordable housing.
• Plantation was named one of “100 Best Communities for Young People” in 2008 by America’s Promise Alliance, the nation’s largest organization dedicated to children and youth.
• Hollywood was designated an “All America City” in 2007, Pompano Beach and Lauderhill were designated in 2005 and Pembroke Pines in 2004.
With a wide array of housing options and a variety of recreational activities, Greater Fort Lauderdale residents clearly enjoy an exceptionally high quality of life.
Many cities in Greater Fort Lauderdale have signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement that calls for a seven percent reduction in greenhouse gases below 1990 levels by 2012. Here is a sampling of recent “green” initiatives being embraced in area communities:
• City incentives to residents for going green
Photo: LakeShore Plaza II, silver-level LEED-certified office building in Plantation, FL. Courtesy: Stiles
Parks, Recreation and Environmental Preservation
In 2000, Broward voters passed the Safe Parks and Land Preservation Bond Referendum, authorizing $400 million toward preserving and reclaiming remaining natural lands, as well as restoring the aging park system. Since then, the Broward County Board of County Commissioners, recognizing the need to improve the quality of life in an urban environment, identified the creation of a county-wide system of greenways and trails as a priority goal.
Broward County's Greenways System will be a fully-funded, county-wide network of safe, clean bicycle and equestrian paths, nature trails and waterways. Greenways will connect neighborhoods from the Everglades to the Atlantic Ocean, to conservation lands, parks and recreation facilities, cultural and historic sites, schools and business areas. The system will provide opportunities for recreation, restoration and enhancement of native vegetation and wildlife habitat, and alternative modes of transportation.
Parks in Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County
With an average daily high of 90°F in the summer and 78°F in the winter, it’s almost always a great day to go to a park in sunny Broward County. Local municipalities – as well as county government – operate hundreds of parks offering a wide range of activities, including aquatics, nature walks, batting cages, boat rides, racquet centers, water skiing, horseback riding, target ranges, skate parks — you name it!
Broward County Parks and Recreation Division manages 16 regional parks, five nature centers, and 18 natural area sites at various stages of completion, for a total of more than 6,500 acres. The division is a past winner of the National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management. The division also offers classes for many leisure activities, including “Commit 2B Fit™ — It Starts in Parks,” a fitness program that helps residents maintain an active lifestyle. For information about any county facilities, classes or activities, call the park directly or contact:
Broward County Parks and Recreation Division
Each year, Greater Fort Lauderdale residents can enjoy hundreds of local festivals that celebrate various themes, anniversaries and cultures from the Seminole Tribal Festival and the Orange Blossom Festival to the Flamenco in the Sun and the Sistrunk Historical Festival. For example, the Broward County Fair (www.browardcountyfair.com) is an annual event that includes headliner concerts, more than 100 rides, games, concerts and other attractions.
For many residents, one of the highlights of the December holiday season is the
Winterfest Boat Parade (www.winterfestparade.com), which features an evening parade of lighted boats along the Intracoastal Waterway.
Arts lovers throughout South Florida flock to the Las Olas Art Fair (www.artfestival.com), one of the state’s most popular outdoor festivals for the arts. The 23nd annual free event will be held in January 1-2 and March 5-6, 2011.
Each year the Florida Renaissance Festival (www.ren-fest.com) offers a re-enactment of Renaissance life in February and March, while the annual Maroone HispanicFest in Pembroke Pines (www.hispanicunity.org/hispanicfest) celebrates Hispanic culture and traditions.
For a listing of Festivals, visit www.broward.org/arts and click on Cultural Directory and then on Festivals.
Photo: "Cinderella" boat in the Winterfest Boat Parade
Arts and Culture
“Art works….Artists are entrepreneurs, small business owners all, great placemakers and community builders. Bring artists into the center of town and that town changes profoundly. We know now that people do not migrate to businesses, it is the other way around. Businesses look for a skilled, motivated, educated workforce, and will move to where that is. And what does that workforce look for? In survey after survey, the answer is education and culture…” Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts, Rocco Landesman.
The Broward Center for the Performing Arts (www.browardcenter.org) opened its doors in 1991 on the northern bank of the New River, the site of Fort Lauderdale's first trading post. Since then, the Broward Center has remained true to the historic site's legacy of serving as a community gathering place and spurring economic development while also pioneering new national models for integrating the arts into people's lives. Designed by award-winning architect Benjamin C. Thompson, the Broward Center is considered an architectural jewel at the cultural heart of Broward County.
The Broward Center is a large, multi-venue arts and entertainment complex featuring the beautiful 2,700-seat Au-Rene Theater, the intimate 590-seat Amaturo Theater and the flexible 250–400-seat Abdo New River Room. Internationally recognized as one of the nation’s most visited theaters, the Broward Center is ranked high among its peers in terms of ticket sales according to leading industry trade publication surveys, with a recent #4 ranking by Venues Today and a consistent place in the top ten in Pollstar.
Founded in 1987 as Broward’s own professional orchestra, Symphony of the Americas (SOTA) has experienced continuous growth, bringing the best of classical music blended with new Latin compositions to the multi-cultural population of South Florida. SOTA provides a subscription concert series in its performance home at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, offers educational experiences, and performs on three continents during its summer music festival. Dr. James Brooks-Bruzzese, the founding artistic director of SOTA, is a winner of the prestigious National Hispanic Heritage Arts Award presented annually at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. SOTA programming includes internationally recognized guest artists, world premieres of new works by Latin American composers, and a European chamber orchestra summer residency program. Its educational concert experiences serve 20,000 South Florida students, with summer educational experiences for 10,000 Latin American students.
The Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale (www.moafl.org), founded in 1958, is well known for its exhibitions, which have ranged from Tutankhamen and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs to the Norman Rockwell Exhibition And Latin Amerian Artists Exhibition. It also houses a highly regarded Artist in Residence Program, which broadens the sphere of conversation about contemporary art. The museum, which is affiliated with Nova Southeastern University, also offers courses in painting, drawing, design and other disciplines taught by professional artists, along with an active performing arts program.
Museum of Discovery and Science (www.mods.org) recently broke ground on a new EcoDiscovery Center, a 31,000 square foot addition due to open in late 2011. The museum’s mission is to provide experiential pathways to lifelong learning in science for children and adults through exhibits, programs and films. Founded in 1976 as The Discovery Center, the nonprofit Fort Lauderdale facility includes a wide variety of exhibits and the AutoNation IMAX Theater, home of the largest movie screen in South Florida.
Art and Culture Center of Hollywood
In Fort Lauderdale, F.A.T. (Flagler Arts & Technology) Village offers monthly art walks for you to mingle in artist studios and galleries, attend one of two black box theater productions, learn about the art of puppetry or experience an art installation in the oversized warehouse spaces.
Also in Fort Lauderdale is Sailboat Bend Artist Lofts, a 37-unit artist live/work space close to the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District offering monthly gallery exhibition of residents and special guest artists.
Just north of downtown is Wilton Manors, a burgeoning artist community that is always jumping with activity whether it be a parade, festival or gallery night walk.
For a fun, off-beat evening, Cinema Paradiso offers year-round screenings of independent films from around the globe highlighted by filmmaker lectures and international festivities.
Just south in the City of Hollywood, one can enjoy a Symphony of the Americas concert under the stars in the ArtsPark at Young Circle, catch a contemporary art exhibition at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, experience live theater at the Hollywood Central Performing Arts Center or meet a published author at the Holocaust Documentation and Educational Center and soon to be home of the South Florida Holocaust Museum.
There is so much to choose from, day or night, indoors or outdoors, black tie or casual. Broward County has it all. To keep your finger on the pulse of the arts scene visit www.ArtsCalendar.com.
Cultural Facility Construction
Broward County Library
As the ninth-largest library system in the United States, Broward County Library (www.broward.org/library) touches the lives of the public once every second during its regular operating hours. With 37 locations, Broward County Library encompasses a flagship Main Library, the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center, the Alvin Sherman Library, Research, and Information Technology Center at Nova Southeastern University (the largest library in Florida), seven regional libraries and 30 branch libraries.
In addition to circulating materials and information access, Broward County Library brings a rich and diverse selection of programs, special events and classes throughout the year. Each year, the community looks forward to annual library events such as the Children's Reading Festival, Pan African Bookfest and Cultural Conference, Literary Feast and StoryBook Festival.
The African-American Research Library and Cultural Center is one of a handful of libraries of its kind in the nation, including the Schomburg Center for Research in New York and the Auburn Avenue Research Library of Atlanta. The library houses over 85,000 books, manuscripts, artifacts and documents with special emphasis on the history of people of African, African-American and Caribbean descent. Since its opening in October 2002, the AARLCC has displayed over 38 major exhibits and offered more than 200 cultural programs to more than one million people, and has hosted many celebrities and noted national and international authors and speakers. The 60,000 square foot building was a design collaboration by award-winning interior designer Cecil Hayes, public art designer Gary Moore and the largest African-American owned architectural and engineering firm in the U.S., PAWA Complex International.
The Place for Entertainment!
Top acts and shows appear regularly in Greater Fort Lauderdale at venues such as the BankAtlantic Center, Hard Rock Live and the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Following are a few recent examples:
• A Chorus Line
The 2010-2011 line up of Broadway includes:
Golfers of all skill levels can choose from more than 40 courses including exclusive private clubs, premier municipal facilities and leading resort courses. For more information, contact the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau at www.sunny.org. Click on Sports, then Golf, for a directory of courses and a free Greater Fort Lauderdale Golf Guide.
Leading Shopping Venues
Shopping is a favorite activity for Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County residents and visitors. While every neighborhood has its retail centers, the largest mall in the region is Sawgrass Mills in Sunrise, one of the state’s most popular shopping destinations. Other major suburban centers include Coral Ridge Mall, Broward Mall (now known as Westfield Broward), Pembroke Lakes Mall and the Pompano Square Mall.
In the eastern part of the county, The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale is an upscale shopping center, while Las Olas Boulevard is a favorite location for outdoor dining, shopping and entertainment. Along the New River, the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District includes cafés, boutiques and outdoor entertainment in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
Professional and Spectator Sports
Professional football, baseball, hockey, basketball and soccer are readily accessible to Greater Fort Lauderdale sports fans. In Sunrise, BankAtlantic Center is home to the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers.
Just to the south, the National Football League’s Miami Dolphins – who captured the AFC East Division Championship in 2008 – play at Sun Life Stadium. A short drive down I-95 in downtown Miami is American Airlines Arena, home court for the 2006 NBA champion Miami Heat – now home to superstars Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Fans can also enjoy the Florida Marlins baseball team (World Series champions in 1997 and 2003) and the Miami FC professional soccer team.
Gaming and Pari-Mutuel
Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County residents and guests can enjoy harness, thoroughbred and greyhound racing, as well as Jai Alai, “the world’s fastest sport,” in a variety of pari-mutuel facilities. In addition, these venues offer fast-paced gaming action, including slot machines, table games and poker.
Dania Jai Alai
Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino
Isle Casino and Racing at Pompano Park
Mardi Gras Casino at Hollywood Greyhound Track
Seminole Casino Coconut Creek
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Seminole Hollywood Casino
Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Rental Market
Note: Rental rates per month, first quarter 2010.
Whether you prefer an executive home in a family neighborhood, an urban contemporary apartment or a lavish condominium with a breathtaking ocean view, housing choices in Greater Fort Lauderdale are unlimited. Many gated communities feature spacious homes and amenities such as health clubs, tennis, clubhouses and golf.
Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County also offers business professionals a wide selection of corporate housing options. This concept provides temporary lodging with all of the comforts of a home away from home. Strategically located throughout the area, corporate housing can be found near almost any major business operation.
Corporate Housing in Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County
ATB Furnished Housing
Embassy Suites Fort Lauderdale – 17th Street
Extended Stay Hotels
Stress Free Corporate Housing
The Perfect Place
Broward Calendar of Events