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Is Fort Lauderdale Safe? | Travel Tips & Safety Concerns

Is Fort Lauderdale Safe? | Travel Tips & Safety Concerns

Although Fort Lauderdale certainly isn’t as famous as Miami or Orlando, it’s still a great city to visit while you’re in Florida.

Located right in the southeastern part of the state, there are plenty of incredible beaches to explore in Fort Lauderdale, excellent dining options, hiking, and plenty of culture. If you’re a big shopping fan, check out Las Olas Boulevard.

History and culture fans will love the many different museums, including the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Finally, if you like hiking, make sure you check out Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. While there’s certainly no shortage of things to do in Fort Lauderdale, it’s important to remember that you must keep your wits about you while you visit.

Unfortunately, Fort Lauderdale isn’t the safest place in Florida to see, and you could fall victim to some petty crime that might derail your vacation.

Is Fort Lauderdale Safe to Visit in 2022?

Las Olas and the windy bench and cement wall seen at dusk with blue and white lights

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Fort Lauderdale can be reasonably safe, given you stick to touristy places. The regions around Fort Lauderdale Beach, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, and Las Olas are pretty safe.

On the other hand, there is a lot of petty crime, even in tourist areas, so keep your valuables in your front pockets and your guard up for maximum safety.

Crime in Fort Lauderdale

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of crime in Fort Lauderdale, and the city as a whole has well over the national average for all sorts of things. Most tourists will be shielded from extreme crime in the city.

But it’s still a good idea to practice making yourself a difficult target and know how to deal with bad situations.

Of course, your chances of running afoul of criminal behavior largely depend on where you are in the city. If you’re traveling to less savory neighborhoods, your risk goes up.

That’s why it’s essential to understand where and where not to go, which we’ll get to later in this article. Most of the violent crimes are assault and robbery.

To make yourself a less attractive candidate for a potential assailant, leave your valuables at home and don’t flash any expensive-looking jewelry. It’s also a good idea to keep your cell phone tucked away while you’re out and about walking.

Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods

There are a few neighborhoods that you should avoid in Fort Lauderdale. These areas tend to worsen at night, but it’s a good idea to steer clear of them anytime. Fortunately, there are plenty of things to do and see in Fort Lauderdale, so you won’t miss these neighborhoods.

Flagler Heights

Although Flagler Heights is making a bit of a turnaround, this once drug capital of Fort Lauderdale still isn’t the best place to find yourself, especially after the sun sets.

Flagler Village was one of the worst areas in the country during the 1980s and 1990s, and although it’s evolving now, you’ll still find some of those elements around.

Dorsey-Riverbend

You’ll find many vehicle break-ins, some criminal activity, loud music, and other disturbances in Dorsey-Riverbend. It’s not the place where tourists will want to stay, and it’s unlikely that you’ll even find too many accommodations there anyway.

You can avoid the bad parts of Fort Lauderdale by simply sticking with the tourist places or staying near the beach.

However, if you have any doubts about where to go, don’t hesitate to call on the locals. They can usually help you make an intelligent determination. 

Observe Hurricane Safety

Palm trees blowing in the wind for a piece on Is Fort Lauderdale Safe to Visit featuring a hurricane making land

FotoKina/Shutterstock

Being right on the beach, Fort Lauderdale does get its fair share of hurricanes, and if you travel between June and November, you might encounter one.

Although you’ll have plenty of advance notice that a hurricane is on the horizon, getting trapped in one can still be scary. So make sure that you observe proper hurricane safety and don’t take any chances.

  • Look at the weather well in advance to prepare yourself
  • Don’t go outside or to the beach during a hurricane
  • Make sure that your accommodation has emergency water, food, and power
  • Stay away from the windows
  • Prepare for power shortages by stocking up on candles

Doing all of these things will help you better weather any storms Mother Nature might throw at you and improve your vacation, especially if you’re traveling during a questionable part of the year. 

Things to Consider

It would be best to keep these things in mind before you pop down to Fort Lauderdale to help maximize your time and stay as safe as possible. 

Think Through Your Accommodation Location Fully

This is a big one! There are plenty of different areas in Fort Lauderdale, so ensuring that you choose the right one for your accommodation can help make or break your vacation. But, of course, every location has its charm.

  • Las Olas Downtown: Tons of excitement, clubs, museums, and restaurants
  • Fort Lauderdale Beach: Resorts and promenade, great for families
  • Lauderdale0by-the-Sea: More relaxed beachfront rentals

If you’re traveling with smaller kids or simply want a quiet vacation, you’ll undoubtedly want to stay away from the party areas. But, on the other hand, if you’re looking for fun, beachy ragers, check out Las Olas and be right in the middle of all the action.

Plan to Visit All the Beaches

Photo of Paradise Beach pictured on a clear day for a guide to whether or not Fort Lauderdale is Safe to Visit

Simon Dannhauer/Shutterstock

Fort Lauderdale is famous for its fantastic beaches, and you should make a point to visit all of them on your trip. Some beaches, like Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, have tons of hiking and cycling opportunities, plus a place to camp and grill with the family.

In addition, Fort Lauderdale Beach Park is an excellent spot to spend the day and get into a fun game of volleyball. Hollywood Beach Boardwalk spans the beach and is a car-free destination for your seaside stroll.

Pompano Beach is more family-friendly. Plan out a map of all the beaches you want to see and space them out over several days. That way, you won’t miss a thing.

Be a Hard Target, Especially at Night

Nothing can ruin your vacation quicker than some petty crime. Therefore, it’s essential to be a hard target, especially if you’re walking alone at night. Practice doing these things, and you’ll be less attractive to potential criminals.

  • Know where you’re going all the time, or at least pretend to.
  • Stick to lit or crowded areas near the beaches.
  • Don’t swim at night.
  • If you have to look at a map, don’t do it on the road.
  • Visibly inebriated people are softer targets — stay sober if you don’t know where you’re going.
  • Keep your valuables locked away at the hotel.
  • Don’t flash your jewelry.

Make your Fort Lauderdale vacation memorable for all the right reasons by considering these key things before you go. Then, with a few easy precautions, you can make yourself safer and have fun doing it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hollywood Beach in Fort Lauderdale

xbrchx/Shutterstock

These frequently asked questions will help maximize your Fort Lauderdale vacation, increase your safety, and have a better time overall.

If you’re unsure about something, be it a neighborhood or whether or not it’s safe to swim, don’t hesitate to ask. Usually, local people are more than happy to help you out.

Is it safe to swim in Fort Lauderdale?

It’s generally safe to swim during the day in Fort Lauderdale, but it’s a good idea to avoid swimming in any areas that strictly say “off limits” or “do not swim,” because there could be dangerous rip currents or even wildlife in the seas. 

During the day, you’ll find plenty of lifeguards on most of the popular beaches, and it’s usually fine to hop into the water.

However, at night, it’s a different story. Since you can’t see what’s beneath the waves in the dark, depending on the time of year, you could easily run across jellyfish or nasty currents that might take you out to sea.

The problem with swimming at night is that nobody is there to help you if you get in over your head, both literally and figuratively. Even if you’re a strong swimmer, it’s best to stay out of the water at night.  

Can I visit the beach at night?

Every beach is different, but it’s generally okay to visit the beach at night as long as it’s well-lit and you’re with a group of people. You might want to avoid visiting the beach at night if you’re by yourself.

Most of the more populated beaches are safe, and you’ll run across plenty of people, even though, technically, you might see signage prohibiting going on the beach. 

If you’re by yourself or walking alone on a lonely, unlit stretch of beach, you could run into nefarious petty criminals. So make sure you go with a group and avoid swimming at night.

When should I visit?

The summer months are crowded, busy, and generally more expensive than other parts of the year. However, since Fort Lauderdale is pretty far south, you can get away with visiting in the late spring and early fall and still maximize your beach time.

Winter is low season, although it’s still decently warm in Fort Lauderdale. No matter when you visit, booking your tickets and accommodation well in advance is a good idea.

If you’re flexible with your dates and don’t mind a layover or two, you might be able to get better deals on flights. Think outside the hotel box, too. Airbnbs and even hostels are good options for people who want to visit Fort Lauderdale.

Remember that the months between June and November are hurricane season in Fort Lauderdale, so make sure that you keep an eye on the weather and plan accordingly. Even though it tends to be warm during the winter, you might still experience some cooler nights, so bring a sweater or jacket.

Does Fort Lauderdale have snakes?

Fort Lauderdale does have snakes, but many are not very dangerous. Depending on where you’re staying, you might not even see snakes when you visit. The vast majority of snakes are smaller, pest-eating kinds like black racers, green snakes, garter snakes, and rat snakes. 

If you see one of these snakes, it’s a good idea to leave it alone. There’s a great chance it’s doing much more good than harm, so don’t disturb it; it will not mess with you.

On the other hand, there are some venomous snakes in Fort Lauderdale that you should keep your eye out for. Coral snakes, rattlesnakes, eastern diamondback, and cottonmouth snakes all call Fort Lauderdale their home.

  • Coral snakes: Look for red and yellow bands.
  • Rattlesnakes: Red/orange stripes running down them, and buzzing noise from the rattler.
  • Eastern diamondback: White, brown, and black diamond pattern.
  • Cottonmouth: Olive skin with bands of black running down the snake.

If you’re unsure as to whether or not a snake is venomous, it’s best not to touch it. Instead, report it to wildlife authorities immediately. Although most snakes are shy, some varieties can be relatively aggressive and dangerous to tourists.

What is Fort Lauderdale famous for?

The number-one thing that Fort Lauderdale is famous for is its beaches. If you love basking in the sun, you’ll fall in love with Fort Lauderdale’s miles of sandy, gorgeous beaches.

Additionally, plenty of events are happening all year round, including concerts and family-friendly things to do. Plus, Fort Lauderdale is relatively historical.

You can learn a lot about the region’s history at one of its many museums or stroll down the riverfront to see for yourself. In addition, there’s tons of shopping on Las Olas Boulevard, as well as plenty of cute little shops along most of the beaches.

The food in Fort Lauderdale is also superb. You can expect mouthwatering, fresh seafood, brilliant fusion dishes, and gorgeous views to soak in while you sample some fine cuisine.

Plus, there are great dining options for couples, individuals, and families alike, so there’s always something right around the corner. While Fort Lauderdale certainly has its fair share of criminal activity, and you have to be careful, it’s entirely possible to have a wonderful time there with your whole family.

Just keep the information in this article in mind before you go, and you’re bound to have a great visit to the Sunshine State. 

So, Is Fort Lauderdale Safe to Visit?

Fort Lauderdale is pretty safe, but you have to keep your wits about you at all times. Petty and violent crime are factors in some areas of Fort Lauderdale, so stick to the beaches and tourist zones, and you should be ok.

Don’t flash valuables or walk home excessively inebriated. Doing these things can make you a soft target for criminals.

As long as you follow the unspoken rules of the city, stay away from bad places at night, and watch your back, there’s no reason why you and your family can’t have a fantastic time in Fort Lauderdale.

So this year, skip Miami and Orlando and set your sights on Fort Lauderdale. Whether you’re looking for an excellent place to see nature, somewhere you can learn about history, or a fun party town, you’ll find it in Fort Lauderdale. Happy travels!