Sooo interesting…Fort Lauderdale has a population of “only” 186,000 people, yet it hosted over 13 million overnight visitors in 2018 and 3.9 million cruise passengers, making it the third-largest cruise port in the world. And here is a mind-boggling statistic: the Fort Lauderdale area has 100 marinas housing 45,000 resident yachts!
We have visited here several times over the years, and we always choose a new tourist venue over repeating previous tourist sites. So this time, we visited the Bonnet House, built as a plantation-style house in the 1920s, just a block from Fort Lauderdale Beach. It is named after the bonnet lily, which solved a mystery for us, as the property was originally acquired by a man named Birch and given to his daughter as a wedding present when she married a man named Bartlett. Lots of Bs, but we wondered who was Bonnet? Ah, it is a lily, and you can see the lily pads in so many of the photos. When the property was turned over to the State of Florida in 1983, it was valued at $35 million, described in the New York Times as “an unrivaled time capsule neatly preserved from an era earlier in the century when the wealthy elite could afford a cozy 35-acre winter hideaway in Florida.”
First up in the photos: Fort Lauderdale beach. It was a cool day, so not terribly crowded at the beach. But the sand was soft and plentiful, and in our minds’ eyes we could see this being jammed on a summer weekend…or during spring break, as this has been a very popular location since the movie Where the Boys Are was filmed here in 1960. Next are photos of Bonnet House…notice the wooden red doors that close onto the pretty yellow gate…we don’t know if they are intended for security or for hurricane damage prevention. After that photo is one of the small orchid house, which contained some beautiful plants.
We loved the “chair-table” that was in the small museum on site. A similar one in the Smithsonian says it is from the 17th century and popular in homes with limited space. Following are photos around the property, with palm trees, banyan trees, mangroves, lily pads, and a cute South Pacific hut that features in many of the photos. We captured the resident swan leaving her “perch” near the shore, and loved the rustic restrooms and theater. At the end are a resident raccoon and a sign for monkeys…we don’t know if that is frivolous, or if there are monkeys on the grounds, as we didn’t see any. We had heard from locals that any fresh water could contain alligators, so we were looking down for alligators when we were near the ponds, not up for monkeys!