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Nicknamed the “Venice of America,” Fort Lauderdale is a fun-in-the-sun city located on the Atlantic Coast, considered a haven for nature enthusiasts and beach lovers. Not only is Fort Lauderdale home to a wealth of outdoor adventures and beach activities, but it also boasts a vibrant arts scene and a range of cultural attractions. From glitzy yachts and millionaire mansions to natural landscapes and a picturesque canal system, read on to discover the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale.
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It may be an obvious first stop on your Fort Lauderdale itinerary, but it must be said. The beaches in Fort Lauderdale are stunning, as its 23 miles of expansive shoreline is backed by a pedestrian area lined with hotels, restaurants, and shops. Calmer than nearby Miami, you’ll find the same sugary sands and crystal clear water. Sun seekers will find an array of activities to enjoy here, from sunbathing to surfing, swimming or beachcombing.
A must-see on any first trip to Fort Lauderdale, Millionaire’s Row is the quintessential look at the wealth that surrounds this city. Most commonly seen on a boat tour, you’ll catch a glimpse of the glitzy multi-million dollar mansions and yachts that dot the waterways, stretching from Tarpon Bend all the way out to the Intracoastal Waterway. Drive past the homes of famous celebrities, CEO’s and even billionaires, as Millionaire’s Row offers a picturesque backdrop of the Fort Lauderdale skyline.
A shopper’s paradise, Las Olas Boulevard is a street that runs through the center of Fort Lauderdale from the Central Business District to Fort Lauderdale Beach. Lined with trendy restaurants, upscale boutiques, international art galleries and buzzing nightclubs, this area lures travelers in with its landscaped green spaces and Mediterranean architecture. Whether you’re window shopping or just soaking in the vibrant atmosphere, this commercial street is the perfect place for an evening stroll.
The oldest residence in Fort Lauderdale, the Stranahan House is now a living testament to life in Florida back in the 1900s. Ohio businessman Frank Stranahan originally built this pine pioneer home, where visitors can still see some of the period Victorian furniture and decorative pieces on display. Aside from its historical significance, it is a beautiful property to explore with its wide verandas, bay windows, and tropical gardens.
An oasis of tropical hammocks, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. An 180-acre estate with freshwater lagoons, beach access, nature trails and picnic areas, it is a great place to take the entire family on a sunny afternoon. For a unique look at the area, hop on a canoe or kayak and paddle through the park’s coastal dune lakes or go fishing along the seawall.
Located in Coconut Creek, Butterfly World puts you up close to more than 20,000 winged creatures in a range of aviaries and gardens that cover nearly 10 acres. Take the kids to this fascinating attraction, where you can walk among over 50 species of colorful butterflies as you’re surrounded by a lush canopy of exotic plants and flowers. A tranquil space outside of the city, you can spot hummingbirds and lorikeets as well as you explore the 30-foot Tropical Rainforest Aviary, featuring waterfalls and observation decks.
Perfect for a rainy day or an evening of adults only fun, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood offers a place for you to place your bets and win big. With the flashing lights of slot machines and a buzzing casino-floor ambiance, you’ll be lured in by the chance to beat the odds. After you’ve hit it big, you can also visit one of the several on-site lounges that offer live entertainment throughout the week.
The perfect indoor activity for little ones, the Museum of Discovery and Science offers a wide range of interactive, hands-on exhibits that will keep your kids engaged for hours. You can take a simulated airboat ride along the Everglades, learn about Florida’s weather patterns at the Storm Center, and test your pilot skills on a DC-9 commercial airliner, as you’re sure to have a full day of fun and adventure at this fascinating attraction.
A vibrant mix of history, art, and architecture, the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens is a plantation-style house built on 36 acres of lush tropical vegetation. Once the winter retreat of the Birch/Bartlett family, admire the collections of art and personal treasures and then meander through five distinct ecosystems featured here, from mangrove wetlands to maritime forests, and soak in the beautiful views of the largest collection of orchids in the Southeast United States.
A must-see for art enthusiasts, the NSU Museum Fort Lauderdale features a diverse collection of exhibits with more than 6,000 works of art, including the largest collection of post-war and avant-garde works from Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam in the United States. Showcasing contemporary and 20th-century art, you can also explore pieces of art from Latin American artists, in addition to African, Native American and Oceanic Tribal Arts.
If you’re looking to take an airboat ride through the Florida Everglades, then this is the place to do it. Sawgrass Recreation Park is home to a wide variety of native flora and fauna, where you can spot a variety of wildlife that includes birds, fish and, of course, alligators. Those brave enough to traverse this unique Florida eco-system can get up close and personal with some of the natural habitats of our fiercest creatures.
Probably the most famous boat tour in Fort Lauderdale, the Jungle Queen Riverboat offers a wild ride through the “Yacht Capital of the World,” delighting visitors since 1935. While this historic sightseeing tour cruises past Millionaire’s Row, you’ll also have the chance to choose from tours that allow you to explore the lush foliage of a tropical isle filled with native wildlife or have dinner and live entertainment in addition to your cruise.