I always try to make the most of conferences by taking time to explore the area while I am there. I recently visited Fort Lauderdale, Florida for TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange), “the world’s largest gathering of travel bloggers, writers, new media content creators, and social media savvy travel industry professionals”. Although I wasn’t in town for long, I did have some time before TBEX to explore sunny Fort Lauderdale. Turns out, there is a ton more to do in the area outside of going to the beach!
Seafarers’ House at Port Everglades
“To Offer Refuge, Resources, Renewal and Respect to the Maritime Community Through Multi-Faith Service.” -Mission of Seafarers’ House
The Seafarers’ House provides as much as possible for mariners who are away from home for months or sometimes years at a time. Most importantly, it is a place where mariners can connect with their family and make money transfers so they can send money back home. They provide all kinds of other services as well, like access to pastoral care and counseling, local ground transportation, emergency assistance, and they even have a shop for the mariners with different snacks and everyday items from all over the world to make the mariners feel as much at home as possible.
The part the struck me the most was the chapel. The Seafarers’ House has a single chapel where all mariners are welcome. In this one chapel they hold religious services for a variety of faiths and they have dozens of faiths represented from all over the world.
Although not everyone is supportive of this, most people are, and they encourage the respect of the values, faiths, and cultural norms of seafarers and their families. Think about what the world would be like if everyone accepted people as fellow humans and loved and respected them despite their religion!
Not only is the Seafarers’ House a convenience for mariners stopping at Port Everglades, but it is also a refuge for them. A place where they can feel safe and a little bit closer to home, even if they are on the opposite side of the world.
Next up we were headed to a warehouse… or so it seemed. Turns out there is a brewery called Lauderale tucked away in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere. It sure was a hidden gem!
We had our pick of delicious craft beer options and to top it off, the 90 Miles To Go food truck came by with Cuban food for lunch.
Before leaving we helped wrap some gifts for the Seafarers’ House that they put together to give to the mariners for the holidays every year. Find out here how you can get involved with their Shoebox Christmas Project and more!
I loved the beer and the vibe of this brewery. Lauderale would definitely be my hangout spot if I lived in Fort Lauderdale!
For a few of the area’s other hot spots for beer fans that I didn’t have a chance to visit during my short stay, check out the following:
Riverside Market – With self serve coolers and over 550 craft beers served, the title of “Fort Lauderdale’s Official Craft Beer Hangout” seems well deserved.
American Social – “Pour-it-yourself” beer taps built into the tables with local and regional craft beers – that’s enough to sell me!
Funky Buddha – Big, bold beer flavors in a family friendly environment sounds like a welcoming bar experience.
Everglades Holiday Park
Yes, it’s finally time for the gators! If you visit Fort Lauderdale, you don’t want to leave without visiting Everglades Holiday Park first. I rode deep into the Everglades on an airboat and got up close and personal with alligators named Stella, Tripod, Bubba Grumpy, and Mrs. Little.
After the airboat tour through the Everglades, be sure to catch the gator show to learn more about alligators. They are very lazy animals and don’t want to exert the energy to take down larger prey, so they are comfortable with the staff member being near them because they know she is not a threat. They will only attack when they are defending themselves because they feel like they are in danger.
While it may seem to the animal activists out there that keeping these gators in captivity for the gator show is inhumane, you will quickly learn otherwise. Everglades Holiday Park actually helps to rescue what are called “nuisance alligators.” They are the ones that get in people’s yards, pools, etc. It’s illegal to release them back into the wild after this because they will no longer be scared of humans and will not be afraid to approach them. So when the state of Florida is called, they have no choice but to kill the nuisance alligators in order to keep the people safe.
However, if Everglades Holiday Park is called, they will come pick up the gators free of charge and take them back to be used in the gator show where they educate visitors about these amazing but misunderstood creatures.
Despite the short length of my stay in sunny Fort Lauderdale, I was pleasantly surprised with the different activities that I enjoyed during my free day before conference festivities kicked off. The warm late October weather didn’t hurt either!
Have you visited Fort Lauderdale? What were your favorite activities?