Fort Lauderdale Travel Guide

USA  #11 in Best Places to Visit in January
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Courtesy of Sean Pavone/iStock / Getty Images

Free Things To Do in Fort Lauderdale

If you have extra time, Las Olas Beach is worthwhile.
  • #1
    Things to do in Fort Lauderdale
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    #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. 

    Recent visitors loved Fort Lauderdale Beach for its wide, expansive shoreline, with some noting that even when there were a lot of people, it didn't feel crowded. Many were also impressed with how clean the beach is, adding that its calm waters make it a great place to bring kids.

  • #2
    Fort Lauderdale Beach Park
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    #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.

    Overall, recent travelers enjoyed their time at this park, citing its beautiful setting and top-notch amenities as highlights. Many also appreciated the property's proximity to various shops, restaurants and hotels, such as B Ocean Resort and the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa. However, some past visitors warned that additional charges apply for select services. Expect to pay about $50 for beach chair and umbrella rentals, and $6 to $8 per vehicle for parking, depending on the time of day. Parking is limited (especially on weekends and holidays), so consider arriving early.

  • #3
    Las Olas Beach
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    #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.

    Reviewers rave about this beach's clean sand and clear water, although some cautioned that the area can get a bit rowdy at night, especially when college students are in town for spring break. Police officers are always present, though, and alcohol and loud music are never permitted. If you tire of sunbathing or swimming, a few travelers suggest taking a stroll along the paved esplanade up to Fort Lauderdale Beach.

  • #7
    Las Olas Boulevard
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    #7 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.

    In terms of parking, there are both on-street and private lots available to customers. Street parking is metered starting at 11 a.m. in most locations, and city and private lots can be found on the side streets that run parallel to the boulevard. The Riverside Hotel also offers a seven-story parking lot. For visitors without cars, the water taxi's No. 2 stop is next to Las Olas Boulevard. Additionally, the No. 11 bus and Sun Trolley's Las Olas Link pick up and drop off along the thoroughfare.

  • #9
    Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District
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    #9 in Fort Lauderdale
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Spanning 22 blocks, the Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District holds some of Fort Lauderdale's top attractions. You'll find the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society, Bonnet House Museum and Gardens, the Nova Southeastern University Art Museum, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, the Florida Grand Opera and the Historic Stranahan House Museum, in addition to many restaurants, green spaces, movie theaters and shops. The district is set along the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale and is a lovely place to stroll or sit on a bench with a cup of coffee. It also encompasses Las Olas Boulevard, where you will find many shopping, dining and nightlife venues.

    Recent travelers said they enjoyed the views along the river and found the paved stretch to be a perfect place to go for a walk. Additionally, many recommended hopping on the free Riverwalk Water Trolley, which operates like a bus system with eight different stops along the river's north and south banks. The water trolley runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day and can be requested by calling 954-TROLLEY. Riders can also track the location of the water trolley using the Sun Trolley Tracker app, or simply waiting 20 to 30 minutes at the nearest stop.

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