Planning a vacation is fun, but sometimes it can start to feel like a chore. You chose Fort Lauderdale as your destination and figured out where to stay. Good job! But with over 13 million visitors each year, there are a lot of things to do in Fort Lauderdale. How do you know which attractions to choose? After living here for almost 30 years, I have discovered some favorites that I will share with you.
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Water activities in Fort Lauderdale
Although not as full of spring breakers as in years gone by, visitors still flock to Ft. Lauderdale for fun in the sun. If you enjoy water activities, you will like these.
Fishing is an activity the whole family can do.
Book a Fishing Charter
Even if you have never fished before, most charters provide instruction, fishing licenses, and equipment. However, check if you need to buy your own bait and if there are minimum age requirements.
Fish off of a Pier
If several hours on a fishing boat is too much, head up to Deerfield Beach and fish from the pier instead.
South Florida has many opportunities for snorkeling. But in Lauderdale By The Sea, you can actually snorkel and scuba dive in an underwater archaeological park right offshore and see the shipwrecked SS Copenhagen which sank in 1900.
Experience the waves on a jet ski. Ride tandem or by yourself. They are easy to operate and can often be combined with a tour of the area.
This bucket list activity combines the thrill of soaring over the ocean with the peace and serenity of a hot air balloon ride.
Paddleboarding with your dog – If you are traveling with your dog, you can take them paddleboarding with you. You can even join in a SUP pup yoga class!
Many local parks contain calm waterways where you can rent kayaks or canoes. This is a great way to spot local flora and fauna.
County Water Parks
When you get tired of getting sand in your bathing suit, or when the summer months get too hot, head to one of the county’s water parks. While they don’t hold the huge thrills of waterparks in Orlando, the cold water and splash playgrounds provide a refreshing alternative to the beach.
Fort Lauderdale Nature Activities
When you get tired of water activities there are still plenty of things to do in Ft. Lauderdale out in nature.
Sawgrass Recreation Park
Want to see some alligators? Take an airboat tour through the sea of grass. Afterward, watch a presentation by Animal Planet.
Have you ever had a butterfly land on you? At Butterfly World, you will walk through an aviary swarming with colorful butterflies. If you are lucky, maybe one will land on you and bring you good luck. You can also buy nectar to feed the lorikeets.
Learn about saving the planet while strolling through paths that meander through native flora. You can even book animal experiences or a private VIP tour.
Bring your RV, set up a tent, or rent a cabin. There are several KOAs you can stay at to add to your enjoyment of our warm south Florida climate.
Fort Lauderdale Shopping
Don’t forget the souvenirs! Or maybe you like window shopping for designer items. Try these shopping venues for a change of pace.
Stroll this upscale area for top shopping, trendy restaurants, and art galleries.
Sawgrass Mills Mall
If bargains are more of your budget, head further west to this mall filled with designer outlets, restaurants, and unique shops. Plus kids will love the Lego store, Game Room, and the state-of-the-art movie theater.
Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale for Adults
Need to get away? Even if you can only sneak out for a night out or a staycation with your significant other, these are things to do in Ft. Lauderdale that you won’t want to miss.
Hard Rock Casino
This has always been an iconic venue for concerts, restaurants, and gambling. But the new remodel now features a hotel that forms the base of a guitar. The neck and strings come alive at night lit with neon that reaches to the skies. With the classic rock memorabilia typical of Hard Rock hotels, this is a great place to go for an evening even if you can’t afford to stay here.
For history lovers, a visit to Bonnet house is a must. Explore botanical gardens and art in this home that was built a century ago.
If you want to try something new, take a segway tour. Your tour guide will start off by giving you some lessons on how to use the segway before taking you on a guided tour of the area.
Grab your friends and book a party bike to take you around to select area pubs.
Funky Buddha Brewery
While they are not currently giving live tours, you can order a flight to sample some of their delicious craft beers. They also have a trendy menu with unique sandwiches, salads, and appetizers. You can even bring the kids during the day. There is an entire shelf of games so while you are sampling some brews they can be playing checkers.
While Ft. Lauderdale has historically been known as a spring break mecca for college students, you can still experience great nightlife on the strip now. Check out the famous Elbo Room. It is a classic beach bar that has been around since 1938.
Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale for Families
Teens will especially like these things to do in Ft. Lauderdale, but adults and kids will enjoy them too. These are great activities for rainy days or when you just want to cool off.
Museum of Discovery and Science
Kids of all ages, (and that means adults too!), will love this hands-on learning center. Feel storm-force hurricane winds in a simulator. Use your body to move giant levers. And watch river otters frolic in their giant indoor habitat. When you get tired, take in an IMAX movie.
Ride the Jungle Queen
Take a cruise on the intercoastal waterway to learn about the lives of the rich and famous. Go in the afternoon for a 90-minute sightseeing cruise. Or enjoy dinner and a show on an island after a 45-minute evening cruise. For younger kids, you might want to try Bluefoot Pirate Adventures instead.
Watch a Hockey Game
Sports fans will love watching the Florida Panthers play at the FLA Live Arena during hockey season. The area also has regularly scheduled concerts and is located within walking distance of Sawgrass Mills Mall.
If you want to experience the thrill of skydiving but don’t have a death wish, try indoor skydiving at i-fly. Ages 3 and up can feel the thrill of the wind on their face while being kept in the air by giant fans.
Go back in time to an old-fashioned ice cream parlor. You will be treated to more than ice cream. Old episodes of Happy Days play on the TV. A train runs around on a track overhead. Gaze at the ceiling, which is covered with thousands of photos. Don’t leave without seeing the back room, which is a museum of life-size memorabilia.
Xtreme Action Park
Bounce on a trampoline. Challenge dad to a go-kart race. Overcome your fears by completing a ropes course. Then get everyone to work together to solve puzzles in an escape room. When you get hungry, head to the Pit Stop Kitchen and bar for kid-friendly food such as pizza and burgers. Mom and dad can relax with some adult beverages. After filling your stomachs, play a game of laser tag or some video games in the arcade.
Many of these activities can be booked ahead of time. Find out which ones and save your space. The last thing you want is to show up at an activity and find that it has no space available.
About the Author
Donna Emperador writes for Explore the Road with Donnamarie, a lifestyle blog focusing on travel, food, and creative cocktails. Donna believes in bringing people together by traveling and learning about different cultures while sharing good food and cocktails. Originally from New York, she has lived in South Florida for over 20 years and enjoys spending time exploring the road to find unique places to share with readers. When home, she enjoys creating recipes inspired by different cultures from across the globe and inventing new cocktails to share with friends. She can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Fort Lauderdale is a great starting point to rent a car and head on a road trip on the Overseas Highway through the Florida Keys.