Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale for the Ultimate South Florida Vacation
When you vacation with us at Fort Lauderdale Stays, you will be close to all the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale. Whether you are staying in one of our gorgeous rentals in Wilton Manors, Las Olas, Fort Lauderdale Beach, Poinsettia Heights, or Imperial Point, you'll be surrounded by some of the best attractions in South Florida!
Below, you'll find some of our top picks for things to do in the Fort Lauderdale area. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.
Explore Fort Lauderdale
Where else in the world can you go on a pirate adventure, take a water taxi, become a pro at surfing, deep-sea fish in the Atlantic Ocean, and snorkel along a picturesque reef all in one trip? Fort Lauderdale is known for its wide variety of high-thrill water activities. What will you choose to do in our crystal-clear waters? Here are a few ideas to start you off.
Though you may spend most of your Fort Lauderdale vacation on the beach, we suggest venturing into the ocean for a new perspective! Dive down to explore a secret underwater treasure when you snorkel the Vista Park Reef. This beautiful destination features colorful coral, schools of fish, and other unique marine life. It's a local hub for snorkeling and scuba diving for a reason! There are other options for snorkeling in Fort Lauderdale, too, if you prefer to shop around.
It will be a grand time adventuring aboard the Sea Legs III, rated the best deep-sea fishing boat in Fort Lauderdale. This vessel offers an entire gallery with a meal on board. You can enjoy a cheeseburger, hot dog, BLT, chicken caesar salad, or Philly cheesesteak while you ride in style. Drift fishing sessions are four hours long, and an evening anchor trip will take you out until midnight! Check out our other recommendations for fishing party boats in Fort Lauderdale.
Bluefoot Pirate Family Adventures is a fun and interactive pirate cruise for adults and children. Pirate-themed treasure hunts set sail daily along the Fort Lauderdale waterway. Children will love helping pirates find the hidden treasure, learning pirate talk, dressing as pirates, and warding off rivals' attacks with water cannons! A fun waterway cruise for the whole family awaits.
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Parks and Nature Trails
Think you'll tire of the beach but still want fresh air? One of Fort Lauderdale's best-kept secrets is its array of inland beauty spots. If you envision a perfect day playing outside this spring break with your kids or pets, then you need to check out the area's spectacular parks and botanical gardens. For example, you can explore 60 acres of tropical paradise at the Flamingo Gardens, home to at least 3,000 species of exotic, tropical plants!
You'll find great parks in Fort Lauderdale for any adventurer, including Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, but here are a few of our other favorites.
If you decide to stay at one of our Fort Lauderdale pet-friendly vacation rentals, then bring your fluffy friend along to Snyder Park. Your dog will love this notable bark park that features a canines-only lake for swimming and playing. There are also some other great spaces for running, fetching, and overall fun! There are peaceful places for humans to relax here, including grassy meadows, picnic tables, and sandy coves. Let your four-legged vacation buddy enjoy a day in doggie heaven at this option!
If you're looking for the best parks in Fort Lauderdale, then you can't overlook this beach oasis. The Fort Lauderdale Beach Park is located just south of the Bahia Mar Resort and has the picturesque beach landscape you are looking for! Enjoy lounging on the sand, playing volleyball at the court, or cooking out on one of the grills.
Beautiful waterfront gardens and a glass pavilion are the main features of Esplanade Park. This Riverwalk in Fort Lauderdale has excellent views of various events, like the Winterfest boat parade, Stone Crab & Seafood Fest, or Smoke on the Water BBQ Feast. The park offers live music, food trucks, and vendors. It is also just steps away from nearby bars and restaurants, perfect for lunch, dinner, or an afternoon drink!
Those seeking adventure will love a trip to Hugh Taylor Birch State Park! Due to our area’s subtropical climate lends itself to a unique variety of things to do outdoors. Visitors can enjoy kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, and more. Browse a full list of Hugh Birch State Park experiences to select which activity is right for you!
Next, we recommend checking out one of Fort Lauderdale’s best-kept secrets: The Secret Woods Nature Center! Visitors can explore the Laurel Oak Trail and New River Trail. Each pathway is made of recycled materials and takes you from a hardwood hammock to a tidal marsh. You’ll get to experience a wide variety of Florida wildlife! After hiking, be sure to also visit Butterfly Island. It’s a 3,800-square foot butterfly garden with more than 20 species of plants that attract butterflies. Rest on the benches and see how many species you can spot!
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Fort Lauderdale is one of the best cities in America for shopping! Here, you'll find affordable outlet malls, high-end boutique malls on the Intracoastal Waterway, and themed strip malls for the quirkiest of tastes. There's something for everyone, so be sure to reference our Vacation Guide to Fort Lauderdale for all of our best recommendations! Here are a few places we suggest starting with.
Looking for a fun retail excursion during your vacation in Fort Lauderdale? We know just the place to discover those beach-worthy outfits. Enjoy a shopping spree at the Sawgrass Mills Outlet Mall, the biggest outlet mall in America. Along with numerous well-known brands, this outlet mall features a large supermarket and a few great restaurants. You'll have everything you need to stock your Fort Lauderdale Stays vacation home and refuel after a day of browsing and buying!
The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale is one of South Florida's premier shopping destinations, with more than 100 specialty stores and eateries. As the largest and most upscale regional mall in Broward County, the center is home to high-fashion retailers like Neiman Marcus, Macy's, and Dillard's. This mall also features other popular stores like American Eagle Outfitters and the Apple Store. Several fine dining establishments also populate the mall; you'll find Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Truluck's, and Blue Martini.
The Shops at Las Olas Boulevard are famous for a reason! Here, you'll wander in the open air past more than 75 exciting boutiques, riverfront restaurants, cafes, and art galleries. Check out Elektrik Boutique, Las Olas Fine Arts, and Girlfriends!
Dining In Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale dining is world-renowned. Whether you're enjoying a day on the beach or spending your time exploring the Las Olas Riverfront, you're never far from a fantastic eatery. Guests love waterfront dining in Fort Lauderdale, as well as exploring the region's selection of local, family-owned cafes. Or, for an experience like no other and unique to Fort Lauderdale, you can embark on some of the sightseeing cruises for dinner and a sunset to enjoy a romantic dining experience.
Read on for just a few of our top restaurant picks.
About a block away from the Las Olas Riverfront, you'll find a cluster of delicious restaurants. One of these is The Foxy Brown, an informal American bistro. Voted as one of the best brunches in Fort Lauderdale (as well as a great option for lunch or dinner), The Foxy Brown has excellent outdoor seating. Bring your furry friend along if you're sitting outside; this restaurant is dog-friendly!
If you're looking to experience some refreshing nightlife in Fort Lauderdale, settle in for dinner and drinks at the Boatyard. This gorgeous seafood restaurant has an impressive interior featuring a magnificent oar-shaped chandelier, an Art Deco bar, and a spacious outdoor space. If you and yours are craving a sophisticated nautical-chic vibe, this is the place for you!
For a more relaxed environment, try Coconuts. This Intracoastal seafood and Sunday brunch spot is beachy-keen! You and your crew will love waking up in your beautiful Fort Lauderdale vacation rental and heading over to enjoy a fantastic brunch together. The French Toast, Chocolate Fudge Swirl Pancakes, and Lobster Benedict are all scrumptious.
A Fort Lauderdale vacation would not be complete without getting a taste of the area's vibrant nightlife. The Las Olas Riverwalk and Marina Bay are just a few of the best Fort Lauderdale locations to grab a drink and dance the night away. Our Vacation Guide lists even more top-rated watering holes, so don't forget to check it out! Consider the following three spots for your first night out on the town.
Classic American eats, live music, and a huge patio are all characteristics of the Rendezvous Waterfront Bar & Grill. Located in beautiful Marina Bay, Rendezvous is convenient by car or boat! Dock your vessel and walk right in for some drinks or a meal. That's what we call a Fort Lauderdale lifestyle!
Aargh, matey! This lively option of Las Olas Riverwalk restaurants and bars features a Caribbean-Mediterranean menu, live music, and a weeknight happy hour that will make your vacation all the better! The Pirate Republic Bar has umbrellas and tables lining the waterfront and a dreamy menu. Try the specialty Brazilian Seafood Moqueca!
For a nostalgic, speakeasy locale to top off your night, enjoy the cozy atmosphere of the Stache Drinking Den + Coffee Bar. It's a comfy lounge by day and a nightclub and mixology hotspot by night. Stache is a favorite for staying out until 4 a.m. on the weekend!
Festivals, Shows, & Music
One defining characteristic of Fort Lauderdale is its full calendar year of festivals and shows. You can't go wrong visiting our beautiful city any time of year! Whether you're a music festival junkie or a social justice warrior, you're sure to stumble upon a festive event that's tailored to your interests. Here are a few of our favorites.
Occurring each February, the Miami International Boat Show features some of the most beautiful yachts in the world. See over 1,300 boats on display and enjoy boating workshops, paddle sports demos, and more!
One of the largest Pride festivals in the Southeast, the Fort Lauderdale Pride Festival is a celebration of the vibrant diversity of our oceanfront community! It joins people from all walks of life in support of LGBTQ organizations and the incredible people within them.
At the Tortuga Music Festival, you can see some of the brightest country stars as well as some rock 'n rollers, folksters, hip-hop artists, and more! This annual music festival is a favorite in the region, drawing people from all around to come and enjoy a fun weekend in the Florida sun! We invite you to enjoy the Tortuga Music Festival in the Spring!
Fort Lauderdale is full of relaxing things to do outdoors. If you’d rather stay cozy inside, consider a show at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts! This venue located in Downtown Fort Lauderdale hosts a variety of exciting shows. Get tickets for that Broadway production you’ve been dying to see, or opt to laugh the night away during a comedy show. No matter what entertainment you enjoy, there’s something on the schedule of events to suit your interests!
The first Sunday of each summer month means Sunday Jazz Brunch. This fun event turns the average stroll down the Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk into a musical extravaganza! Live musicians hold free outdoor concerts on three different stages. Attendees can also walk along the historic brick-lined walkway to browse local vendors. Visit from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and enjoy a fun afternoon in the sun!
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Art Galleries and Museums
People flock to Fort Lauderdale year-round to experience the area's flourishing community of local artists, scientists, performers, and history buffs. If you're into science, architecture, sculpting, the fine arts, the performing arts, or even swimming, there's something in Fort Lauderdale for you to enjoy.
Art lovers will be ecstatic to discover the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District. It's on the New River in Downtown Fort Lauderdale with incredible attractions like the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, NSU Art Museum, the Historic Stranahan House Museum, and the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens.
Here are three of the area's coolest galleries and museums!
One of the most unique Fort Lauderdale attractions comes in the form of an unexpected museum. The International Swimming Hall of Fame promotes the benefits and importance of swimming. Good health, quality of life, and water safety are all important topics you will discover at this candid hall of fame dedicated to the history and recognition of famous swimmers, divers, and water polo players of the world. You will definitely learn something new and different at this history museum!
The Bonnet House grounds serve as one of South Florida's last native barrier island habitats. You can find five distinct ecosystems on the property, including the Atlantic Ocean primary dune, freshwater slough, mangrove wetlands, and maritime forest. Don't forget to check out the historic Bonnet House itself, which functions as a beautiful piece of architectural history!
The Bellagio International Gallery is one of the newest contemporary galleries on Las Olas Boulevard and a hotspot for international travelers! Here, you'll find multimedia pieces crafted by renowned artists from South America, Australia, Russia, Europe, Canada, and the U.S. It's a can't-miss for lovers of world culture!
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Kid-Friendly Activities & Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale
At Fort Lauderdale Stays, kids are not only allowed; they're welcomed! The Fort Lauderdale area offers so many kid-friendly activities, so it's hard to go wrong bringing the little ones along! Whether you've got a pirate lover, a butterfly lover, a smart one, or a crazy one, Fort Lauderdale has a great attraction your family will adore! Check out these three hubs for kid-approved Fort Lauderdale fun!
If you want to kick things up a notch during your stay in Fort Lauderdale, a visit to Xtreme Action Park is in order. The name doesn't lie; this park features everything needed for a full day (or night) of some extreme fun. With over 200,000 square feet of rides and attractions, you're sure to have a blast. The best part? Kids and adults alike will have plenty to explore!
Do you have a little one who adores butterflies? Adults and children alike will delight in this huge butterfly garden packed with thousands of butterflies and located just 10 miles North of Fort Lauderdale. There are two cafes on-site if anyone gets hungry. Children under 2 enter for free!
The Museum of Discovery and Science is a kid favorite in Fort Lauderdale. Here, kids can spend a day of discovery exploring hundreds of interactive exhibits, including an Eco-Discovery Center. They'll take a ride on an Everglades Airboat Adventure, experience hurricane-force winds in the Storm Center, dig for fossils alongside a giant prehistoric megalodon, and more!
There are countless entertainment, shopping, dining, and family-oriented destinations in Fort Lauderdale, so what are you waiting for? Book your stay today in one of our Fort Lauderdale vacation home rentals, and look forward to an unforgettable Florida vacation. Keep checking back for updated recommendations!
The Funderdome Indoor Playground and Cafe in Fort Lauderdale is the ultimate stop for a day full of play. Tire the kids out while you enjoy a bite to eat and a cup of coffee at the building’s built-in cafe! Your kids will be having a blast running freely and making new friends on the facility’s top-of-the-line playground equipment. At this amazing place, the attractions include a: Toddler zone, sky trail ropes course, ball blaster arena, rock climbing wall, laser maze, interactive activity floor, and 30-foot tower that leads to even more epic activities! Children between the ages of six months and 13 years will remember a trip to the Funderdome for years to come. The Funderdome is only open Thursday through Sunday, so plan accordingly. Tickets can be purchased at the door!
Bluefoot Pirate Family Adventures is one of the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale with kids! It’s a fun and interactive pirate cruise for little pirates aged between three and 10 years old. Held year-round, these themed treasure hunts set sail daily along the Intracoastal Waterway and feature all kinds of engaging activities. Children will love helping the ship’s first mate find hidden treasure, learning pirate talk, dressing like scallywags, and warding off attacks of rivals with water cannons! A fun waterway cruise for the whole family awaits. The goofy Bluefoot crew has a lot of fun portraying their characters and delighting the children with whom they work!
During the winter months (November through February), cruises depart at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $25 per person (three years old and up).
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Things To Do In Las Olas
Have you ever wanted to stay somewhere that has it all? If so, look no further than Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale! Whether you’re looking for boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, bars, events, or even the beach, Las Olas truly does have it all. Below, we’ve compiled our favorite ways to enjoy this famous boulevard! Read on, take notes, and be sure to check out our free Fort Lauderdale Travel Guide for more local recommendations. Here are the best Las Olas things to do!
Las Olas translates into “the waves” in Spanish, but it’s known locally as Fort Lauderdale’s “style mile!” That’s because Las Olas is lined with countless spots for retail therapy. Whether you’re looking for independently owned boutiques or your favorite brand’s outpost, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for on the Boulevard. Read more here for some of the best Fort Lauderdale shopping spots along the Intracoastal Waterway:
If you’re craving something sweet, savory, or just downright different, your taste buds will fall in love with Las Olas Boulevard. Restaurants, cafes, and dessert shops line the Boulevard, so you certainly won’t go hungry! Here are just a few of our favorites:
- American Social Bar and Restaurant
- B Square Burgers and Booze
- Cheesecake Factory
- Wild Sea Oyster Bar and Grille
- Tuscan Prime
- Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar
- Flight 19 Restaurant and Bar
- Boathouse at Riverside
- Bo’s Pub
- Piazza Italia Fort Lauderdale
- And more!
If your belly’s full and you’re thirsty for a good time, you’ll be glad to know that there are numerous watering holes along Las Olas Boulevard. Whether you’re feeling a casual drink in a fun pub environment or a handcrafted cocktail in swanky digs, you’ll make memories with friends new and old at Las Olas. Read more here for some of our favorite Las Olas bars.
The Boulevard is a great place to go out to eat or enjoy a night out on the town, but it’s also a beautiful, low-key spot to soak up the sun. If you’re searching for a space to enjoy a picnic or just want to hit the beach, be sure to head to the following spots:
- Las Olas Beach
- Idlewyld/Merle Fogg Park
- Huizenga Park
- And more!
No matter what time of year you visit Las Olas Boulevard, you’ll find a Fort Lauderdale event that excites you. While holidays are peak visiting times, there’s something fun happening all year long here! Simply stroll the Boulevard at any given time and we’re sure you’ll stumble upon a new favorite.
- 4th of July Spectacular (July)
- Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (October, November)
- Christmas on Las Olas (December)
- Las Olas Art Fair (January, March)
- Las Olas Wine and Food Festival (April)
- And more!
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