Located between the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Intracoastal Waterway to the west, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is a beautiful coastal town that draws visitors from all over the country for its fantastic beaches, world-class sport-fishing, and the abundant urban attractions available in nearby Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
Unlike many of its small-town counterparts, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea has retained much of its historic charm in the face of constant development.
Many visitors to the area make a series of day-trips to nearby cities and attractions, and Boca Raton and Pompano Beach top most lists.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.
1. Anglins Fishing Pier
Anglins Fishing Pier is one of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea’s most iconic attractions and was first opened to the public in 1963.
Though the pier is most popular with anglers, it also draws walkers, sightseers, and seekers of some of the most amazing sunrises and sunsets to be found anywhere.
It’s open 24-hours a day, and many diehard fishermen choose to fish during the early morning and evening hours when many fish are most actively feeding.
The pier is located on Commercial Boulevard, and it’s possible to see a variety of fish and other sea creatures in the water below even if you’re not fishing.
2. Friedt Family Park
Community parks are usually free resources that pack a variety of recreational amenities, making them real gems for families traveling on budgets.
Friedt Family Park is one of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea’s most underappreciated assets; its proximity to lodging and other area attractions makes it convenient to visit for those who’d rather not spend loads of time in the car.
The park’s amenities include basketball, shuffleboard, and tennis courts, and there’s a playground for the little ones as well.
Previous guests have noted that the park is usually full of families playing and picnicking, giving it a pleasant, small-town feel.
3. Blue Moon Fish Company
For many out-of-state visitors, Florida cuisine is all about the seafood, and Lauderdale-by-the-Sea’s seaside location means that there aren’t any shortages of dining options.
Blue Moon Fish Company’s menu features an array of locally caught seafood prepared a variety of ways; it’s popular with locals and visitors alike.
Blue Moon has been serving customers from their dockside location on West Tradewind Avenue for more than 15 years. They’ve won a number of prestigious culinary awards over the years and have been ranked one of the most memorable dining experiences in the Ft. Lauderdale area on multiple occasions.
4. SS Copenhagen
Much of Florida’s coast is full of historic shipwrecks that are like magnets to snorkelers, SCUBA divers, and amateur maritime history aficionados.
The SS Copenhagen was an English freighter from the late-19th century that struck a reef in shallow water off the coast more than 100 years ago. In the last few decades, it’s been placed on the national register of historic places.
The ship was en route from Philadelphia to South Florida when it sank; it’s now a popular offshore destination, and a variety of tour packages are available for those who’d like to take a look.
5. Aruba Beach Cafe
Florida restaurants run the gamut from expensive and exclusive to affordable and cozy.
Aruba Beach Café on Commercial Boulevard in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is known for its fresh and tasty grub, reasonable prices, and chill atmosphere; it offers guests some of the best scenery in the area as well.
Generally, seafood is the main attraction. Though crabs, shrimp, and locally caught fish are always big hits, there are many non-seafood options like burgers, soups, and salads too.
Both indoor and outdoor seating are available, and there are three bars open daily that attract the jovial happy hour crowd.
6. Dr. Von Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park
Located on North Ocean Drive in nearby Dania Beach, Dr. Von Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park is named after two people who worked tirelessly for equal rights; it was one of the first beaches in the state to be racially integrated.
The park is popular with beachgoers, surf anglers, boaters, and amateur photographers. It’s all just a short drive from Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.
For those who have their own boats, there are multiple ramps that give relatively easy ocean access through the inlet adjacent to the park. The variety of bird species here also makes it popular with bird watchers.
7. Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts
The Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts hasn’t been around long, but since 2014, it has garnered a reputation as one of the area’s most unique art attractions.
The museum is dedicated to preserving a segment of the art world that’s often overlooked by larger and more traditional museums. Previous guests have noted that their visit was one of the most memorable non-nature and beach-related activities of their trip.
Ceramics and glass from a variety of locations, artisans, and eras are on display. The museum hosts a number of events and exhibitions at various times as well, so check their website before making a special trip.
8. Billie Swamp Safari
Billie Swamp Safari is located amidst the swamps and bayous of the Big Cypress Indian Reservation and is only about an hour away by car from Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.
Depending on the ages and interests of those you’re traveling with, swamp safaris come in several options; most include gliding over the swamp’s shallow waters in a powerful airboat while taking in the natural splendor and wildlife.
Along the way, it’s common to see gators, snakes, turtles, and a huge diversity of birds. Most tours include historical and cultural narration as well. Swamp tours book quickly during peak season, so plan accordingly.
9. Stonewall National Museum & Archives
South Florida has always had a large LGBT community, and in many ways, the region has been at the forefront of some social movements, including civil rights and gender equality.
The Stonewall National Museum & Archives is an increasingly popular tourist attraction and is not just for those who fit into the aforementioned groups.
The museum’s permanent exhibits include memorabilia of historic milestones in the movement as well as art, photographs, and first-hand accounts. They offer a variety of programs and events that include films, guest speakers, and even debates and panel discussions. They are open year-round.
10. Young at Art Museum
Comprised of five distinct galleries spread over tens of thousands of square feet, Young at Art Museum is one of the top ten cultural attractions in Broward County.
Young at Art Museum is located on SW 121st Street in nearby Davie and was founded in the late ‘80s.
The museum’s guiding premise is that art should be a fundamental component of every child’s education experience. To that end, the museum offers a variety of opportunities for children of nearly all ages to delve into the world of art and creativity, under the tutelage of an experienced, enthusiastic, and patient instructor.
11. Fern Forest Nature Center
Fern Forest Nature Center is located on South Lyons Road in Coconut Creek and is a popular day-trip option for those staying in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.
The nature center is one of the region’s most well-kept natural secrets and doesn’t get the foot traffic that many more commercialized attractions in the area do, making it the perfect escape destination for those interested in exploring and learning about the great outdoors.
The center is comprised of both indoor and outdoor portions, and the exhibits and trails are appropriate for those of most ages.
Most visitors check-out the visitor center first before embarking on their outdoor exploration.
12. Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum
Mainly due to its ideal weather and large population of retirees, Florida is home to lots of classic cars.
Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum is home to one of the country’s most complete collections of historic cars; most of them were produced by the now-defunct Packard Motor Company, which in its day made some of the most well-appointed and advanced automobiles in the world.
The cars in the museum’s collection have been restored to near-original condition, and most are from the decades between the turn of the 20th century and the ‘40s. Inexpensive guided tours are offered most days of the week.
13. Pompano Beach Amphitheater
The Pompano Beach Amphitheater is a well-known and trendy live entertainment attraction that really draws the crowds, especially for its presentations during the fall and winter months when the weather in Florida is nearly perfect.
The amphitheater is most well-known for its free concert series, but the park in which it’s located hosts a variety of festivals and fairs as well – one of the most popular of which is the annual Pompano Beach Seafood Fest.
In recent years, the amphitheater has hosted prominent, nationally-known performers in a wide range of musical genres. When there aren’t any shows scheduled, the park is popular with walkers and picnickers.
14. Woodlands Country Club
The semi-private Woodlands Country Club in nearby Tamarac features two 18-hole courses that are appreciated for their well-maintained fairways and greens and largely undisturbed natural settings.
The 36-holes wind their way through wooded and grassy areas and include ample water and sand hazards that make things challenging but not overly so.
The courses play about 6,500 yards and feature plenty of tee box options to accommodate those of most skill-levels and ages.
The club includes tennis courts, a swimming pool, and a restaurant too. It’s best to reserve your tee time in advance of your visit, especially if you’ll be playing during peak times.
15. Jungle Queen Riverboat Cruises
With so much water and a variety of canals, Fort Lauderdale is often referred to as America’s Venice.
Jungle Queen Riverboat Cruises convey guests along the scenic New River and include natural, historical, and cultural attractions, as well as in-depth narration from the boat’s captain describing the things you’re seeing.
Jungle Queen offers a variety of options, including sightseeing, a buffet-style dinner, and even live entertainment.
Past guests have noted that their cruise was good value for the money. Other options include dedicated wildlife viewing and trips past the city’s ‘Millionaire Row’ for those who’d like a glimpse into the lives of the area’s most well-to-do.