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Natives and Nature Make up Much of Broward County's Appeal

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By Victor Block

Some visitors are speeding through winding waterways in an airboat, keeping their eyes peeled for alligators, colorful birds and other resident creatures. Others are soaking up the sun and diving into the surf at lovely white-sand beaches that front the Atlantic Ocean.

Welcome to Broward County, Florida, which is tucked along the state's eastern coastline about 30 miles north of Miami. The recent visit I made with my wife, Fyllis, followed the Tequesta Native Americans, who lived in the area for about 2,000 years following their arrival in the third century B.C.

Opportunities to relive the life of these early dwellers are among the lengthy list of things to see and do. For many vacationers, 24 miles of golden beaches are reason enough to drop by. Some stretches of sand are backed by wide sidewalks lined with restaurants, shops and other commercial establishments. Others are isolated expanses where sun-seekers are few and far between.

The ocean is by no means the only body of water in the area. The Intracoastal Waterway, a 3,000-mile-long span of natural rivers, inlets, bays and man-made channels, runs through on its way from Massachusetts to the southern tip of Florida.

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It passes by Fort Lauderdale, which lives up to its reputation as the "Venice of America," interlaced as it is with 165 miles of canals.

It's not surprising that much of the recreation available in Broward County is water-related. Boating is a major pastime, and Fyllis and I spotted vessels that ranged from tiny outboard motor-driven dinghies to massive luxurious yachts and everything in between.

Fishing also is popular, and we saw anglers trying their luck and testing their skill in the ocean and canals. Freshwater prey include bass, bream and bluegills, while the sea teems with tarpon, flounder, mackerel and sea trout.

Back on land, other wildlife awaits discovery, and we didn't have to travel far from our home base in Hollywood to find it. That town, like the rest of Broward County, is chockful of things to see and do yet compact enough that many sites are within a convenient commute.

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