15 Best Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale (FL)

Written by Veronique Raes
Updated on
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Fort Lauderdale is a gorgeous mix of stunning scenery, vibrant attractions, and kid-friendly activities, and will appeal to couples, families, and solo travelers alike.

The area is studded with amazing beaches as well as lazy canals, and you can walk along the promenade at the beachfront and take in some of the prettiest views in the region.

As you would expect in sunny Florida, the weather means that there are a huge range of outdoor attractions here and one of the best things to do is wander around the city at your leisure.

If you want some retail therapy while you are in town then you can head to Las Olas Boulevard, and you will find diverse art galleries here as well as fine dining or relaxed eateries depending on your preferences.

Of course no trip to Florida would be complete without a visit to the famous Everglades, and you can take to the water here in a number of ways, including air boats, gondolas, and historical riverboats.

Lets explore the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale:

1. Bonnet House Museum and Gardens

Bonnet House Museum and GardensSource: flickr
Bonnet House Museum and Gardens

For a taste of historic Fort Lauderdale head to the Bonnet House which is a period museum that aims to showcase the history and culture of the area.

The home used to be called the Bartlett Estate and is built in the plantation style.

The home once belonged to Frederic Clay Bartlett and was named after his wife Bonnet Lily, although now it has been turned into a museum and art gallery that is filled with the family’s private collection of paintings.

As well as the house itself, you can also enjoy the surrounding gardens that are divided into different areas such as a desert garden, a tropical garden, and a hibiscus garden.

There are different guided tours here for visitors to take that include an Orchid Greenhouse Tour or a Private Living Quarters Tour, and a local docent will take you around the house and grounds and fill you in on the history of this amazing cultural relic.

2. Fort Lauderdale Beaches

Fort Lauderdale BeachesSource: flickr
Fort Lauderdale Beaches

You can’t come to Fort Lauderdale and not visit the beaches, and you will find 23 miles of coastline to enjoy here.

The beaches are known for their pristine sands and clear waters and as you would expect you can indulge in a huge range of water sports here.

Some of these include swimming, water skiing, and surfing, or you can just lie on the beach and take in the stunning views without lifting a finger.

3. Stranahan House Museum

Stranahan House MuseumSource: flickr
Stranahan House Museum

The Stranahan House Museum has the claim to fame of being the oldest surviving structure in all of Broward County, and dates all the way back to 1901. The house used to be a trading post before it became the home of Frank and Ivy Stranahan and has been lovingly restored for future generations to enjoy.

You can take a tour of the home and learn all about its incredible cultural and historical significant in the area.

4. Museum of Discovery and Science

Museum of Discovery and ScienceSource: mods
Museum of Discovery and Science

If you are travelling with younger visitors then don’t miss the chance to visit the Museum of Discovery and Science which spans two floors of fun attractions.

Many of the exhibits here are interactive and the aim is to teach young ones all about science in an exciting and engaging manner.

To that end, just some of the hands-on features here include a Moon and Mars simulator as well as a pilot simulation where you get to sit in the cockpit and drive your own jet.

There is also a fossil dig that will let you learn about prehistoric Florida, as well as a live animal show and an EcoDiscovery Center.

5. Jungle Queen Riverboats

Jungle Queen RiverboatsSource: iamlasolas
Jungle Queen Riverboats

Jungle queen Riverboats is one of the most famous cruises in the world and first started taking visitors up the New River in Fort Lauderdale in 1935. The riverboats have been in operation ever since and you can take a sightseeing cruise that will take you along the river where you can take in the local sights from the vantage point of the water.

There are different packages available depending on how long you want to cruise, and you can also enjoy dinner and a show aboard one of these iconic boats.

6. Fort Lauderdale Fire and Safety Museum

Fort Lauderdale Fire and Safety MuseumSource: fortlauderdalefiremuseum
Fort Lauderdale Fire and Safety Museum

The Fort Lauderdale Fire and Safety Museum dates from 1927 and is an ideal place to come to learn all about fire safety through the years.

To that end, you will find antiques such as period fire engines and equipment, and the museum is located in a picturesque house that is built in the Mediterranean style.

Other attractions here include collections of historical uniforms that go back to the 1920s, and there is also a special children’s area where younger visitors can get hands-on with some of the fire safety equipment.

7. Las Olas Boulevard

Las Olas BoulevardSource: flickr
Las Olas Boulevard

Las Olas Boulevard is one of the best known spots in Fort Lauderdale and you need to come here to check out the atmosphere for yourself.

You will find a range of quirky shops in the area that seem to sell anything and everything, or there are more upscale boutiques if you prefer.

The area is also known for art galleries that you can visit during the day, and at night you will find a buzzing nightlife scene that includes a range of clubs and live music venues.

8. Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

Hugh Taylor Birch State ParkSource: pinterest
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

The Hugh Taylor Birch State Park sits next to the Atlantic Ocean and if you love wildlife then you mustn’t miss the chance to visit.

The park is home to a huge number of local species such as the gopher tortoise, turtles, and marsh rabbits and you can also find over 200 kinds of birds here.

As well as hiking trails that are perfect for walking or cycling, there is a beach area as well as a lagoon that stretches for over a mile and is filled with fresh water.

9. NSU Art Museum

NSU Art MuseumSource: flickr
NSU Art Museum

The NSU Art Museum was built in 1986 and has the mission statement to showcase the best of the 20th century art from the region.

The museum is located over 75,000 square feet and the building itself is something of a work of art as it was designed by local artist Edward Barnes.

There are over 6,000 items stored at the museum that tell the story of the art scene in South Florida and you will also find pieces by legends such as Pablo Picasso and a number of artists from Cuba.

There are both static and rotating exhibits here, so the museum always has a fresh selection of galleries no matter when you visit.

10. Fort Lauderdale Beach Park

Fort Lauderdale Beach ParkSource: flickr
Fort Lauderdale Beach Park

Fort Lauderdale Beach Park is one of the premium green spots in the city and is located close to the Bahia Mar Resort.

At the park you will find cozy picnic areas as well as shower areas and a playground for younger visitors.

If you want to do something active then there are also volleyball courts and basketball areas and there is also a boating ramp so that you can easily take to the surrounding water.

11. Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum

Fort Lauderdale Antique Car MuseumSource: flickr
Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum

The Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum was the brainchild of Arthur O. Stone and has a huge range of vehicles from the Packard Motor Company on display.

If you love vintage cars then this is one attraction that is not to be missed, and you can find automobiles that date from 1900 onwards.

As well as 22 Packard cars, you will also find a range of memorabilia here such as car ornaments, lamps, and custom shift knobs.

You can take a guided tour of the museum if you want to know all about the history of the cars here or simply enjoy the nostalgia with a self-guided walk around the facility.

12. Everglades Holiday Park

Everglades Holiday ParkSource: flickr
Everglades Holiday Park

If you come to Florida then you can’t leave without taking a trip to the iconic Everglades.

One of the best places to see the amazing flora and fauna here is at the Everglades Holiday Park and you can witness amazing attractions such as live alligator shows, or take an adrenalin packed trip on an airboat.

One of the best trips here takes you along the River of Grass where you can see wild alligators as well as other local resident wildlife.

13. Broward Center for the Performing Arts

Broward Center for the Performing ArtsSource: flickr
Broward Center for the Performing Arts

Located in the downtown area of Fort Lauderdale is the Broward Center for the Performing Arts which is a one-stop-shop if you want to check out some culture while you are in town.

Here you will find a large theatre that hosts more than 700 shows per year and these include all genres such as ballets, musical concerts, operas, and even Broadway musicals.

14. Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum

Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale MuseumSource: nasflmuseum
Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum

To learn all about the history of the veterans of the Second World War from Fort Lauderdale, look no further than the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum.

The building dates from 1942 and used to be a naval complex before being turned into this interesting and engaging museum.

Here you will find replicas of soldiers’ barracks as well as galleries dedicated to the history of those who served in this area.

15. Las Olas Gondola Tours

Las Olas Gondola ToursSource: lasolasgondola
Las Olas Gondola Tours

Las Olas Gondola Tours is owned by a father and daughter team who have lived in the area for years and know every part of Fort Lauderdale’s amazing waterways.

Locals will tell you that one of the best ways to take in the flora and fauna here is from the water, so with that in mind sign up for a tour and relax as you are taken around some of the picturesque canals that bisect the city.

You can choose from a range of different experiences including a special sunset cruise, and there are also holiday packages available.

16. Ft. Lauderdale ART, FOOD & FLEA

Art Food Flea - Ft LauderdaleSource: tiktinevents.com
Art Food Flea – Ft Lauderdale

Co-funded by both the Broward County Cultural Division and The Community Foundation of Broward this event takes place every Sunday from 12pm – 5pm.

Conveniently located near downtown Ft Lauderdale it features artsy, crafty and flea pop-up merchants, food trucks, live music. There’s free parking as well.

15 Best Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale (FL):

  • Bonnet House Museum and Gardens
  • Fort Lauderdale Beaches
  • Stranahan House Museum
  • Museum of Discovery and Science
  • Jungle Queen Riverboats
  • Fort Lauderdale Fire and Safety Museum
  • Las Olas Boulevard
  • Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
  • NSU Art Museum
  • Fort Lauderdale Beach Park
  • Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum
  • Everglades Holiday Park
  • Broward Center for the Performing Arts
  • Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum
  • Las Olas Gondola Tours
  • Ft. Lauderdale ART, FOOD & FLEA