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Best Things To Do in Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale is a city made for beach bums and nature lovers. Case in point: Fort Lauderdale Beach and Sawgrass Recreation Park, home to alligators and other Florida wildlife. History buffs will find things to do here as well (we recommend a stop at the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens). And though the Venice of America may lack the rollicking nightlife adjacent cities are known for, downtown Fort Lauderdale has its charms. The Riverwalk, the arts and entertainment district along the New River, and Las Olas Boulevard host art exhibitions and concerts that might surprise you with their quality. 

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in Fort Lauderdale

Free
Want a beautiful Florida beach without a crazy party scene? Fort Lauderdale Beach may be just what you're looking for. Here you'll find a calmer and less chaotic version of Miami Beach – but with the same sugary sands and crystal clear water. There are still parties, but you're more likely to find families relaxing or leisurely walking the waterline than raucous groups of college kids. Backing the shoreline, the palm tree-lined promenade bustles with visitors looking to shop and dine in the many establishments along it. There are also beach chair and water sports equipment rentals near the shore. 
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Beaches Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Fort Lauderdale Beach
Want a beautiful Florida beach without a crazy party scene? Fort Lauderdale Beach may be just what you're looking for. Here you'll find a calmer and less chaotic version of Miami Beach – but with the same sugary sands and crystal clear water. There are still parties, but you're more likely to find families relaxing or leisurely walking the waterline than raucous groups of college kids. Backing the shoreline, the palm tree-lined promenade bustles with visitors looking to shop and dine in the many establishments along it. There are also beach chair and water sports equipment rentals near the shore. 
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#2

#2 in Fort Lauderdale

Free
Located less than a mile south of Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale Beach Park beckons to families who want to spend their beach day doing more than just lounging and swimming. At this free beachfront park, visitors have access to all sorts of facilities, including volleyball and basketball courts, outdoor showers, restrooms, a playground and a picnic area with tables and grills. Plus, the park's sands are less crowded than nearby Fort Lauderdale Beach, and lifeguards are on duty daily during daylight hours.
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Beaches Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Fort Lauderdale Beach Park
Located less than a mile south of Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale Beach Park beckons to families who want to spend their beach day doing more than just lounging and swimming. At this free beachfront park, visitors have access to all sorts of facilities, including volleyball and basketball courts, outdoor showers, restrooms, a playground and a picnic area with tables and grills. Plus, the park's sands are less crowded than nearby Fort Lauderdale Beach, and lifeguards are on duty daily during daylight hours.
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#3

#3 in Fort Lauderdale

Free
Head north from Fort Lauderdale Beach Park or east on Las Olas Boulevard and you'll find Las Olas Beach, a small stretch of sand that attracts beachgoers of all ages. Beach amenities are not as plentiful as those offered at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park; however, visitors have access to beach chair and water sports equipment rentals, restrooms and metered parking. Restaurants, bars and shops are also available across the street.
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Beaches Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Las Olas Beach
Head north from Fort Lauderdale Beach Park or east on Las Olas Boulevard and you'll find Las Olas Beach, a small stretch of sand that attracts beachgoers of all ages. Beach amenities are not as plentiful as those offered at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park; however, visitors have access to beach chair and water sports equipment rentals, restrooms and metered parking. Restaurants, bars and shops are also available across the street.
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#4

#4 in Fort Lauderdale

Located a few blocks north of Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park's position between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean makes it a fun locale for all types of travelers. Those looking to get a little wet can canoe or kayak in the largest of the park's coastal dune lakes. Adventurers who want to get their adrenaline pumping can bike along the nearly 2-mile paved park drive. Meanwhile, visitors who prefer to explore by foot can hike the Coastal Hammock Trail, which snakes through a native maritime tropical hardwood hammock ecosystem, one of the last of its kind in the county. Fisherman can make a catch at the seawall, while birders can look for 250-plus species that live in and regularly grace the park.
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Hiking Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
Located a few blocks north of Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park's position between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean makes it a fun locale for all types of travelers. Those looking to get a little wet can canoe or kayak in the largest of the park's coastal dune lakes. Adventurers who want to get their adrenaline pumping can bike along the nearly 2-mile paved park drive. Meanwhile, visitors who prefer to explore by foot can hike the Coastal Hammock Trail, which snakes through a native maritime tropical hardwood hammock ecosystem, one of the last of its kind in the county. Fisherman can make a catch at the seawall, while birders can look for 250-plus species that live in and regularly grace the park.
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#5

#5 in Fort Lauderdale

One of the best ways to take in your surroundings is to sign up for a boat tour. Fort Lauderdale boat operators offer a variety of ways to get out on the water, from traditional sightseeing outings to fishing charters to themed excursions in specialty boats. The following are a few traveler favorites:
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Recreation Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Boat Tours
One of the best ways to take in your surroundings is to sign up for a boat tour. Fort Lauderdale boat operators offer a variety of ways to get out on the water, from traditional sightseeing outings to fishing charters to themed excursions in specialty boats. The following are a few traveler favorites:
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#6

#6 in Fort Lauderdale

Free
Diverse restaurants, 10 international art galleries and dozens of retail options line Las Olas Boulevard. But while casual walkers and window shoppers enjoy soaking in the Floridian atmosphere and overall aesthetic of the boulevard, the more intent consumer may not find this commercial street as appealing due to the high price tags. However, travelers recommend grabbing a bite to eat above all else, as many were impressed with the quality of food and the amount of alfresco dining options available. Our advice would be to make a stop here if you're planning to visit the nearby Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale or local museums like the Museum of Discovery and Science.
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Cafes Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Las Olas Boulevard
Diverse restaurants, 10 international art galleries and dozens of retail options line Las Olas Boulevard. But while casual walkers and window shoppers enjoy soaking in the Floridian atmosphere and overall aesthetic of the boulevard, the more intent consumer may not find this commercial street as appealing due to the high price tags. However, travelers recommend grabbing a bite to eat above all else, as many were impressed with the quality of food and the amount of alfresco dining options available. Our advice would be to make a stop here if you're planning to visit the nearby Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale or local museums like the Museum of Discovery and Science.
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#7

#7 in Fort Lauderdale

This house sitting between the Intracoastal Waterway and Fort Lauderdale Beach has a long romantic history. In 1919, a wealthy settler gave the 35-acre property (named after the bonnet lily flower that grew on the grounds) as a wedding gift to his daughter Helen and her husband Frederic. In 1920, the newlyeds began construction of Bonnet House, hoping to build a winter getaway where Frederic could pursue his art and Helen could work on her music and poetry. But construction soon stopped when Helen unexpectedly died in 1925. Frederic didn't resume property renovations until 1931 when he married Evelyn Fortune Lilly. The new couple continued decorating the house until Frederic's death. Several decades later in 1983, Evelyn donated the house to the state's Trust for Historic Preservation, opening it to visitors for guided tours.
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Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Bonnet House Museum & Gardens
This house sitting between the Intracoastal Waterway and Fort Lauderdale Beach has a long romantic history. In 1919, a wealthy settler gave the 35-acre property (named after the bonnet lily flower that grew on the grounds) as a wedding gift to his daughter Helen and her husband Frederic. In 1920, the newlyeds began construction of Bonnet House, hoping to build a winter getaway where Frederic could pursue his art and Helen could work on her music and poetry. But construction soon stopped when Helen unexpectedly died in 1925. Frederic didn't resume property renovations until 1931 when he married Evelyn Fortune Lilly. The new couple continued decorating the house until Frederic's death. Several decades later in 1983, Evelyn donated the house to the state's Trust for Historic Preservation, opening it to visitors for guided tours.
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#8

#8 in Fort Lauderdale

Take an airboat tour of the Florida Everglades at Sawgrass Recreation Park and prepare to be amazed (or scared) by the close-up vistas of alligators and other creatures. You can even reserve an airboat tour for nighttime runs to see nocturnal animals in their natural state. Or, arrange for a private tour, which is twice as long as the standard 30-minute ride.
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Natural Wonders Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Sawgrass Recreation Park
Take an airboat tour of the Florida Everglades at Sawgrass Recreation Park and prepare to be amazed (or scared) by the close-up vistas of alligators and other creatures. You can even reserve an airboat tour for nighttime runs to see nocturnal animals in their natural state. Or, arrange for a private tour, which is twice as long as the standard 30-minute ride.
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#9

#9 in Fort Lauderdale

If it's a rainy day and you need an indoor activity that will appeal to the kids, take them to the Museum of Discovery and Science. The museum is filled with so many activities, animals and exhibits, your kids may never want to leave. Get introduced to river otters, take a simulated airboat ride through the Everglades or learn more about Florida weather patterns at the Storm Center. Other must-visit spots in the museum include an aviation station, where kids can climb into the cockpit of a World War II fighter plane, and the fossil-filled Dino Boneyard. If that's not enough, guests can catch a flick at the 300-seat Imax theater, buy a souvenir at the gift shop or pick up a sandwich at the theater's snack stand.
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Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Museum of Discovery and Science
If it's a rainy day and you need an indoor activity that will appeal to the kids, take them to the Museum of Discovery and Science. The museum is filled with so many activities, animals and exhibits, your kids may never want to leave. Get introduced to river otters, take a simulated airboat ride through the Everglades or learn more about Florida weather patterns at the Storm Center. Other must-visit spots in the museum include an aviation station, where kids can climb into the cockpit of a World War II fighter plane, and the fossil-filled Dino Boneyard. If that's not enough, guests can catch a flick at the 300-seat Imax theater, buy a souvenir at the gift shop or pick up a sandwich at the theater's snack stand.
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Recreation Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend

Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend

Free
Cafes Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend

Cafes Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
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