Hi Bizzybee, guess I'm kinda prejudice since I'm from Ft. Lauderdale, but I think it's a pretty interesting town. Villa Viscaya is beautiful and well worth the effort to go to, but you could still stay in Lauderdale and drive down. Ft. Lauderdale has the famed Elbow Room, which most people are very surprised when they see it for the first time, it's a dump
. Just kidding, but it is a little hole in the wall. I like spending the day taking the water taxi up and down the intracoastal. They call Ft. Lauderdale the US Venice. The water taxi can take you from 17th Street Causeway all the way up to Atlantic Boulevard (I think that's the one). It takes you by some beautiful homes. Las Olas is one of the stops where they have renovated (retro) downtown. There are a bunch of little "kitchy" type stores, sidewalk cafes, and bistros. There's Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, and Bahia Mar. I love strolling through Bahia Mar and scoping out all the yachts. The Jungle Queen is a lot of fun. It's a riverboat that takes you to a Seminole village where they alligator wrestle, make goods, and give you a nice bar-b-que dinner. There are some great restaurants in Lauderdale, too. Charlie's Crab (at the very northern stop of the water taxi), and Pier 66 (at the very southern stop of the water taxi) are 2 of my favorites. The Sea Watch is also fantastic, it's right on the beach. The Sea Watch has an early bird special from 3-5 (or something like that it might be 4-5) where you can get a 3 course meal for $30/pp - they have killer key lime pie. There's also the Galleria Mall (if you like shopping).
Of course, Miami has south beach, Crandon Park with the zoo and the planetarium on the same road. I prefer Lauderdale, but I'm biased
There have been a lot of people very pleased with the Holiday Inn Bayside in Miami.