With its Venice-like canals, beaches and yacht marinas, the city of Fort Lauderdale is a playground for nature and city lovers alike. Read this guide to discover the best activities, from museums to national parks, to see and do in the city.
Shop on Las Olas Boulevard
The long strip of Las Olas Boulevard is brimming with shops, restaurants, bars, and a handful of art galleries in between. Extending all the way to Las Olas Beach, you can easily peruse the popular thoroughfare before heading to the water. Drop by Rocco’s Tacos for a taste of Mexican cuisine and tequila shots or grab coffee at Starbucks or Ann’s Florist & Coffee Bar. Notable art galleries include Wyland Galleries—featuring artwork with a marine life motif—and Las Olas Fine Arts, a contemporary art gallery.
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Relax on Fort Lauderdale Beach
The tranquil scenery at Fort Lauderdale Beach makes for a relaxing holiday treat. With pristine turquoise waters and miles of white sand dotted with palm trees, sunsets here are worth the wait. The once college student mecca is now a chic destination with a luxe dining scene and plenty of sidewalk space to promenade or blade through.
This 1920s plantation-turned-museum was once the home of two American artists before being donated to the state. Nestled in Fort Lauderdale Beach, the charming house boasts lush gardens nestled in a tropical oasis and a remarkable art collection as well as personal treasures once belonging to the former owners.
Focusing on the history of the Packard Motor Company, the Antique Car Museum provides a look into the advancements of engineering the automobile. Car enthusiasts will enjoy perusing memorabilia consisting of car pieces, pre-war Packard automobiles and a gallery dedicated to the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino - Hollywood, FL | Courtesy of Seminole Hardrock Hotel & Casino
Try your luck at the sprawling Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino located in Hollywood. The casino boasts over 100 poker tables and 2,000 slot machines all set in a rock star-themed hotel with walls exposing memorabilia from icons such as Elvis Presley and Madonna. Stay the night or come for a fun evening with friends, as the property has karaoke bars and restaurants.
A gift from Hugh Taylor, the 180-acre park includes nature trails, cycling, fishing, and a lagoon and beach that are perfect for paddleboarding, kayaking or canoeing. Canoe rentals are $20.00 an hour for three people and limited to the lagoon; single kayaks are $20.00 per hour with access to both the freshwater lagoon and the beach, and paddleboard rentals are $35.00 an hour also with access to the lagoon and beach. The park is adjacent to Fort Lauderdale Beach and hosts one of the largest nesting grounds for loggerhead sea turtles in the world. However, leave your own animals at home as no pets are allowed in the park.
Just a short drive from downtown Fort Lauderdale, Everglades Holiday Park hosts gator shows and an airboat tour across the vast swamplands that is the Everglades. Climb aboard the vessel for a tour of the ecosystem and an up-close look at the American gator. The boat can speed up to 60 miles an hour and features a trained tour guide who shares knowledge of the unique Florida flora and fauna. The tour is perfect for families looking for a thrilling experience with nature.
If you’re looking for an indoor activity to take shelter from the rainy weather, the Museum of Discovery and Science is entertaining for children and adults alike. Experience the largest living Atlantic coral reef in captivity; observe a 12-foot (3.6-meter) snake, and pet alligators and iguanas. Kids can test their pilot skills in a cockpit simulator or take a simulated trip to the moon. The Discovery Center holds special activities for children under seven, while adults can enjoy the Living in the Everglades or the aerospace Runways to Rockets exhibits.
After a long day of exploring, take a breather at Aruba Beach Cafe. With live island music and an oceanfront setting, the space is perfect for cooling off with a delicious frozen margarita or martini and seafood dinner.