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What Are The Top Activities For Children In Fort Lauderdale?

Aerial view of Fort Lauderdale beach

Escape the winter blues with a trip to sunny Fort Lauderdale, just a short three-hour flight from NYC. With its abundance of kid-friendly activities and laid-back lifestyle, this Miami-adjacent town is perfect for families seeking relaxation and fun. As frequent visitors ourselves, we’re always on the lookout for new and exciting things to do in Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding area.

In this updated guide, we’ve curated a list of socially distant dining and entertainment options, marked with a special icon for your convenience. Let’s dive into the adventure!”

Pirate boat tour of bluefoot pirate in fort lauderdale

1. Embark on a Pirate Adventure with Bluefoot Pirate Adventures

Nestled along the picturesque Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Bluefoot Pirate Adventures offers an exhilarating experience for all ages. Step aboard their Children’s Pirate Ship Cruise and set sail on a thrilling journey filled with swashbuckling fun.

Children’s Pirate Ship Cruise: Let your little ones live out their pirate dreams as they join the crew on a pirate-themed boat tour. With interactive activities, treasure hunts, and lively performances, every moment aboard the pirate ship is an adventure to remember.

Birthday Parties: Make your child’s special day unforgettable with a pirate-themed birthday bash aboard the Bluefoot Pirate Ship. With customizable party packages, including pirate games, treasure hunts, and more, it’s a celebration fit for a buccaneer.

BYOB Adult Cruises: For a unique twist on a night out, hop aboard the BYOB Adult Cruises and set sail under the stars. Enjoy a relaxing cruise along the Intracoastal Waterway with your favorite beverages in hand, surrounded by the enchanting ambiance of the pirate ship.

Pirate Adventures: Embark on a swashbuckling adventure with the whole family during the Pirate Adventures in Fort Lauderdale. From thrilling tales of hidden treasure to interactive games and challenges, every moment on the high seas is filled with excitement and laughter.

Book Your Voyage: Availability for Bluefoot Pirate Adventures varies, so be sure to check their website for tour schedules and reservations. Whether you’re seeking a family-friendly outing or a unique party experience, Bluefoot Pirate Adventures promises an unforgettable journey filled with pirate-themed excitement. Set sail and let your imagination run wild on the high seas!

A group of lanterns

2. Step into a Magical World: Luminosa Chinese Lantern Festival

For an enchanting holiday experience near Fort Lauderdale, look no further than the Luminosa Chinese Lantern Festival in Miami. This captivating event transforms a forest into a fairy tale wonderland, glowing with illuminated trails from Thanksgiving to early February.

Beyond the mesmerizing lantern displays spanning 13 acres, families can delight in live music, delicious food and drinks, and even catch a thrilling acrobatic show—all within the sprawling, uncrowded grounds of Luminosa. It’s a magical journey you won’t want to miss!

Ice cream in cone with sprinkles

3. Savor Sweet Memories at Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlour

Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlour is more than just a treat—it’s an experience! For my youngest, it’s a taste of paradise, and for me, well, it’s pretty fantastic too. Be prepared for lines as long as the ice cream servings are generous, but fear not—the wait is part of the fun!

Amidst live music and a sense of camaraderie among fellow ice cream enthusiasts, those 30 or so minutes in line fly by. And once you reach the order window, you’re in for a real treat. Jaxson’s serves up enormous, delicious ice cream concoctions at surprisingly affordable prices. From massive banana splits to other indulgent delights, you’ll find something to satisfy your sweet tooth.

If you’re feeling extra adventurous, the restaurant next door offers even more Americana classics, though be warned—those lines can stretch for hours. But for those who persevere, the reward is worth it: a literal kitchen sink filled with ice cream!

Conveniently located just a short drive from Fort Lauderdale, Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlour is a must-visit for families looking to create lasting memories.”

People eating in a restaurant

4. Savor the Sunset at Taverna Opa

Treat your family to a memorable dining experience at Taverna Opa in Hollywood Beach. While this mid-priced eatery is known for its delicious Greek cuisine and friendly service, it’s the outside waterfront seating that steals the show.

With views overlooking the intercoastal, Taverna Opa offers a breathtaking perspective of the sunset—a perfect backdrop for celebrating special occasions, like my older son’s 15th birthday during our socially distant trip in 2021.

Feast on flavorful Greek dishes, including their renowned meat and fish plates, all while enjoying the stunning views. Despite its prime location, the prices remain reasonable (around $200 for 5 people), making it an easy choice for families.

To secure the best seating, arrive early for dinner, ideally around 6 pm. While the restaurant doesn’t take outside reservations, arriving at 6 pm on weekends or 6:30 on weekdays should increase your chances of snagging a coveted waterfront seat. Don’t miss the chance to dine and watch the sunset in style at Taverna Opa.”

A person in white walking on a seashore

5. Discover Hidden Beauty at Johnson State Park

Nestled just 30 minutes south of Fort Lauderdale, Johnson State Park is a true hidden gem of Florida. Away from the crowds, this park offers serene beaches, prime fishing spots, kayak rentals, and even a secluded bar known as Whiskey Creek Hideout.

Families can embark on a scenic forty-five-minute hiking trail through the subtropical coastal hammock, while nature enthusiasts will marvel at the abundance of endangered Mangroves, which serve as crucial nurseries for marine life.

With picnic areas and barbecue spots available, Johnson State Park is the perfect destination for a full day of outdoor fun and relaxation.

Named in honor of civil rights leaders Dr. Von D. Mizell and Eula Johnson, who fought for desegregation in the 1960s, this park holds historical significance as a symbol of inclusivity and progress in the region.

A dining room table in front of a large window

6. Indulge in Seafood Bliss at Sea Watch On the Ocean

For a true taste of Fort Lauderdale’s culinary delights, look no further than Sea Watch On the Ocean. Since 1974, this beloved seafood restaurant has been a favorite among locals and tourists alike. With its charming beach house exterior and eco-friendly ethos, Sea Watch has earned a stellar reputation for its scrumptious fare.

Step inside to find two floors adorned with floor-to-ceiling windows, offering breathtaking views of the ocean. The decor exudes warmth and elegance, creating a cozy yet upscale ambiance. Upstairs, outdoor seating on the balcony allows diners to immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of the beach, complete with a gentle salty breeze.

Feast on a delectable array of dishes, from appetizers to desserts, accompanied by a fine selection of wines. While everything on the menu is worth savoring, don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in the fresh, salty goodness of the oysters—straight from the ocean to your plate. At Sea Watch On the Ocean, culinary excellence meets stunning views for an unforgettable dining experience.

Picking fruits from a fruit stand

7. Indulge in Delightful Treats at Robert is Here Fruit and Farmstand

For a taste of true Florida flavor, make sure to visit Robert is Here Fruit and Farmstand, a family-owned gem since the 1950s. While it’s about an hour’s drive from Fort Lauderdale, the journey is well worth it for foodies and vegans alike.

Step into a paradise of fresh fruits and vegetables, bursting with vibrant colors and flavors. Don’t leave without trying their famous fruit-loaded milkshakes, which taste like a scoop of pure heaven. Watch as the owner freshly cuts juicy mangoes right before your eyes, adding to the farm-fresh experience.

Be sure to pick up some of their incredible guacamole, made fresh on-premises and perfect for pairing with local corn chips. And don’t miss the adorable free petting zoo out back, where you’ll find tortoises mingling with goats—a unique Florida experience indeed!

For an added adventure, combine your visit with a trip to the nearby Alligator Farm, just a couple of minutes away. At Robert is Here Fruit and Farmstand, culinary delights and charming experiences await.

Flamboyance

8. Experience Nature’s Beauty at Flamingo Gardens

Flamingo Gardens, located in South Florida, is a sprawling aviary rescue complex that offers a unique wildlife sanctuary experience. Home to countless resident birds, including the iconic flamingos, the gardens also boast a botanical garden and a breed and release program for rare bird species.

Spanning several well-maintained acres just south of Miami, Flamingo Gardens is a haven for nature enthusiasts. Take a leisurely stroll through the grounds and marvel at the majestic trees, some of which are over a hundred years old. Among them are 21 certified champion trees, the largest of their kind.

Be sure to catch the feeding presentation, held three times a day, which offers both adorable and educational insights into the lives of the resident birds. As a not-for-profit facility supported entirely by ticket sales and donations, visiting Flamingo Gardens allows you to support a worthy cause while enjoying a memorable experience in nature.

A house with trees in Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens

9. Discover Serenity at Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens

Step into a realm of tranquility and beauty at Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, an enchanting Southern Florida destination that celebrates Japanese history, culture, and nature. Spread across 16 acres of stunning landscapes, Morikami offers a captivating glimpse into the essence of Japan, right in your backyard.

As you wander through the meticulously designed gardens, you’ll feel transported to a world where time slows down and serenity reigns supreme. The soothing sounds of flowing water and chirping birds create an atmosphere of peace and mindfulness, perfect for reconnecting with yourself and your loved ones.

What makes Morikami truly special is its ability to surprise and delight visitors. While it may not be what you expect to find in Florida, it offers a unique and enriching experience for the whole family. And be sure not to miss out on the culinary delights at Cornell Cafe, where an Asian-inspired menu awaits to tantalize your taste buds while you soak in the picturesque views. Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens truly offers a slice of Japan right here in Southern Florida.

A white building in Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

10. Experience Grandeur at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Step into the lavish world of Vizcaya, originally the winter estate of a wealthy businessman and now a sprawling museum and garden open to the public. Explore the grandeur of its interior and exterior spaces, inspired by the great estates of Europe.

Inside, you’ll find opulent rooms themed after European destinations like Marie Antoinette‘s France, Venice, and Pompeii, transporting you to a bygone era of luxury. But the magic doesn’t stop there—venture outside into Vizcaya’s expansive gardens, where you can lose yourself in shaded trails and tranquil spots perfect for reading or contemplation.

With so much to discover, you can easily spend a full day exploring Vizcaya. Kids will delight in the maze and pirate ship relics scattered throughout the grounds, adding an element of adventure to this elegant retreat.

A group of people in a park

11. Indulge in Culinary Delights at Young Circle’s Food Truck Night

Looking for a flavorful adventure in Fort Lauderdale? Look no further than Food Truck night at Young Circle park in Hollywood. Every Monday night, more than 40 food trucks gather to serve up a smorgasbord of cuisines, from Cuban to seafood, Americana to Brazilian. The event kicks off at 6 pm and lasts until 11 pm, ensuring plenty of time to sample your favorites.

While you’re there, be sure to check out the unique kids’ playground nearby—an ideal spot for little ones to burn off post-dinner energy. For a creative twist, head towards the park’s edge to discover a permanent glass-blowing workshop and store. Here, you can even try your hand at crafting your own masterpiece—a perfect way to end a memorable evening of dining and exploration.

A mother and child looking at an arftifact vase

12. Explore and Learn at the Museum of Discovery and Science

Immerse yourself in a world of wonder at the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale—a paradise for young explorers and inquisitive minds. Boasting an array of captivating exhibits and interactive activities, this museum offers endless entertainment for children of all ages.

Even my own kids, who have experienced their fair share of excitement, couldn’t get enough of the museum’s offerings, eagerly darting from one exhibit to the next for hours on end. Highlights include the 7D theater, IMAX screenings, hands-on 3D printer workshops, and the thrilling snapping alligator turtle encounter.

Whether you’re seeking a fun-filled day out or looking to escape a rare stormy Florida day, the Museum of Discovery and Science is the perfect destination for families visiting southern Florida. Prepare to be amazed and inspired as you embark on an educational adventure unlike any other.

Sushi platter

13. Experience Unexpected Excellence at Mizumi Sushi Buffet

I’ll confess, recommending a sushi buffet wasn’t on my radar either. But trust me, Mizumi Sushi Buffet is a delightful surprise. Despite my initial skepticism, I found myself thoroughly impressed by the quality, variety, and cleanliness of this establishment.

Freshness is key here, with a superb selection of sushi that even sushi snobs like myself can appreciate. While the rolls may not be fancy, the fish is expertly prepared and oh-so-delicious. But it’s not just sushi on offer—Mizumi also boasts a tempting array of Chinese dishes and international desserts.

The lines speak volumes about the food’s quality, so arriving early at 5 pm when the doors open is your best bet to beat the rush. Alternatively, be prepared to wait, with wait times of up to an hour during peak hours.

Conveniently located near Sunny Isles, just a half-hour drive from Fort Lauderdale, Mizumi Sushi Buffet is a dining experience you won’t want to miss—trust me on this one!

Carved stones in coral castle Florida

14. Unravel the Mystery of Coral Castle

Imagine a place where giant rocks stand tall, forming what seems like a massive dollhouse. That’s Coral Castle, created over 60 years ago by an eccentric man named Edward Leedskalnin. Using only his hands and basic tools, Edward carved and built this incredible structure out of limestone. Some call it America’s Stonehenge, but really, it’s more like a giant rock puzzle.

Edward built Coral Castle for a family, even though he didn’t have one. As you explore, you’ll find bedrooms, a throne room, a bathtub, and even a “punishment room” that legend says was meant for his future wife. Working mostly at night, Edward adorned his creation with symbols from the Freemasons, a secret society.

Some say Edward was a genius, while others think he was a little bit crazy. There are even rumors that aliens helped him build Coral Castle! Many TV shows have tried to figure out the secrets behind this extraordinary place, but it remains a mystery waiting to be solved.

Aligator in a swamp

15. Discover Dinosaur Relatives at Everglades Alligator Farm

Nestled along South Florida’s Redland Tropical Trail, Everglades Alligator Farm offers an exciting opportunity to meet some of the closest relatives of dinosaurs: alligators! Explore several exhibits featuring hundreds of alligators at various stages of life, providing a fascinating glimpse into their world.

But the adventure doesn’t stop there—hop aboard a motorboat for a thrilling ride through the swamplands. Along the tour, you’ll encounter wild alligators, softshell turtles, and an array of bird species. Be prepared to get wet, especially if you choose to sit in the front of the boat, so wear clothes that dry easily.

Plan your visit around noon to catch all three shows: the snake show, the alligator show, and the feeding of the alligators. While the farm is about an hour’s drive from Fort Lauderdale, the unique and memorable experience makes it well worth the journey. Don’t miss the chance to get up close and personal with these ancient creatures at Everglades Alligator Farm!

Beautiful butterfly on top of a flower

16. Experience the Magic of Butterfly World

For a truly enchanting adventure, pay a visit to Butterfly World—a captivating attraction perfect for even the youngest Florida visitors. Set amidst the fresh air, this unique destination boasts 13 distinct areas to explore.

While butterflies take center stage, you’ll also encounter a plethora of other insects and birds, creating a vibrant tapestry of colors and life. Be sure to have plenty of space on your phone or camera to capture the beauty around you.

To attract butterflies to land on you, wear bright clothes in hues of yellow, red, and blue—it’s a simple trick that works like magic! Located just a 20-minute drive outside of Fort Lauderdale, Butterfly World promises a memorable experience filled with wonder and delight.

An aerial view of beach in sunny isles beach Florida

17. Experience Sunshine and Relaxation at Sunny Isles Beach

No trip to Florida is complete without a visit to the beach, and Sunny Isles Beach offers the perfect coastal escape. Located conveniently at the northern end of North Miami Beach, this hidden gem boasts a tranquil atmosphere and stunning shoreline.

Unlike some of the more crowded beaches, Sunny Isles Beach provides ample space to unwind, bask in the sun, and dip your toes in the warm Atlantic waters. With its prime location sandwiched between Hollywood and Golden Isles, it’s an ideal spot for a relaxing day by the sea.

But the fun doesn’t end there—Sunny Isles Beach offers a plethora of activities to suit every taste. Whether you’re casting a line at the Newport Fishing Pier, indulging in water sports like jet skiing, kayaking, or paddleboarding, or enjoying a day of thrills at Tidal Cove Waterpark just a short drive away, there’s endless summer fun to be had.

With its scenic beauty, kid-friendly attractions, comfortable accommodations, and dining options, Sunny Isles Beach promises an unforgettable beach getaway filled with relaxation and adventure.

Coconut trees under a clear sky

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