Located in the heart of one of our nation’s largest metropolitan areas, Fort Lauderdale is lucky to be at the center of a diverse group of neighboring cities and towns. Go 30 to 40 minutes in any direction and you'll be enjoying everything from fishing to canoeing to horseback riding. While not all of it fits the classic definition of eco-tourism, we're sure that anything you do to get outside and enjoy our beautiful scenery will convince you that it's worth protecting for the future. So, check out the eco-tourism opportunities in our own city, and then try some of these.
Everglades National Park - One of the true wonders of the world, Everglades National Park is a site not to be missed. Experience the serenity of the river of grass, catch a glimpse of an alligator, or thrill to an airboat ride. Once you see the Everglades, you'll have a new understanding of why it is so important to the health of our region's ecosystem, to our water management, and why we must all preserve and protect it.
Florida State Parks - The State of Florida maintains several wonderful green spaces in and around Fort Lauderdale. Each offers a unique array of outdoor activities and natural views. Our state parks afford the opportunity for activities like bird watching, geo-caching, nature trails and shelling. In Fort Lauderdale, there is Hugh Taylor Birch State Park where you can see what an original Florida Woodland Hammock looked like and then walk across the street to enjoy the beach. Just south of us are John U. Loyd Beach State Park in Dania Beach, and Oleta River State Park in North Miami.
Broward County Parks - Step just outside our city limits and you'll see that our suburbs have a lot to offer too. Try starting in Fort Lauderdale on a bicycle and take our greenways to other area parks. Visit nature centers at- Anne Kolb, Fern Forest, Long Key, and Secret Woods. Explore trails at Central Broward Regional, Deerfield Island, Easterlin, Markham, Miramar Pineland, Plantation Heritage, Tradewinds, Tree Tops, and West Lake.
Gardens and Sanctuaries
Flamingo Gardens - On your way out to the Everglades, make a stop at Flamingo Gardens in neighboring Davie. It's a fine example of native trees and plants and also a sanctuary for rescued native birds and animals. Children will love the educational shows, tram ride and homemade smoothies. You'll love the peace and quiet and shade.
Butterfly World - Go north when you leave the Everglades and you're not far from one of the world's premier research centers. Butterfly World is both attraction and science center. You'll roam through gardens where butterflies and hummingbirds fly free, and explore a museum of some of the most beautiful, most creepy and largest bugs in the world. Kids will love to feed the lorikeets and see the butterfly nursery. You can pick up information about attracting butterflies to your own garden. There is also a wonderful park and playground just across from the main center.
Our many parks offer opportunities for bird watching throughout the region. Get more information through this Broward County - Checklist of Bird Sightings and on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail website. Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is location M90 on the trail.
Clean Boating and Fishing
Canoeing, Sailing, Boating - With over 300 miles of waterways, it's easy to see why we're the Yachting Capital of the World. When you're out of the water, you have an opportunity to get a glimpse of our marine wildlife up close. Find information on watersports and boating in our area, and then please be sure to Green Your Boating Routine.
Fishing - Where else can you find salt water and fresh water just a few minutes apart from each other. Fort Lauderdale is one of the world's few. That makes for great fishing, though it does highlight another reason why we pay close attention to sea level rise. Log on to Greater Fort Lauderdale - Fishing to find information about local sites and outfitters.
International Game Fishing Association Hall of Fame and Museum - This is the international gathering place for sport fishing. Just outside Fort Lauderdale's southern borders, it is located on a campus with a pro shop, scuba outfitter, seafood restaurant and large lake for instructional sailing. IGFAs museum teaches ocean conservation and respectful fishing practices.
Exploring the Trails
Cycling - Fort Lauderdale itself is a wonderful place to cycle, but if you're looking for a change of scenery you can get it by cycling further out. Go north or south oceanside to catch beautiful sea views the whole way. Take the greenways and go west. Stop at Markham Park to enjoy mountain biking trails. Or, head out near the Everglades and enjoy the smooth roads that run along its eastern border. Find out more at Broward County Parks - Bicycling or use the BIKE Broward Interactive Bicycle Trip Planning Application. You can also explore other cycling options through the Greater Fort Lauderdale - Cycling & Skating webpage.
Horseback Riding - Catch a glimpse of wild Florida by taking a quiet trail ride through some of the areas west of our city. The cities of Hollywood, Davie and Southwest Ranches are home to numerous farms focused on various riding styles, and together offer over 60 miles of continuous trails to explore. You can get information through Broward Parks - Horses webpage, or by searching for private provider information.
Geocaching - Our metro area is stocked with caches placed by public agencies and private groups or individuals. Check the geocaching.com website to locate them.