15 Best Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale (FL)

Written by Bethany Storms
Updated on
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While in Fort Lauderdale, I was captivated by its breathtaking scenery, vibrant attractions, and a wide array of activities suitable for couples, families, and solo travelers.

The city boasted a stunning coastline adorned with pristine beaches and tranquil canals. Strolling along the beachfront promenade, I indulged in the mesmerizing views that stretched as far as the eye could see, immersing myself in the beauty of the region.

With the delightful Florida weather on my side, I embraced the abundance of outdoor attractions. Exploring the city at my own pace, I reveled in the freedom to wander and discover its hidden gems at leisure.

For those seeking some retail therapy, Las Olas Boulevard provided a haven of shops and boutiques. As I meandered through this vibrant street, I encountered diverse art galleries showcasing captivating works. When it came to dining, the boulevard offered an impressive range of options, from fine dining establishments to relaxed eateries, catering to every taste.

No visit to Florida would be complete without an excursion to the renowned Everglades. I seized the opportunity to explore this iconic natural wonderland, immersing myself in its unique ecosystem. Whether gliding through the marshes on airboats, gracefully navigating the waterways on gondolas, or embarking on a journey aboard a historical riverboat, there was a myriad of ways to experience the beauty and grandeur of the Everglades.

Join me as we explore the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale, a destination that promises something extraordinary for every traveler.

1. Bonnet House Museum and Gardens

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

As part of my trip to Fort Lauderdale, I immersed myself in the city’s rich history by exploring the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens. This magnificent estate, originally known as the Bartlett Estate, served as a window into the area’s captivating past.

The plantation-style Bonnet House was once the cherished home of Frederic Clay Bartlett and his wife, Bonnet Lily. Today, it stands as a museum and art gallery, housing the family’s private collection of paintings. Stepping into the house, I was transported back in time, surrounded by the exquisite period furnishings and decor that showcased the opulence of a bygone era.

Beyond the house itself, the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens offered a delightful journey through various themed gardens. Exploring the different sections, such as the enchanting desert garden, the vibrant tropical garden, and the resplendent hibiscus garden, I found myself immersed in the natural beauty that complemented the historical charm of the estate.

To enhance the visitor experience, the museum offered guided tours led by knowledgeable docents. I opted for the Orchid Greenhouse Tour and the Private Living Quarters Tour, both of which provided unique insights into the life and legacy of the Bartlett family. Accompanied by a local docent, I had the privilege of exploring not only the house but also the meticulously maintained grounds while delving into the captivating history that surrounded this remarkable cultural treasure.

2. Fort Lauderdale Beaches

Fort Lauderdale BeachesSource: flickr
Fort Lauderdale Beaches

I couldn’t resist the allure of Fort Lauderdale’s famous beaches. Stretching along 23 miles of coastline, the Fort Lauderdale Beaches offered a paradise of sun, sand, and sea.

As I set foot on the beaches, I was captivated by the pristine sands and crystal-clear waters that awaited me. It was a picture-perfect scene, inviting me to embrace the coastal beauty and indulge in a plethora of water sports.

The options seemed endless, catering to every water enthusiast’s desires. I eagerly dived into the inviting waters, embracing the refreshing embrace of the ocean. Swimming through the waves brought a sense of freedom and rejuvenation, while the thrill of water skiing added an element of excitement to my beachside adventure. For those seeking a more exhilarating experience, surfing provided the perfect opportunity to ride the waves and test my balance on the board.

However, it wasn’t necessary to be engaged in high-energy activities to appreciate the splendor of the Fort Lauderdale Beaches. I found pure bliss in simply lounging on the soft sands, basking in the warm sunshine, and immersing myself in the breathtaking views that surrounded me. With each passing moment, the stress and worries of everyday life seemed to melt away, replaced by a tranquil state of contentment.

3. Stranahan House Museum

Stranahan House MuseumSource: flickr
Stranahan House Museum

Another part of my visit to Fort Lauderdale, I had the pleasure of exploring the renowned Stranahan House Museum. This historic gem proudly holds the title of the oldest surviving structure in Broward County, with a remarkable history that stretches back to its construction in 1901. The significance of this house, once a bustling trading post, was evident as I stepped foot into its beautifully restored interiors.

The Stranahan House Museum tells the captivating story of its former inhabitants, Frank and Ivy Stranahan. Their residence not only served as a sanctuary for their personal lives but also played a crucial role in the development of the local community. With each step on the guided tour, I delved deeper into the cultural and historical significance of this iconic landmark.

The meticulous restoration work ensured that the essence of the Stranahan House was preserved, allowing visitors like myself to immerse themselves in its rich past. From the carefully curated furnishings to the intricate architectural details, every corner of the house spoke volumes about its bygone era.

The knowledgeable docents shared enthralling anecdotes and historical insights, painting a vivid picture of the house’s evolution over the years. It was a journey that transported me back in time, revealing the struggles, triumphs, and contributions of the Stranahan family to the local community.

As I strolled through the rooms, I marveled at the artifacts and photographs that adorned the walls, offering glimpses into the lives and experiences of those who once called this place home. It was a poignant reminder of the resilience and fortitude that shaped the early days of Fort Lauderdale.

4. Museum of Discovery and Science

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

The Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale, a haven of excitement and education for visitors of all ages, especially the younger ones. Spanning two floors, this interactive museum offered a myriad of captivating attractions that made learning about science an adventure in itself.

The exhibits at the museum were designed to engage young minds, fostering a love for science through hands-on experiences. As I wandered through the various displays, I couldn’t help but be amazed at the ingenuity and creativity behind each interactive feature.

One of the highlights was the Moon and Mars simulator, which allowed visitors to embark on a thrilling extraterrestrial journey. With realistic settings and immersive technology, it truly felt as though we were walking on the surfaces of these distant celestial bodies.

Another exhilarating experience was the pilot simulation, where I found myself in the cockpit, taking control of my very own jet. The sense of empowerment and adventure was palpable as I navigated the virtual skies, soaring through clouds and experiencing the thrill of flight.

The museum also offered an opportunity to step back in time and explore prehistoric Florida through a captivating fossil dig. Unearthing remnants of ancient life, I gained a deeper understanding of the region’s rich natural history and the creatures that once roamed its landscapes.

In addition to these awe-inspiring exhibits, the Museum of Discovery and Science provided live animal shows, allowing visitors to get up close and personal with fascinating creatures from different ecosystems. These captivating demonstrations offered valuable insights into the wonders of the animal kingdom and sparked a sense of wonder and curiosity among the younger audience.

5. Jungle Queen Riverboats

Jungle Queen RiverboatsSource: iamlasolas
Jungle Queen Riverboats

Jungle Queen Riverboats was one of the most renowned cruises in the world, and I had the privilege of experiencing it firsthand. The journey began back in 1935 when the riverboats first embarked on their voyage up the New River in Fort Lauderdale. Since then, these remarkable vessels had been operating continuously, offering visitors an unforgettable sightseeing adventure along the picturesque river.

As I stepped aboard the riverboat, I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by the breathtaking views that unfolded before me. From the vantage point of the water, I had a unique opportunity to absorb the beauty of the local surroundings. The gentle ripples of the river and the lush greenery lining its banks created an enchanting atmosphere that transported me to a different world.

During my excursion, I discovered a variety of packages tailored to suit different preferences and schedules. Whether you desired a leisurely cruise or an extended exploration, Jungle Queen Riverboats had the perfect option for you. As for me, I decided to indulge in an evening affair that included a delightful dinner and an enthralling show, ensuring an experience that would leave an everlasting impression.

As the boat gracefully glided through the river’s currents, I savored a delectable meal while being entertained by a captivating performance. The ambiance was nothing short of magical as the twinkling stars above mirrored the sparkle in the eyes of fellow passengers. Laughter filled the air, and the shared moments of joy forged an unspoken connection among us.

6. Fort Lauderdale Fire and Safety Museum

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

While in Fort Lauderdale, I explored the Fort Lauderdale Fire and Safety Museum, which had a rich history dating back to 1927. As I stepped inside, I immediately sensed the captivating atmosphere that surrounded the museum, making it an ideal destination for those seeking to learn about the evolution of fire safety throughout the years.

The museum was housed in a charming Mediterranean-style house, adding to its allure. Every corner of the building was filled with fascinating antiques, offering a glimpse into the past. Among the remarkable artifacts were period fire engines and equipment, each bearing the marks of time. It was incredible to witness the transformation of fire safety technology and understand the progress made in protecting lives and property.

One of the highlights of my visit was the collection of historical uniforms, spanning several decades from the 1920s. The display showcased the evolution of firefighting attire, from its humble beginnings to the advanced gear used in modern times. It was truly remarkable to witness the dedication and bravery of the firefighters who wore these uniforms throughout history.

The museum also had a special children’s area, which provided an interactive experience for younger visitors. Here, children had the opportunity to engage with various fire safety equipment and learn about its importance through hands-on activities. It was heartwarming to see their faces light up with excitement as they embraced the opportunity to play and learn in a safe and educational environment.

7. Las Olas Boulevard

Las Olas BoulevardSource: flickr
Las Olas Boulevard

I couldn’t resist the allure of Las Olas Boulevard, one of the city’s most renowned destinations. Eager to soak in the atmosphere firsthand, I embarked on an adventure to explore this vibrant locale.

Las Olas Boulevard unveiled a delightful assortment of shops that dotted its streets. These quirky establishments seemed to house an eclectic collection of merchandise, tempting visitors with an array of unique and fascinating items. From whimsical trinkets to one-of-a-kind treasures, there was something to captivate every passerby. For those seeking a more upscale shopping experience, the boulevard also played host to upscale boutiques, catering to the discerning tastes of fashion enthusiasts.

One of the notable aspects of Las Olas Boulevard was its thriving art scene. The area boasted a multitude of art galleries, each offering a distinct perspective on creativity and craftsmanship. I dedicated an entire day to exploring these galleries, immersing myself in the diverse array of artistic expressions. From captivating contemporary works to timeless masterpieces, the galleries showcased the city’s rich cultural heritage. It was a true feast for the senses and a testament to Fort Lauderdale’s artistic prowess.

8. Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

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

As I ventured deeper into the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, nestled alongside the sparkling Atlantic Ocean, I discovered a rich abundance of local species that called this sanctuary home. The sight of gopher tortoises, graceful turtles, and lively marsh rabbits delighted my senses, providing a glimpse into the vibrant ecosystem that thrived within the park’s boundaries. However, it was the avian inhabitants that truly stole the show, as over 200 species of birds graced the skies above. From elegant wading birds to colorful songbirds, the park was a haven for birdwatching enthusiasts and offered a symphony of melodic chirps and calls.

To make the most of my time at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, I embarked on the various hiking trails that crisscrossed the terrain. These well-maintained paths were perfect for leisurely walks or invigorating bike rides, allowing me to immerse myself in the natural beauty that surrounded me. The trails offered glimpses of diverse habitats, from lush mangroves to towering oak hammocks, each with its own unique charm. It was a serene escape from the bustling city, where I could reconnect with nature and find solace in its tranquil embrace.

One of the highlights of the park was the beach area, where I basked in the golden sunlight and listened to the soothing sounds of crashing waves. The expansive shoreline invited leisurely strolls along the water’s edge and offered opportunities for sunbathing and picnicking. Additionally, I discovered a magnificent lagoon that stretched for over a mile, its crystal-clear waters providing a refreshing respite. The lagoon was a playground for aquatic life and a paradise for water enthusiasts who could partake in swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding.

9. NSU Art Museum

NSU Art MuseumSource: flickr
NSU Art Museum

I had the privilege of immersing myself in the artistic wonders of the NSU Art Museum when I went on a trip to Fort Lauderdale. Established in 1986, this magnificent institution dedicated itself to showcasing the finest 20th-century art from the region, and I was eager to explore its vast collection.

The museum occupied an impressive space spanning over 75,000 square feet, a testament to its commitment to providing visitors with an enriching art experience. As I approached the building, I couldn’t help but admire its architectural beauty. Designed by the talented local artist Edward Barnes, the museum itself was a work of art, harmoniously blending into its surroundings.

Stepping inside, I found myself surrounded by a treasure trove of artistic masterpieces. With over 6,000 items in its collection, the museum became a captivating storyteller, recounting the vibrant art scene that thrived in South Florida. As I wandered through the halls, I marveled at the works of renowned artists, including the legendary Pablo Picasso. The museum also housed a remarkable collection of pieces by artists from Cuba, offering a glimpse into their unique perspectives and creative journeys.

10. Fort Lauderdale Beach Park

Fort Lauderdale Beach ParkSource: flickr
Fort Lauderdale Beach Park

Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, a premium green space nestled near the Bahia Mar Resort. This picturesque park offered a myriad of amenities and activities that catered to visitors of all ages and interests.

As I explored the park, I stumbled upon cozy picnic areas that provided a serene setting for enjoying a delightful outdoor meal. The lush surroundings and refreshing ocean breeze created an inviting atmosphere, making it an ideal spot to relax and savor the beauty of nature. Additionally, the park featured convenient shower areas, ensuring that visitors could rinse off the sand and saltwater after a refreshing dip in the nearby beach.

Families with young children would find joy in the well-maintained playground within the park. The playground offered a range of exciting equipment, providing endless entertainment for the little ones. I witnessed the laughter and smiles of children as they happily engaged in playful adventures, creating cherished memories in this family-friendly setting.

For those seeking an active day out, Fort Lauderdale Beach Park offered an array of recreational options. Volleyball enthusiasts could engage in friendly matches on the beach volleyball courts, while basketball lovers could showcase their skills on the dedicated basketball areas. The park’s amenities extended beyond land-based activities as well. The presence of a boating ramp provided easy access to the surrounding waters, allowing visitors to embark on boating adventures and explore the coastal beauty of Fort Lauderdale.

11. Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum

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

I also had the opportunity to visit the remarkable Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum. This captivating museum, conceived by the visionary Arthur O. Stone, boasted an impressive collection of vehicles from the renowned Packard Motor Company.

As a vintage car enthusiast, I couldn’t resist the allure of this attraction. Stepping inside, I found myself surrounded by an extraordinary array of automobiles that spanned the decades from 1900 onwards. It was a mesmerizing sight, witnessing the evolution of automotive engineering and design unfold before my eyes.

The museum proudly showcased 22 Packard cars, each a testament to the craftsmanship and innovation of the era. These vintage vehicles exuded a timeless charm, their polished exteriors and meticulously preserved interiors capturing the essence of a bygone era. However, the museum offered more than just cars. Adorning the exhibits, I discovered an impressive collection of automotive memorabilia, including ornate car ornaments, elegant lamps, and custom shift knobs. These added touches immersed me in the nostalgia of the automobile industry’s rich history.

12. Everglades Holiday Park

Everglades Holiday ParkSource: flickr
Everglades Holiday Park

As I stepped foot into the Everglades Holiday Park, I was greeted with a myriad of amazing attractions that left me in awe. The highlight was undoubtedly the live alligator shows, where skilled handlers fearlessly showcased these majestic creatures. It was a thrilling and educational spectacle, allowing me to witness the incredible strength and agility of these ancient reptiles up close. The adrenaline rush I felt was palpable as I watched in amazement.

Another exhilarating adventure awaited me as I embarked on an airboat ride. With the wind in my hair, I zipped across the waterways, my heart racing with excitement. The airboat journey provided a unique perspective of the Everglades, allowing me to immerse myself in the vastness of this extraordinary ecosystem. As I traversed the River of Grass, a true natural wonder, I marveled at the diverse wildlife that called this place home. From the graceful alligators to the captivating array of resident wildlife, every moment was filled with wonder and amazement.

The Everglades Holiday Park truly offered a remarkable opportunity to connect with nature and witness the untamed beauty of the Everglades. It was a sanctuary where I could appreciate the delicate balance of this unique ecosystem and gain a deeper understanding of its significance for the environment. The memories I made and the sights I beheld will forever be etched in my mind.

13. Broward Center for the Performing Arts

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

Situated in the downtown area, Broward Center for the Performing Arts is a renowned establishment proved to be a haven for art enthusiasts like myself. As I entered the center, I was greeted by a grand theater that served as the epicenter of artistic excellence. It was a bustling hub, hosting an impressive array of over 700 shows annually. The diversity of performances was truly remarkable, encompassing a wide range of genres that catered to various artistic preferences.

The theater was a gateway to a world of enchantment. I had the privilege of attending captivating ballet performances that mesmerized me with their grace and precision. Musical concerts filled the air with melodious tunes, leaving me entranced by the talent and passion of the performers. The center also showcased operas that transported me to realms of emotion and storytelling, and even Broadway musicals that brought the magic of the stage to life.

14. Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum

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

Nestled within a building that dates back to 1942, the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum offered an immersive and engaging experience that shed light on the courageous individuals who served in this area. The museum contains rich history of the veterans of the Second World War.

Stepping inside the museum, I found myself transported back in time. The building itself, once a naval complex, exuded an air of authenticity and served as a fitting backdrop for the exhibits that awaited me. It was a testament to the museum’s commitment to preserving the legacy of those who fought during the war.

The museum boasted an impressive collection that brought the past to life. Walking through the replica soldiers’ barracks, I gained a glimpse into the living conditions and daily life of the brave men and women who once called this place their home. The attention to detail was remarkable, creating an immersive experience that allowed me to connect on a deeper level with their sacrifices and challenges.

The galleries within the museum were dedicated to showcasing the history of those who served in the Fort Lauderdale area during the Second World War. The exhibits meticulously chronicled their stories, offering a poignant tribute to their bravery, resilience, and camaraderie. From personal artifacts and photographs to informative displays and interactive elements, the museum painted a vivid picture of the wartime experiences and contributions of these remarkable individuals.

15. Las Olas Gondola Tours

Las Olas Gondola ToursSource: lasolasgondola
Las Olas Gondola Tours

I had the pleasure of embarking on a remarkable gondola tour with Las Olas Gondola Tours. This family-owned business, led by a knowledgeable father and daughter team who had called this area home for years, offered an unparalleled exploration of the city’s magnificent waterways.

As a local, they understood the true essence of Fort Lauderdale’s beauty and were eager to share it with visitors. With their expertise, I discovered that one of the most enchanting ways to immerse oneself in the region’s flora and fauna was by gliding along the water. Inspired by this insight, I eagerly signed up for a gondola tour, ready to relax and witness the splendor of the picturesque canals that intricately weave through the city.

The tour options offered by Las Olas Gondola Tours were diverse, catering to various preferences and occasions. For a truly magical experience, I opted for their special sunset cruise. As the sun dipped below the horizon, casting vibrant hues across the sky, I found myself drifting along the tranquil waterways, surrounded by the enchanting ambiance of twilight. It was a moment of serenity and natural beauty that I will forever cherish.

Additionally, Las Olas Gondola Tours provided holiday packages, allowing visitors to celebrate special occasions in a unique and memorable way. Whether it was a romantic Valentine’s Day excursion or a festive Christmas-themed voyage, these specialized packages added an extra touch of joy and festivity to the gondola experience.

The gondola glided past elegant waterfront homes, lush foliage, and an array of vibrant wildlife. My knowledgeable guides regaled me with fascinating anecdotes about the city’s history, culture, and hidden gems along the waterways, enriching my understanding of this remarkable place.

16. Ft. Lauderdale ART, FOOD & FLEA

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

I had the pleasure of attending the Ft. Lauderdale ART, FOOD & FLEA event during my time in the city. This vibrant gathering, co-funded by the Broward County Cultural Division and The Community Foundation of Broward, took place every Sunday from 12 pm to 5 pm.

The event’s prime location near downtown Ft. Lauderdale made it easily accessible and filled with a lively atmosphere. As I strolled through the event, I discovered a diverse array of artsy, crafty, and flea pop-up merchants. From unique handmade crafts to vintage treasures, there was something to pique the interest of every visitor. It was a treasure trove of creativity and a haven for those seeking one-of-a-kind finds.

One of the highlights of the event was the tantalizing selection of food trucks that lined the area. I indulged in a culinary adventure, savoring a variety of delectable dishes and flavors from diverse cuisines. From savory bites to sweet treats, there was an array of options to satisfy any craving.

To complement the lively atmosphere, live music filled the air, creating an energetic and immersive experience. The talented musicians entertained the crowds with their captivating performances, adding an extra layer of enjoyment to the event. The rhythmic beats and melodious tunes created a festive ambiance that enhanced the overall experience.

Another notable aspect of the Ft. Lauderdale ART, FOOD & FLEA event was the convenience of free parking. This thoughtful arrangement ensured that visitors could easily access the event without the worry of finding parking spaces or incurring additional costs.

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