Best Suburban Neighborhood (2007)
Riverland in Fort Lauderdale
The best thing about discovering woodsy Riverland Road on foot are the secrets you'd never see from the street. Huge homes, old homes, ultramodern-homes, and slender waterways you never imagined existed. Doctors, lawyers, and college professors hide out down narrow, canopy-covered dead-end lanes that lie shaded from the sun and prying eyes. On the south side of curvy Riverland Road, the streets cut between the finger canals coming off the New River, and sailboat masts rear behind stately if staid homes. But on the north side, the jungle appears ready to swallow the sunlight itself, and exploring the verdant streets reveals a laid-back lifestyle with an Old Florida feel that's largely been chased out of downtown by development. Here, lots are large, the trees (tons of live oaks) are tall, and the houses just feel fat with history and mystery. Walk around long enough and you may see a manatee lolling in a canal, a huge iguana eating hibiscus flowers, even a pink pineapple sprouting from a pot. And if you find the right street, you may discover the heavily fortified back door of the secret island visited by the Jungle Queen tour boat. Just listen for a loud horn.