Family_at_the_BeachOK, I admit it.  I have always thought of the East Coast of Florida as Land of the Grandparents.  You know, pinochle by the pool, early bird speciasl at 4:30, polyester pants. For  decades, though, generations of college kids thought of the east coast of Florida – Del Ray, Boca, Ft. Lauderdale –  as their personal spring-break playground.

So who’s right?  Me, or a bunch of drunk co-eds?

Turns out, neither.

Last week, I went to a Greater Fort Lauderdale Tourism Board event, and guess what?  I find out that Fort Lauderdale, Del Ray Beach, Boca and the other towns and cities in the area aren’t  teeming with octogenarians or  overrun by  drunken  college kids.  It’s a vibrant, eclectic, arty, fun place with more waterways that you can shake a…well, I’ll leave the wet t-shirt reference out of it.

Here’s what I learned:

Great Fort Lauderdale has 23 miles of ocean beach, 300 navigable miles of inland waterways, and the world’s largest indoor, air-conditioned outlet mall. (For Traveling Moms: the mall is also home to Wannado City, which sounds like a kid’s dream playground.  And which makes shopping a dream. Look for a dedicated post about it soon.)

Really, what more could a girl ask for?

There is more! There’s scuba diving ( I mean, really! Who knew!?)  And not just any scuba diving, diving good enough to have been named one of the Top Ten World’s Best Wreck Diving, Marine Life and Value Dive Destination by the readers of Scuba Diving magazine. I’ll say it again: who knew?

Well, I guess somebody knew – the area gets 11 million travelers each year.

That’s a lot of early bird specials.