Florida in the summer? Why not?
Some people think of the Sunshine State as a place to escape the woes of winter. But all of Florida's attractions -- and then some -- are there in the summer, too. What's more, discounts abound.
Take Fort Lauderdale. Since this Florida city said farewell to spring break rowdiness a half-dozen years ago, tourism has increased, and so have the attractions. The bright new Museum of Science and Discovery, for instance, is filled with hands-on exhibits, along with a $2 million IMAX cinema. And just in time for the "Jurassic Park" mania, there will be a summer-long exhibit of howling, growling, robotic dinosaurs.
The Broward Center for the Performing Arts, a multitheater complex, features ballets, Broadway musicals and "Summer Life" concerts by singers such as Dionne Warwick, Melissa Manchester and Roberta Flack. Both the museum and the performance center are in the downtown Arts and Science district, which leads to the Riverwalk, a burgeoning waterfront stretch of shops and restaurants. (At one such restaurant, the flag-festooned Riverwalk Brewery, the beer is brewed on the premises.)
In Greater Fort Lauderdale, you can walk among thousands of brightly colored butterflies at Butterfly World, look for 'gators during an airboat tour through the Everglades at Sawgrass Recreation Park, shop for many hours at Sawgrass Mills, one of the world's largest name-brand and designer outlet malls, or cheer for the baseball team that all Florida is going wild over, the Marlins, who play at Joe Robbie Stadium.
There are lots of water sports and golf. And, of course, there is the beach that made Fort Lauderdale famous. It has undergone a sparkling $26 million renovation, highlighted by a distinctive wave-patterned walk and wall.
From now through Dec. 15, a free "Sun Savor" card offers dozens of discounts in Greater Fort Lauderdale, such as 25 percent off a suite at the Guest Quarters Sunrise Hotel. For a Sun Savor card as well as information on affordable "Baseball & Broward County" vacation packages, call (800) 22-SUNNY, Ext. 711.