Constantly growing since the 1960s, Tamarac is a city of more than 70,000, close to Pompano Beach and Fort Lauderdale.
In the best possible way, the city feels a little like the edge of the world, as it borders the Everglades with a giant area of sawgrass marsh reaching out to the horizon in the west.
This is a place close to my heart, with a trail heading out along the levee, and sunsets that are nothing short of magical
Tamarac has plenty going for it, but is also part of a huge metropolitan area, with tons of things to see and do close by in nearby communities.
The new campus for Inter Miami of the MLS is right on the city’s eastern tip, while downtown Fort Lauderdale can be reached in under 30 minutes.
So here’s my look at the 15 best things to do in and around Tamarac, Florida.
1. Conservation Levee Greenway Trail
West of Tamarac the metropolitan area comes to an abrupt end, and the unfettered nature of the Everglades takes over with a huge expanse of sawgrass marshlands.
From the Sawgrass Trailhead at Atlantic Boulevard you can get onto the Conservation Levee Greenway Trail, around 50 miles long and skirting the edge of the Water Conservation Area 2B.
You don’t even need to hike or cycle along the levee to have a wonderful time here. I often come to the trailhead late in the day to watch the sun go down.
With massive skies and no trace of development anywhere, the views are nothing short of enchanting, especially when the low sun hits the waterway to create a glowing strip of gold.
2. Sawgrass Recreation Park
At the western trailhead of the Conservation Levee Greenway there’s an ecotourism attraction offering airboat tours of this patch of the Everglades.
Sawgrass Recreation Park is on an old fishing camp, welcoming visitors for airboat tours since the 1970s, but also featuring an exhibit area displaying rescued reptiles and mammals, and hosting live demonstrations.
The main experience is of course on the water, where you’ll zoom through one of America’s great wildernesses, spotting gators, snakes, turtles, and birds like great blue herons and ospreys.
A variety of tour options are available, 363 days a year. Since much of the Everglades’ wildlife is nocturnal, my tip is to take a nighttime tour for an even better chance of seeing these remarkable creatures.
3. Fern Forest Nature Center
In nearby Coconut Creek, the Fern Forest Nature Center may not be the kind of place you’ll spend an entire day, but it’s the perfect escape for those looking for a few quiet hours away from the hustle and bustle of the area’s tourist attractions.
Before hitting the trails, check out the exhibits in the visitor center, where you’ll learn about what has changed and what has stayed the same since this land was reclaimed from the Everglades.
Something I picked up here is that there are more than 30 species of ferns in this dense and shaded landscape, including the rare whisk fern.
The center has a variety of trails, most of which are appropriate for children; it’s not uncommon to see birds, frogs, butterflies, and other critters.
4. Butterfly World
In the mid-’80s, a local butterfly enthusiast founded a butterfly breeding and distribution company. More than three decades later, that company morphed into what’s now Butterfly World—the largest facility of its kind in the world.
Florida’s warm, moist climate is perfect for many exotic species of butterfly; for those traveling with animal-loving children, stopping by and checking them out is a must.
There are 20,000 butterflies from all over the globe at Butterfly World, and from my experience you should come on a hot and sunny day when these insect residents are at their most animated
No less spectacular are the three walk-through bird aviaries, where you can purchase nectar for a small fee and interact with the lorikeets.
Daily and seasonal passes are available, and the facility includes indoor exhibits and outdoor areas to explore as well.
They often offer coupons on their website, so take a look before heading out.
5. DRV PNK Stadium
By the airport on the eastern edge of Tamarac is the 21,000-capacity stadium for the MLS team Inter Miami.
The Herons, as they’re known, are co-owned by former MLS star and sports icon David Beckham and were founded in 2018.
The high-tech stadium is part of a campus that includes the team’s training center. An interesting feature of this venue is its high-banked stands, which help create one of the best atmospheres in the MLS.
When I compiled this list, the world’s gaze was suddenly on Inter Miami, after they signed Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest soccer player of all time.
6. Tamarac Veterans’ Park
The Stranahan River channel (Cypress Creek) forms Tamarac’s northern boundary, with grassy banks, a chain of parks and a bike trail, which I’ll talk about later.
One of the parks on these shores is Tamarac Veterans’ Park, which is on a small but lovely plot, with two waterside picnic shelters, a boat ramp and lots of places to sit and admire the views.
My time to be here is on a Sunday when there’s a small but strong farmers’ market all year round.
Stop by for local honey, fresh produce, tea blends, houseplants, soy candles, nut butters, and a range of prepared foods, from Puerto Rican codfish fritters to shaved ice.
7. Coral Square Mall
On days when the temperature breaks into triple digits and the humidity isn’t far behind, an old-school indoor air-conditioned mall like this one needs to be on your radar.
Teeming with well-known brands like Old Navy, The Limited, and Macy’s, Coral Square Mall is just a short drive from Tamarac and Coconut Creek.
Standing up well against the decline in brick and mortar retail, Coral Square Mall is the perfect place to chill for a few hours when the weather isn’t cooperating.
What also impressed me was the food court, with a good lineup of counter service eateries like Sarku Japan, Charleys Cheesesteaks and Subway, while there’s an array of chain restaurants close by, as well as the eight-screen Paragon Theater – Coral Square.
8. Cypress Creek Greenway
If I had to pick Tamarac’s most overlooked attribute it would surely be the multi-use paved trail hugging the south bank of the Stranahan River channel.
The Cypress Creek Greenway is seven miles long and runs between two natural attractions, at the Fern Forest Nature Center in the east and the Everglades in the west.
On this path, a big patch of the Tamarac and Margate area is opened up to bicyclists, with easy access to parks, recreation amenities, and shopping along the Route 441 corridor and at Coral Square Mall.
And, if you’re up for a serious ride, at the west end you can continue on into the unbounded wilderness of the Everglades.
9. Coral Springs Museum of Art
A cultural touchstone in the Fort Lauderdale area, the Coral Springs Museum of Art is a matter of minutes from Tamarac and always has something exciting going on, whether it’s an exhibition or program.
The shows are updated every few weeks, and when I visited there was an applied art exhibit, featuring furniture and sculpture made from locally salvaged wood that had been steam-heated to more than 400 °F.
You can often see selections from the permanent collection, while experienced instructors give classes in a variety of skills, from illustration to ceramics.
The museum is part of the Coral Springs Center for the Arts complex, with a 1,471-seat theater staging Broadway performances.
10. Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse
One of the beautiful sights in Florida, as far as I’m concerned, is a simple drive east of Tamarac in Hillsboro Beach.
Though it’s not as convenient to access as many other tourist attractions, for lovers of lighthouses, scenic views and local history, a trip to the Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse (1907) would be a great way to spend a few hours.
Access to the lighthouse is possible as part of a guided tour only; they’re only offered once a month and are led by a member of the Hillsboro Lighthouse Preservation Society.
The lighthouse is particularly well-known for its unique Fresnel lens, which provided a bright beacon to nocturnal mariners in eras past.
Limited tour spots are available and they fill up quickly, so reserve yours in advance. If you aren’t around in time for a tour, there’s a good view from Hillsboro Inlet Park, where you can visit a museum for the lighthouse.
11. Xtreme Action Park
There are family entertainment centers, and then there’s Xtreme Action Park, which is on a whole other level.
This is the largest attraction of its kind in Florida, with 250,000 square feet of attractions. The headline is the high-speed indoor asphalt karting track, with two layouts and four different go kart fleets, from Junior to Super.
I’ll never forget my race here, or my gas-powered kart, which was capable of more than 60MPH on the straights.
In addition there’s an arcade with more than 150 interactive games, a high ropes course, 18 holes of glow-in-the-dark mini golf, virtual reality experiences, six lanes of bowling, and a 12,000-square-foot roller rink with maple flooring.
12. Young at Art Museum
If you’re in the Tamarac area with kids who in elementary school, there’s a wonderful children’s museum with a twist close by in Plantation.
Now inside the Broward Mall, Young at Art Museum is at the intersection of art and interactivity, helping to foster creativity as well as a wider understanding of the world.
There are a few exhibits replicating everyday scenarios, while guest artists provide a changing lineup of activities.
When I visited with my children they spent the whole time absorbed by a crafts session, making their own shadow puppets.
Take a look at the calendar for upcoming guest artists, as well as classes and camps during school breaks.
13. Museum of Discovery and Science
In Fort Lauderdale, the Museum of Discovery and Science is another kid-friendly hotspot that’s particularly worthwhile when the weather isn’t cooperating.
With interactive exhibits and activities focusing on history, culture, science, and the natural world, it’s a one-stop facility that’s all about engaging, entertaining, and educating children and adults alike.
There’s an IMAX Theater with nearly 300 seats, a World War II flight simulator, a dinosaur graveyard full of fascinating fossils, and a great gift shop and cafe.
The crowd-pleaser for my gang was Otters at Play, where you can see North American river otters up close in an awesome two-story habitat.
The museum is open from Monday to Saturday with limited hours on Sunday, and the cost of admission won’t break the bank.
14. Daul Classic Car Museum
I’m obsessed with automotive history, and was disappointed to see the Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum close for good during the pandemic.
Luckily a superb museum has opened even closer in Sunrise, with close to 60 gleaming vehicles from 1906 to 2020, all housed in an industrial building off Hiatus Road.
The Dauer Classic Car Museum is a private collection, and everything you see has been restored to the highest level.
As well as Cadillacs, Chryslers and Buicks there’s a stellar international collection, including several Italian brands, a Rolls-Royce and a Bentley.
There’s a focus on the post-war years, so to pick some standouts, I’ll go for the ultra-rare 1953 Oldsmobile Fiesta, the 1953 Buick Skylark, and the 1953 Cadillac Eldorado.
15. Woodmont Country Club
For golfers visiting the Sunshine State, the sheer number of courses can be overwhelming.
Woodmont Country Club in Tamarac includes two 18-hole courses and is semi-private, meaning it’s open to the public only at specified times.
If you have a membership you’ll have access to all the club’s facilities, whereas visitors may not.
The club’s two courses play about 7,000 and 6,400 yards and I’d rate them among the best-maintained and challenging in the area.
The facilities include a restaurant, pro shop, putting greens, and a driving range for those who’d like to hit a few practice shots before their tee time.