If you’re wondering what to do in Fort Lauderdale, some ideas, like visiting the beaches and bars, might first pop into your head. While these are great options, there is so much more to do in this vibrant city. With activities ranging from taking airboat rides to visiting art galleries, it’s easy to find fun and interesting activities to fill your days in South Florida.
What is there to do outside in Fort Lauderdale?
Florida is known for having tropical weather that ranges from warm to downright hot, so that means there’s tons to do in the great outdoors. The city features a wide variety of outdoor options, from amazing beaches to the unique Everglades.
Everglades National Park is less than two hours away from Fort Lauderdale by car. This part of Florida is unlike any other, especially when it comes to the scenery and wildlife. You can see and do everything from taking an airboat tour to see alligators, to going on a relaxing nature hike on one of the many trails. There’s no place in the world quite like this area, and it’s well-worth visiting if you’re in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area.
Another great way to enjoy the natural scenery and wildlife is to cruise the Intracoastal Waterway. You can book an airboat tour or take your own water vessel through these protected waterways. Both options allow you to relax on these beautiful waters and take in your surroundings in a way unlike any other.
On the topic of boats, you’ll want to explore the possibility of taking a ride on the Jungle Queen Riverboat or the River Queen Riverboat. Since 1935, these cruises have been helping people have fun and make memories. There are tons of cruise ship options available, including sightseeing cruises, dinner cruises and tropical isle visits.
If you love sun and surf, you’re in luck because Fort Lauderdale has amazing beaches. Two of the most popular in the area are Fort Lauderdale Beach and Las Olas Beach. Visitors praise Fort Lauderdale Beach for its soft sand, clear water, calm ambiance, and wealth of nearby restaurants. As for Las Olas Beach, locals and tourists love that it’s clean and conveniently located near shops, eateries, and hotels.
Some other great destinations for beach lovers in the city include Dania Beach, which is known for its award-winning “Blue Wave Beaches” and outdoor activities, and Hollywood Beach in nearby Hollywood, Florida. Hollywood Beach is especially famous for its Boardwalk, which features one-of-a-kind shops, restaurant and bar options, live music and special events.
For nature and animal lovers, Flamingo Gardens is a must-visit destination. A 60-acre botanical garden, which was established in 1927, features more than 3,000 species of plants and trees. Not only that, but the facility also is a wildlife sanctuary that houses Florida’s largest collection of native wildlife. You can see animals that include alligators, bobcats, eagles, flamingos, otters and much more. Visiting is a great way to support the facility and the animals that live there.
Where are some of the best places to shop in Fort Lauderdale?
A little retail therapy is sometimes just what the doctor ordered. You may be looking to revamp your wardrobe, or you might just want to snag some souvenirs from your trip. Either way, downtown Fort Lauderdale has got you covered.
During your time in the city, you need to make your way to Las Olas Blvd. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got some cash you’re looking to spend, or you just want to window shop, this area has something for you. There are dozens of stores and shops, a wealth of diverse restaurants and several art galleries to enjoy as you stroll. If you’d prefer to ride, you can take a Segway tour of the area instead.
Another fun way to explore Las Olas Blvd is via gondola rides. Fort Lauderdale’s extensive canal system has earned it the name the “Venice of America.” Just like in Venice, Italy, the Las Olas gondola tours allow you to see the city from a different perspective, as you leisurely sail along in a cozy gondola.
There’s nothing like an outlet mall, especially if you’re a bargain hunter. Sawgrass Mills in Fort Lauderdale holds the title of being the largest outlet mall in the country. With more than 350 stores, you won’t have any trouble finding amazing products from all your favorite brands. Best of all, the outlet mall prices mean that you don’t have to feel guilty about your shopping spree.
What are some entertainment options in Fort Lauderdale to beat the heat?
While it can be fun to spend time outside, sometimes you just need a break from the Florida heat. Luckily, Fort Lauderdale offers plenty of ways to escape the high temperatures and humidity with some indoor attractions.
If you have a weakness for flea markets, the Swap Shop in Fort Lauderdale is the place for you. You’re sure to find some unique items in this 88-acre flea market. However, this location features more than just deals and shopping. It also houses an enormous arcade, a drive-in theater, and a free Ferrari museum.
Speaking of museums, the city offers a wealth of them. One of the most popular is the stunning Bonnet House Museum & Gardens. The property was built by a Chicago artist in 1920. It still stands today as not only a symbol of historic beauty but also a way to connect visitors with the property’s “architectural, artistic and environmental legacy.”
The Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum is another popular stop in the city for people who love historic cars. The museum focuses on the classic Packard and features dozens of these perfectly restored automobiles. There’s also a wealth of memorabilia and items to explore in the massive space.
The Museum of Discovery and Science provides the ideal indoor activity for families and children. Interactive is the name of the game, so this space allows visitors to do everything from meet river otters to climb into the cockpit of a World War II fighter plane. The museum also features a 300-seat IMAX theater, a gift shop, and a snack stand to keep hungry guests fueled for learning and adventure.
Fort Lauderdale knows that museums aren’t for everyone. If you prefer gambling and games of chance to explore history, you’re in luck. The Seminole Hard Rock Casino in nearby Hollywood, Florida, underwent a $1.5 billion expansion in 2019. This casino is more than 140,000 square feet and also features dining and nightlife within its walls.
Start your journey in the trendy Flagler Village area
If you’re looking to explore an up-and-coming area, you should put Flagler Village on your list. This part of downtown Fort Lauderdale was once home to industrial warehouses, but it has since grown into a trendy neighborhood that’s home to dozens of art galleries and studios.
Because art is such an important part of the area’s DNA, the community hosts monthly art walks. You can see local artists and street muralists, while listening to live music. The monthly art walk is also a time to purchase unique clothing, jewelry, and art from local vendors.
The number of bars in Fort Lauderdale is quickly growing. You can find everything from an axe-throwing bar called Chops and Hops that lets you channel your inner lumberjack, to a fun bar called Rec Room that features free duckpin bowling and games like shuffleboard.
As for food and beverages, Flagler Village is known for offering diverse bites and craft beers and cocktails. Some of the best restaurants in Fort Lauderdale include Flagler Village Brewery, which offers a delicious menu and a robust, rotating selection of craft beers, and Poke Lolo, featuring build-your-own poke bowls and poke in a waffle cone.
Thanks to the neighborhood’s convenient location within Fort Lauderdale, it’s easy to get to other parts of town to explore. Specifically, Flagler Village is near the city’s downtown business district and the high-end shopping and dining options in Las Olas. However, the Flagler Village area is so unique and entertaining that there’s a good chance you won’t want to leave it.