Fort Lauderdale, Florida beach
Photo: kmiragaya/Fotolia

With miles of beautiful beaches, a vibrant art scene, and a variety of attractions, Fort Lauderdale, FL, has something for everyone. From gondola rides on the canals and shopping on Las Olas Boulevard to strolling along the historic seaside promenade and great dining, this fun-in-the-sun city in Florida will leave visitors with lasting memories. Here are the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

»Fort Lauderdale Beaches

Fort Lauderdale Beaches

Fort Lauderdale is home to no less than 23 miles of beautiful sandy sun-kissed beaches, many of which have been certified as Blue Wave Beaches by the Clean Beaches Council of Washington DC. The beaches are clean, safe, and visitor-friendly and offer something for everyone, from surfing and swimming to beachcombing, water skiing, and sun worshipping. Named after the saltwater fish found in the area’s waters, Pompano Beach’s waters are the warmest and clearest in South Florida and offer a variety of beach sports from golf to harness horseracing.

Lauderdale-By-The-Sea is home to a natural coral reef system making it ideal for snorkeling or diving, while Dania Beach Ocean Park has a beautiful fishing pier where you can dine on freshly caught seafood and soak up magnificent panoramic views. The retro-cool Hollywood Beach has a two-and-a-half mile boardwalk that runs parallel to the beach and is great for walking, biking, or rollerblading, and, with a wider range of outdoor sports such as boating, saltwater fishing, swimming, and golf, Hallandale Beach is a guy’s paradise.

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»Las Olas Boulevard

Las Olas Boulevard

Running through the center of Fort Lauderdale from the Central Business District to Fort Lauderdale Beach, Las Olas Boulevard is a modern thoroughfare packed with one-of-a-kind shops, unique galleries, buzzing restaurants, trendy boutiques, and busy nightclubs. Las Olas boasts an artistic Mediterranean influence in the architecture of its buildings and finely landscaped green spaces, creating a beautiful space where visitors can enjoy the sights and sounds of Florida’s most famous street. If you are wondering what to do in Fort Lauderdale today, this is a great place to start exploring.

Las Olas Boulevard also hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year, such as the Las Olas Art Fair where visitors can mingle with gallery owners and artists, and the annual Las Olas Food and Wine Festival, which draws gourmands and foodies from around the country. With over thirty al fresco dining options, three world-class museums, ten international galleries, and a charming, luxurious hotel, this is the place to be if you want to experience Fort Lauderdale’s vibrant energy.

Las Olas Boulevard at NE 23rd Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301, 954-937-7386

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»NSU Art Museum

NSU Art Museum

Built in 1986 at the Fort Lauderdale Art Center, the NSU Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale is dedicated to showcasing contemporary and 20th century art. Located on Las Olas Boulevard in a 75,000-square-foot modernist building designed by Edward Barnes, the museum features several exhibition areas throughout several floors and a sculpture terrace. The museum is home to a collection of over 6,000 pieces with a strong representation of the cultures of South Florida and the Caribbean, as well as a world-renowned collection of ceramics by Pablo Picasso and a collection of more than 125 artists from Cuba. The NSU Art Museum is one of the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Other excellent exhibits include a collection of over 500 works by American realist painter William Glackens, which is housed in the newly added Glackens Wing, and a traveling exhibition of relics from the tomb of Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun. The museum is associated with Nova Southeastern University and offers a range of educational programs, workshops, and classes for all ages. Read more

1 E Las Olas Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301, 954-525-5500 Photo: NSU Art Museum

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»Bonnet House Museum and Gardens

Bonnet House Museum and Gardens

The Bonnet House, a historic house museum in Fort Lauderdale, is dedicated to the preservation of the area’s history and surrounding environment. Also known as the Bartlett Estate, the plantation-style house was built by Chicago-born artist Frederic Clay Bartlett on land given to him by his wife and later named after his second wife, Bonnet Lily. The museum is home to an art gallery that showcases the Bartlett’s impressive collection of paintings and other works, both self-painted and collected.

The Bonnet House also features spectacular and historically significant gardens that display five distinct ecosystems, ranging from mangrove wetlands to maritime forests. These gardens include an arid Desert Garden, a hibiscus garden, and a lovely courtyard filled with lush tropical vegetation. The Bonnet House also presents one of the largest collections of orchids in the Southeast United States. Visitors can enjoy an Orchid Greenhouse Tour or a Private Living Quarters Tour, both of which are led by expert guides and need to be booked in advance. Read more

900 North Birch Road, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304, 954-563-5393 Photo: TasfotoNL/Fotolia

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»Fort Lauderdale Beach Park

Fort Lauderdale Beach Park

Fort Lauderdale Beach Park is a picturesque park just south of the Bahia Mar Resort, and it offers a variety of facilities and amenities to maximize fun in the sun. Located on Seabreeze Boulevard, the park features picnic areas with tables and grills for cooking, clean restrooms and outdoor showers, and an exclusive playground for children.

There are full basketball and volleyball courts for a game, and a boating ramp is available for non-motorized boats. Fort Lauderdale Beach Park is open daily from 5.00 am to midnight throughout the year.

1100 Seabreeze Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316, 954-828-7275

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»Museum of Discovery and Science

Museum of Discovery and Science

Enjoy a full day of fun and adventure at the fascinating Museum of Discovery and Science. This large museum attracts kids of all ages with its two floors of interactive, hands-on exhibits. Travel through simulation to the Moon or Mars, or test your pilot skills in a simulated cock-pit. If you are looking for fun Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with kids, this is a great place to visit.

You can also visit the new EcoDiscovery Center to take the Everglades Airboat Adventure, catch a live animal show, or dig for fossils beside dinosaurs from Prehistoric Florida. AutoNation IMAX 3D Theater offers a variety of film adventures on the biggest screen in South Florida. The museum hosts year-round special events for all ages.

401 SW 2nd St, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312, 954-467-6637 Photo: Museum of Discovery and Science

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»Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum

Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum

The Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum, founded by Arthur O. Stone, is dedicated to preserving and showcasing the history of the Packard Motor Company, which produced some of the finest automobiles in the world. The museum is home to a collection of pre-war Packard automobiles and other memorabilia that are displayed in a 30,000 square foot building, including 22 Packard automobiles from 1900 to the 1940's and thousands of memorabilia pieces. Interesting automobile Items range from old dashboard clocks and hood ornaments to period side lamps, rare carburetors, and custom gear shift knobs. There is also a gallery dedicated entirely to the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Visitors can enjoy daily guided tours of the museum and marvel at some of the industrial age's greatest achievements.

1527 Packard Avenue (SW 1st Avenue), Ft Lauderdale, FL 33315, 954-779–7300 Photo: Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum

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»Everglades Holiday Park

Everglades Holiday Park

Southern Florida's Everglades Holiday Park is a family-friendly park in the heart of the Everglades that offers something exciting for everyone. From exhilarating airboat rides to adrenalin-rushing live alligator shows, the Everglades Holiday Park is a must-see when visiting Fort Lauderdale. Zip across the Everglades’ miles of wetlands at top speed in an airboat as you take in the vast River of Grass that stretches for miles and come face to face with alligators and other wild creatures that call the glades their home.

The airboat tour finishes with a fantastic live alligator presentation by the Gator Boys Alligator Rescue team, who delight visitors with exciting stunts and tricks and impart valuable knowledge about the importance of conservation and preservation of the American alligator. For something on the quieter side, head out to fish for largemouth bass in the glades, home to some of the best bass fishing spots in the state. Everglades Holiday Park is open seven days a week, year-round.

21940 Griffin Road, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33332, 954-434-8111 Photo: PICTURETIME/Fotolia

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»Broward Center for the Performing Arts

Broward Center for the Performing Arts

Overlooking the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts is a performance venue that delivers quality entertainment, educational opportunities, and inspiring moments to the community. Hailed as one of the top ten most-visited theaters in the world, the center presents more than 700 concerts, shows, and performances to more than 600,000 patrons, including Broadway musicals, ballets, operas, ballets, plays, concerts, and multi-cultural events.

The center also hosts lectures, workshops, and educational events, and it offers one of the largest arts-in-education programs in the country.

201 Southwest 5th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312, 954-462-0222

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»Stranahan House Museum

Stranahan House Museum

Stranahan House is a historic house museum and the oldest surviving structure in Broward County. Built in 1901, the house was first constructed as a trading post and later converted into a residence for the pioneers of Fort Lauderdale, Frank and Ivy Stranahan. Visitors to the beautifully restored and maintained house can learn about its heritage and the role it played in the history of Fort Lauderdale on daily guided tours such as the River Ghost Tour, which includes a boat ride on the New River.

The museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and hosts several events throughout the year, including a Victorian Christmas and Peter Pan’s Party. Special school and group tours of the museum are also available.

335 Southeast 6th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301, 954-524-4736 Photo: Aniram/Fotolia

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»Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum

Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum

The Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum preserves history and honors the heroes of WWII. Building #8, the Link Trainer Building, is the only remaining structure of the 200-building naval complex built on Merle Fogg Field in 1942, and it now houses Broward County’s only military museum.

Exhibits include recreated soldiers’ barracks that include a special honoring of former President George HW Bush who trained at the station as an ensign, the history of Flight 19, and thousands of military artifacts for visitors to discover and admire. Admission is free.

4000 West Perimeter Road, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33315, 954-359-4400 Photo: Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum

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»Fort Lauderdale Historical Society & Museum

Fort Lauderdale Historical Society & Museum

Fort Lauderdale Historical Society & Museum operates the Old Fort Lauderdale Village in Riverwalk Park to preserve and exhibit the rich history of Broward County. The village includes Broward County’s oldest remaining hotel, the New River Inn, which houses the museum; the Hoch Heritage Library & Research Center, which houses the historic collection and gift shop; and four other turn-of-the-century buildings restored to display Fort Lauderdale’s beginnings.

The museum hosts special events, exhibits, and lectures throughout the year, and interactive educational programs and school tours can be arranged. Visitors can choose to go on the informative walking tour the first Sunday of October – May.

219 Southwest Second Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301, 954-463-4431 Photo: Fort Lauderdale Historical Society & Museum

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»Parker Playhouse

Parker Playhouse

Parker Playhouse, in the heart of Ft. Lauderdale’s Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District, has been bringing the arts to the Ft. Lauderdale community for 47 years. The theater combines a variety of offerings that include both entertainment and educational programs. Educational programs for children, families, and educators are available year-round, and popular programs include the “Discover Broadway” series and summer class sessions for every age.

The theater hosts performances by renowned artists that include concerts, Broadway productions, orchestras, comedians, and more. After a night at the theater, you’ll be steps away from fine dining, museums, and shopping along the beautiful Riverwalk.

201 Southwest 5th Avenue , Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312, 954-462-0222

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»Fort Lauderdale Fire and Safety Museum

Fort Lauderdale Fire and Safety Museum

Built in 1927 to show the city’s emergence from the 1926 hurricane, Historic Fire Station #3 has been restored to its original beauty to display the 100-year history of Fort Lauderdale Fire Department service. You’ll hardly feel like you are touring a fire station as you enjoy the museum’s unique architecture and atmosphere.

The historic fire engines, equipment, and alarms are among the visitor favorites. The Mediterranean style house also features photos, videos, and historic uniforms that tell the story of its 1920’s firefighters. The children’s learning center teaches fire safety and prevention through presentation and hands-on activities. Call for current hours.

022 West Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312, 954-290-6901 Photo: Fort Lauderdale Fire and Safety Museum

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»Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway on East Sunrise Boulevard, the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park offers a stunning tropical oasis in which to enjoy a range of activities and local wildlife watching. Once home to Hugh Taylor Birch, who donated the estate to Florida’s public, the park is now home to an array of wildlife, including turtles, marsh rabbits, and the gopher tortoise, as well as over 200 species of birds.

A mile-long freshwater lagoon provides the perfect place for swimming, fishing, canoeing, and wildlife watching while other recreational activities include hiking, cycling, inline skating, and Segway Tours. The park has a lovely little beach and several picnic areas scattered throughout the site, and a group/youth campground offers clean camping sites and modern ablution blocks. Located within the Art Deco-style home of Hugh Taylor Birch, the Terramar Visitor Center features intriguing exhibits about Hugh Taylor Birch and the history of Fort Lauderdale, as well as displays of the park's wildlife, ecology, and ecosystems. The Visitor Center is open on the weekends and during holidays.

3109 East Sunrise Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304, 954-564-4521 Photo: Fotoluminate LLC/Fotolia

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»Colee Hammock Park

Colee Hammock Park

Bring a picnic and enjoy a relaxing, peaceful afternoon at Colee Hammock Park. Grassy areas shaded by large trees provide the perfect spot to spread out a blanket, plant your lawn chair, or hang a hammock and enjoy the amazing views along the shore of New River. You’ll have a beautiful vantage point of the mansions that line the shore and the amazing yachts and boats sailing in and out of the waterway.

The park is also an idyllic spot for an intimate wedding or other special occasion. There is limited free parking and several park benches available but no restrooms onsite.

1500 Brickell Drive, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301, 954-828-PARK Photo: Peter/Fotolia

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»Jungle Queen Riverboat

Jungle Queen Riverboat

Jungle Queen Riverboats world-famous cruises have been sailing on the New River since 1935. A must-do in Fort Lauderdale, the company has knowledgeable captains who entertain and educate guests on cruises that offer fun and relaxation aboard beautiful riverboats. Take a 90-minute sightseeing cruise on the Jungle Queen or River Queen to view homes and yachts of the rich and famous.

Enjoy the 3-hour Jungle Queen tour with a stop for concessions and a live-animal show on a tropical isle. The dinner and show cruise on the Jungle Queen features an all-you-can-eat buffet and a live variety show on the tropical isle.

Bahia Mar Yachting Center, 801 Seabreeze Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316, 954-462-5596 Photo: Jungle Queen Riverboat

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»BlueFoot Pirate Adventures

BlueFoot Pirate Adventures

Set sail on an exciting pirate adventure aboard the Bluefoot. Bluefoot Pirate Adventures along Fort Lauderdale’s intercostal waterways offer fun cruises for all ages. The whole family can don the garb of pirates, hunt for hidden treasure, and fight off attackers. The Bluefoot and its captains are Coast Guard certified and prepared to entertain you on a fun-filled adventure complete with a water cannon battle.

Cruises are 90 minutes and sail every day every two hours from 9AM – 3PM. Special cruises for birthday parties and field trips can be arranged. Be sure to reserve in advance as cruises fill up quickly.

801 Seabreeze Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316, 954-530-8302 Photo: BlueFoot Pirate Adventures

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»Tropical Sailing

Tropical Sailing

Enjoy all the beauty of South Florida while you sail on the Spirit of Lauderdale, one of the area’s largest and most comfortable catamarans. Take a morning sightseeing cruise or getaway on an island beach adventure while enjoying water trampolines and snorkeling or relaxing with a spectacular sunset.

With an experienced and certified crew, Tropical Sailing has a trip to please any guest looking for fun in the sun or relaxation on a Champagne Sunset Cruise. They happily cater to parties and other special occasions and feature an onboard shaded bar and lounge. Fleets and private charters can be arranged.

Bahia Mar Yachting Center, 801 Seabreeze Blvd (A1A) Slip A109/A111, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316, 954-579-8181 Photo: Tropical Sailing

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»Las Olas Gondola Tours

Las Olas Gondola Tours

Join this father-daughter captain team for a relaxing cruise to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Fort Lauderdale’s waterways. They have years of experience on the water and love sharing their knowledge and excitement about area attractions and wildlife.

Guests can choose from a variety of cruises that include the Bahia Mar Marina, touring the New River, visiting one of the oldest swinging bridges in Florida, or catching a glimpse of the jetliner home on the water that was featured on the Travel Channel. Tours are 90 minutes, and they offer a spectacular sunset cruise. The Christmas Light Tour is a favorite in December.

1200 East Las Olas Blvs, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301, 754-206-5950 Photo: Las Olas Gondola Tours

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»International Swimming Hall of Fame

International Swimming Hall of Fame

A visit to the International Swimming Hall of Fame entails an impressive tour offering much more than visitors expect. The complex includes a museum, hall of fame, and world-class aquatic center. After its construction in 1965 and extensive renovations in 1991, the aquatic center today hosts national and international swimming events while the Hall of Fame showcases the accomplishments of competitive swimmers, water polo players, synchronized swimmers, divers, and others.

The museum features the largest collection in the world of artifacts and memorabilia from the history of aquatic sports. The interactive timing automation exhibit and the American Presidents tribute are popular displays.

1 Hall of Fame Dr, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316, 954-462-6536 Photo: International Swimming Hall of Fame

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»Las Olas Food Tours

Las Olas Food Tours

Combine history with fine dining on one of Fort Lauderdale’s most popular tours. Las Olas Food Tours offer food adventures perfect for vacationers, family outings, or corporate events. Three-hour walking tours take visitors to six different locations where they enjoy local art, history, and culture while sampling menu items from some of Las Olas’s and Fort Lauderdale’s finest restaurants.

The Riverwalk and Cruise Tour includes a presentation of Fort Lauderdale’s history with tastings from some of the most popular restaurants along the beach and Riverwalk. This tour ends with a 90-minute cruise along Millionaire’s Row complete with chocolates and Mojitos.

Meeting Place: NE Corner of 9th Avenue & Las Olas Blvd., 800-979-3370 Photo: Las Olas Food Tours

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»Fort Lauderdale Symphony Orchestra

Fort Lauderdale Symphony Orchestra

The Fort Lauderdale Symphony Orchestra has been delivering spectacular, world class performances for over 18 seasons. Led by renowned and accomplished conductor Sebrina María Alfonso, the orchestra strives to enhance the cultural experiences South Florida offers to guests and residents alike. If you are looking for romantic date ideas in Fort Lauderdale, watch a performance by the Fort Lauderdale Symphony Orchestra.

Performances reaching audiences in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, West Palm Beach, and Key West feature a combination of classical masterpieces and modern, popular selections. Their season includes enthralling series and featured artists sure to deliver a memorable and enchanting evening at the symphony. The Summer Chamber Music Series is particularly popular with visitors.

Josephine S. Leiser Opera Center, 221 SW 3rd Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312, 954-522-8445 Photo: Fort Lauderdale Symphony Orchestra

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»Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale

Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale

Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale includes the Riverwalk Linear Park and the Downtown Riverwalk District. It’s the best place for fun and relaxation in a lush tropical setting in the middle of Fort Lauderdale’s urban district. Connecting the New River to the community, the Riverwalk hosts a variety of entertaining events and activities throughout the year.

You might catch a concert series, a food festival, or a 5K race happening anytime. At Riverwalk Recreation, they provide a variety of fun activities for any fitness level. They offer stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, bicycling, photography classes, Segway tours, dog training, and a host of other outdoor activities.

Sweet Building, One River Plaza, 305 S Andrews Ave #410, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 Photo: paulfell/Fotolia

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»The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale

The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale

Galleria Fort Lauderdale is an upscale shopping and fine dining comples, just minutes from the airport, hotels, and convention center and steps away from the beautiful beaches. Neiman Marcus, Michael Kors, Banana Republic, Coach, and Apple are just a few of the upscale retailers to browse.

The Galleria offers some of South Florida’s best shopping options in over 100 specialty stores and eateries, plus the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa. Guests can enjoy many dining options that include the Capital Grille, Seasons 52, and the Blue Martini. The Galleria is accessible by bus or water taxi and offers valet parking.

2414 E Sunrise Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304, 954-564-1015

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25 Best Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale, Florida