Things to do in Fort Lauderdale

Things to do in  Fort Lauderdale

Spring break—all grown up

Boating tops the list of top things to do in Fort Lauderdale, and rightfully so. The Venice of America is home to the largest boat show globally. Beachgoers do their best to maximize their tans between shopping sprees on Las Olas, though the travelers who look inland find even more fun. Tag popping at Sawgrass Mills’ outlets, day trips into Everglades National Park, and live theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts offer attractive alternatives to days spent wandering the renovated LGBTQ-friendly waterfront.

Top 15 attractions in Fort Lauderdale

Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale

Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale is a linear public park located by the New River in the historic downtown district of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Its tropical landscaping and winding pathways link some of the city’s best attractions.More

Fort Lauderdale Beachfront

Thanks to more than 23 miles (37 kilometers) of pristine sand, visitors to the Fort Lauderdale beachfront are spoiled for choice when it comes to water sports and sunbathing spots. Spend the day swimming, windsurfing, deep-sea fishing, or more—or stay on land playing volleyball, jogging, or just kicking back in a lounge chair.More

Intracoastal Waterway Fort Lauderdale

Stretching 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers) between the United States' Atlantic and Gulf coasts, Fort Lauderdale's Intracoastal Waterway provides easy access to maritime activities and on-shore attractions along the 300 miles (483 kilometers) of inland canals that wind through south Florida's unmistakable sky-high resorts and Everglades ecosystem.More

Historic Stranahan House Museum

The Historic Stranahan House Museum is the oldest surviving structure in Fort Lauderdale. It was built in 1902 as a trading post by Frank Stranahan, the founder of the city, and used by Stranahan’s wife, Ivy, as a school house. Over the decades it has also served as a post office, community center, and town hall. Today it’s a historic attraction that’s open daily for guided tours.More

Las Olas Boulevard

You can spend a full day strolling up and down this eclectic South Florida district, which is filled with art galleries, boutiques, and al fresco dining options. The 10 blocks that span all the way to the ocean are lined with palm trees and Mediterranean architecture, and set the stage for a relaxing day or night in Fort Lauderdale.More

Everglades National Park

Sandwiched between the sizzling beaches of Miami and the white sands of Key West, the Everglades National Park stands in stark contrast to its seductive neighbors—but don’t make the mistake of passing it by. Visit the park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and discover for yourself the spectacular swampy weirdness that draws over one million visitors every year and constitutes a one-of-a-kind destination for nature lovers.More

NSU Art Museum

The NSU Art Museum is located on Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas Boulevard, a key part of the vibrant art district. Visitors can view more than 6,000 works in the museum’s international collection, which has a strong focus on South Florida and Caribbean culture, with artwork by Cuban artists, William Glackens, and northern European CoBrA artists.More

Las Olas Beach

With soft, white sand and clean, calm waters ideal for families and people who like to wade and relax in the ocean, Las Olas Beach is the quintessential Fort Lauderdale beach. The beach offers great sunbathing, and you can also rent beach umbrellas and chairs.More

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

The Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, which spans 80 acres (73 hectares) of land, is a ruggedly beautiful park in the middle of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. There’s something for everyone here: paved paths for bicyclists, several nature trails for hikers, and more than 200 plant species. A freshwater lagoon is a great place for canoeing or kayaking, and you can fish here, too.More

Sawgrass Recreation Park

Located only 30 minutes outside downtown Fort Lauderdale, Sawgrass Recreation Park offers guided airboat rides through the marshy, humid swamp waters of the Florida Everglades. Visitors can spot alligators and other marshland animals, such as pythons, black leopards, and the endangered Florida panther living in the wild.More

Sawgrass Mills

Shop until you drop at Sawgrass Mills, the largest outlet and value retail destination in the country. Just outside Fort Lauderdale, the shopping center features more than 350 stores, with plenty for both high-end fashion lovers and bargain hunters. A movie theater, a family fun area, and lots of dining options round out the experience.More

Everglades Holiday Park

Everglades Holiday Park is a classic introduction to the Florida Everglades and its wild inhabitants. Geared toward the whole family, the 29-acre (11.7-hectare) park has been entertaining and educating visitors for almost 40 years and is also the home of Animal Planet’sGator Boys TV show.More

Museum of Discovery and Science

More than 200 interactive exhibits await families at this Fort Lauderdale museum, which is dedicated to curiosity and exploration. With the largest captive live Atlantic coral reef habitat, an IMAX theater, an Everglades Airboat Adventure, and an FA-18 cockpit 7D simulator, the museum offers children and their parents a day of exploration.More

Flamingo Gardens

Founded in 1927, Flamingo Gardens pays homage to Florida’s native jungle ecosystem with more than 3,000 plant and flower species. The vast botanical garden contains rare tropical plants along with pristine sections of native Florida wilderness, an animal rehabilitation center, aviary, and onsite museum.More

Hollywood Beach

Florida’s Hollywood Beach is best known for its red-brick boardwalk and panoramic seaside views. Located in the coastal city of Hollywood between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, this sandy stretch of coast is an ideal spot for people watching, sunbathing, and swimming.More

Top activities in Fort Lauderdale

Everglades Day Safari from Ft Lauderdale
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Ft Lauderdale to Key West with Optional Activities
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Everglades National Park Biologist Led Adventure: Cruise, Hike + Airboat
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Fort Lauderdale Segway Tour
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Fort Lauderdale Segway Tour

4-Hour Shared Big Game Deep Sea Fishing Charter in Fort Lauderdale
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1-Hour Interactive Pirate Cruise in Ft. Lauderdale (arrive 30 minutes early)
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Pedibus Pub Crawl in Fort Lauderdale
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All about Fort Lauderdale

When to visit

Fort Lauderdale is the yachting capital of the world, and any sailor worth their salt should visit during the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, held every October. The cool weather makes for a lovely day inside and out spent perusing the latest luxury vessels. Consider staying through the winter like a snowbird: The Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade is nothing short of epic. This half-century old event kicks off the holiday season for everyone who’s naughty, nice, and nautical.

Getting around

If you’ve got your boat in tow—or don’t mind the slow travel of a water taxi—then you’ll love sailing through the canals in the “Venice of America.” Those who prefer the pavement have ample options, too. Biking is an easy choice thanks to the Broward BCycle Bike Share System—especially if you’re spending time near the beach. A day pass to the Sun Trolley hop-on hop-off bus only costs US$3 per day, stopping at Las Olas and the beach.

Traveler tips

Visiting Fort Lauderdale doesn’t mean forgoing a Miami or Palm Beach vacation—and you can thank the Tri Rail for that. It’s a fast, affordable, and airport-inclusive way to maximize your South Florida experience. Don’t assume the shoreline is all the city has going for it, either. Follow the New River west and explore the cultural attractions surrounding the riverfront Esplanade Park. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts and the Museum of Science and Discovery are two local favorites.

Local Currency
US Dollar ($)
Time Zone
EST (UTC -5)
Country Code

People Also Ask

What is Fort Lauderdale best known for?

In the past, Fort Lauderdale had a reputation as a spring-break party destination, but it’s transformed into a more upscale vacation spot, with a renovated waterfront, thriving culinary scene, and postcard-worthy beaches. Known as the “Venice of America,” Fort Lauderdale boasts a maze of canals that you can explore by water taxi.

Does Fort Lauderdale Beach have a boardwalk?

No. But between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, you’ll find the Hollywood Beach Boardwalk, a 2.2 mile-long (3.5 kilometer) brick-paved pedestrian promenade crowded with joggers, skaters, and bicyclists along the Atlantic Ocean. It's a 30-minute drive from Fort Lauderdale and lined with boutiques, restaurants, seaside cafes, bars, and activities.

Does Fort Lauderdale have good nightlife?

Yes. Although Fort Lauderdale doesn’t have a bustling club scene like neighboring Miami, it does have rooftop bars, dinner cruises, and music venues. Head to Las Olas Boulevard for the Elbo Room, a go-to joint for locals and tourists for 75-plus years. Other hot spots include Rhythm & Vine, America's Backyard, and Capone’s.

How do I spend a day in Fort Lauderdale?

Get to know the city by hopping aboard a water taxi to cruise the Fort Lauderdale canals, taking in the scenic views. Then, stroll down Las Olas Boulevard, lined with restaurants, bars, and boutiques. Or head to Fort Lauderdale Beach to soak up some sun, windsurf, and play volleyball.

Where do tourists go in Fort Lauderdale?

Located about 30 minutes away from Fort Lauderdale, the Everglades are perhaps the most popular tourist attraction for those visiting southern Florida. At Sawgrass Recreation Park and Everglades National Park, book a guided airboat ride and travel through the marshy, humid swamp waters, spotting alligators and other creatures.

What can you do for free in Fort Lauderdale?

Enjoy the sun and sand free of charge—all eight Fort Lauderdale area beaches are public with no fee. Some cultural attractions, such as the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum and the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center, are free. The Anne Kolb Nature Center is free on non-holiday weekdays.

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