Southwest Ranches is located just inland from the Atlantic Ocean east of Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood.
The town was so named because it’s always been a big equestrian area. One of its claims to fame is that it has stubbornly clung to its small-town identity when most others in the area have been swallowed up by larger cities in perpetual expansion mode.
Visitors to Southwest Ranches have easy access to many of the state’s most scenic and popular beaches, as well as a variety of local and state parks, historical attractions, and lots of sports and gaming venues as well.
Below are 14 things to do in and around Southwest Ranches.
1. South Florida Hindu Temple
For nearly all visitors to Florida’s Atlantic coast region, Hindu temples are things that they’re least expecting to see.
Located on Griffin Road in Southwest Ranches, South Florida Hindu Temple is a unique community attraction that’s not only architecturally stunning, but also a peaceful place to relax away from the crowds.
Regularly scheduled temple tours are available, and they’re big hits with local school children on field trips.
It’s common to hear monks chanting, and there’s usually aromatic incense wafting through the air, giving it an exotic feel that’s a far cry from most of the area’s more touristy attractions.
2. Sunshine Ranches Equestrian Park
Florida has always been big horse country, and for hundreds of years before the state was gripped with its massive rush toward development, it was home to cowboys, prairies, and cattle ranches, matching western states like Texas and Arizona.
The Sunshine Ranches Equestrian Park is a municipal facility that sits on ten scenic acres not far from the downtown area. Its horse-related amenities include troughs, washing areas, pens, and an arena. Throughout the year, the park hosts a variety of special events.
There are a number of trails that are open to walkers, bikers, and horseback riders, and there are BBQ grills, horseshoe pits and covered picnic areas as well.
3. Long Key Natural Area & Nature Center
At more than 160 acres, Long Key Natural Area & Nature Center is one of Broward County’s largest parks and includes a variety of natural environments, like oak hammocks and islands set amidst marshy glades.
In addition to multi-use trails that are popular with walkers, runners, and bikers, the park features numerous archaeological sites. These are remnants from the Seminole and Tequesta Native Americans that lived in the area for generations before it was officially settled.
Consider checking out the visitor and nature center to get an overview of the park’s attractions and layout before heading out into the wild.
4. Tree Tops Park
Tree Tops Park is located just over the municipal border in Davie. It is inexpensive to visit and pet-friendly.
Dogs are allowed, as long as they’re controlled and cleaned up after. The cost of admission is less than two dollars for adults and children over five.
The park features a kid’s play area, built-in fitness stations, designated fishing areas, and lots of covered seating.
Previous guests have noted that the trails are well-marked, but that there’s an abundance of poison ivy, so keep track of little ones who venture off the path.
The park’s entrance is located on SW 100th Avenue, and it’s open every day from 8 AM until 6 PM.
5. Bonnet House Museum and Gardens
Located on North Birch Road in Fort Lauderdale, Bonnet House Museum and Gardens are popular historical and natural attractions that are big hits with those who’ve tired of beaches and overpriced tourist traps.
The historic house was built in the plantation-style and was a gift from a Chicago artist to his wife, after whom it’s named.
The museum showcases the artist’s works as well as pieces from other artists he collected throughout his life.
The outdoor gardens are comprised of distinct cultivated areas, each with its own unique theme. For those who’d like a knowledgeable local’s insight, guided tours are available if booked in advance.
6. NSU Art Museum
Fort Lauderdale’s NSU Art Museum was established in 1986. In a relatively short time, it has amassed a world-class collection of contemporary art that’s one of the most complete of its kind in the state.
The museum is located along the city’s swank and trendy Las Olas Boulevard and includes nearly 80,000 square feet spread over multiple floors.
The collection includes nearly 6,000 individual pieces, many of which were done by local and state artists.
Many of the pieces feature Cuban, Latin, and South American influences, and a few are priceless works from such titans of the art world as Pablo Picasso.
7. Fort Lauderdale Beach Park
For the vast majority of visitors to the Sunshine State, no vacation is complete until it includes at least a couple of hours spent on a scenic beach.
Fort Lauderdale Beach Park is just a short drive from Southwest Ranches. In addition to being conveniently located near a variety of dining and shopping venues, it’s full of amenities, like a playground, BBQ grills, clean restrooms, and even outdoor showers.
The park’s beach includes white sand and ocean vistas stretching to the horizon. It’s open at 5 AM, which is great for those interested in beating the crowds and watching the sunrise over the Atlantic.
8. C.B. Smith Park
C.B. Smith Park is far from the area’s largest park, but it’s a popular destination for those traveling by RV. It also offers several campsites that are favorites of those who prefer nights under the stars to overpriced hotels.
The park features plenty of wide-open spaces, as well as a water park that’s the perfect place to cool off when the sun is blazing away overhead.
Park amenities include tennis and racquetball courts, batting cages, and mini-golf. Fishing is allowed as well, but whether you’re a Florida native or an out-of-state visitor, you’ll need a valid Florida fishing license.
9. Art and Culture Center of Hollywood
Though it’s housed in a historic, Mediterranean-style building from the mid-‘20s, the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood is dedicated to contemporary visual and performing arts.
The center’s museum is noted for its permanent art collection that includes a variety of internationally influenced pieces done in a number of mediums. Throughout the year, they offer temporary exhibits on-loan from other institutions and private collections as well.
Their live performances are popular attractions too, and include plays, dance, and music. They also offer a variety of instructional and educational programs, and many of them were designed with children in mind.
10. Extreme Axe Throwing
Contrary to popular belief, imbibing alcohol and throwing axes doesn’t necessarily need to end with a trip to the emergency room.
Located on Hollywood Boulevard in nearby Hollywood, Extreme Axe Throwing was one of South Florida’s first ax tossing facilities. It’s a popular venue for those looking to experience a new and exhilarating form of entertainment.
Though they don’t serve alcohol, it’s a BYOB establishment. Before getting started, novices will get an orientation to make sure everyone has a fun and safe time. Previous guests have mentioned that it can get hot inside, so dress accordingly.
11. Museum of Discovery and Science
Even for diehard beach lovers and outdoorsy types, the blazing Florida sun can often get too oppressive, especially during the summer months.
The Museum of Discovery and Science is located on SW 2nd Street in Fort Lauderdale and is the perfect attraction for those traveling with kids who need to be entertained and engaged.
The museum’s interactive exhibits are spread over multiple floors and touch on space, the natural world, aviation, and technology. Though it was designed with kids in mind, grownups and older children usually end-up having a blast too.
There’s also a massive IMAX Theater that’s purported to have the largest screen in the area.
12. Orangebrook Golf Course
Featuring two distinct 18-hole courses, Orangebrook Golf Course is one of the area’s most popular golf attractions. It’s located in Hollywood, just a few minutes from Southwest Ranches.
Both courses play between 6,000 and 7,000 yards and feature several tee box options that make them appropriate for players of most ages and levels of ability.
Though walking is permitted, most guests choose to rent a cart, and there’s a fully-stocked on-site pro shop that’s got everything you’ll need – from tees and balls to clothes and shoes.
Lessons are available for those in need of professional assistance, and there is a driving range and practice greens as well.
13. Broward Center for the Performing Arts
Community performing arts venues are often-overlooked recreation resources that usually far exceed the expectations of those who catch a show.
Rumor has it that the Broward Center for the Performing Arts is one of the most-visited theaters in the world, as it hosts more than a half-million visitors annually.
Their presentations include dramatic theater, dance, opera, and contemporary music concerts, and their schedule is full year-round.
Guest speakers, workshops, and instructional programs are also regularly offered, so check their website for a full list of coming events. The center is located on SW 5th Avenue in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
14. Free Bluegrass Festival Series
Located just north of Miami Beach, Greynolds Park is a popular natural area that’s big with walkers and bikers, but it also hosts a variety of live performances throughout the year as well.
One of the most popular recurring events is the Free Bluegrass Festival Series; performances take place on the first Sunday of the month and generally last from 1 until 5 PM.
The concerts proceed rain or shine and are free events. Though many visitors choose to bring their own grub, burgers, dogs, and drinks are available to purchase on-site.
There is a nominal charge for parking, and though coolers are allowed, glass bottles aren’t.