Personally, I would prefer Ft. Lauderdale over Miami Beach for what you're looking for. There're lots of great restaurants in the Ft. Lauderdale area and it's not as much of a zoo as the South Beach area of Miami. The Sunny Isles area north of Miami Beach is more quiet.
Las Olas Blvd in Ft. L is great with all it's unique shops and restaurants.
THe following are useful Ft. Lauderdale area web sites:
I don't think you can compare Miami Beach with Fort Lauderdale--Miami Beach is an international destination. It has it all with a level of glamor and sophistication that Fort Lauderdale will never have. Fort Lauderdale is just another beach town. Miami Beach is also geared towards pedestrians--something that Europeans can appreciate. You can walk everywhere in South Beach with Ocean Drive, Lincoln Road Mall, and the boardwalk all being connected. Also, the beach on South Beach is a mile wide, and on the Fort Lauderdale strip it has eroded to almost nothing in some spots. (Broward County cannot get its act together when it comes to renourishing Lauderdale's beach.) You don't have to participate in the South Beach nightlife if you don't want. Another option for you if you want peace and quiet along with restaurants, shopping, and beautiful beaches would be Palm Beach County, but you would definitely need a rental car to get around.
You need no car if you stay in many Ft Lauderdale hotels. Aside from walking, the Broward Cty transits www.watertaxi.com covers a
huge range of the area.
From the Convention Center next to Port Everglades to Oakland Park Blvd to the North, from the Marriott Harbour Ocean Front Beach Resort and Spa west to the Ft Lauderdale Pref Arts Center, the Ft Laud Opera, and dozens of restaurants, and sights such as Bonnet House, the Art Museum, (wanna see the King Tut Show?), the Stranahan House, Las Olas Blvd, Riverwalk Jazz brunch every first Sunday of the month.
The water Taxi also stops at the Galleria Mall, on Sunrise Blvd....shopping at Nieman Marcus, Saks 5th, Dillards, Lord & Taylor, Burdines/Macys, and a bunch of smaller shops.
Unfortunately, getting to Sawgrass Mills (US largest indoor outlet mall you would need a auto taxi, or the tour bus from the resorts. They also have Saks 5th, NienamMarcus, Macys all Last Call (discount), a Disney Discount outlet, and of course, if you get hungry, a Legal Seafoods (Boston), Wolfgang Pucks, Rainforest Cafe, and Cheesecake Factory.
And cost is $5.00 a day..unlimited use, 3 days for $10.00, 7 days for $25.00.
And they have the Ft Laud water taxi go down to Miami usually twice a week...via the Westin Diplomat Resort Yacht Club (they P/U more passengers there. Check website for times & costs
I would consider Ft Laud first....
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It's too bad you feel the information in your post is important info for the prospective traveler no matter where they may be traveling. I guess if anyone else feels this is important, they ought to stay home.
We do have races here...but to the traveler, we talk about Flagler Park, Gulfstream Race Track, Caldor Track, Homestead Motocross, Hollywood Greyhound, (and even Naples Greyhound)...amoung others.