Fort Lauderdale is the seventh largest city in Florida and the largest of 31 communities in Broward County. When in Fort Lauderdale recently, I got the opportunity to visit two nearby communities – Pompano Beach and Lauderdale by the Sea.
As part of the TBEX conference (meeting of travel bloggers and other media individuals in the travel market), I got to go on a lighthouse tour as part of a preconference excursion hosted by Visit Lauderdale.
We started by heading out to the community of Lauderdale by the Sea. This was different from what I had already seen of Fort Lauderdale, which was full of high-rise buildings (mostly hotels near where I was staying), the port full of cruise ships, and a nice beach only a trolley ride away from my hotel.
Lauderdale by the Sea is a small community and, as the name suggests, is by the sea. It has kept its charm by maintaining strict building height limitations. This definitely gives it a unique characteristic from its nearby communities.
We enjoyed lunch at a restaurant by the pier and overlooking the beach called Aruba Beach Cafe. It offers indoor and outdoor dining. We were also serenaded by a couple playing island music. Of course being in Florida, I had to take advantage of where I was and ordered seafood. I had the Maryland Crab Cake sliders. They were good and filling. I also got a taste of my first Mahi Mahi, courtesy of one of our fellow travelers in the group.
We all enjoyed our meals and some onlookers tried to get a taste of them, too. While I expected to see a flock of seagulls around, it appeared that the area has its share of pigeons, instead.
After lunch, we had to get some views of the area before moving on. A couple of us walked down the pier to get some pictures and saw a few fishermen trying their luck. One had a little bite, but the catch was too small and had to return it back to the sea.
We were then on our way to visit the Hillsboro lighthouse. There are only 30 remaining lighthouses on the Florida coastline. The Hillsboro lighthouse overlooks Pompano Beach which is just about 30 minutes from Fort Lauderdale. On the grounds is also the Hillsboro Lighthouse Preservation Society Museum (HLPS) telling the story about the lighthouse itself.
We took a few minutes at the HLPS Museum listening to Judy Knoebel, the museum manager, tell us some stories about the lighthouse including that of the Barefoot Mailman. During the last couple of decades of the 1800s, mailmen would cross the Hillsboro Inlet barefoot along the beach during their six-mile journey to deliver the mail. One of these mailmen drowned trying to cross this same inlet. There is a statue commemorating him and his part in history.
The lighthouse does allow you to climb to the top. Make sure you catch your breath before doing so though, it’s a good 175 steps to the top. There are a few landings along the way to allow others to pass or if you just want to take a breath. I will just use the excuse that I wanted to get pictures from different viewpoints rather than admit that I needed at least one little break on the way up.
The climb to the top was worth it. The view was breathtaking. From the top landing you get a complete 360-degree view of the area. You can see for miles down the beach.
I saw seagulls and pelicans fly by and kept my eyes open for other wildlife. As I was looking around, I saw a bunch of green birds flying. I learned there are about a dozen parrot nests underneath the lighthouse. I was completely in awe of the wildlife I saw in the area.
Also in the area is the base of one of the Goodyear blimps, the Spirit of Innovation. Its base is at the Pompano Beach airport.
Even though the weather didn’t reflect a typical sunny Florida day, it was still a memorable experience at Lauderdale by the Sea and the Hillsboro Lighthouse in Pompano Beach. I look forward to taking Tim here when we make it back to Fort Lauderdale (hopefully sometime in the near future).
Disclosure: Thanks to Visit Lauderdale, in association with the TBEX conference, for hosting lunch and visit to the Hillsboro lighthouse. However, all opinions and views are ours.