by Nika Hedrick
Fort Lauderdale in springtime boasts a unique opportunity for visitors to evoke the feeling of summertime, without the sweltering heat that typically comes as a packaged deal.
The perfect weather plays host to the city’s annual Tortuga Music Festival – beloved by locals and tourists alike, and hosted by a foundation for ocean conservation; Rock the Ocean. As a native Ft. Lauderdale local myself, I know that if there is one defining characteristic that most locals possess: it is that they have a soft spot for the ocean and its conservation efforts.
Perhaps that’s why Tortuga Music Festival was welcomed with open arms in Fort Lauderdale, as the festival takes a holistic approach toward implementing social good initiatives into a weekend of music. Proceeds from ticket sales go toward Rock the Ocean, which funds ocean research by supporting various conservation groups. There is certainly no surprise that Fort Lauderdale locals are always up for a good time, evident in their spring break history, but include a good cause and it is nearly guaranteed to draw in the crowds. For me, the festival served as a reminder for how the always-charming Fort Lauderdale has a deeper appeal because of the way the city combines social good and good times.
A Community Focused on Social Good
Once you look past Fort Lauderdale as just a sun and sand destination, you will find that it is a place full of eccentricities. The city has seen immense growth in a the past few years, high-rise condos seemingly spring up overnight to accommodate the influx of residents who have flocked to the city. Unlike most cities that have seen rapid development, Fort Lauderdale has not lost any of its character.
Take FAT Village Arts District, for example, a neighborhood of warehouses turned into a district of Brooklynesque coffee shops and art galleries. The FAT Village Arts District has grown into a mini replica of Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, where it fosters the creation and education of emerging, contemporary artists. Wander into C&I Studios, a creative agency, to Brew Urban Cafe where you can find some top-notch coffee that will make you second guess whether you’re actually in South Florida. C&I Studios is also home to The Shop, which is a wonderfully curated boutique of items made by local artisans.
This isn't your rich uncle's favorite bar. It's not Starbucks. It's not an art gallery in a mall. It's so much more than that…and so much better than that. We're here for the connection. We're here for the heart. That's why, in Next Door, you'll keep coming back. For the conversation you'll have with the barista. For the art that hits home to you. For the films that stir up something inside of you. Don't miss the Grand Opening Tomorrow!!
Other local gems, focused on social good in Fort Lauderdale include digs like Bimini Boatyard, where a conscious effort is made by highlighting sustainable seafood dishes and ensuring that local fisherman have a place to sell their daily catch. Market 17 is also a notable spot that serves up farm-to-table dishes with ingredients sourced from local farms, such as the nearby Marando Farms.
Locals take pride in their community here, and hope to see it progress with each detail of the city.
Of course, the events are another unique aspect of Fort Lauderdale that showcase the intersection between sustainability and good vibes – Tortuga Music Festival is just the first of many examples. Visitors in Fort Lauderdale, during the summer months, can find the city’s Starlight Musical concert series, a free outdoor concert that takes place every Friday between the months of June and July. Each week, Starlight Musical features a nonprofit organization to raise awareness of their cause. The well-known Winterfest Boat Parade also takes pride in promoting local nonprofits. The annual event, held in early December, garners more than a million live viewers to the edges of Fort Lauderdale’s waterways for a spectacular show of yachts decked out as parade floats.
This suburb, once shadowed by Miami, has flourished into its own destination for those seeking authentic and engaging experiences that take social good practices into account.
The Community’s Holistic Approach to Sustainability
From the local gems to large-scale events, Fort Lauderdale as a community has placed high priority in quality of growth as a travel destination. Fort Lauderdale is not a new destination for me, but discovering how truly special the city is, as a tourist, was something new. From my experiences attending Tortuga, I saw the city in a new light – I realized how holistically ingrained the city is with their approach to sustainability.
Walking through Tortuga Music Festival, it was clear that Tortuga had taken their conservation efforts further than just donating proceeds from the ticket sales. Throughout the festival, there was no trash out of place, no use of plastic straws, signs peppered the grounds to remind attendees of the ocean’s perils, and there was an entire conservation village lined with booths to educate and engage people in an authentic and memorable way.
The conservation village booths at Tortuga Music Festival were run by different local organizations specializing in certain aspects of ocean research and conservation, including stations to educate people on sustainable seafood options, shark conservation, and even recruitment for volunteers to participate in sea turtle patrols along the beach.
The laid-back lifestyle of Tortuga resonates a Fort Lauderdale way of life, in taking care of its surroundings and having a good time while doing it.
The Culture Collective writer Nika Hedrick attended a press trip to Ft. Lauderdale
for research on this post. All opinions are her own.