Top 10 Fun Things to Do When Visiting Fort Lauderdale

By Jason Steele · July 24, 2023 · 9 minute read

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Top 10 Fun Things to Do When Visiting Fort Lauderdale

You’ve likely heard of Fort Lauderdale as a top spring break destination, but the town has loads of things to keep vacationers busy almost any time of year. Known as “the Venice of America” due to its inland waterways, you can explore Fort Lauderdale by water taxi or kayak, as well as take in its beautiful parks, shop on Las Olas Boulevard, and (of course) hit the many amazing beaches nearby.

Learn more about the top 10 best things to do in Fort Lauderdale here, as well as tips to make your getaway go as smoothly as possible. Once you’ve got your itinerary and travel plans wrangled, you’ll be set to enjoy the sun and the fun.

Best Times to Go to Fort Lauderdale

The best time to go to Fort Lauderdale is in the spring, between March and May. Average temperatures are in the 80s, and it is not too humid or rainy. The fall and winter (from early November onward) is also a good time to go to Fort Lauderdale, as it can be less crowded but still enjoy good weather, also in the 80s.

The winter holidays are a great time to escape cold weather and visit this Florida hotspot. You may not be able to go swimming in the ocean due to chilly water temperatures, but otherwise you can probably have a great time.

Bad Times to Go to Fort Lauderdale

Summer in Fort Lauderdale can be hot, humid, and rainy. Average temperatures are in the 90s. June is the rainiest month, so summer travel may be the worst time to go to Fort Lauderdale.

Although spring is a wonderful time to go to Fort Lauderdale, try to avoid school spring break time, which is usually mid March through early April. It can be more crowded and expensive due to all of the families and students who are traveling.

Average Cost of a Fort Lauderdale Vacation

Fort Lauderdale is a relatively affordable vacation spot. Hotels in Central Beach, near the ocean, will cost you around $250 to $400 on a typical weekend in April. If you are wondering how to save money on hotels, try staying in Downtown Fort Lauderdale, which is still a central location and hotels cost $180 to $300 on the same weekend. The average hotel cost is around $192 per night.

On average, one week for a couple costs about $2,549; for one person, that would be $1,275 for a week-long stay. Of course, you should factor in other costs when budgeting for your trip, like car rentals, rideshares, food, entertainment, plane tickets and/or gas.

When budgeting for a trip, you should also think about where to keep travel funds. Ideally, you can sock away money in an interest-bearing account, like a savings account that earns an above-average rate of return. Typically, this means an online bank vs. a traditional one.

If you are thinking about booking a trip to Fort Lauderdale but are worried that you may have unforeseen circumstances and have to cancel your trip, you can look into travel insurance. If you pay for your trip with certain credit cards, they may provide travel insurance. You should understand how credit card travel insurance works when deciding whether to purchase private travel insurance or use your credit card protections.

10 Fun Must-Dos in Fort Lauderdale

Florida is mostly known for beaches, but there are plenty of other things to do in Fort Lauderdale. This list of the top 10 must-dos in Fort Lauderdale was curated from frequent travelers’ and residents’ recommendations, as well as online review sites. Included is a mix of favorite destinations, free activities, and some off-the-beaten-path ones. The list includes things that you can do with a family, by yourself, with a partner, and with a group of friends.

One important note: If you are going on a Fort Lauderdale vacation trip, you may want to look into renting a car. Many of the attractions on this list require a car to get to. If you don’t want to rent a car, you could also take rideshares or limit your activities to ones within walking distance of your hotel.

That said, here are the top 10 fun things to do while visiting Fort Lauderdale.

1. Head to Fort Lauderdale Beach

What is a trip to Fort Lauderdale without a beach? Fort Lauderdale Beach is a typical Florida beach to enjoy at no charge, making it one of the best free things to do in Fort Lauderdale. With four miles of palm-tree lined beaches, this coastline is an iconic destination.

Yes, Fort Lauderdale Beach has some typical partiers, but it is also very family-friendly. Bringing your own towel, chairs, food and beach toys can be how families afford to travel to beach destinations.

2. Eat Well

While you’re at the beach, you’re likely to get hungry. Fortunately, there are great restaurants nearby, serving everything from great grilled cheese or Cuban sandwiches (try the popular Padrino’s Cuban) to fresh fish, caught just a few dozen yards away (say, at Sea Watch on the Ocean). Or just beat the 3 pm slump with some coffee; the Alchemist’s patio is a top spot.

3. Shop Las Olas Boulevard

Las Olas Boulevard is a well-known street in Fort Lauderdale with many restaurants, shops, art galleries, and museums. Many of the shops are upscale with recognizable designer names, so prices may be high (swipe or tap with your plastic to pay, though, and you could earn some hefty credit card rewards).

Traveling on a budget? Window-shop while enjoying that warm Fort Lauderdale weather.

4. Visit Historic Stranahan House Museum

The Historic Stranahan House Museum, Fort Lauderdale’s oldest surviving home, is located off Las Olas Boulevard. A founding farmer, Frank Stranahan, built Stranahan House in 1901. It’s a wood-frame vernacular building with wide porches in front that take in incredible view of the New River. The structure has served as everything from a home to a town hall to a post office in its 100+-year history. Today, visitors can visit the museum by taking a guided tour, which are offered at 1 pm, 2 pm and 3 pm, with the exception of major holidays, and cost $12. Advance booking recommended.

Recommended: Where to Find Book Now, Pay Later Travel

5. Stroll Through Flamingo Gardens

Flamingo Gardens is a botanical garden and Everglades wildlife refuge located 17 miles from downtown Fort Lauderdale. As the name indicated, yes, you can see those unusually colored flamingos, as well as freely roaming peacocks, plus sea otters, panthers, and alligators. There are lush gardens, too. Run by a nonprofit organization, Flamingo Gardens is open every day between 9:30 am and 5 pm, and costs $21.95 for adults and $15.95 for children. There is a free tram tour through the park that runs between 11 am and 4 pm.

6. Immerse Yourself in Butterfly World

If you would rather see butterflies than flamingos, Butterfly World may be an attraction to visit; it’s definitely a fun thing to do in Fort Lauderdale. Here’s why: It’s home to more than 20,000 live butterflies and more than 50 species. It’s a magical experience to see them up-close and in such great numbers.

Butterfly World is located in Coconut Creek, about 15 miles from downtown Fort Lauderdale. Ticket prices are $32.50 for adults and $22.50 for children. It is open 7 days a week, typically from 9 am to 5 pm, and closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter Sunday. Hours are subject to change due to weather, so check before visiting.

7. Be Amazed at the Museum of Discovery and Science

Keep your brain engaged in between beach visits. The Museum of Discovery and Science has a variety of fascinating exhibits, like ones that give you a deep dive into dinosaurs, space, gravity, ecology, and food. Located in the City View neighborhood, the museum is open every day from 10 am to 5 pm except Thanksgiving day and some local holidays. Tickets cost $24 to $27.

8. Hop on a Water Taxi

Fort Lauderdale is known for its waterways that weave through the verdant Florida landscape. The Water Taxi lets you see the city from the water, while learning about its history during the narrated ride. You can hop on and off at 11 stops on the Water Taxi. Tickets range from $15 to $35, and it operates 7 days a week between 10 am and 10 pm.

9. Spend Time at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

Ready to hike, kayak, or just take in the view? Head to Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, located between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean. The park has coastal dune lakes, where you can canoe or kayak, plus a top-notch coastal trail that will have you trekking through a native maritime tropical hardwood hammock ecosystem.

Incidentally, if you are traveling with pets, there’s a dog beach at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. Canine Beach is a 100-yard stretch of coastline where you and your doggo can frolic.

The Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is open every day from 8 am to sunset, and costs $6 per vehicle for up to eight people, or $4 for a single-occupant vehicle.

10. Live Large at Gulfstream Park

If you’re looking for a break from the beach and craving entertainment, try Gulfstream Park, another of the 10 best things to do in Fort Lauderdale. The Park features a thoroughbred horse racetrack, which can be a total thrill. Plus there’s dining, outdoor shopping, a casino, a bowling alley, and an entertainment venue. Horse races are held every Wednesday to Sunday from December through September. There are special events throughout the year, like the annual Florida Derby in March or April. And here’s a plus: There’s no admission fee to the racetrack, making it one of the fun free things to do in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The Takeaway

Florida is a popular destination for some of the best weather and beaches in America, and Fort Lauderdale has all that and more. It can be a great place to vacation for its natural beauty and sun, but it also offers terrific museums, dining, shopping, and other attractions. Whether you have a full week or a long weekend, this Southern Florida destination can make for a memorable getaway.

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What is Fort Lauderdale best known for?

Fort Lauderdale is best known for its beaches, arts, and shopping. Along with beautiful beaches, Fort Lauderdale has canals and a historic riverfront to explore as well.

What is the famous strip in Fort Lauderdale?

Las Olas Boulevard is located in Fort Lauderdale and has shopping, art galleries, restaurants, bars, and more. For those who like shopping or window-shopping at designer boutiques, Las Olas Boulevard is a top destination.

Is Fort Lauderdale a walking town?

Some areas of Fort Lauderdale are walkable, like Las Olas Boulevard. However, if you want to explore multiple areas or attractions of Fort Lauderdale, you will likely need a car to cover the distances involved.

Photo credit: iStock/Cassanas

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