Marinas in Fort Lauderdale have become the epicenter for boaters these days. It wasn’t long ago that certain spots in Florida, notably Fort Lauderdale and Daytona, were magnets for rowdy MTV generation partygoers. And all of the stories you heard (or participated in) are true—longtime Lauderdale hotel managers, particularly the ones who made it through the 80s, can tell you stories of dozen-per-room occupancies and neighbors overrun by armies of drunken collegiates that would swoop down upon the city annually.
Fast forward to 2008—the spring-break years are merely a footnote in the city’s celebrated history. Fort Lauderdale is now one of Florida’s most beautifi ed cities as well as a prime spot for sophisticated vacationers. A heightened tax base, helped by the infl ux of affl uent visitors and residents, allows Lauderdale to come into its own year after year, and the pleasure-boat crowd reaps the benefi ts.
Long a hot spot for cruise ships and mega-yachts, Fort Lauderdale marinas have kept up with the transition and offer some of the best equipped and cleanest marinas on the coast. Even those that aren’t endowed with a big bank account can enjoy the amenities normally reserved for more prosperous guests.
And don’t forget those four-thousand-plus dining establishments that dot Broward County. Forget the sketchy pub-grub,
Lauderdale rates as one of the best destinations in Florida for dining and entertainment. We detail many of the top places
to eat below but don’t be afraid to just head out and wing it, there is plenty to see and do in most every direction. Enjoy!
Things to See and DoFort Lauderdale bills itself as “The Venice of America,” and rightfully so. There are more than 300 miles of canals running
through this bustling commercial and cultural center. Opulent residences—with accompanying yachts, of course— line the waterfronts. If you want an up-close view while moving between points take the Water Taxi (954-467-6677). Riding the yellow-and-green boats is a great way to get your bearings and to become familiar with Fort Lauderdale’s busy waterways. The Water Taxi lets you avoid street traffic, too, but if you wish to call a cab or rent a car here—well, that’s
The Water Taxi cruises along a 5.5-mile stretch of the ICW between the 17th Street Bridge and East Oakland Park Boulevard, and into the New River to downtown and the Los Olas Riverfront. It stops at or near the major entertainment, dining, drinking, and shopping spots. With the Water Taxi, cabs, and public buses, you may never need to move your own boat while you’re in town. Of course, since just about everything is close to the water, you may want to simply walk from your marina, many of which are centrally located or are destinations themselves, featuring all the services, supplies,
and amenities that you may need.
A favorite stroll is along the New River in downtown, where its Riverwalk winds along the banks from around Cooley’s Landing heading east to the Stranahan House nea rRoute 1 and its tunnel. Native Americans once brought their ocean catches here to trade as did early settlers, who would dispatch their goods via rail to the north. In the midst of all the activity was Mr. Frank Stranahan, one of the fi rst businessmen in Fort Lauderdale. His home, Stranahan House (335 S.E. 6th Avenue, 954-524-4736), is now an historic museum, where it once served as a trading post, town hall, post offi ce, and bank.
Every Saturday and Sunday at noon, Fort Lauderdale Historical Society (219 SW 2nd Ave.; 954-463-4431) guides tours of the Historic District, which includes the Philemon Bryan House (227 SW 2nd Avenue), built in 1905, and the King-Cromartie House (229 SW 2nd Avenue), built in 1907. Its fl oor joists are made from ship’s timbers and showcases the lives of early pioneers.
If you’ve caught Fort Lauderdale off-season, the Museum of Discovery and Science (401 SW 2nd Street; 954-467-6637) and its IMAX Theater are good indoor alternatives on a hot day. It’s connected by a waterfront promenade to the beautiful Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW 5th Avenue, 954-522-5334). Nearby, you’ll fi nd the Old Fort Lauderdale Village and Museum (219 SW 2nd Ave.; 954-463-4431) and the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art (1 E Las Olas Boulevard; 954-525-5500).
While in the historic district, you will fi nd plenty of cafes and shops on or near the Riverwalk and Las Olas Boulevard, a tony, eclectic street that is within easy walking distance of Cooley’s Landing (954-828-4626) and New River Downtown
(954-828-5423). Both municipal facilities welcome transients and offer ample deepwater dockage. Water, electricity, telephone and cable TV are available at each berth.
It’s just under 2 miles from the Stranahan House to the city of Fort Lauderdale’s other marina, Las Olas City Docks, just off the beach. A block to the south is the International Swimming Hall of Fame (1 Hall of Fame Drive; 954-462-6536). Check out the museum, especially the racing (notracy) suits of old. You may be lucky enough to see the next Michael Phelps swim at one of the Olympic training pools here. Abutting this famous athletic complex is the Hall of Fame Marina (954-764-3975), a Westrec facility that is perfectly situated in the heart of the beach district.
If you’re only in town for a day or two, defi nitely make a trip to the beach. Lauderdale’s lengthy expanse of sand-swept
coastline is a perfect spot to fi nd a comfortable chair, umbrella and a good book. For lunch there are dozens of eateries
along A1A, most notably Galleria Mall on East Sunrise Boulevard which hosts scores of restaurants. The Water Taxi stops here, too, just a few steps from Sunrise Harbor Marina (954-667-6720), a Westrec property famed for its megayachts. Bring the camera to Sunrise Harbor; you may spot someone famous.
On your way to the beach, visit the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens (900 North Birch Road; 954-563-5393). Once the home of Frederic Clay Bartlett, a friend of Henry Flagler, the structure is one of the last remaining structures of its kind in Fort Lauderdale. Thirty-fi ve well-kept acres make up the estate and allow visitors a glimpse of an ecosystem now lost to high-rises and strip-malls.
Restaurants and ProvisionsDockside dining and drinking is commonplace, of course, in Fort Lauderdale. A popular ICW haunt is Houston’s (SM 1056, 2821 E Atlantic Boulevard Pompano Beach; 954-783-9499), which you’ll find up at the Atlantic Boulevard Bridge. Farther south at the Oakland Park Boulevard Bridge are Charley’s Crab (SM 1060.6, 3000 N.E. 32nd Avenue; 954-561-4800) and the neighboring Shooters (SM 1060.6, 3033 NE 32nd Ave.; 954-566-2855).
Continuing south on the ICW, head to the Galleria Mall at the Sunrise Boulevard Bridge. Destination restaurants at the Galleria include The Capital Grill, Blue Martini, and Seasons 52. For a complete list, visit www.galleriamall-fl .com. 15th Street Fisheries (SM 1065.7, 1900 SE 15th Street; 954-763-2777) at Fort Lauderdale Marina is a local favorite, and offers the convenience of a full-service marina. For the budget conscious try Southport Raw Bar (SM 1065.7, 1536 Cordova Road; 954-525-2526) on the 15th Street Canal.
On the SE 17th Street Causeway, solid favorites are Bimini Boatyard (954-525-7400), the Grille 66 and Bar (2301 SE 17th St.; 954-728-3500) and Pelican Bar and Grill at Pier 66 (2301 SE 17th St.; 954-525 6666). Across the street, try Fish
(1850 Southeast 17th Street Causeway; 954-527-5433) in the Portside complex, or Giorgio’s Brick Oven Pizza (1499 SE
17th St.; 954-767-8300) for a casual atmosphere.
The restaurant scene on Las Olas Boulevard is very competitive. Mark Militello gets credit for putting South Florida
on the national culinary map with his original contemporary cuisine. Mark’s (1032 East Las Olas Blvd.; 954-463-1000) signature dishes, such as pan seared Ingrid sea scallops with Jerusalem artichokes and crab-crusted black grouper, are balanced with gourmet wood-oven pizzas. Militello received a James Beard Award for best regional chef, and it’s quite an
honor for Las Olas and the whole region, which competes with New York and California for some of the fi nest fare in
the country. Keeping up on the trends and the in-places is like following the stock market.
Another one for your list to not miss is Johnny V’s (625 E Las Olas Boulevard; 954-761-7920), a spot run by “Caribbean
Cowboy” Johnny Vinczencz, a local celebrity chef who has gained national acclaim for his Caribbean-infl uenced
New Floridian Cuisine.
While The Grill Room at the boutique Riverside Hotel (620 E Las Olas Blvd.; 954-467-0671) has traditional American/
Continental fare, Indigo is its hip sister with lighter seafood-based dishes and imaginative preparations by Chef
For reasonably good food at an excellent price, try the Floridian (1410 E Las Olas Blvd.; 954-463-4041). Enjoy the French toast for breakfast or the $7 hamburger for lunch.
For groceries, a Whole Foods Market (954-565-5655, 2000 N Federal Highway) is located a couple of miles up Middle River. The major grocery chains in Fort Lauderdale are Publix (there are at least eight Publix Supermarkets in Fort Lauderdale alone) and Winn-Dixie. Ask your dockmaster to point out the nearest one.
For international and specialty items, the The Grateful Palate (817 SE 17th St.; 954-467-1998), the International Market
and Wine Depot (1428 SE 17th St.; 954-523-1400), and The British Depot Shop (1322 E Commercial Blvd.; 954-
491-4920) should be able to fi ll any order.
Looking for a Chart Kit or another Embassy Guide? Bluewater Books and Charts (1811 Cordova Road; 954-763- 6533) has ’em and more: charts, books, fl ags, navigational instruments, and updates for your electronic chart folio. Their store is about three-quarters of a mile west of the SE 17th St. Bridge. While you could go here just to browse, we recommend that you quiz the impressive staff, an experienced group with a library of knowledge who can tell you about a favorite restaurant or give local navigation advice for practically any cruising spot in the world. This is more of an information center than a book store. If you’re headed elsewhere, stop here fi rst. For boat supplies, call on Boat Owners Warehouse (954-522-7998), with locations in Pompano Beach and Rivera Beach. For electrical services, Wards Marine Electric (954-523-2815) will take excellent care of you.
Navigation and AnchoragesFort Lauderdale, a fine destination in its own right, also serves as the base of operations for those cruising farther
south to the Bahamas or west into the Gulf of Mexico. And for good reason: the myriad choices of boatyards and amenities rival those along the entire Atlantic seaboard. And although you might stand the chance of scraping paint inseason, he ICW and seaward entrance are well-marked and generally hassle-free, navigation-wise.
Navigating the ICW—SM 1059 to SM 1066
Be on the lookout for slow speed zones—usually 1,500 feet before and after bridges and marinas. From November 15 to March 15, many of the canals and sections of the ICW also become no-wake zones for protection of the manatee.
On the ICW, Fort Lauderdale begins with the 15-foot-high Commercial Boulevard Bridge at SM 1059 in Lauderdaleby- the-Sea. This bridge and the 22-foot-high Oakland Park Beach Boulevard Bridge at SM 1060.5 are surrounded by restaurants, bars, and commercial properties.
Slightly more than one statue mile past Oakland Park Beach Boulevard Bridge, the ICW zigzags past Hugh Taylor
Birch State Park on the eastern shore. To the west, just before the 24-foot-high Sunrise Boulevard Bridge at SM 1062.6, is
Sunrise Harbor Marina (954-667-6720) and its jaw-dropping collection of transient mega-yachts. The exceptional facilities
here are matched by convenience as the Galleria Mall and Fort Lauderdale Beach are within walking distance.
South of the Sunrise Boulevard Bridge the ICW jogs slightly east and you’ll spot Middle River’s entrance to the west. This river joins from the north and supplies water to residential neighborhoods. Although there’s no commercial dockage here, many properties offer long-term, non-liveaboard dockage. Check Dockfi nders (954-771-2680) or pick up a copy of Waterfront News (www.waterfront-news.com) to view classifi ed pages advertising docks for rent.
Continuing on the ICW, just before the Las Olas Boulevard Bridge at SM 1064.1, you see the fi rst of three city-owned marinas, Las Olas Marina (954-828-7200) on the ICW. Cooley’s Landing (954-828-4626) and New River Downtown (954-828-5423) are downtown on the New River. Las Olas Marina caters mainly to transients—mega-yachts are especially welcome. The docks extend south of the bridge as well, and across the way the city operates a mooring fi eld.
Neighboring the city facility to the south is the Hall of Fame Marina (954-764-3975). If you’re not up for a swim at
the beach, maybe you should jump into one of the Olympic pools here. Hall of Fame Marina welcomes yachts up to 135
Next up heading south are the sprawling 40 acres of docks of the Bahia Mar Beach Resort & Yachting Center (954-
764-2233). For the cruise weary, this is an excellent stop. Beautiful Fort Lauderdale Beach is across the street, and there
is also a lovely rooftop pool and a spa.
South of the Bahia Mar Yachting Center at Q G 16ft 4M “13” the waterway turns almost due west. If proceeding up
the New River, put RG “A” on your portside and follow the marks beginning with R “2” ahead to downtown. New River
navigation is covered in the next section.
If you are going to continue south on the ICW and the Stranahan River to Pier Sixty-Six, the Fort Lauderdale Grande
Hotel & Yacht Club, the Port Everglades Inlet or beyond, take RG “A” to starboard and locate Fl G 2.5s 16ft 3M “17” and Fl
R 4s “18” ahead to stay out of the no man’s land that has piled up at this interchange.
It can get confusing at this spot, and you have to stay within the channels; otherwise, you may run aground. (See
our notes in the New River Navigation section.) The Lauderdale Yacht Club has private markers that reach the channel just south of G “25.” To safely turn into Pier Sixty-Six or the Lauderdale Marina, 15th Street Fisheries & Dockside Cafe, or the Fort Lauderdale Grande Hotel and Yacht Club, remain in the channel until at least Fl G 4s 16ft 4M “27.” Watch for side-setting currents when approaching these fuel docks.
A starboard turn just north of Lauderdale Marina will take you to the entrance to the Grande’s inner docks or further
down the 15th Street Canal to the mega-yacht complex of the Boathouse of Fort Lauderdale.
New River Navigation
Unlike most of the Miami River to the south, the New River offers some enjoyable sight-seeing. The original name for this river was Himmarshee, meaning “shining new water.” Records of the New River date back to the 16th century when it was one of the first of two rivers in the New World to be charted by Spanish explorers.
Negotiating the New River is a straightforward affair once you master the entrance off the ICW and the bridges. Southbound cruisers will set up for the entrance shortly after making the big curve at Bahia Mar passing Q G 16ft 4M “13.” The ICW heads southwest at SM 1065, while the river bears ever so slightly west-northwest. Because vessels southbound from the river have a separate channel to the ICW, there is a proliferation of day marks and fl ashers in this area. Best to study the chart beforehand, because there is a very shallow triangle of doom awaiting those who get it wrong.
To enter the river from the north (after passing Fl R 4s 12ft 3M “16”) your next mark is RG “A.” Put this on your port
and head to split G “1” and R “2,” to pass Fl R 4s 16ft “6.” At this point you are past the shoals and the southbound route
for the outgoing river traffi c; it’s all red-right-returning from here. Passing canal ends and mansions, there is a bit of a slalom through R “10,” G “11,” and R “12” and the entrance to the shallow Tarpon River on port. Don’t go there. After R “12” the path ahead is clear and wide enough for the usual traffi c. Except for a shoal on the south side between R “12” and the SE 3rd Avenue Bridge, the river is deep and obstruction-free until some shoaling around I-95 in the South Fork.
The fi rst bridge is 16-foot-high SE 3rd Avenue, and it’s immediately followed by 21-foot-high Andrews Avenue
Bridge. Remember, the bridge tenders in Florida respond on VHF 9. Next is the FEC Railroad Bridge, which is usually up
except for passing trains—a lighted sign board will announce the waiting time. It can get congested here, so if you have a
single-screw vessel or control issues, consider making at least your fi rst trip west on an outgoing tide. The next bridge at 7th Avenue has a 20-foot clearance and it marks the end of the heavily traveled downtown riverfront area. Continue on your generally southwest heading to the New River Fork, marked by a sign on the seawall. You’ll want the South Fork that turns sharply to port and then makes a wacky hairpin around an unlikely bit the locals call “Little Florida.” This turn requires
your full attention, particularly if the Jungle Queen sightseeing boat or mega-yachts with their tugs are outbound.
The next obstacle is the 21-foot-high Davie Boulevard Bridge. After passing this bridge, a number of residential
canals open on your port, so watch for merging traffi c. The 90-degree turn ahead marks the fi rst entrance to Pier 17 Marina and Yacht Club (954-525-0174), a developing mega-yacht facility on the historic Marina Mile. If it’s been fi ve or more years since you’ve been up to the Marina Mile, It’s time for another visit. You may be surprised at some of
the changes; although, some of the usual suspects are still around.
Nearby, Lauderdale Marine Center (954-713-0333) is one of the largest marine facilities in Florida. Its docks stick
far into the water, all the more unbelievable for the size of the yachts that tie up outside of the face dock.
Before you transit this section, it’s best to call on VHF 16 and see if there are any out-bound vessels approaching, because they may be in your blind spot. You defi nitely do not want to surprise the Jungle Queen here at low tide. Past this area are many marine facilities: Jackson Marine Center to the north and a string to the south beginning with Marina Bay Yacht Club & Resort (954-791-7600), a fun and friendly yacht resort surrounded by apartments, a restaurant, clubhouse and pool. The management hosts regular mixers and movie nights.
Next up is the unique Yacht Haven Park and Marina (954-583-2322), an RV park with docks. It is an unusual place but very friendly. If you have been missing the proximity of grass and trees, this is for you. Beyond are several fi rstclass
repair facilities such as Cable Marine (954-587-4000), Bradford Marine (954-791-3800), and Roscioli Yachting Center (954-581-9200), home of Donzi Yachts. Billfi sh Marina (954-587-6226) is a complex comprised of transient
and long-term dockage surrounded by every conceivable marine service supplier.
For detailed information about the bridges in this section,consult our Bridge Tables, located in the front of the book.
AnchoragesThere are two bonafide overnight anchorages in Broward County. Near SM 1064, just south of the Las Olas Boulevard
Bridge, there are mooring floats that can be picked up as well as room to anchor. The dinghy landing is at the foot of the bridge. Moorings are maintained by the Fort Lauderdale City Marina with a maximum stay of 30 days. Hail the dockmaster
on VHF 16.
Lake Sylvia is south of Bahia Mar Beach Resort Turn toward the marina docks north of Q G 16ft 4M “13” and steer
toward the seawall. You will see the opening to this lake just east of a point with single-family homes. Keep toward the
seawall side on approach and then move toward the center of the lake, where it’s free and legal for a one-night stay.