If planning a trip to Florida, you should add Fort Lauderdale to your itinerary. This “Venice of America” has something to offer everyone, whether you’re a person who enjoys museums and history or is more interested in adventure and partying. This vibrant city is great for family fun, young adults, and amazing places to find food that your taste buds will love.
Of course, planning your perfect itinerary takes time, and when you have so many options, it’s even harder to decide where to go. This list is compiled of all the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale to help you get the most out of this Sunshine City!
1. Explore the City through Tours
Tours in Fort Lauderdale are interactive and fun and will ensure you enjoy the best parts of the city. Whether you want to swim, cycle, boat, or fly, you’ll definitely enjoy these tours because there is absolutely no shortage of things to do in Fort Lauderdale! This South Florida city leaves no stone unturned in its effort to give you the most efficient ways to enjoy all of its charms.
Regardless of your choice, the greatest Fort Lauderdale attraction has got to be open water, so you’ll want to spend as much time in it as possible. You might as well try them all!
1.1 Jungle Queen Riverboat Cruise
The Jungle Queen Riverboat has been sailing the waterways of Fort Lauderdale since 1935. Enjoy a scenic view of the coast and the city’s shoreline as you cruise the Intracoastal waterway. This ship docks at an island for a buffet and a breathtaking live performance.
Guides are available to provide details of the surroundings, making this one of Fort Lauderdale’s many interactive exhibits. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are also available on board.
1.2 Fort Lauderdale Sun Trolley
Traveling in the Sun Trolley is a fantastic option to cover ground in Fort Lauderdale. This trolley covers all the important routes, including Las Olas Boulevard and downtown Fort Lauderdale.
If you want an easy and fun way to cover your list of things to do in Fort Lauderdale, this is it! There’s an app available that you can download on your phones to check the routes and timings of these trolleys, so you’ll never lose your way! These trolleys are at negligible costs, and there are day passes available, making them great for saving your budget for the Fort Lauderdale attractions.
1.3 Cycleboard Party
The cycle board party cruises last for several hours, and you can enjoy the views of the Fort Lauderdale waterways while enjoying drinks and live music. You can also take a dip to cool off after all that fun!
Don’t forget to take advantage of the food and drinks on board while ogling all those crazy expensive mega-yachts!
1.4 Kayak Tours
Traversing the isles, waterways, and mangroves with kayak tours, with to without a guide, will give you great views of the mansions on the shorelines and the yachts on the waters.
Scenic and oh-so-relaxing, you won’t even realize how time flies by as you marvel at the beauty around you.
1.5 Gondola Tours
The Las Olas and Riverfront Gondola tours offer a laid-back and chill tour through the waterways of Fort Lauderdale. You can choose where to start and how long it will last while enjoying food and drinks as you drift over the water on authentic gondolas.
Pro-tip: This is a great way to celebrate something special or romantic!
1.6 Canal Sightseeing Cruise or Jet Skiing Tours
The Canal Sightseeing tours are a great way to traverse the Intracoastal waterway of Fort Lauderdale. If you’re feeling wilder, you can hire jet skis at the riverfront to zip through the beautiful waters along the coast.
1.7 Sailing Tours
Want something a little more romantic? Then sailing tours are the way to go. Book a sunrise sailing tour, and enjoy watching the sunset over a gently darkening sky with your loved ones. You can also sip champagne as you do!
1.8 Seaplane Tours
Love flying? Then you’ll love the seaplane tours, which offer a scenic view of Fort Lauderdale below. And if you feel like learning, you can even take lessons on how to fly a plane!
1.9 Inland Tours
If you’re wondering how to cover the ground over the city quickly, wonder no more! Fort Lauderdale offers bikes for hire at reasonable rates, and the city has also ensured ease of travel by creating special bike lanes and parking spots for this very purpose. Of course, if you want something a little different, you can also hire Segways for a fun way to travel across the city and cross off all the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale in style.
For those of you who love to get your party on, Fort Lauderdale is well-known for its fun cycle party tours. While you tour the city’s best dives, bars, and clubs, you can drink as you peddle (or because we’re all lazy sometimes).
2. The Intellectuals will Love these
Let’s face it; learning is cool. Even more so when it’s done interactively in a breezy, sun-kissed atmosphere; of all the things to do in Fort Lauderdale, don’t skip out on some of these fantastic places that are sure to give you a thrilling insight into the city.
Some of these buildings have air conditioners, a welcome relief from the sun outdoors. Many of these museums also provide seasonal tours, so take advantage of those unique events!
2.1 Bonnet House Museum and Gardens
The Bonnet House Museum and Gardens is a premier estate built in 1920. Hugh Taylor Birch initially gifted this building to his daughter and son-in-law. It is now preserved as a museum devoted to learning, artistic expression, and historic and environmental preservation.
Visiting this house results in a fascinating cultural experience, with original artwork, carousel miniatures, distinctive architecture, and a courtyard encompassed by the South Florida jungle.
Look up the tours’ timings, as they may change from time to time.
2.2 Historic Stranahan House Museum
The oldest standing structure and the most important historic building in Fort Lauderdale are the Historic Stranahan House Museum, established in 1901. Situated in Broward County, it was initially the residence of the famous, historically important Stranahan family and has been used as a trading post, post office, and town hall. It’s also well-known for its fruitful interactions with the neighboring Seminole tribes.
Check out the availability of the tours offered on its official site.
2.3 NSU Art Museum
The NSU Art Museum explores the area’s visual history. Located in the center of downtown Fort Lauderdale, the museum aims to change the peoples’ perspective of the world and explores topics that strike a chord with the South Florida community. It explores conversations surrounding inequality and identity and attempts to foster feelings of empathy, compassion, and awe.
It’s a must-visit when considering all the things to do in Fort Lauderdale. You can even enjoy a virtual tour of these exhibits! But be warned, it’ll make you want to visit the real thing.
2.4 Fort Lauderdale Fire and Safety Museum
The Fort Lauderdale Fire and Safety Museum is strikingly educative, showcasing the history, heritage, and service of the Fire Department heroes. It also conducts safety programs to enlighten people on fire, medical, and severe weather emergencies.
2.5 Young At Art Museum
The Young At Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale offers interactive activities and exhibitions that allow kids and teenagers to learn everything there is to know about art and creativity.
2.6 Museum of Discovery and Science
Great for all ages, this museum is fun and educative on the ecology and animals of the Florida Everglades. The exhibits are interactive as well, making them that much more interesting.
2.7 Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum
With its impressive collection of vintage vehicles, the Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum successfully recreates a Packard showroom from the 1920s. It also contains an exhibit devoted to none other than Franklin D. Roosevelt, in addition to the country’s largest collection of Packard automobiles. For motor enthusiasts, this museum is important among the many things to do in Fort Lauderdale.
3. Don’t Forget to Fuel Up
Who doesn’t love great food? Fort Lauderdale offers some truly great dining experiences. Additionally, whether you’d prefer some great coffee, or something much stronger, Fort Lauderdale has covered you!
Eating and drinking at fine establishments are sure to make up a major portion of your time when it comes to things to do in Fort Lauderdale.
3.1 15th Street Fisheries
Located in Lauderdale Marina, this is a premium eatery that you must indulge in. It offers unique dishes and fresh fish and has an area for live music. The drinks and cocktails are a complete culinary experience.
3.2 Louie Bossi’s
An Italian restaurant on Las Olas Boulevard, it’s a great place for brunch and bottomless cocktails on the weekends.
3.3 925 Nuevo’s Cubanos
If you’re looking for entertainment and delicious food, head to this Cuban restaurant for live music.
3.4 Tacos El Papi
This delightful eatery provides the most authentic and mouth-watering Mexican cuisine in South Florida.
3.5 Circle House Coffee
Opened by a former football player, this beautiful spot has a charming and varied menu, indoor and outdoor seating options, and even a drive-through. The money earned by this cafe is then donated to several charities, making it a great initiative.
3.6 Ann’s Florist and Coffee Bar
Situated in the heart of Las Olas Blvd, Ann’s Florist and Coffee Bar provides scrumptious pastries and rich coffee surrounded by fragrant flowers.
3.7 Invasive Species Brewing
This unique brewery in Flagler Village is exactly what you need for a relaxing evening of good beer and delicious food.
3.8 Funky Buddha Brewery
This is one of Florida’s largest breweries and taprooms, boasting a variety of craft brews for you to indulge in.
An outdoor garden serving beers and freshly baked pizza, with regular DJs and live entertainment, this place has a great vibe! As a bonus, it’s also pet-friendly.
Other notable mentions include Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar, 27 Bar and Lounge, perfect for fans of classic rock, Caffe Europa, The Wharf, and Glitch, where you can indulge in free arcade games. At the same time, you drink and One Door East for a fantastic dining-in-the-dark experience.
4. It’s not Fort Lauderdale without the Beaches
Fort Lauderdale contains a whole treasure trove of beaches, and spending time there is an absolute must.
After all, the beaches of Florida are the biggest tourist attractions, and Fort Lauderdale beaches leave nothing to be desired.
4.1 Fort Lauderdale Beach
The largest public beach in the city limits, Fort Lauderdale Beach, is full of life. The water is crystal clear and shallow, making it the safest beach for kids.
To put your mind further at ease, Fort Lauderdale Beach is a Blue Wave-certified public beach. Be sure to arrive here early in the day to claim a spot since it’s the busiest beach in the city.
4.2 Fort Lauderdale Beach Park
There are always fun things to do for everyone, whether you want to play basketball, volleyball, or barbeque grills. There are playgrounds for the kids and jet ski rentals for the adventurous, all within Fort Lauderdale Beach Park.
4.3 Las Olas Beach
The party crowd will have the time of their life at Las Olas Beach, which hosts bars, restaurants, and clubs along its strip. Don’t forget to catch the waves by learning how to surf!
4.4 Loggerhead and Vista Park
Love the beach but not the crowds? This Fort Lauderdale area comprises two of the best beaches in the city to spend your time in. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some nesting turtles!
The other beaches are also essential tourist attractions (and may be less crowded too!)
(i) Hillsboro Beach –
This beach has the famous Hillsboro Lighthouse, built back in 1907.
(ii) Hallandale Beach –
This is retro-themed and has great nightlife.
(iii) Deerfield Beach –
Perfect for a relaxing and pristine experience
(iv) Hollywood Beach –
Head here for a dazzling Old Florida vibe.
(v) Dania Beach –
This is a quiet and beautiful sea turtle nesting site.
(vi) Pompano Beach –
Great for solitary beachgoers.
5. A Shopaholics Dream Come True
Once you visit a new place, there’s no way you can leave without souvenirs!
5.1 Las Olas Boulevard
Las Olas Boulevard is the hub of activities in Fort Lauderdale and the main entertainment district. The colorful strip is lined with dining establishments, hotels, cafes, and boutiques. It’s perfect for enjoying a stroll, shopping during the day, and partying into the night.
5.2 Sawgrass Mills Mall
This sprawling mall is the largest such outlet in America. You could shop till you drop and still not run out of options. And, of course, a mall wouldn’t be a mall without amazing restaurants and cafes.
5.3 The Galleria Fort Lauderdale
The many stores lining the Galleria at Fort Lauderdale are every shopper’s dream come true and are known for being luxurious. You will not be able to leave this place empty-handed, that’s for sure! Besides the shops, this place is also known for some of the best eateries in the city.
6. Other Major Attractions
There are so many places to visit; you’d always find something to do! The tourist attractions at Fort Lauderdale will fill all your heart’s desires.
6.1 Flamingo Gardens
The Flamingo Gardens is reminiscent of 1933 natural Florida and hosts a multitude of tropical and subtropical plants and animals, including the distinctive pink flamingos. It is a two-in-one combo of botanical gardens and an Everglades wildlife sanctuary.
6.2 Everglades Holiday Park
The Florida Everglades Airboat Tour is an absolute must on your list of fun things in Fort Lauderdale. You can view alligators, turtles, panthers, pythons, and storks among the vibrant wildlife. Enjoy the full adventure with the offered airboat ride, and maybe you’ll come face-to-face with a baby alligator!
6.3 Key West
This island city is known for its water sports and nightlife. Go snorkeling to view the underwater world up close, or opt for a glass-bottom boat. While this island is strictly not within the city limits, it is essential among all the things to do in Fort Lauderdale.
6.4 Butterfly World
The largest on this planet, this Butterfly World in Coconut Creek, is one of the greatest Fort Lauderdale attractions. The multitude of colorful butterflies flitting around will leave you feeling magical! It also contains botanical gardens, an aviary, a butterfly farm, and a research center.
6.5 Broward Center for the Performing Arts
The Broward Center is a beautiful premier theatre for performances, including concerts, plays, and dance, located among the Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District. If you enjoy the theatre and performances, this Centre should be at the top of your list of things to do in Fort Lauderdale.
6.6 Gulfstream Park
This park boasts a horseracing track dating back to 1939. But if watching races is not your thing, you can enjoy the casinos, shops, and restaurants lined up there instead because there are always things to do in Fort Lauderdale! The colossal Pegasus and Dragon statue, created in 2014 and encircled by musical fountains and LED lights, is a great highlight.
6.7 Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
The central park of Fort Lauderdale, the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, is a wonderful nature escape. You can hike, cycle the track, or relax on the Intracoastal Waterway shore overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
6.8 Seminole Hard Rock Hotel
Shaped like a guitar, this hotel and casino is a must-visit on your list of fun things to do in Fort Lauderdale, encompassing nightclubs, shops, restaurants, and concert halls. It’s like a whole city in itself!
6.9 Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale
The Riverwalk in downtown Fort Lauderdale is a picturesque promenade along the New River. It contains many Fort Lauderdale attractions and comprises the majority of everything to do in Fort Lauderdale, such as sailboats, yachts, public parks, posh restaurants, retro dive bars, and museums. You can visit the Riverwalk Linear Park or the Downtown Riverwalk District. You can also enjoy the Intracoastal waterways water taxi rides across the river.
6.10 BlueFoot Pirate Adventures
If you’re visiting the city of Fort Lauderdale with your kids, the Bluefoot Pirate Adventures is a must for great family fun. It involves face paint, costumes, and a pirate battle with water cannons. For kids, this will be their favorite thing among all the things to do in Fort Lauderdale.
6.11 Lauderdale by the Sea
This charming beach town, situated on the outskirts north of Fort Lauderdale, is family-friendly and boasts a stunning coral reef that is accessible. It is also a famous sea turtle nesting site.
Additionally, you can book snorkeling and seaboard tours to dive into its beautiful waters.
This indoor entertainment area is perfect for kids of all ages, even those under 3! It consists of rock walls, a ropes course, and even a laser maze.
The attractions include places to visit and a variety of fun things to do in Fort Lauderdale for everyone who wants that adrenaline rush. You can go surfing or paddleboarding. You can zoom over and under the waters on flyboards, snorkeling, or scuba diving. The list is endless! And that’s not all; you can even bring out the detective in you in the puzzling and scary escape rooms.
One of the unique ways to travel across the water, hands-down, has got to be the floating tiki bar tours. Aesthetic, chill, and uncrowded (with a capacity of only up to 6 guests), you can enjoy a constant supply of drinks and cocktails while bobbing on the waters in and around the city.
If you have the time and the interest, don’t also forget to visit the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum, which is a Florida Heritage Site, and the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society & Museum, where you’ll go back in time to Old Fort Lauderdale Village, and the International Swimming Hall of Fame Museum, for all fun things related to – you guessed it – swimming!
As you can see, there’s no shortage of things to do in Fort Lauderdale. From Las Olas Blvd to the Fort Lauderdale Beaches, the list above covers the greatest attractions in the city and all the fun things you can enjoy at Fort Lauderdale to leave with a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment.
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