Broward County is made up of 31 cities that stretch across 1,197 square miles on the southeastern coast of the Florida peninsula. The region has experienced rapid growth over the last five years and now has a population of nearly 2 million people, making it the second most populous county in Florida.
Broward County is one of the largest minority-majority counties in the United States with a mix of White, Hispanic, and Black residents. It is a melting pot of ethnicities with influences from the Caribbean islands, Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Central and South America.
With a tropical climate, 23 miles of beautiful beaches, a diverse culture, strong economy, and countless dining, shopping and entertainment options it’s easy to see how Broward County has become a thriving part of South Florida and one of the most popular destinations in the country and the world.
The largest city in Broward County is Fort Lauderdale which also serves as it county seat. Less than an hour north of Miami, Fort Lauderdale has evolved from a raucous spring break destination to an upscale resort area with a more laid back, slower-paced lifestyle.
Known as “The Venice of America” Fort Lauderdale boasts more than 300+ miles of manmade navigable canals and expansive waterways that connect the Everglades with the Atlantic Ocean. It has also earned the title of the Yachting Capital of the World with 42,000 yachts registered and 100 marinas and boatyards.
Beaches, Piers and Boardwalks
Broward County is a haven for beach enthusiasts who love to soak up the sun and partake in water-based activities like fishing, kayaking, parasailing, jet skiing, sightseeing boat tours and more. Since 1999, six beaches in Broward County have been continuously certified as Blue Wave Beaches by the Clean Beaches Council of Washington DC, meaning they meet certain safety and environmental standards. They are Dania Beach, Hollywood Beach, Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale Beach, Deerfield Beach, and Lauderdale-By-the-Sea.
Dania Beach is a quiet secluded gem in Broward County between Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood. This is a family friendly beach with beachside tiki huts, a pier, and an Intracoastal boat launch park. The Dania Beach Pier’s proximity to deep water makes it an ideal location to catch a wide variety of fish including Mutton and Yellow Tail Snapper, Bluefish, Mackerel, Snook, Tarpon, and Barracuda.
Hollywood Beach is situated between Fort Lauderdale and Miami off of Interstate 95stretching from Sheridan Street to Georgia Street. The key attraction is the Hollywood Beach Boardwalk, a two and a half mile promenade stretching out to the Atlantic Ocean. USA Today and Travel + Leisure have both named the Hollywood Boardwalk as one of the best beach boardwalks in the country.
Pompano Beach is north of Fort Lauderdale and includes about 3 miles of beachfront, extending from the intersection of State Road A1A and Terra Mar Drive to the Hillsboro Inlet. Pompano Beach is home to some of the warmest and clearest waters, as well as natural coral reefs which make it one of the best places to go deep sea fishing, scuba diving and snorkeling. It’s also known as the “Wreck Capital of Florida” which enables serious divers to explore ancient wrecks.
Deerfield Beach is located close to Pompano Beach, south of the Palm Beach County Line. This is a quieter beach with less crowds. The Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier is the focal point of the beach and popular among fishermen. Deerfield Beach is also home to Quiet Waters Park which offers campgrounds, fishing, a skate park and cable-ski courses.
Fort Lauderdale Beach is a calmer and less frenzied beach experience than Miami Beach but still has the same sugar white sand and crystal clear waters. Along the beach is a brick-paved Fort Lauderdale Beach Promenade which offers an array of shops, restaurants, and other entertainment venues.
Lauderdale-By-the-Sea offers a low-key getaway and “beach village” vibe. It features the longest pier in South Florida, Anglin’s Pier which is popular for fishing and sightseeing. Lauderdale-By-the-Sea is also one of the only places in Florida that has a three-tier natural coral reef system close enough for visitors to swim out for snorkeling or diving.
Shopping and Dining
Las Olas Boulevard, situated in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale is considered to be one of the premier shopping districts in Broward County. The palm-tree lined street extends for five blocks and features everything from fashion boutiques to restaurants, sidewalk cafes, and bistros, to art galleries and museums.
Other major shopping centers in the region include Sawgrass Mills, the largest retail outlet in the U.S. with more than 350 stores located in Sunrise, FL; the Shops at Pembroke Gardens in Pembroke Pines; the Promenade at Coconut Creek in North Broward County to name a few.
Arts & Culture in Broward County
Broward County is home to a vibrant arts and culture scene that consists of a variety of museums, art galleries, and performing arts venues. These cultural offerings not only enhance quality of life, they also generate nearly $415 million in revenue to the local economy each year. The Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District in downtown Fort Lauderdale is one of the best places to discover many of the area’s finest entertainment options.
For those who love live performances, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts features everything from Broadway musicals and plays, to concerts, comedy shows and more. This entertainment complex is among the top 10 theaters visited in the U.S. Art lovers will enjoy the NSU Art Museum which has a permanent collection of more than 6,000 paintings as well as traveling national and international exhibits.
History buffs can step back in time and imagine how some of the earliest settlers lived by visiting the Historic Stranahan House Museum, the original home of the founders of Broward County Frank and Ivy Stranahan as well as the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens, a 35 acre estate on a protected barrier island habitat that dates back to the 1890s.
They can also check out the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society, an open-air museum with the largest collection of historic buildings remaining in Broward County, including the Philemon Bryan House (circa 1905), King-Cromartie House (circa 1907), New River Inn (circa 1905) and the 1899 Replica Schoolhouse.
Nature Attractions in Broward County
There is no shortage of outdoor recreation and scenic nature attractions in Broward County. In fact, there are more than 200 parks, botanical gardens, and wildlife sanctuaries in the region.
One of the most popular nature destinations in all of Florida is Everglades Holiday Park, a wildlife preserve and theme park perched on 29 acres of wetlands in Fort Lauderdale. Visitors can take an airboat ride, get up close and personal with alligators during a gator show, rent a fishing boat and more.
The Flamingo Gardens is another must see in Broward County. Established in 1927, it is one of the oldest wildlife sanctuaries and botanical gardens in South Florida. Flamingo Gardens is home to over 90 species of Florida native birds and animals, including bobcats, alligators, otters, panthers, and flamingos.
The Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is just a 10 minute drive northwest of Fort Lauderdale, and offers 180 acres of waterways, lagoons, diving facilities and hiking trails to explore. Broward County is also home to the world’s largest butterfly aviary called Butterfly World located in Tradewinds Park in Coconut Creek. Butterlyfly World houses more than 20,000 butterflies from 150 species.
Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth largest public school system in the United States and the second largest in the state of Florida. When it comes to higher education, the county is home to several award winning institutions including Broward Community College, Florida Atlantic University, Nova Southeastern University and Keiser University.
Broward County Economy
According to an August 2017 report by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Broward County has the highest year-over-year job growth rate in Florida. The jobless rate in Broward County fell to 4.1 percent in July down from 4.8% a year ago and the county added 30,000 jobs, up 3.7 percent year-over-year.
The area has evolved into a world class international business center which supports a diverse business climate that extends beyond tourism, including marine and manufacturing, real estate, technology, financial activities, trade and transportation.
Broward County has also become an attractive destination for young entrepreneurs which has fueled the rise of many successful startups, most notably in the technology sector. Some of the big local players in the tech community include Chewy.com, Modernizing Medicine, Cyxtera, MD Live, Microsoft LatAm and JetSmarter.
A mainstay of economic growth in Broward County is the Port Everglades, one of the top three cruise ports in the world. Nicknamed as South Florida’s “Powerhouse Port” it continues to be a constant revenue stream bringing in more than $30 billion in total economic activity a year. Port Everglades is the #1 gateway for trade with Latin America, #10 container port in the U.S., and the #1 container port in Florida.
Broward County Real Estate Market
Real estate in Brown County is made up of single-family homes, town homes, gated communities, and waterfront properties. The current real estate economy in Broward County is a sellers market that is more robust than ever. Since July 2016, Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade Counties have all seen median price increases for single-family homes. Broward’s median rose 9% to $350,000, Palm Beach County ticked up 6% to $336,000, and Miami-Dade jumped 12% to $335,000.
Unfortunately, home prices are rising faster than the income levels of residents. The shortage of affordably priced homes for sale has forced many buyers to rent and wait for more options.New homes continue to be built across the county, particularly in the city of Parkland, despite shortages of available land.
According to the Greator Fort Lauderdale Realtors, there was a 9 percent decline in available homes priced from $250,000 to $299,999, while the number of homes priced from $600,000 to $999,999 increased 16 percent. Listings at $1 million and over rose 7 percent. For buyers seeking a home under $300,000, it’s slim pickings with options in Tamarac, Riviera Beach, Green Acres and Haverhill Pointe.
A Hotspot for Real Estate Development: Downtown Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale’s downtown continues to expand its development efforts to accommodate the city’s newfound reputation as an international destination. There’s been an increase in high-rise and mid-rise residential development with properties like the 45 story Icon Las Olas and Four Seasons Private Residences Fort Lauderdale. The office and retail sectors also continue to thrive with high rental rates and new construction, especially along Las Olas Boulevard.
New developments include 100 Las Olas which will be 499 feet making it the tallest building downtown. The building will have 121 condos, 238 rooms in a Hyatt Centric hotel, and 8,500 square feet of restaurants and retail on the ground floor. A luxury tower for seniors is also planned called Riverwalk Residences of Las Olas. An apartment complex called Harbor Park Apartments is also under construction which will be a 310-unit development near Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.