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Fort Lauderdale offers a wide range of activities for all types of travelers no matter if you are on a solo trip, family adventure, or a romantic vacation. From exploring the area’s natural highlights and fantastic beaches to enjoying culture and art, here are 25 awesome things to do in Fort Lauderdale including indoor and outdoor attractions!
Family-friendly activities to do in Fort Lauderdale
Family-friendly attractions are as plentiful as sunshine in Fort Lauderdale. Need tips on what to do with your kids? Then let us give you some ideas!
Hit the beach
Throw down a towel and have a perfect beach day lounging on the sugary sands of Fort Lauderdale Beach. Build sandcastles or splash in the water with your kids. Take a dip in the ocean. The beautiful white sand and clear blue waters will make you feel like being somewhere in the Caribbean!
Looking for some adrenaline-fueled activity? Rent a jet ski, parasail, or ride an underwater scooter! Back on land, stroll or bike the signature beachfront promenade with its white wave wall or explore the many shops and restaurants punctuating it. Whatever you do, you’re set for a fun family outing if you decide to spend the day enjoying Fort Lauderdale beaches!
Revel in a sensory feast at Butterfly World
When you tire of the beach, head to Butterfly World for a mesmerizing spectacle! Home to a mind-boggling 20,000 butterflies -yes, you heard correctly- this 3-acre attraction, a short drive inland, holds the trophy for the largest butterfly habitat on the planet!
There’s more! Butterfly World is home to free-flying tropical birds and flowering blooms too. And you can feed birds right out of your hand in the Lorikeet Encounter! Remember to bring your camera.
Stroll through the historic Bonnet House Museum and Gardens
Step through the doors of this 35-acre beachfront estate for a taste of Old Florida charm. Former home of artists Frederic and Evelyn Bartlett, Bonnet is a remarkable blend of art, history, and nature. A world all its own!
The whimsical home dotted with striking art pieces and sculptures will enamor history buffs and art enthusiasts. The lush gardens, on the other hand, will delight children, especially when they find out about the resident monkeys. Wrap up your visit with a scoop of homemade ice cream in the cafeteria!
Enjoy some swashbuckling action on a Bluefoot Pirate Cruise
Up for an adventure? Become a pirate for the day aboard the Bluefoot Pirate Ship on a spirited excursion along the Intracoastal Waterway. With face painting, lessons in pirate lingo, and other kid-friendly activities, young pirates will have an epic time.
The best part? They get to shoot onboard water cannons to ward off attacks from rival pirates! A thrilling addition to your Fort Lauderdale vacation itinerary! You can do the cruise even with toddlers!
Get up close with local flora and fauna at Flamingo Gardens
A botanical garden and Everglades wildlife refuge rolled into one, this sprawling attraction, 17 miles west of Fort Lauderdale, packs a lot of family fun. Flamingo Gardens is not just a place to see flamingos. You can enjoy a wildlife encounter, view a stunning array of native flora, or hop on a tram tour around the grounds.
What’s more, you can also stop by the Wray Home Museum to get a glimpse of life in South Florida in the 1930s! Flamingo Gardens is a must-visit for every age!
Romantic activities to do in Fort Lauderdale
Need some inspiration for a date night while visiting Fort Lauderdale? Then check out what romantic things to do the area offers!
Enjoy a tropical isle dinner and a show on a Jungle Queen Cruise
Savor the beauty of Fort Lauderdale on a romantic dinner cruise with your honey aboard the Jungle Queen. Sip on a favorite beverage as you glide up the New River past the luxurious mansions and yachts docked along Millionaire’s Row.
Here’s the fun part: the cruise includes a private isle stopover for a delicious all-you-can-eat BBQ dinner and live entertainment! Your date will love every minute of it! Promise!
Embark on a gastronomic adventure with Craft Food Tours
Bond over food as you explore the vibrant food scene along the famed Las Olas Boulevard on this guided, walking food and drink tour. You’ll try eight food tastings and three alcoholic drinks in three hours! You’ll even enjoy vendor demonstrations. A rundown of how the area’s diverse culture ties in with the local food scene is complimentary.
Take a day trip to the quaint Lauderdale-by-the-Sea
Fewer crowds and laid-back vibes are the order of the day at this quaint seaside town just six miles from Fort Lauderdale that offers many awesome things to do.
Relax on the pristine sands with your date or walk hand-in-hand to the soothing sound of waves. Want to amp it up? Join a snorkel tour and explore the spectacular snorkel trails offshore. The small town punches above its weight in dining options too. So, take your pick!
Rediscover serenity at the Secret Woods Nature Center
A hike through this extraordinary parcel of nature is ideal for a romantic afternoon. This expansive 57-acre preserve comprising three ecosystems is a short drive from Fort Lauderdale, in Dania Beach.
Explore the beauty of unspoiled nature on one of its scenic nature trails. Then cool your heels on the flora-filled Butterfly Island to admire the colorful array of winged creatures. Remember to grab a selfie with your boo!
Live it up at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
Just 10 miles southwest of Fort Lauderdale, Seminole Hard Rock is THE place to enjoy Fort Lauderdale’s nightlife. After some gaming action at the casino, enjoy a meal at one of the on-site restaurants.
Then dance the night away to pulse-pumping music at the DAER Nightclub. The enormous LED centerpiece and speakers promise an unforgettable experience!
Indoor activities to do in Fort Lauderdale
Although outdoor fun is the main lure on a Fort Lauderdale beach vacation, there are many enjoyable options if the weather calls for an indoor activity. Let’s see now the best of them!
Learn something new at the Museum of Discovery and Science (MODS)
Head to MODS downtown for more than 150,000 square feet of interactive exhibits. From its funky, 52-foot-tall Great Gravity Clock to the simulated airboat ride through the Everglades to the simulated hurricane winds at the Storm Center, this museum is nothing short of mind-blowing!
And this barely scratches the surface of what it offers. The undisputed highlight, of course, is the six-story-high IMAX Theater that offers an unparalleled viewing experience. You may never want to leave!
Have non-stop fun at Xtreme Action Park
You are spoiled for choice with what activity you want to try first at this largest indoor entertainment venue in Florida. From bowling to go-kart racing and roller skating to ropes course adventure, there are plenty of options for those looking for action.
Want to dial it down? No worries! There are arcade games and escape rooms. An on-site restaurant to refuel and a full bar make it easy to make a day of it.
Shop till you drop at Sawgrass Mills
Located in Sunrise, 14 miles west of Fort Lauderdale, Sawgrass Mills is the largest outlet mall in the country! Shop till you drop at this 350-store complex that boasts a plethora of retailers, from budget-friendly options like Target, Marshalls, and BrandsMart USA to luxury brands such as Burberry, Coach, and Prada.
Need a break from shopping? Catch a movie at the on-site IMAX theater. When hunger pangs strike, there are many eateries on site.
Get inspired at the NSU Art Museum
Situated in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale’s art district, the NSU Art Museum is a treasure trove of visual arts! The museum’s distinctive modernist building alone is a head-turner!
Inside, you’ll find an exceptional collection of more than 7500 works that span all facets of the history of civilization. You don’t want to miss this!
Catch a performance at the Broward Center for Performing Arts
Catch a performance at this notable performing arts center in the popular Riverwalk area. From ballet and theater to musical performances and opera, there’s a smorgasbord of choices to pick from when visiting Broward Center for Performing Arts.
An enjoyable rainy-day alternative to outdoor activities! And the best is, that your admission ticket will get you free cocktails and discounts off your bill at several restaurants after the show!
Free/Cheap activities to do in Fort Lauderdale
On a budget? Find here the best wallet-friendly things to do on your Fort Lauderdale vacation:
Tour the city on the Community Shuttle
There’s so much to see and do in Fort Lauderdale. Just hop on the Community Shuttle and enjoy effortless transportation around the city without spending a dime!
Routes are free to ride and provide access to various hotspots, such as Fort Lauderdale Beach, world-class shopping on Las Olas Boulevard, and myriad dining and entertainment options in the Downtown area.
Have fun at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park
There’s a full plate of activity options at this beachfront park located just south of the Bahia Mar Resort, and the park is free to access! You can shoot hoops on the basketball court or spike one over the net on the volleyball court.
The park also has a boat ramp. There’s a playground if you have youngsters in tow. Hungry? Fire up one of the grills! Then eat at one of the picnic tables to breathtaking vistas of the Atlantic Ocean.
Explore the stunning Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
Behold this sliver of natural splendor smack in the middle of the bustling city! Nestled between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean, this urban oasis offers something for everyone.
Hike the scenic Coastal Hammock Trail, bike the 2-mile park drive, or drift through the park’s dune lake in a kayak or canoe. Birding enthusiasts, keep binoculars handy for bird sightings; there are over 250 species.
And all this for a low entrance fee of $6 for a vehicle, $4 for a single-occupant vehicle, and $2 for pedestrians and bikers!
Head to Swap Shop
Oldies are goodies at this iconic flea market in Fort Lauderdale. Billed as one of the country’s largest, the Swap Shop is an experience all in itself and a must-do when you’re visiting Fort Lauderdale!
With hundreds of vendors selling different kinds of goods, this market is just the place for bargain hunters. Just be sure to brush up on your bargaining skills!
Soar over to the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum
This historic hotspot, just west of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport, showcases the rich military heritage of Florida.
The historical materials and artifacts on display give you a peek into how naval aviation was used during World War II. This museum is also your go-to place to learn more about the intriguing mystery of Flight 19 that vanished over the Bermuda Triangle in 1945.
A must-do for history buffs and aviation enthusiasts! Admission is free!
Unique activities to do in Fort Lauderdale
Want some unique Fort Lauderdale activities? Here are some you can explore!
Get up to speed with the city’s history at the iconic Stranahan House Museum
Constructed in 1901, Stranahan House’s claim to fame is that it is the city’s oldest surviving structure! This century-old abode of Frank Stranahan, who played a quintessential role in founding Fort Lauderdale, has served as everything from a trading post to a post office to a town hall.
Get a sense of where the city got its start with a guided tour of this historic home. A must-see on your Fort Lauderdale vacation!
Meet mermaids at The Wreck Bar
A meal and drink alongside living mermaids? Yes! These whimsical, half-human, half-fish creatures are the real deal at the one-of-a-kind Wreck Bar.
The maritime-themed bar, built alongside the swimming pool at the B Ocean Resort, has portholes that give guests a peek at mermaids putting on underwater performances. Here’s a fun fact: the bar appears in the film Analyze This, starring Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal!
Pop into the unique Old Florida Book Shop
This unique bookstore in Fort Lauderdale offers a world of literary treasures -30,000 to be exact- stored in towering floor-to-ceiling bookshelves! Perhaps the store’s old and rare offerings, such as first editions of literature, antique maps, and ephemera from the past, imbue it with a sense of timelessness.
You don’t have to be a bibliophile or a collector to feel that magic! Who knows? You might even find something that interests you.
See the larger-than-life Hollywood art murals
Pink-haired mermaids with large, soulful eyes. Photorealistic portraits of Dali, Kahlo, and Basquiat. A woman in a red dress floating in a pool of blue. These are just a few of the show-stopping, oversized outdoor murals that form the visual landscape of downtown Hollywood, a short drive from Fort Lauderdale.
A stroll through this nine-block area is a must when you’re visiting Fort Lauderdale. Score Instagram-worthy photographs while you’re at it!
Take a Venetian gondola ride through the canals
Don’t leave without taking a gondola ride on your Fort Lauderdale beach vacation. The city is the “Venice of America,” after all! Kick back and relax in an authentic Venetian gondola with a Las Olas Gondola tour as it glides through the New River. You can even bring along your favorite beverage and snacks. The cruise makes for a truly memorable experience!
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