Southeast Florida has, in many ways, defined the tropical vacation experience. From the well-heeled mansions of Palm Beach, along the yacht-filled waterways of Fort Lauderdale and the towering glitter of Miami, through the Keys to Key West, this region is one of leisure and luxury, beaches and bathing suits, with one of the most highly developed tourist infrastructures in the world. What the various components of this region all have in common is the unbeatable year-round climate. Golf clubs, tennis rackets, beach umbrellas and fishing rods are as appropriate in January as they are in June.
Visitors may prefer the seclusion of a luxury resort or the sophistication of big-city nightlife, a cottage in the keys or a course-side condo at one of the region's superb golf courses, diving on North America's only living coral reef or the challenge of the polo grounds. In Southeast Florida they can have it all.
Long synonymous with the beach, Greater Miami has in the past decade taken on the luster of a truly international, world-class city. The beach is certainly still an important enticement to visitors, but the level of culture and sophistication of the city itself leaves little to be desired.
With a hotel industry that sets the pace in hospitality, Miami's accommodations range from self-contained sport and health resorts to beachfront luxury high-rise hotels. Dining is every bit as varied as accommodations. Regional specialties, of course, include plenty of fresh seafood and a dynamic infusion of Caribbean and Latin American presentations.
GREATER FORT LAUDERDALE
Greater Fort Lauderdale, once in the shadow of Miami's international appeal, has developed its own special brand of hospitality. It is rightly called the Venice of America. Nearly 300 kilometers of canals wind through the city and adjacent residential areas, providing easy and fast ocean access for both visiting and resident boaters alike. The warm waters of the Gulf Stream lie just offshore, offering ample opportunity for sailing, pleasure boating or fishing.
The most sophisticated pleasures, too, are easily accessible in Greater Fort Lauderdale. The shopping district of Las Olas Boulevard maintains a substantial reputation for fashionable and quality merchandise.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
Palm Beach County gained its reputation as a winter haven for the rich and powerful. While the area does maintain a high percentage of resident millionaires, the joys of a Palm Beach vacation are available to visitors of even the most moderate means.
Certainly luxury is easy to come by, but thousands of hotel rooms and an abundance of entertainment are geared for the large market that has discovered how much Palm Beach has to offer. More than 75 kilometers of beach are lapped by the warm waters of the Atlantic, and the area has more than 100 golf courses. The highly regarded Worth Avenue shopping district enjoys an international profile, should visitors' desires run to more refined entertainments.
KEYS AND KEY WEST
No visit to this region would be complete without at least a jaunt to the Keys. Nearly 50 islands in this chain, joined by the Overseas Highway, sweep south and west into the Gulf of Mexico, offering a genuine island paradise just a short drive from Southeast Florida's bustling cities.
Along the Keys the pace is different, decidedly -island - Luxury resorts and beachfront hotels have long ago learned what it is that visitors want and are adept at providing just the right kind of hospitality.
At the end of the road, Key West, the southernmost point in the U.S., is a living reminder of Keys history - and distinctive lifestyle. It's a relaxed lifestyle that lured Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams, and continues to entice visitors today.