by Michael C. Lowe | June 27, 2013
Pit Stops

• The eclectic Las Olas Boulevard (, a mile-long stretch near Fort Lauderdale Beach, is home to myriad boutique retailers, alfresco dining options, museums, art galleries and other cultural institutions. 

• The Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop ( claims to have the largest drive-in movie theater and daily flea market (more than 2,000 vendors) in the world. 

• At Sawgrass Mills, the new Barbie's Real Life Dreamhouse (, above, offers 10,000 square feet of event space and more than 350 Barbie dolls on display.

Visitors can use the new "Fork Lauderdale" app to find dining options around the city. Download it from the iTunes store at

The Broward B-Cycle bike-share program has a new app to help visitors find stations and bikes.

[--articleimage id='LUNAR'--]LUNAR TUNES
Every full moon, the Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale, unveils a mystical moonlit lounge with music, tarot-card readers, specialty cocktails and telescopes for moon viewing. The party has no cover charge and benefits a local charity. (954) 465-2300;
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Greater Fort Lauderdale
The 219-room Marriott Fort Lauderdale Pompano Beach Oceanfront Hotel is set to open this month with 11,000 square feet of meeting space.

This month, the Marriott Fort Lauderdale/Pompano Beach Oceanfront Hotel is set to open with 219 guest rooms, approximately 11,000 square feet of meeting space, several outdoor swimming pools and a rooftop terrace with ocean views.

The $180 million, 304-unit Costa Hollywood condo-hotel is on target to open in 2014. Plans call for a gym, a spa, shops and three upscale restaurants, with meeting-space details to come.

The Margaritaville Resort is under construction and expected to open in 2014 with 350 guest rooms. The $138 million project will span five acres along Hollywood's famed boardwalk.

The 998-room Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, Fla., has opened a 14,000-square-foot Heavenly Spa by Westin with 10 treatment rooms, a halo­therapy salt steam room, a Vichy shower and a fitness center. The hotel also includes a 209,000-square-foot convention center.

The Broward Center for the Performing Arts recently unveiled a 1,200-square-foot club level that includes 70 "extra-roomy" theater seats. The space, which can be rented for private events, also offers a complimentary open bar and access to a private lounge with picture windows overlooking the stage.     

The Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center began offering free Wi-Fi to patrons in public spaces this past June. Last August, the center was awarded LEED Gold certification, making it one of only three convention facilities in the country to be thus designated for existing buildings.

Meeting Hotels
Fort Lauderdale properties include the 637-room Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa; 589-room Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina; 517-room W Fort Lauderdale; 486-room Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach; 433-room Westin Beach Resort, Fort Lauderdale; 384-room Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six; 358-room Embassy Suites Fort Lauderdale; 293-room Westin Fort Lauderdale; 240-room B Ocean Fort Lauderdale, and 225-room Renaissance Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port Hotel.

Hollywood has the 998-room Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa, 500-room Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino-Hollywood and 311-room Crowne Plaza Hollywood Beach Resort.

To find and compare more hotels, and to send RFPs, go to

Convention Center
Greater Fort Lauder­dale/Broward County Convention Center; exhibit space, approximately 200,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 31; (954) 765-5900;

Airport Transit
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Inter­national Airport, about six miles south of Fort Lauderdale. Transfer cost by taxi to Port Everglades and the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center, $10-$15; to Fort Lauderdale Beach, $18-$22; by shuttle to Port Everglades, $7-$10; to Fort Lauderdale Beach, $11-$18

Tourist Development Tax, 5%; sales tax, 6%; total tax on hotel rooms, 11% 

Group Venue
The historic waterfront Stranahan House is more than just a venue for living, breathing attendees; at night, the house serves as the launching point for Fort Lauderdale's River Ghost Tour. Food and drink are not allowed inside, so events are held on the adjoining riverside patio, which can accommodate up to 75 people. (954) 524-4736;

Dining Out
New to Fort Lauderdale's Las Olas Boulevard is American Social, a restaurant that offers casual dining and some 200 craft brews. Menu items range from seafood flat breads with a sriracha aioli to three types of mac and cheese. The space features all-American décor, HD TVs and a self-serve draft-beer wall where guests can pour their own pint. Two eight-person tables have beer taps built in for those who prefer staying seated while refilling their glass. (954) 764-7005;


The landmark Riverside Hotel
For a fun challenge, the vintage-1937 landmark Riverside Hotel  on Las Olas Boulevard features a new complimentary photo scavenger-hunt program for groups of 20 or more. Teams are sent around to historically significant areas of the hotel and to a variety of well-known Las Olas landmarks, where they use their smartphones to snap photos and earn points. Winners receive a $50 credit to be used at the hotel's various food and beverage outlets. The 219-room property offers a total of 11,000 square feet of indoor function space. (954) 377-0943;

Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, (954) 765-4466;