Things to do in Fort Lauderdale, FL

Get Your Bearings in Fort Lauderdale

By Dale Mack
Fort Lauderdale Expert

See & Do

Things to See

Even though Fort Lauderdale is known internationally for its stunning beaches, there are still so many more things to do. From tours of the 300+ miles of beautiful waterways that are a historical and nature-lover's delight, to world-class and kid-friendly art and historical museums, amazing live theatre, the jaw-dropping Everglades National Park just a few miles west, to the relaxing parks that dot the city. Once known as a spring break destination, Fort Lauderdale has emerged as the perfect family-oriented year-around vacation hot spot.

Take It or Leave It:

Kids will find most attractions interesting and educational.

Hot Tips:

Check each attraction's website before you go for special, and even money-saving, offers.

Where to Stay

The hotel, motel and guest house choices in Fort Lauderdale are clustered in many parts of the city. The waterways that snake through the Venice of America share equal billing with its famous beaches and shopping districts. The most notable are right along the coast, none of them more than a few miles from either the airport or Port Everglades. Equally inviting are award-winning hotels and motels along the famous shopping, night spot and restaurant row of Las Olas Boulevard. For those desiring old Florida and the exciting vibe of Hollywood, hotels conveniently line the beaches 15 minutes south of Downtown.


Book early if you're visiting between December and June.

Hot Tips:

As a popular gay visitor destination, Fort Lauderdale is home to many affordable gay guest houses.

What to Eat

Fort Lauderdale restaurant districts are a unique array of one-of-a-kind local eateries and national chains that offer casual and fine dining options. Spread throughout the city on Fort Lauderdale Beach, Las Olas Boulevard (Downtown), Hollywood's Broadwalk, Federal Highway between Sunrise Boulevard and Oakland Park Boulevard (North Fort Lauderdale), all are within 15 minutes from Fort Lauderdale's airport and Port Everglades. Further out west is Plantation, 20-25 minutes west of Downtown on University and I-595, with familiar names as well as local favorites.

Take It or Leave It:

Take advantage of the outdoor seating many restaurants offer and enjoy the beautiful weather, especially in the dead of winter.

Be Sure to Sample:

Key lime pie anywhere that serves it!

Places to Party

Fort Lauderdale prides itself on its dazzling array of sizzling nightlife options. Famous bars and nightclubs are just steps from the beach and along the magnetic Las Olas Boulevard lined with dozens of restaurants that stay open late among more great bars and coffee shops. For live music that encourages local talent, head to Hollywood's Broadwalk for drinks, dinner and great tunes in the balmy breezes. Clubs in western suburbs of Pembroke Pines and north in Pompano Beach deserve to be checked out, too!


Take a cab from your hotel to avoid heavy traffic and limited parking.

Take It or Leave It:

Shorts, t-shirts and flip flops are proper attire for the day, but at night you'll want to look your best.

Where to Shop

Fort Lauderdale's shopping hot spots offer high-end options at the Galleria on Sunrise Boulevard just blocks from the beach, and Sawgrass Mills on West Sunrise Boulevard and Sawgrass Expressway, which happens to be the second most popular tourist attraction in Florida after Disney World. Here you will find top names such as Ralph Lauren and Barney's of New York as well as Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond. Downtown's Las Olas Boulevard offers one-of-a-kind boutiques and shops in a pleasant pedestrian atmosphere. Fort Lauderdale has no shortage of souvenir gift shops that are sure to please every visitor.


Sawgrass Mills on weekend afternoons is packed. Best time is the evening or during the week.

Best Local Souvenir:

Beach attire, of course!



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Things to do in Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale is known for...

Five of Fort Lauderdale's most unique features and characteristics.

1. The Venice of America:

Known as the Venice of America, Fort Lauderdale is home to over 300 miles of navigable sparkling waterways, which snake through this city and county of one million, and are trafficked with astounding yachts as well as many smaller vessels, each captained by enthusiastic nautical lovers from all over the world.  These coveted waterways are a tourist magnet as they are lined with spectacular mansions, many of which are owned by some of the country’s most successful business tycoons and even some celebrities.

2. Yachting Capital of the World:

Fort Lauderdale has been dubbed the Yachting Capital of the World. Each year the city hosts the spectacular International Boat Show, which draws thousands of yachting enthusiasts and proves to be a major source of fuel to the local economy. The city’s unique location on the Atlantic coast, together with its hundreds of miles of navigable waterways, makes this the perfect spot for this exciting industry. Providing over a hundred thousand jobs in Broward County alone, Fort Lauderdale proves that it takes the business of recreation seriously.

3. Year-Round Warm Weather:

With an average temperature of 75 in the dead of winter and 90 in the heat of summer, Fort Lauderdale is the destination for sun worshippers of every age and or for those who love the promise of year-round terrific weather. Fort Lauderdale is the perfect destination for raising a family or for that long-awaited retirement. It is here that people enjoy this laid-back lifestyle with its abundance of beaches, parks, and endless venues of outdoor recreation.


4. Cruise Ship Powerhouse:

Rising to the occasion, Fort Lauderdale’s busy Port Everglades is a powerhouse in South Florida’s ever-expanding multi-billion dollar cruise ship industry. Nearly every cruise ship company is represented here, making Port Everglades one of the world’s busiest cruise ship ports as well as home to the world’s largest cruise terminal. Fort Lauderdale also has the bragging rights as being home port of Royal Caribbean’s mega ships, Oasis Of The Seas and Allure Of The Seas.




5. Gay Vacation Destination:

Fort Lauderdale is known for being a premier vacation destination for gay travelers. With more than 100 gay-owned and gay-friendly guesthouses, bars, clubs and restaurants, Fort Lauderdale and the island city of Wilton Manors, welcomes over a million gay visitors a year, many of which decide to stay and become residents. This gay mecca has four popular gay beaches, houses the second largest Metropolitan Community Church in the nation, and supports four gay and lesbian weekly publications.