Deerfield Beach, on the northern edge of Greater Fort Lauderdale, has transformed itself from a once sleepy town to a hot discovery. Though its population has grown from 200 (in 1910) to 77,000 today, it remains a world away from its livelier and better-known neighbors. Its many pleasures, including a one-and-half mile Blue Wave certified beach that has been called the nicest of all the 23 miles of magnificent beaches in Broward County and one of the very few where sea shells can still be found, were largely undiscovered by all but the little city's residents.

Today, spurred by an extensive beach renovation and protection project and the popularity of a convenient, 900-foot fishing pier that has attracted anglers from all over the country, Deerfield Beach is becoming one of Greater Fort Lauderdale's newest discoveries. Yet its growing popularity among South Florida residents and vacationers from around the world has as much to do with a surviving friendly, hometown character as with its yearly special events, recreational opportunities, more than 50 restaurants, ort is collection of comfortable hotels, motels and inns. In short, Deerfield Beach is attracting visitors because of what its residents have known since the city was chartered in 1925: it's a quiet, safe and happy place to be.

The highly rated Blue Wave beach, with its soft, deep sand and areas of quiet, provides the opportunity to picnic, swim and surf as well as collect shells, which have become a rarity on most eastern Florida beaches, other local attractions include the 55 acre Deerfield Island Park, an officially designated Urban Wilderness Area that is home to the rare gopher tortoise, grey foxes, raccoons, armadillos and a great variety of sea birds. The park's Mangrove Trail meanders (via a raised wooden walkway) through 1,500 feet of spectacular swamp, which is home to shore birds and watery creatures, while the Coqunia Trail leads to the Intracoastal Waterway and is a prime viewing area for land animals such as the armadillo.

Deerfield Beach's historic sites include Butler House, Pioneer House, the Old School House and the historic train station (like many communities in South Florida, Deerfield Beach was a product of the building of Henry Flagler's famous Florida railroad).

In addition to swimming and fishing from the pier, recreational activities in Deerfield Beach include golf at the well-known Deer Creek Golf Club, tennis at a number of excellent facilities, including the Deerfield Beach Tennis Center, boating on the Intracoastal Waterway, camping and nearby spectator sports.

Local restaurants, such as Brooks for fine continental dining, or Kelly's Ocean Grill, JB's on the Beach and Oceans 234, the casually chic beach hangouts that draw revelers from miles along the shore. Shopping at specialty boutiques such as Pink Papaya...visitors can bring home treasured finds from clothing to jewelry to pampered pet accessories.

Some 30 hotels, motels and inns, ranging from large to Superior Small Lodgings with fewer than 50 rooms, provide a choice of comfortable accommodations for every taste and budget in Deerfield Beach. These include national chains such as Embassy Suites and Comfort Suites, as well as family-owned independent properties that belong to Greater Fort Lauderdale's list of Superior Small Lodging, properties reviewed each year for quality assurance. These affordable, cozy properties are dotted across Greater Fort Lauderdale, often on or near the beachfront. For a complete list of all Superior Small Lodgings, visit www.sunny.org/ssl.

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