If you’re planning a trip to South Florida, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach, two of the region’s most prominent cities. While these urban centers are under an hour away from one another and both feature world-famous beaches, they are actually quite different. Below, we’ve compiled a list of things to keep in mind as you consider Fort Lauderdale vs. Miami Beach for your South Florida getaway. For more local tips and suggestions, be sure to reference our free Fort Lauderdale Travel Guide!
Fort Lauderdale vs. Miami Beach: Everything You Need to Know
We’re a little biased, but we think Fort Lauderdale—though a smaller city—beats Miami Beach any day of the week. This is especially true if you’re looking for more pristine beaches, a more family-friendly environment, a burgeoning craft beer scene, and cleaner streets (that overlook the city’s gorgeous, Venice-like canals). If you’re looking for a nonstop party, you still may prefer Miami Beach, but we’ve found that Fort Lauderdale offers a more diverse, enjoyable experience for all ages (and yes, there’s still plenty of nightlife). Here’s why!
Let’s Talk Beaches
Since Miami Beach is one of the most popular spots in South Florida (not to be confused with Miami, a separate municipality), the beaches can get dirty, rowdy, and crowded. If you’re looking for a tranquil spot to soak in some Vitamin D (where finding a free parking space doesn’t take all day), head to a Fort Lauderdale beach instead.
Gone are the days of Fort Lauderdale’s spring break party scene. Unlike Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale features fun attractions without catering solely to spring breakers. You’ll find many more family-friendly attractions here, and you won’t have to sift through shifty spots to find them. If you’re visiting with little ones, we recommend checking out the following spots:
- Funderdome Indoor Playground and Cafe
- Buehler Planetarium and Broward College Observatory
- Bluefoot Pirate Adventures
- Holiday Park.
Craft Beer Lovers, Unite!
While Miami Beach caters to the edgy, up-all-night crowd, Fort Lauderdale offers a scene that’s perfect for craft beer and low-key nightlife lovers. Instead of getting lost in Miami Beach’s claustrophobic after-dark crowd, check out trendy hipster hotspots like LauderAle, Funky Buddha, and Stache Drinking Den + Coffee Bar. You can’t go wrong with Fort Lauderdale breweries or Las Olas bars!
Stunning Streets, Parks, and Canals
Fort Lauderdale is the place to be if you prefer clean, well-groomed streets and chic boardwalks with a view. Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale is a great example of this—you’ll love this twisty, lush park in the heart of the city. And don’t forget that Fort Lauderdale is called “The Venice of America” for a reason! Here, you can take a gondola ride past gorgeous yachts and tropical foliage as you navigate the Intracoastal Waterway. You won’t find that at Miami Beach!
Our all-time favorite part of Fort Lauderdale is the lodging. Instead of staying in a big-name hotel, experience the local side of South Florida in a private vacation rental! A Fort Lauderdale Stays home is the best place to stay with family and friends while you’re on vacation. Each of our hand-selected vacation rentals provides access to heated pools, tropical views, spacious patios, and fenced yards. Larger families love our Palm Terrace home, which has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a huge backyard. You’ll want to return again and again! Our personalized service and premium amenities will make you feel right at home. In addition to a clean rental located in a safe, residential neighborhood like Poinsettia Heights, you’ll have unlimited access to beach essentials, complimentary Starbucks coffee, and everything you need for a successful cookout. Your furry family member is even welcome in our pet-friendly homes!