Nestled between Pompano Beach to the north and Ft. Lauderdale to the south, the city of Oakland Park is perfectly positioned near many of the state’s most popular tourist destinations.
Florida’s central Atlantic coast is home to some of the state’s most beautiful beaches too, and there are a variety of recreation options regardless of age and interests.
Though Oakland Park has a population of just more than 41,000 residents, it’s part of the Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Pompano Beach metro area that combined has more than five million residents.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Oakland Park, Florida.
1. Funky Buddha Brewery
Located on NE 38th Street in Oakland Park, the Funky Buddha Brewery was one of South Florida’s microbrewery pioneers, and though plenty of competitors have blasted onto the scene recently, Funky Buddha is still the largest craft brewer in the state, and one of the most popular as well.
In addition to their variety of beers, great food, and laid-back environment, the brewery staff offer tours of the facility that are even appropriate for children.
Turning mundane ingredients into tasty beer is a fascinating process that travelers of all ages find interesting, and their Monday night trivia is a big hit too.
2. Catfish Dewey’s
Catfish Dewey’s is a family owned and operated business that was founded in 1984. Since then, it has been a favorite of locals and is known for its hefty portions, reasonable prices, and relaxed atmosphere.
As its name implies, Catfish Dewey’s big draw is its fried catfish, but their menu is full of other tempting entrees like ribs, steaks, chicken, and seafood. They also offer fresh stone crabs annually between October and May.
The restaurant can get crowded in the evenings, especially on weekends, so you may need to wait a few minutes for a table to open up.
3. Mills Pond Park
Located on 130 acres in northwest Ft. Lauderdale, Mills Pond Park probably packs more of a recreation punch than any other park in the area.
The park is home to a popular and competitive softball league that often draws big crowds, and there are batting cages, playgrounds, covered pavilions, and soccer fields as well.
Its location near Interstate 95 makes it convenient to get to, and with so many recreation options available, it’s a place that usually exceeds visitors’ expectations.
The park has food concessions, so if you end up staying longer than you’d originally planned, you’ll be able to pick something up and eat in the picnic area.
4. NSU Art Museum
In addition to being one of the region’s most notable museums, the NSU Art Museum is also a popular performing arts venue and features a theater that can seat more than 250 guests.
The museum’s permanent collection of art includes more than 6,000 individual works, most of which are from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Located on Ft. Lauderdale’s Las Olas Boulevard which runs through the city’s most vibrant and culturally diverse neighborhoods, it’s an excellent place for a self-guided tour after you’ve had your fill of art.
The museum also offers special events and educational programs, so check their website before heading out.
5. The Bonnet House Museum and Gardens
The Bonnet House Museum and Gardens are located on North Birch Road in Fort Lauderdale and are one of the area’s most well-preserved historical attractions.
The home was once the residence and studio of a famous Chicago-born artist named Frederick Clay Bartlett and contains a variety of his works in addition to period furniture and housewares that give guests an interesting look into the past.
The grounds contain a variety of cultivated gardens and an orchid greenhouse which houses one of the country’s most complete collections of these exotic flowers.
Guided tours are available, but you’ll need to book your reservations in advance.
6. Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park has been open to the public since 1954 and is named after a prominent Chicago lawyer who donated the land to the city of Ft. Lauderdale with the agreement that it would remain undeveloped.
The park is comprised of nearly 200 acres and is located on East Sunrise Boulevard on the narrow strip of land between State Route A1A and the Intracoastal Waterway.
Though it’s not too far from the city’s hustle and bustle, the park tends to make visitors feel like they’re farther away from civilization than they really are.
Park admission is inexpensive and paid on a per-vehicle basis.
7. Museum of Discovery and Science
Located on SW 2nd Avenue in Ft. Lauderdale, the Museum of Discovery and Science is spread over two floors and includes a huge variety of interactive exhibits that encourage guests to get active and participate, not just sit back and watch.
The museum’s exhibits and activities touch on science and the natural world, technology, space, and even aviation.
There’s also an IMAX theater, live animal shows, and an area where kids can root around in the dirt looking for dinosaur bones.
It’s not the cheapest attraction in the area, but with so much to see and do, most guests find it to be good value.
8. The Ft. Lauderdale Antique Car Museum
Founded by a local automobile aficionado who had a love for Packards, the Ft. Lauderdale Antique Car Museum is one of those historical and cultural icons that’s a must-see for travelers interested in taking a nostalgic tour into the past.
The museum’s collection includes more than 20 Packards that were built from the turn of the 20th century to the ‘40s.
Though the automaker is now defunct, during their heyday, Packards were considered innovative, luxurious, and of outstanding quality.
Daily guided tours are available, and the museum features a variety of memorabilia relating to the classic brand too.
9. Broward Center for the Performing Arts
Located in downtown Ft. Lauderdale near the New River, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts is a great community resource that offers a variety of performances throughout the year.
The center’s performances include musicals, dramatic theater, concerts, festivals, and arts and crafts shows.
In addition to the hundreds of shows and events it offers, the center also features a variety of instructional and educational programs, workshops, and lectures from guest speakers as well.
The center is known for its comfortable seating and great acoustics, and with so much to see and do, you’ll want to check their website’s calendar of events before heading out.
10. Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum
The grounds on which the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum now sits date back to the early ‘40s, to when it was a large naval aviation facility that included more than 200 buildings.
The museum is the only remaining building, and the only museum dedicated to the military in Broward County.
The items on display include equipment, uniforms, photographs, and first-hand accounts of the airmen and staff that once worked on the thriving base.
The museum is a great place to stop when the weather is poor and vacation funds are running dangerously low; located on West Perimeter Road in Ft. Lauderdale, it is free to visit.
11. Fort Lauderdale Fire and Safety Museum
In 1926, the Atlantic coast near Ft. Lauderdale and Oakland Park were battered by a massive hurricane; the following year, the Ft. Lauderdale Fire and Safety Museum was founded to honor those who rose to the challenge to help families in dire need.
The building that houses the museum was once a fire station and now has been restored to near-original condition. It’s full of a variety of exhibits and memorabilia that offer guests a unique flashback into the past.
There’s also an area that’s dedicated to teaching children about fire safety through interactive activities and interaction with museum staff.
12. Jungle Queen Riverboats
For more than 80 years, Jungle Queen Riverboats have been icons on the New River in the Ft. Lauderdale and Oakland Park areas.
All Jungle Queen tours include an experienced captain and crew, and in addition to the breathtaking scenery, guests will get an interesting historical narration.
There are a variety of cruise options available that last from 90 minutes to three hours, and a dinner and show cruise as well.
If you opt for the latter, you’ll enjoy live entertainment and an all-you-can-eat buffet. Other tours include island stops where guests can enjoy an animal show or grab a bite to eat.
13. Las Olas Gondola Tours
With its extensive network of canals, Ft. Lauderdale is often referred to as America’s Venice. There’s no more unique way to get an insight into the area’s geography, culture, and history than with a guided gondola tour.
Las Olas Gondola tours last between 75 and 90 minutes and visit Bahia Mar Marina, the New River, and usually a few swanky neighborhoods where the well-to-do live in million dollar mansions on the water.
It’s common to see a variety of wildlife, and for those who’d like to catch the Florida sunset from a boat, there’s an evening tour option as well.
14. Festival Marketplace
Festival Marketplace is an indoor air-conditioned shopping destination that’s been likened to a flea market on steroids.
Part outlet mall, part antique store, and part farmer’s market, it is a popular place to visit for those looking to pick up a few odds and ends or just browse and see what strikes their fancy.
The marketplace is especially well-known for its jewelry and cosmetics, health and body products, and prepared food items like salsa, pasta sauce, and honey.
The food court offers guests a variety of affordable, casual dining options, and many of the foods have an international flare.
15. Pompano Beach Amphitheater
Located on Northeast 6th Street, the Pompano Beach Amphitheater is a small but popular live entertainment venue that’s hosted its fair share of big-name performers over the years.
Previous guests have stated that there’s not a bad seat in the house, and that there was plenty of relatively inexpensive parking nearby – even on days when there was a big show scheduled.
Before the shows start, there are many food vendors catering to the show crowd; they’re known for their tasty and affordable grub, so many visitors show-up early and grab a bite and a few drinks before the show starts.