From haunted fire stations to historic estates and art museums, Fort Lauderdale offers an array of cultural activities for children and adults alike. Browse through our guide to see the best museums to visit while in the city.
Take a guided tour of the oldest surviving structure in Broward Country. The Stranahan House, built in 1901 by Fort Lauderdale’s very own founding father Frank Stranahan, served as a trading post, post office, town hall, and also as a home to the Stranahan family.
The stunning waterfront house perched along the banks of the New River features a sprawling wooden porch where Mrs. Stranahan taught the children of the Seminole tribe English words to communicate with the English-speaking settlers of the land.
An educational experience for children and adults alike, this museum houses vintage aircraft models, WWII torpedoes from a submarine and medals and uniforms representing all the branches of the military. Browse through their rich photography collection of over 10,000 images of military history and visit the John Payne Memorial Library with volumes of war diaries and aviation log books. The property also houses a Butterfly Garden with a memorial dedicated to Flight 19—the flight that flew out of the station in 1945 and vanished in the Bermuda Triangle.
Set on a sprawling 35 acres of land on a coastal barrier island, the historic Bonnet House Museum & Gardens was once home to two American artists before being donated to the state. The charming 20th-century home will have you fawning over their interior décor and architecture, as well as the magnificent art collection that belonged to the former owners.
With an aerospace exhibition and a simulated trip to the moon, the Museum of Discovery & Science brings up-close views of the universe. Kids will enjoy testing their pilot skills in a simulated cockpit, while there are activities also for children under seven years old. The museum is also home to an IMAX theater as well as two floors of interactive exhibits. Tip: don’t miss the Living in the Everglades exhibit! You can pet alligators, turtles, and iguanas and see the largest Atlantic coral reef in captivity.
At the Fort Lauderdale Fire and Safety Museum, built in 1927, visitors can peruse photos, videos and see the historic equipment used by the Fort Lauderdale’s Fire Department throughout the century. The station also bears a spooky past. A firefighter died tragically here in 1940 when he jumped off the fire engine into a puddle of electrically charged water. Unexplained door movements and apparitions have constantly been reported throughout the years. Visit the museum’s calendar to check for events held by local paranormal groups at the fire museum.
Car enthusiasts will admire looking at historic automobiles from the Packard Motor Company. The Antique Car Museum showcases memorabilia consisting of pre-war cars, engine pieces and a gallery dedicated to the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Just a short walk away from the bustling Las Olas Boulevard, and you’ll find the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, which houses one of the largest collections of 19th- and 20th-century paintings by the American surrealist William Glackens. The museum also holds American post-World War II work as well as an auditorium, store, and café.
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International Swimming Hall of Fame
Museum, Sports Center
Not far from the Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, the International Swimming Hall of Fame offers a look at famous swimmers and Olympic Gold Medals. The not-for-profit educational organization promotes swimming as a key to fitness and showcases a shrine of renowned water polo players and even synchronized swimmers.