15 Best Things to Do in Margate (FL)

Written by Bart Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Halfway between the Atlantic and the Everglades, Margate is a suburban city in the heart of the Miami metropolitan area. 

Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach and Boca Raton are all an easy drive from Margate, and this puts a world of attractions and activities within reach.

Closer to home you’ve got highly-rated golf courses, pockets of tropical nature, an epic indoor entertainment center, shopping for all tastes, a public water park, and the home of MLS team Inter Miami.

So if I have to pick one word to describe Margate, it would be ‘convenient’, as you never have to travel far for anything. 

Here’s my look at the 15 best things to do in and near Margate.

1. Calypso Cove Aquatic Facility

Calypso Cove Aquatic CenterSource: City of Margate, Florida Government / Facebook
Calypso Cove Aquatic Center

Next door in Coconut Creek, Fern Forest Nature Center is full of a variety of species of plants and animals in addition to its exhibits, boardwalk, and reptile house.

The center features numerous trails, and though they’re not all wheelchair accessible, parts of the Cypress Creek Trail are.

The raised boardwalk leads you through a surprising diversity of natural environments, and I was able to see swamp and wetland creatures like gators, snakes, and a variety of birds.

If you’re visiting during the summer months, bring water, mosquito repellent, and a good hat.

2. Fern Forest Nature Center

Fern Forest Nature CenterSource: DaSpader / Wikimedia
Fern Forest Nature Center

Located on Lyons Road in Coconut Creek, Fern Forest Nature Center is full of a variety of species of plants and animals in addition to its exhibits, boardwalk, and reptile house.

The center features numerous trails, and though they’re not all wheelchair accessible, parts of the Cypress Creek Trail are.

The raised boardwalk leads guests through a surprising diversity of natural environments, and it’s not uncommon to see swamp and wetland creatures like gators, snakes, and a variety of birds.

If you’ll be visiting during the summer months, bring water, mosquito repellant, a good hat, and a pair of shades.

3. Butterfly World

Butterfly WorldSource: Serenethos / shutterstock
Butterfly World

Coconut Creek’s Butterfly World is a Florida institution that has been a favorite destination for locals and visitors for decades.

Florida’s climate is perfect for a variety of butterfly species, and there’s no better way to see them all in one place. 

The park is a favorite of families with kids, but adults will have a blast. Personally, I loved learning about the ecology of these spectacular insects at the Research Facility.

There are also amazing open-air aviaries, where you can discover hummingbirds, macaws, and even earn the trust of friendly lorikeets that will come to feed from your hand.

4. Oriole Golf Club

Oriole Golf ClubSource: Oriole Golf Club / Facebook
Oriole Golf Club

For more than 50 years, Oriole Golf Club has been a favorite Broward county destination for cost-conscious players who still value quality.

The club is semi-private, which means members may have preference on busy days and access to amenities that casual players don’t. Even so, for a great course with reasonable greens fees, it’s really in a class of its own.

This par 72 course is appropriate for most skill levels. What I like are the open fairways, which allow you to choose your approach shots. 

The greens are small, with a lot of inclines, while there’s a variety of sand and water hazards. The upshot is a challenging but always enjoyable round of golf.

5. Tradewinds Park and Stables

Tradewinds Park and StablesSource: Felix Mizioznikov / shutterstock
Tradewinds Park And Stables

Covering more than 600 acres, Tradewinds Park and Stables is probably the most activity-packed facility in all of Broward County, and has been open since the mid-’70s.

The farm and equestrian sections of the facility include guided educational tours, trail and pony rides, and kids’ farming camps, 

Meanwhile, on the third Saturday and Sunday of the month there’s a delightful model steam train, conveying little ones around the park in style.

The park is also home to the beloved Butterfly World, which I’ll talk about below. On top of that you’ll find a playground, a picnic area, and a slew of sports amenities.

6. Firefighters Park

An excellent public asset for Margate, Firefighters Park has come through a big round of improvements in the last few years. 

If you want to be active locally, I’d look no further than this spot, with five lighted tennis courts, four pickleball courts, and two full-court basketball courts.

Something I loved about the playground is that it’s now protected by a large awning to keep wee ones out of the hot Florida sun. Also neat is the astroturf surface, instead of sand. 

Elsewhere, adults hoping to stay in shape on a budget can hit the fitness trail, half a mile long and with a dozen stations.

7. Coral Square Mall

If enclosed malls are in decline, nobody told Coral Square Mall, which was in great shape when I stopped by.

First opened in 1984, the mall has more than 120 tenants, and the kind of occupancy rates that you don’t often see.

JCPenney, Macy’s, Old Navy, Aéropostale, Victoria’s Secret, Kohl’s, American Eagle, Lids, Hot Topic, and Hollister are a few of the many national retailers here.

What impressed me most of all was the food court, which had a real bustle when I came for lunch a while back. 

I counted Sarku Japan, Sbarro, Charleys Cheesesteaks, and Auntie Anne’s, and there was even a branch of Churromania, which is like my kryptonite.

8. Xtreme Action Park

As a parent, I’ve been to my fair share of family entertainment centers, but I’ve never seen anything like Xtreme Action Park.

First off, this place is enormous, in a 200,000-square-foot complex, and with enough attractions to keep all ages engaged.

So, you’ve got a high-speed indoor karting track, with a fleet of high-end electric karts, imported from Europe and able to reach 45 MPH. 

There’s also six full-size bowling lanes, a roller rink, an XD dark ride, a high ropes course, laser tag, VR games. 

Evolution Escape Rooms has a lineup of challenges, with a level of detail and realism that you don’t often see. I was super impressed with Two Thirty Nine, which plunges you into a Squid Game-style dystopia.

9. DRV PNK Stadium

The summer I wrote this article, it felt like the eyes of the world were suddenly on this piece of the Miami metropolitan area.

Lionel Messi, the greatest soccer player of all time, had just signed for Inter Miami, who were playing their home games at DRV PNK Stadium by Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.

Matches at this 21,000-seat venue were suddenly the hottest ticket in town. The stadium opened in 2020, and is a stopgap until Inter Miami move to the proposed Freedom Park Stadium, closer to downtown Miami.  

Inter Miami are a relatively new franchise, which debuted in 2018 and are part-owned by David Beckham, who also had a memorable spell in Major League Soccer.

10. Monster Mini Golf

Perfect for a rainy or extremely hot day, there’s an indoor 18-hole mini golf course nearby in Coral Springs. 

In keeping with the Monster Mini Golf brand, the course is glow-in-the-dark and loaded with spooky artwork, serving as obstacles and decoration.

There’s upbeat and crowd-pleasing music as you play, creating a party vibe, and you may have to dodge a couple of animated monsters during your game.

It’s not all about the golf, as there’s also a fun-filled gaming arcade, a state-of-the-art laser maze, and a VR room.

11. Children’s Science Explorium

Children's Science ExploriumSource: Children's Science Explorium / Facebook
Children’s Science Explorium

Not far away in Boca Raton, Sugar Sand Park is my go-to for a low-cost family day out. There are a few attractions here, but the big one is the Children’s Science Explorium.

With a variety of interactive exhibits and activities for children up to 12, the Explorium allows kids to get their hands dirty while learning about the world around them.

Last time I was here, my youngest was totally absorbed by the Zoo in You, which shed light on the trillions of microbes on and in our bodies. 

Evening telescope events, story time, and regular science demonstrations are all on the calendar, so check out the programs before heading over.

12. FATVillage

FATVillageSource: Knight Foundation / Flickr

Despite its name, Fort Lauderdale’s FATVillage is not an exclusive weight loss facility. Instead, it’s a hangout for artsy travelers and locals in search of a bit more inspiration.

These four blocks are full of artists’ studios, galleries, and coffee shops, and home to a community of creative souls. 

There are more than enough food and beverage options to keep even the most dedicated and picky epicureans satisfied.

My ideal time to visit FATVillage is for one of the Artwalks, held on the last Saturday of every month from 6 until 10 PM.

13. Stonewall National Museum and Archives

Stonewall National Museum And ArchivesSource: Stonewall National Museum & Archives / Facebook
Stonewall National Museum And Archives

In Fort Lauderdale, the Stonewall National Museum and Archives is one of the country’s largest repositories of all things relating to LGBTQ+ communities around the world.

This not-for-profit gallery includes significant and interesting historical items, and a variety of iconic memorabilia. 

I was enthralled by the art, flags, and articles of clothing worn by gay celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres.

The museum’s library and archives are the largest and most complete of their kind. Though admission is free, most visitors donate a few dollars to help support this one-of-a-kind community resource.

14. Swap Shop

Swap ShopSource: MattHurst / Flickr
Swap Shop

If drive-in movies and flea markets sound like the perfect way to spend a few evening hours, then a trip to Fort Lauderdale’s Swap Shop is in order.

Featuring thousands of vendors at an immense flea market, and regularly scheduled movies at the drive-in theater, it’s a place that harks back to bygone days. 

My kids had never experienced watching a film from a car, so it was a truly eye-opening experience for them. 

Admission is inexpensive, and there are plenty of reasonably priced food options. For those looking to save a few bucks, it’s okay to bring your own food as well.

15. Secret Woods Nature Center

Secret Woods Nature CenterSource: Kevin Barry Photography / shutterstock
Secret Woods Nature Center

On nearly 60 acres in the heart of Broward County, Secret Woods Nature Center is a natural oasis in a pristine setting. 

On these trails, you’ll leave the city behind, and enter a pocket of mature cypress swamp, mangrove and dry oak forest.

The park features two main paths—one elevated and one ground level—and there’s also a marvelous seasonal butterfly garden.

My abiding memory of the Secret Woods Nature was seeing a manatee from the special deck next to the river. 

I’m pleased to say that there’s no charge for parking or admission, but do remember to bring water, comfy shoes and insect repellent. 

When I wrote this list, the center was bouncing back from a recent flood.

15 Best Things to Do in Margate (FL):

  • Calypso Cove Aquatic Facility
  • Fern Forest Nature Center
  • Butterfly World
  • Oriole Golf Club
  • Tradewinds Park and Stables
  • Firefighters Park
  • Coral Square Mall
  • Xtreme Action Park
  • DRV PNK Stadium
  • Monster Mini Golf
  • Children's Science Explorium
  • FATVillage
  • Stonewall National Museum and Archives
  • Swap Shop
  • Secret Woods Nature Center