Fort Lauderdale Travel Guide

USA  #5 in Best Cheap Summer Vacations
Credit

Courtesy of Sean Pavone/iStock / Getty Images

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

Updated August 2, 2018

  • #1
    Fort Lauderdale Beach
    View all Photos
    #1 in Fort Lauderdale
    Beaches, Natural Wonders, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Natural Wonders, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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. 

    ...Read More »
  • #2
    Fort Lauderdale Beach Park
    View all Photos
    #2 in Fort Lauderdale
    Beaches, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

    ...Read More »
  • #3
    Las Olas Beach
    View all Photos
    #3 in Fort Lauderdale
    Beaches, Natural Wonders, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Natural Wonders, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

    ...Read More »
  • #4
    Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
    View all Photos
    #4 in Fort Lauderdale
    Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Swimming/Pools
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Swimming/Pools
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

    ...Read More »
  • #5
    Boat Tours
    View all Photos
    #5 in Fort Lauderdale
    Recreation, Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Recreation, Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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:

    ...Read More »
  • #6
    Las Olas Boulevard
    View all Photos
    #6 in Fort Lauderdale
    Cafes, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Cafes, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

    ...Read More »
  • #7
    Bonnet House Museum & Gardens
    View all Photos
    #7 in Fort Lauderdale
    Museums, Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

    ...Read More »
  • #8
    Sawgrass Recreation Park
    View all Photos
    #8 in Fort Lauderdale
    Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

    ...Read More »
  • #9
    Museum of Discovery and Science
    View all Photos
    #9 in Fort Lauderdale
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

    ...Read More »
  • Segway Fort Lauderdale
    View all Photos
    Recreation, Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Recreation, Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Read More »

  • Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum
    View all Photos
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Read More »

  • Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale
    View all Photos
    Cafes, Entertainment and Nightlife, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Cafes, Entertainment and Nightlife, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Read More »

  • Chef Jean-Pierre's Cooking School
    View all Photos
    Cafes, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Cafes, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Read More »

Explore More of Fort Lauderdale

Recommended

The 20 Best Michigan State Parks

Two peninsulas, four Great Lakes and innumerable natural highlights elevate Michigan's state parks.

Zach WatsonApril 18, 2019

50 Awesome Vacation Ideas for Every Type of Traveler

Consider these vacation ideas for your next getaway.

Holly JohnsonApril 11, 2019

The 13 Best National Parks in California

You won't regret adding one of these national parks to your California itinerary.

Rachel CenterApril 10, 2019

10 Beautiful Places to Visit in the South of France

Plan a getaway to these special destinations to soak up culture, cuisine and quaint atmospheres.

Gwen PratesiApril 8, 2019

Best Carry-on Luggage of 2019

U.S. News rated the best carry-on luggage, considering recommendations from experts and consumers.

Lyn MettlerApril 3, 2019

The 11 Best Utah National Parks and Monuments to Visit

From birding to bouldering to boating, Utah's national parks have it all.

Zach WatsonApril 2, 2019

The 30 Best Zoos in the U.S.

Get an up-close look at wild creatures in natural settings at America's top animal parks.

Kyle McCarthyMarch 28, 2019

15 Scenic Train Rides to Add to Your Bucket List

Climb aboard these locomotives for jaw-dropping views.

Christine SmithMarch 26, 2019

13 Top Places to Visit in Tuscany, Italy

Ditch the crowded streets of Rome or Milan and head to Italy's picturesque countryside.

Lyn MettlerMarch 25, 2019

10 Excellent Educational Vacations for Families

Make sure your next getaway is both enjoyable and informative.

Holly JohnsonMarch 14, 2019