Local Life and Lore in Fort Lauderdale

Insider tips and info that'll help you fit right in with any Fort Lauderdale crowd.

As Fort Lauderdale sheds its old reputation for being a spring break destination for "wild and crazy" college kids and transitions into a city for upscale residents and visitors, some growing pains are to be expected. Newcomers are continuously shaping the city. Locals can be defined as anyone who has lived in the city for more than a year. If you have gone through a hurricane, it adds extra authenticity to your "local" status. Here are some things insiders know:

Be flexible. The insider lesson to remember is things aren't always what they seem. Locals have learned to be flexible, open to change and quick to adapt as neighborhoods undergo growth and development.

Insiders also know there is so much to do here that you constantly have to make choices, but since you live here, you don't have to do it all in one week. Outsiders who consider Fort Lauderdale culturally lacking soon realize the opposite is the reality.

Off-season can be the best season. Insiders know that off-season is a great time to be in Fort Lauderdale. A round of golf at top courses can cost more than $100 in season and the courses are jammed. The same courses during the summer are in the $30 range and usually include lunch and a bucket of range balls. Locals also know you have to plan early in the day to avoid the afternoon storms that roll out of the Everglades.

During the summer, breezes come off the ocean, the water is crystal clear and the beaches are uncrowded. Top restaurants offer discounts, and you can often be seated without a reservation. There are theater programs for the family and special events for children. Residents have time to enjoy what people from all over the world plan to experience one or two weeks a year.

Beat the traffic. Every metropolitan area has traffic, but insiders know that Fort Lauderdale offers many routes. Interstate 95 is not the only north-south corridor. There is U.S. 1, State Route 441 and A1A. Many interior streets are boulevards and the knowledgeable local knows there is more than one way to get to a destination. Taking time to learn the insider's key to driving is well worth the effort.

Age is a state of mind. Seniors are very much a part of Fort Lauderdale and South Florida. Bustling senior communities can be found along Galt Ocean Mile on the ocean just north of downtown. In the general population, seniors are part of the mix. Keep up with them if you can.

There's a very strong gay community. Locals include many gay residents. Cities such as Wilton Manors neighboring Fort Lauderdale have a very strong gay community which is involved in retail, commerce, banking and government. Gay residents are part of the business and social fabric of Fort Lauderdale and have a strong interest in, and influence on, development, culture and community growth. The Broward County's Visitor & Convention Center website includes information on gay-friendly hotels and venues and bills Fort Lauderdale as "America's Favorite Gay Resort Town."

Hurricanes are a part of life. If you live here for any length of time, you will begin to mark the beginning of hurricane season. You can't avoid it because you will be reminded by the daily updates about storms coming off the coast of Africa. Locals understand that you have to stock up on supplies and prepare your home for the worst. Savvy residents don't panic; they just plan ahead.

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