Fort Lauderdale has much to offer for anyone looking to have a great time in this exciting place. There’s nothing ordinary about the city, from world-class restaurants to stunning sandy shores.
You can take the family out on the town and lose yourself in the countless activities available to you in Fort Lauderdale.
To help you navigate Fort Lauderdale and make the most out of your trip, we’ve put together a list of the best attractions in the city.
22 Best Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale in 2023
A great vacation is all about fun and relaxation. In Fort Lauderdale, taking a thrilling jet ski ride out to sea is not out of the question. Neither is taking a relaxing riverboat cruise while admiring the sparkling ocean.
Foodies and land dwellers alike have lots of things to do as well, from museums to festivals, the Botanical gardens, and more.
Fort Lauderdale is perfect for individuals with friends, family, or even those on romantic getaways—there’s something for everyone to do, no matter the occasion.
1. Flamingo Gardens
Flamingo Gardens is a non-profit attraction ideal for animal and nature lovers. It’s a combination of an Everglades wildlife sanctuary and a botanical garden.
The Everglades wildlife sanctuary houses sick and injured animals who cannot survive in the wild. The botanical section has over 3,000 different flower and plant species allowing visitors to sample the beauty of the native Florida landscapes.
Please keep your eyes peeled for the Florida panther, black bears, bobcats, and river otters; they are a sight to behold.
2. Visit Everglade Park
The Everglade Park teems with local wildlife, including turtles, panthers, alligators, storks, and pythons. If you are fond of nature, then the Floridian Everglades is a destination that you have to visit.
Perhaps the most exhilarating way to absorb all of its beauty is an informative and professionally-guided airboat ride through the wilderness.
You can take the airboat tour to the next level by embarking on the adventure at night or via the VIP package. There may be an opportunity for a brave soul to hold a baby alligator during the tour on some occasions!
3. Go Cycling
One of the most rewarding things to do in Fort Lauderdale is to cycle through the city. You can witness some beautiful sites while simultaneously getting a good workout that won’t feel like a workout due to how much fun you’ll be having.
Luckily, most activities that you can do in this city can be reached conveniently during a bike ride.
The city of Fort Lauderdale has done an impressive job of providing bike rentals for tourists and paving bike lanes for cyclists alike. One of the most accessible bike rentals is Broward BCycle.
All you have to do is unlock the bike using an app, and when you finish, you can drop it off at one of the stations sprinkled throughout the town. You can expect to pay $5 an hour, with a maximum of $25 for the day.
4. The Bonnet House Museum and Gardens
In the middle of the developing Fort Lauderdale Beach is the historic building—Bonnet House Museum and Gardens. Fredric and Evelyn Bartlett, artists that built the house to serve as their vacation home.
As time passed, the house became one of the few remaining buildings in the area.
The house now serves as a fulfilling cultural experience full of unique architecture, original art, and a courtyard adorned with beautiful foliage, and the South Florida jungle surrounds it.
5. Go to Butterfly World
Butterfly World is 30 minutes away from the north of the center. Interestingly, it is the largest butterfly house globally, with over 20,000 fluttering around the beautiful gardens.
This indoor butterfly park has been a mainstay among the locals within the community since 1988. The tropical conservatories are filled with flowers and plants, with thousands of butterflies flying around, making for an unforgettable spectacle.
The facility also has an aviary that houses lorikeets and hummingbirds. There’s an excellent museum, a bug zoo, and a beautiful botanical garden.
6. Sawgrass Mills
Sawgrass Mills happens to be one of the biggest outlet malls in the U.S. It’s 30 minutes to the west of downtown. This is a shopper’s paradise, and there are also many restaurants, eateries, and coffee shops for you to enjoy after an eventful day of shopping.
When it was first built in 1990, it was already massive, and since then, it has only expanded in size, and now it houses more than 350 outlets and name-brand stores.
The number of shops on hand is seemingly endless, and it has everything from home accessories to high fashion, electronics, and sporting equipment.
After spending a day shopping at some of the premier fashion stores, such as Gucci and the like, don’t forget to relax and drop by a coffee shop to enjoy a nice cup of coffee.
7. Take a Boat Tour
It’s no secret that Fort Lauderdale is home to some of the most beautiful waterways, and the best way to set it all is via a boat tour. Spending the day on the water is one of the most relaxing ways to explore the city and its beautiful surroundings.
You can choose to head out on the open sea or sightsee on one of the cruises that sail along the canal and the Intracoastal Waterway. Whichever you choose, you’ll undoubtedly have some fun.
While aboard one of these tours, you may decide to go dolphin-watching and fishing. You could also enjoy live entertainment as you chow down on delicious food.
8. Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
The Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is only 15 minutes northeast of the center. This picturesque park rests right in between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway; the park features exciting outdoor activities and several diverse ecosystems for you to explore.
This park has been around since 1941. The landscape consists of mangroves, coastal dune lakes, and one amazing freshwater lagoon. Activities that you can delve into include cycling, hiking, canoeing, swimming, and wildlife viewing.
9. Fort Lauderdale Beach Park
Fort Lauderdale Beach Park is south of Las Olas Beach, boasting a plethora of amenities and outdoor activities. You can soak in the sun or take a dip in the sea. Visitors can take advantage of picnic areas, grills, and outdoor showers on the land.
This park also features basketball and volleyball courts, and it also has safe playgrounds for the kids to enjoy as the parents take in the beautiful scenery and relax in the sun.
The park also has quality restaurants, hotels, a nearby spa, and various resorts next to it, which can be great once you are done with all the festivities at the park.
10. Las Olas Boulevard
Las Olas Boulevard is the most famous street in all of Fort Lauderdale. The bustling road has restaurants, art galleries, and many shops. This is truly the main attraction, drawing locals and tourists from all over.
Las Olas Boulevard is jam-packed with bars, boutiques, and bistros.
The street stretches on for a long way, and your ability to see the beauty of the Intracoastal Waterway, along with spectacular yachts and unbelievable mansions. Las Olas Boulevard is also known for its excellent night, theaters, and fantastic clubs.
11. Fort Lauderdale Beach
Frankly, Fort Lauderdale Beach is a must-visit attraction in all of Fort Lauderdale; more than that, it’s perhaps the number one thing to do when you first touch down in this beautiful city.
The beach has some of the whitest sand around, and they stretch for more than six miles and gorgeous palm trees and breathtaking views over the ocean.
Watersports abound on the beach, and tourists and locals enjoy the fun of snorkeling, jet-skiing, scuba diving, and more. Located on the outskirts of the beach are a bevy of bars, hotels, and restaurants.
The strip is another place that features exciting nightlife with many entertaining events to enjoy along the way.
12. Bluefoot Pirate Adventures
If you’re looking for family-friendly activities for your children to enjoy, then look no further than Bluefoot Pirate Adventures. This interactive tour will transport you through the canals of Fort Lauderdale, and you will live life like a pirate for an entire hour.
After embarking on a scenic ride, a great pirate battle will begin before docking. You kids will surely love the live-action play, props, and water cannons!
13. Visit the Stranahan House
The Stranahan House was built in 1901 by an Ohio trader and businessman named Frank Stranahan; it was here where he operated his barge ferry business.
Over the years, it has been expanded, and it has lovely bay windows, tropical gardens, a Victorian parlor, and verandas. On the guided tour, you’ll see Victorian furniture and beautiful decorative pieces on display in the home.
This not only served as a trading post but a community center, town hall, and post office as well. Guided tours showcase Victorian furniture and decorative pieces on display throughout the house.
Built to serve as a trading post, Stranahan House also served as the post office, community center, and town hall and has been used at different times as a restaurant and boarding house. The museum’s gift shop features handmade items crafted by local artists.
14. Museum of Discovery and Science
If you want to educate and entertain the whole crew, take a trip to the Museum of Discovery and Science. There are many programs and exhibits that change seasonally.
Check out the Prehistoric Florida display with authentic fossils, and you can meet the dinosaurs. Kids tend to love learning more about the ecosystems in Florida, which includes one of the most extensive living coral reefs in the world.
Additionally, the Wall of Wind and the Storm Center teach about hurricanes and how they affect our lives in multiple aspects. If you’re searching for a more immersive experience, consider the IMAX theater, which has plenty of films about nature.
Or, head over to try the Everglades Airboat Adventure. Some exhibits teach recycling, an otter habitat spanning two stories, and a science theater that showcases live demonstrations.
You’ll even find a separate discovery center dedicated to children under seven so that they can play and understand at a level tailored to younger kids.
15. NSU Art Museum
The NSU Art Museum was built in 1986 in Fort Lauderdale. It is a part of the Fort Lauderdale Art Centers, and this establishment also features 20th-century art and contemporary pieces.
If you take a trip over to Las Olas Boulevard, where there are multiple boutiques and other shops, you’ll find NSU in a modern building of almost 80,000 square feet.
This museum has multiple floors that have exciting exhibits. Even a sculpture terrace and thousands of artworks promote Caribbean and South Floridian culture.
You’ll also see over a hundred pieces on display from Cuba, and Pablo Picasso has a ceramics collection. See work by William Glackens, artifacts and relics from ancient Egyptian tombs, and more.
The NSU Art Museum is affiliated with Nova Southeastern University. This association provides classes, workshops, and educational programs for every age.
16. Broward Center for the Performing Arts
The Broward Center for Performing Arts is in downtown Fort Lauderdale and overlooks the New River. This venue offers educational workshops and entertainment and serves as a source of inspiration to the community.
Known as one of the most frequented theaters globally, the Broward Center puts on over 700 concerts, performances, and shows per year.
More than 500,000 visitors see the ballets, operas, plays, and other multicultural events. This center also hosts workshops and lectures while promoting a well-known and massive educational art program in the United States.
17. Fort Lauderdale Fire and Safety Museum
Built as a symbol of hope after the devastation of a hurricane in 1926, Fire Station #3 has become a historical icon. It has since then been revitalized to showcase the century-long history of the fire department’s service and dedication to the city.
The unique atmosphere and architecture don’t make you feel like you’re walking through a fire station, but it’s more like an awe-inspiring exhibit. There are historical pieces of equipment, including fire engines, ladders, alarms, and more.
The firefighters of the 1920s live on forever in the hearts of many, thanks to the videos, photos, uniforms, and other artifacts that tell the story of this courageous squad.
The Fort Lauderdale Fire and Safety Museum also hosts a children’s learning center that teaches prevention and fire safety through hands-on activities and presentations.
18. The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale
If you’re looking to do some serious shopping, you’ll love the Galleria at Fort Lauderdale. This upscale and trendy shopping center has several fine dining options and is close to hotels, the airport, and the convention center.
You’ll also be close to pristine beaches. Popular stores such as Michael Kors, Neiman Marcus, Apple, Coach, Banana Republic, and other retailers are at your disposal.
There’s also a spa, casual eateries, and other specialty stores. You can access the Galleria by a water taxi or a bus. This South Florida establishment also offers valet parking.
19. Las Olas Food Tours
The Las Olas Food Tours is a famous excursion around Fort Lauderdale that involves going around and sampling different items from the menu of top restaurants in the city.
This food adventure is one of the most anticipated outings for corporate events, family vacations, couples’ dates, and more.
The walking tour lasts for three hours, and you’ll visit six locations where you can learn and enjoy the culture, history, and art of the site while also tasting delectable food items.
There’s also another tour that goes hand in hand with the Las Olas Food Tour, called. The Riverwalk and Cruise Tour. This tour is more geared toward adults, as you learn about the history of Fort Lauderdale and do various wine and food tastings on the beach.
Afterward, you’ll participate in a cruise that lasts for 90 minutes while viewing Millionaire’s Row, sipping Mojitos, and enjoying fine chocolates.
If you enjoy escape rooms, you’ll love Escape-topia. It’s a venue that offers a one-hour group event for as little as two people to as many as ten people.
Everyone has to work with one another to figure out how to solve puzzles, decode messages, find clues, and more so that they can get out of the escape room.
The difference between this escape room and many others is that the theme is horror, and there are three various rooms to choose from.
Each presents its challenge and unique experience. This center also features a large lobby with couches, ghost paintings, a red curtain, horrifying sculptures, and more, giving this spooky escape room all the chills.
21. Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale
Traveling along the Riverwalk is a fun experience that includes the downtown Riverwalk district and Linear Park. If you want to kick back and relax in a tropical atmosphere mixed with urban flair, the Riverwalk is the right place.
The community hosts plenty of activities and events during the year. You can enjoy fun concerts, a 5K race, food festivals, multicultural events, and more on the Riverwalk.
There’s also a recreation center that hosts fun activities for all ages and fitness levels. They have kayaking, photography classes, paddleboarding, bicycling, dog training, Segway tours, and many other outdoor events and activities.
22. Fort Lauderdale Historical Society & Museum
The Fort Lauderdale Historical Society & Museum has preserved a large part of Broward County’s history. The Old Fort Lauderdale Village has the New River Inn, the oldest hotel still standing in the area.
The hotel also has a museum inside the Hoch Heritage Library & Research Center. The museum features a gift shop and a historical collection of artifacts and relics.
The New River Inn also promotes lectures, special events, rotating exhibits, and other interactive activities during the year. You can do the walking tour through the property every first Sunday from October until May.
Things to Consider
While the weather is spectacular and the beaches are world-renowned, it’s essential to know the best times of year to visit Fort Lauderdale. Ensure that you get the most out of your vacation when it comes to exploring all the city offers.
You can expect higher prices and more crowds if you visit around Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year, or any other notable holiday.
Remember to book any hotels, activities, or car rentals well in advance. If you don’t prefer the busy crowds, try visiting in April or May or September to November.
If you don’t know where you want to stay, you’ll have to consider how much you’re willing to spend, what attractions you want to visit, and why you’re traveling to Fort Lauderdale. These factors will help you determine the best place to stay.
As a tip, the Central Beach zone is the perfect location if you want to be in the middle of great restaurants, museums, and more. You’ll be close to the beach, and the nightlife has plenty of bars and clubs.
If you’re with small children and you’d like more of a family setting where it’s quiet, consider Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. It’s a casual beach setting with plenty of water sports and shops in the area.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the responses to the just commonly asked questions regarding entertainment in Fort Lauderdale:
Is Fort Lauderdale or Miami better?
Miami is hands down the more popular city of the two, but Fort Lauderdale has a ton of choices as well. Fort Lauderdale is also the more relaxed and casual destination that most vacationers prefer if they want to stick to affordability.
Does Fort Lauderdale have a boardwalk?
Fort Lauderdale has the Hollywood Beach Boardwalk. It isn’t as bustling as some other destinations in the city, but it’s 2.2 miles of restaurants, beach activities, boutiques, and more.
Is Lauderdale by the sea walkable?
About half an hour from Miami Lauderdale by the sea is between the Intercoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a barrier island that’s only a little over a mile and a half all around. You can easily walk or go cycling through the town.
Is Fort Lauderdale a party spot?
Though it’s not Miami, Fort Lauderdale has excellent nightclubs and venues that you’ll enjoy for a long weekend of partying or one night of bliss. You can always find something to do and somewhere to have a blast.
What is the best month to go to Fort Lauderdale?
The best time to visit Fort Lauderdale is in the winter or early spring. You can get away from cold winter temperatures around December to April and enjoy the high 50s to the mid-80s.
So, What’s the Best Thing to Do in Fort Lauderdale?
There are plenty of ways to enjoy Fort Lauderdale’s history and culture. The beaches are endless, there are hotels for every budget, and you can find fun things to do no matter what.
The Las Olas Food Tour is pretty high on the list, though! Fort Lauderdale is an excellent destination for everyone.