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Best Place to Kayak Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach 2006 - On the New River

Nature, schmature. The best paddling route around here takes you through a uniquely urban jungle via Fort Lauderdale's New River and its adjoining system of man-made canals. If you've got $65, you can take a three-hour guided tour with the knowledgeable staff from the Full Moon Kayak Co. (954-328-5231; www.fullmoonkayak.com), who will be sure to point out the boathouse where gangster Al Capone used to stay. If, however, you have your own boat, put in at Cooley's Landing Marine Facility (450 SW Seventh Ave., Fort Lauderdale, 954-828-4626), where metered parking is the only thing that'll cost ya. (The office staff will even give you a free area map.) Paddle away past multimillion-dollar mansions and luxury sailboats and yachts. Birds (including the species known as "flamingo yard ornament") and fauna are omnipresent; four-foot-long red and green iguanas sun themselves on docks; and lazy manatees sometimes make cameo appearances. As you wrap up your trip and return to downtown, wave to patrons on the banks at the Riverwalk shopping complex or the Downtowner Saloon. And be sure to smile when the Jungle Queen paddlewheel boat goes by -- for the camera-happy tourists on board, you are the scenery.
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