Fort Lauderdale: home to tropical gardens and great green spaces

Continuing his tour of this south-east Florida city, Simon Calder takes to two wheels as he goes back to nature to discover some of its wonderful wildlife  

Simon Calder
Tuesday 06 February 2018 16:05
Fort Lauderdale: home to tropical gardens and great green spaces

Fort Lauderdale has a rent-it-here, leave-it-there bicycle hire operation: just turn up with a credit card, release a bike and set yourself free. Use it to explore the Bonnet House, buried deep inside a tropical garden, and rich in art and architecture.

Hugh Taylor Birch, a Chicago lawyer, donated 40 acres of prime South Florida land to his daughter, and the Bonnet House was born in 1920. Today, it provides a snapshot of good taste from a century ago.

The very generous lawyer also bequeathed a huge tranche of territory to Florida which has now become a state park, named after him. Go biking, hiking or kayaking - and if you’re not prepared completely to disconnect from the rest of the world, there’s also free Wi-Fi.

Jennifer Roberts, the State Park manager, says: “It’s Fort Lauderdale’s Central Park — this little piece of what Florida was, with these natural habitats, and amazing wildlife that you just can’t see in the area any more. It’s just such a piece of history.”

Close by is one of the foremost Fort Lauderdale places to stay: the Pelican Grand Beach Resort. When they say “beach” they mean it: unlike some hotels there’s no road separating you from the sand. The property has a lovely South Florida vibe – and for the same price as what you might spend to stay in a mid-range location in Miami you get something really special: classic Sunshine State style with a modern twist. Plus, from your balcony, a view as wide as the ocean.

My America Holidays offers holidays to Fort Lauderdale from £599 per person*. Visit or call 020 8290 9751. Hertz car hire in Florida starts from just £21 per day. Visit

Discover more at @VisitFlorida #LoveFlorida

*Price includes flights and accommodation and is based on 2 adults and 2 children sharing on a room only basis with selected travel dates and departure airports. Prices may vary, are subject to availability and correct as of 15 January 2018. Book today with deposits from £59 per person (exclusions and terms and conditions apply)

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