Best Reason to Shop Riverfront

Toss back a couple of drinks at Ugly Tuna or Martini Bar, hook your arm around your date's waist, and saunter north. Past the scooped-out palm stump where sparrows sip and bathe, across the train tracks, and beside the Old Fort Lauderdale Museum of History. The only thoroughfare here, in the heart of a car-mad sprawl, is the New River, nuzzling against its concrete banks where the yachts nod and the algae faints, recovers, and faints again beneath the surface. The sabal palm and acacia absorb noise and light. From a few blocks away comes the rasp of tires raking over the steel drawbridge on SW Fourth Avenue. A little farther on, near the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science, find the curious educational displays on the mechanics of human sight and the use of the astrolabe. Underfoot are the personalized bricks dedicated to loved ones both living and lost, with little notes ("Dearest Samuel, You intoxicate my soul! Love, Angela") that describe lives lived not in stone but in temporary flesh. To that end, the walk includes memorials to fallen police officers and a local Audie Murphy type named Sandy Nininger, whose heroics in the Pacific Theater made him (posthumously) the first Congressional Medal of Honor winner in World War II. So what if the $7.7 million Riverwalk project is mired in construction delays, contract disputes, political finger-pointing, and general Fort Lauderdale civic botchitude? You get ornithology, marine biology, botany, anatomy, astronomy, history -- all while you're just trying to walk off a $20 buzz in relative peace.

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