Often overlooked by visitors to Miami, the city’s neighbor to the south, Fort Lauderdale is the headquarters for mega-yachts and home to a number of professional athletes and millionaires. Port Everglades serves as the area’s cruise port. The city is named for the forts built during the Second Seminole War.
Today it has a thriving tourism economy and is the gateway to the Everglades Wildlife Management Area. The climate remains fairly steady year-round, so it’s a great place to escape the cold elsewhere.
The International Boat Show and the Las Olas Art Festival are among the yearly events that bring in visitors and this year the South Beach Wine and Food Festival hosted an event in Fort Lauderdale.
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What to Do in Fort Lauderdale
Sawgrass Recreation Park– While actually located outside of Fort Lauderdale, this park is a great day trip from the city if you want to do the Everglades without spending multiple days there. Sawgrass has airboat tours where you may even spot an alligator. They also have a small nature park with animals. You can even visit at night. Get your tickets before you go. 1006 North US Highway 27, Weston
NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale– Nova Southeastern University’s art museum, located on the famous Las Olas Boulevard, features changing exhibits on modern art, photography, and Latin American artifacts. The permanent collection includes over 6,000 works, including some by Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, and Pablo Picasso. 1 East Las Olas Boulevard
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park– Set in the middle of downtown Fort Lauderdale, the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park started as a plot of private land. The park features beach access, camping, trails, picnicking, and fishing. You can also rent bicycles, canoes, and kayaks. 3109 East Sunrise Boulevard
Museum of Discovery and Science– Far more than a simple children’s museum, the MODS has over two floors of interactive exhibits on science as well as an IMAX Theater that plays action films. They regularly host family-focused events. 401 SW Second Street
Anne Kolb Nature Center– At this public park, you’ll learn more about the mangroves and ecosystem of Broward County. The nature center also is home to a variety of plants and animals. Activities include hiking, fishing, and geocaching. 751 Sheridan Street, Hollywood
Bonnet House Museum & Gardens– Owned by an artist, the Bonnet House was built in a Caribbean plantation style. Tour the rooms, each of which features artwork, like the studio, kitchen, dining room, and music room. Look for monkeys in the trees, as well as birds and reptiles. 900 North Birch Road
Flamingo Gardens– Wander the 60-acre wildlife sanctuary home to the iconic bird species often associated with Florida. There are also 80 other types of animals and thousands of plants. There’s also a historic home. Get your tickets before you go. 3750 South Flamingo Road, Davie
Funky Buddha Brewery– Located between Pompano Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Funky Buddha is one of the area’s favorite breweries. The taproom is open daily for tours, games and small bites. Visit with the Fort Lauderdale Craft Beer Tour. 1201 NE 38th Street, Oakland Park, (954) 440-0046
Stranahan House– Built in 1901, the Stranahan House is another one of Fort Lauderdale’s historic homes. Owned by Frank and Ivy Stranahan, it has a tragic history, as Frank committed suicide after some financial troubles. Ivy, however, lived out her days here and became a philanthropist. They host ghost tours and educational talks. 335 SE 6th Avenue
Las Olas Food Tour– Check out the best eateries on Fort Lauderdale’s most famous street with these food tours. Stops include samples of wine and cheese, sushi, pizza, and much more. Book your Walking Food Tour of Las Olas Boulevard. NE Corner of 9th Avenue & Las Olas Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale is best experienced on the water, so take the opportunity to go snorkeling or scuba diving with Sea Experience Glassbottom Snorkel and Dive Tours. The Venice of America Fort Lauderdale Cruise is another way to see the city.
Where to Eat in Fort Lauderdale
Blue Moon Fish Co.– Unwind at this waterfront restaurant on the Intracoastal Waterway that has been featured on the Food Network. Highlights include fresh fish ceviche and gumbo. 4405 West Tradewinds Avenue, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, (954) 267-9888
Brew Urban Cafe– Located in the hip FAT Village district, you might not even know this coffee shop in the studio space existed. You’ll find walls of books, antique chairs, and even an old Airstream. Grab a pastry and coffee and plug into your laptop or cozy up to a good book. 537 NW 1st Avenue, (954) 357-3934
Louie Bossi’s Ristorante Bar Pizzeria– For a carb-aholic dinner, head to Louie Bossi’s, an Italian restaurant with large outdoor space, including a bocce court. Enjoy classics like pizza, pasta, and risotto as well as wine and cocktails. 1032 East Las Olas Boulevard, (954) 356-6699
O-B House– Perhaps the best breakfast joint in town, O-B House features fresh, local ingredients as much as possible. No matter what time you wake up, you can take advantage of breakfast dishes like omelets with crab and mahi-mahi, breakfast sandwiches, and pancakes the size of your head. 333 Himmarshee St, (954) 530-7520
Stache– You’ll find this speakeasy-style bar behind a wall with a black mustache. It features moody lighting, walls of liquor bottles and an upstairs lounge. Their cocktails are the main attraction, including old school and modern interpretations. They also have bites to share. 109 SW 2nd Avenue, (954) 449-1044
The Tipsy Boar– Head over to Hollywood to this gastropub, which has burgers, sandwiches, and pizza. They have an extensive beer menu as well as wine and cocktails. They have a large patio and their own free parking. 1906 Harrison Street, Hollywood, (954) 920-2627
The Wreck Bar– Formerly a part of the Sheraton, the Wreck Bar has been a tourist favorite for its views of portholes and aquariums. There are even mermaid shows that you can catch while sipping on a cocktail. 1140 Seabreeze Boulevard, (954) 564-1000
Where to Stay in Fort Lauderdale
The Atlantic Hotel & Spa– Located across the street from the beach, the hotel boasts AAA four-diamond status. Room options include studios, which include private balconies with views of the ocean. They have their own living areas with full kitchenettes. Read our review here. 601 North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale
Pelican Grand Beach Resort– The luxurious oceanfront resort has stunning views, a zero-entry pool, a private beach, and a lazy river. There are three restaurants, an ice cream shop, and a verandah for relaxing. 2000 North Ocean Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale
Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina– Located across from the convention center, this hotel has access to the marina making it ideal for cruise passengers. They have a pool, walking track, fitness center, and balcony rooms. 1881 SE 17th Street, Fort Lauderdale
B Ocean Resort Fort Lauderdale– This restored 1956 hotel has hosted names like Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, and Robert DeNiro. They have stylish rooms and the world-famous Wreck Bar. 1140 Seabreeze Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale
Snooze– This hotel offers bare amenities for reasonable rates and also has dorm rooms. They have a rooftop terrace and free WiFi and parking. Beach access is right across the street. 205 North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale
The Diplomat Beach Resort– Hollywood’s most famous hotel has ocean views, eight celebrity chef restaurants, infinity pools with private cabanas, kids activities, and spacious rooms. It’s only 15 minutes from Fort Lauderdale proper. 3555 South Ocean Drive, Hollywood
Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort– This neighboring hotel has family-friendly activities like a surfing simulator and pools. There are four restaurants and balcony suites. 1111 North Ocean Drive, Hollywood
Hollywood Beach Hostel– There’s a handful of hostels, but the majority are used as crash pads for yacht crews. Look for words like “crewhouse” in the description. But this property appeals to backpackers with surfboards and bikes for rent, an onsite restaurant, and both dorms and private rooms. 320 Arizona Street, Hollywood
Camping– You’ll also find campgrounds at the state parks and private facilities for both tents and RVs. There’s also a KOA nearby.
Rentals- Airbnb and other sites have rentals throughout Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood for larger groups. Use our link for a discount on your first stay.
Research for this guide was made possible by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
How cool! The Bonnet house looks like it has a hint of Chinese influence to it, too! That is awesome!