Located on the Florida coast, Fort Lauderdale offers miles of sandy beaches and a year-round average temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Its main attraction is the second largest city in Florida, attracting both tourists and locals who love sun, sand and surf.
Fort Lauderdale, 23 miles north of Miami, is a major resort city with a Venice-like series of canals and waterways.
Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale: Today, Fort Lauderdale is a sophisticated urban destination that welcomes visitors with wide boardwalks of diverse restaurants, shops and beachy feeling. Located just off the northern coast of Florida, this seaside city offers an abundance of year-round activities and attracts sun-starved northerners trying to find an escape from their winter weather.
Fort Lauderdale is a quaint city in Florida with a lot of culture Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale, from the thriving art scene to history. There are also plenty of interesting Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale if you’re looking for more refined activities. The Las Olas neighbourhood is home to restaurants, galleries, museums, and more for those who prefer more refined activities.
Get a list of the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale with our recommendations for things to see and attractions.
1. Fort Lauderdale Beaches
The beaches in Fort Lauderdale are a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. One of the best known beaches in Florida, this location has a variety of attractions that homeowners can enjoy including shopping and dining; as well as great water sports and sunbathing opportunities.
To access Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, one of the most popular beaches in town, it’s important to know where the best access point is. Located just south of where Las Olas Boulevard intersects with Florida State Road A1A, this beach has ample parking.
You will generally be able to find a spot, but on the busiest of days, and from the parking lot (to the sand) is just a short stroll. The beach has many facilities with restrooms, changerooms, showers, volleyball courts, basketball courts, BBQ grills and picnic tables.
Other major beaches in the area include Las Olas Beach and Fort Lauderdale Beach.
There are many Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale, access options to the beach, each with their own advantages. There are various hotels and condos nearby, as well as great deals on food and merchandise shops along the pedestrian walkway leading from the ocean’s edge.
2. Las Olas Boulevard
Las Olas Boulevard stretches from downtown Fort Lauderdale to the ocean and includes multiple restaurants, attractions, and shopping stores. On this avenue, you can find a variety of tourist attractions and places to gather with family and friends for a bite, go for a walk, get a fashion consultation or some artwork. The many shops clustered along Las Olas include high-end clothing stores, art galleries, and jewelry stores.
Las Olas is also a popular place to visit for dining, with cafés and bistros along the street. A popular pastime is to grab a prime seat on a comfy patio and watch the hustle and bustle of people strolling by. Or, after the heat of the day, dine under fairy lights in palm trees that line the roadway.
The area with the most retail is a strip of road that runs from South Andrews to SE 15th Avenue. There are also many restaurants and shops near SE 15th and east of there, around 13th Street, until you reach the beach front. Paid parking can be found, either on Las Olas Boulevard or side streets at meters or in a commercial parking lot.
3. Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk
Surprisingly absent from the media, the Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk is a gorgeous and sedate 2.5-mile-long trail that follows the New River as it makes its way towards the ocean past historical homes and condos.
The Riverwalk is an attraction in and of itself. The river is lined with restaurants, patios, and water trolleys that travel back and forth across the city. There are several parks along the route as well, making it a perfect location for lunch or dinner.
For the latest events and happenings, pick up a copy of Go Riverwalk magazine which is published monthly. The Riverwalk has been in existence for over 30 years and has been a rally ground for locals and tourists alike.
The Riverwalk is pedestrian-friendly, and can accessed from any one of the intersecting streets. The Broward Judicial Center has one of the largest parking structures, with parking available off down SE 3rd Avenue.
4. Bonnet House Museum & Gardens
Bonnet House Museum & Gardens is a mix of art, architecture, history and ecology and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The house is designed by Bartlett and built in 1920. In its modern exhibits are collections of art and personal treasures.
The Birch/Bartlett estate is a 36-acre oasis in the middle of commercial Fort Lauderdale, just minutes away from the beachfront.
The grounds are home to five ecosystems, including a beach, a dune slough and maritime forest, freshwater slough, as well as mangrove forests. The formal gardens include a hibiscus garden and an Orchid Display House.
Address: 900 North Birch Road, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
5. Historic Stranahan House Museum
Frank Stranahan, an Ohio businessman and trader, built this pine pioneer’s home in 1901. It was expanded several times over the years and now features wide verandas, bay windows, a Victorian parlor and tropical gardens.
Guided tours showcase period Victorian furniture and decorative pieces that are on display throughout the house. One impressive feature of Stranahan House is that it was built in a time when there was a need for trade, so it even served as a post office, community center, and town hall. There have been various accounts of the house transforming into restaurants and boarding houses and you can enjoy them all at different times. The museum’s gift shop features handmade items by local artists to purchase.
Address: 335 SE Sixth Street, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
6. Museum of Discovery and Science
The Museum of Discovery and Science has a lot to offer with permanent exhibits and rotating exhibitions. You can meet tons of dinosaurs, explore ancient life and look at the prehistoric Florida exhibit, or explore present-day Florida’s ecosystems by viewing the world’s largest living coral reef, all while watching up-close.
Storm Center and the Wall of Wind have scenes devoted to weather, hurricanes and their effects on rivers and oceans. There are also opportunities for immersive experiences, like the Everglades Airboat Adventure or a variety of nature and feature films at the IMAX theater.
Other exhibits include the environmentally conscious singing robot Harry the Heap; the Keller Science Theater, with live demonstrations; and a two-story otter habitat. There is also a dedicated Discovery Center for children under seven years old to play and learn.
Address: 401 SW Second Street, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
7. Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park
This park has a 2.5-mile stretch of beach on the Atlantic Ocean that makes it perfect for setting up your beach chairs and umbrella as you look out at the ocean.
Those who own a boat can take their vessel to the state park’s excellent launching facilities close to Port Everglades Inlet, where they start and end their day. From here, they are able to head out to the Atlantic Ocean and secure their vessel quickly.
Scuba diving is very popular near the three coral reef systems located offshore. One of which can be reached by swimming 300 yards, while the other is half a mile out and the third is two miles out.
Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park is a birding hotspot for the keen observer with plenty of varieties of birds. Warblers, sparrows, pelicans and shorebirds can be spotted there
Address: 6503 North Ocean Drive, Dania Beach, Florida
8. Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
Hugh Taylor Birch donated this state park to residents of Florida as a gift. The park is 180 acres and sits between two bodies of water, the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean.
This green space is a welcome oasis, perfect for a quiet walk on the trails or an afternoon picnic. Canoe rentals are available, or bring your own stand up paddleboard and head onto the freshwater lagoon to view wildlife or even do some fishing.
The North Beach Circuit Rail Trail allows guests to ride non-motorized bikes while they enjoy beautiful views, taking in the nearby Birch House Museum and an insider look at the ecological significance of the island.
Address: 3109 East Sunrise Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
9. NSU Art Museum
The NSU Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale is a modern, unique three-story building in the city’s upscale Las Olas neighborhood. It features more than 7,000 works of art in its permanent collections that includes significant art exhibits focusing on the work of multicultural and female artists, Latin American and Cuban art, and African and Oceanic Tribal Arts.
The NSU Art Museum has recently acquired 100 items from the collection of David Horvitz and Francie Bishop Good. Highlights include work by Cecily Brown, Catherine Opie, and Kiki Smith among many others.
The museum has monthly educational programming, special events and traveling exhibits throughout the year.
Address: One East Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
10. Everglades Holiday Park
It’s well known that Everglades Holiday Park, the setting of “Gator Boys,” is a popular tourist destination and because of the new Gator show its even more popular. The cast members who moved in make it a favorite park for those who enjoy animals in general.
With shows involving the top residents of the Everglades, visitors to the park learn about southern Florida’s ecosystem as they watch simulated online videos and follow them along with a guide on a journey through the Everglades.
Address: 21940 Griffin Road, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
11. Flamingo Gardens and Wildlife Sanctuary
If you’re interested in learning more about the animals, plants, and culture of Florida wilderness areas, consider visiting Flamingo Gardens. The park is spread out over 60 acres and encompasses flora, fauna, and historical components.
A botanical garden and arboretum are highlights at The Fauna and Flora. You can explore the 11 different gardens, which range from orchids to a live oak hammock.
The flora at the Flamingo Trail is home to more than 221 species of plants, defined as Florida’s largest native wildlife sanctuary. These non-releasable residents include bobcats, eagles, alligators and bears. One of the more popular spots is the Flamingo Pond, where they go about their daily lives by constantly eating food scraps. In addition to this, visitors can feed them as well for a fee.
The Wray Home is a one-time weekend residence center of the city which has been lovingly restored to its 1930s glory.
Address: 3750 S. Flamingo Road, Davie, Florida