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What Are the Top Attractions in Fort Lauderdale?

An image depicting a city with cruises

Fort Lauderdale is a sun-seeker’s paradise, boasting seven miles of pristine beachfront and an inviting year-round average temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s no wonder that this destination is a favorite among those who cherish sun, sand, and surf. While the beaches are the primary draw for many visitors, there’s an abundance of activities and attractions to explore in this vibrant city.

Situated 23 miles north of Miami on the Atlantic coast, Fort Lauderdale is a predominantly residential resort city known for its intricate network of canals and waterways, often compared to Venice. This charming aspect of the city adds to its unique appeal, making it a picturesque destination for both tourists and locals.

In recent years, Fort Lauderdale has evolved into a sophisticated urban hub. Its wide boardwalks, endless array of restaurants, and shops create a laid-back atmosphere that sun-starved northerners find irresistible. The city’s transformation has made it a desirable location for those looking to enjoy a relaxed yet vibrant Florida vacation.

Beyond the beaches, Fort Lauderdale offers a rich tapestry of experiences, from its fascinating history and lively art scene to its unique Everglades ecology. For a more refined and serene experience, the upscale Las Olas neighborhood is the place to be, with its exquisite restaurants, boutique shops, art galleries, and museums. Discover the best of what this city has to offer with our guide to the top attractions and things to do in Fort Lauderdale.

A palm tree near the shore

Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Fort Lauderdale, FL

Beach in Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale Beaches

Fort Lauderdale beaches are the centerpiece of the tourist area in Fort Lauderdale. Once famous for the wild spring break parties, when thousands of college students would flood the beach, this area has now mellowed but still offers plenty of entertainment. It’s one of the top beach destinations in Florida, appealing to a wide range of visitors.

To fully enjoy Fort Lauderdale’s seven miles of stunning coastline, knowing the best spots is essential. Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, located just south of the intersection of Las Olas Boulevard and Florida State Road A1A, is one of the prime access points. This beautiful stretch of sand boasts one of the best amenities: extensive parking, making it easy for visitors to find a spot and enjoy the beach.

Even on the busiest days, you can usually find parking here, with just a short stroll from the lot to the sand. The beach is well-equipped with facilities, including restrooms, changing rooms, showers, volleyball and basketball courts, BBQ grills, picnic tables, and a playground. These amenities make it a perfect spot for a family day out or a relaxing afternoon by the ocean.

Other notable beach areas include Las Olas Beach, Sebastian Street Beach, and the stretch simply known as Fort Lauderdale Beach to the north. No matter where you access the beach, you’ll find it bordered by a long pedestrian walk. Across the street, there are numerous condo towers, hotels, restaurants, and shops. For those looking for more budget-friendly accommodations, the streets just inland offer smaller hotels and motels, ensuring there’s something for every visitor.

A boulevard

Las Olas Boulevard

Las Olas Boulevard stretches from downtown Fort Lauderdale to the ocean, serving as a vibrant hotspot for both locals and tourists. Here, you’ll discover an array of attractions and activities, including shopping at over 100 diverse stores and restaurants. Among these, you’ll find some of Fort Lauderdale’s finest high-end clothing shops, art galleries, and jewelry stores, making it a prime destination for a luxurious shopping experience.

Dining on Las Olas Boulevard is a must, with the street teeming with charming cafés and bistros, many featuring inviting patios. A favorite activity is to secure a prime spot on one of these patios for some enjoyable people-watching. As the day cools down, the ambiance transforms, offering the perfect setting for a candlelit dinner under the enchanting fairy lights draped in the palm trees lining the street.

The most concentrated area of shops and restaurants spans from South Andrews Avenue to SE 15th Avenue. Beyond SE 15th, retail options thin out until you reach the beach area. Paid parking is generally accessible, whether directly on Las Olas Boulevard, on side streets at meters, or in commercial parking lots, making it convenient for visitors to explore this lively avenue.

An image of a riverwalk

Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk

Tucked away and often missed by visitors, the Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk is a hidden gem waiting to be explored if you have some spare time. This tranquil and picturesque 2.5-mile trail meanders along the New River, guiding you past historical homes and modern condos as it makes its way toward the ocean.

As you stroll along the Riverwalk, you’ll encounter 10 unique parks, each offering its own attractions. Some parks feature stunning gardens, others have workout stations, and several boast playgrounds for the kids. Whether you choose to walk the entire route or prefer to hop on the free Riverwalk Water Trolley that operates daily, you’ll find a variety of restaurants with shaded patios lining the river, perfect for a relaxed lunch or an enjoyable dinner.

With over 30 years of history, the Riverwalk has become a beloved gathering spot for both locals and tourists. To stay updated on the latest events and activities, make sure to grab a copy of the monthly Go Riverwalk magazine. Accessing the Riverwalk is convenient from various cross streets, such as SE 3rd Avenue, South Andrews Avenue, and South Avenue of the Arts. For ample parking, head to the large structure off SE 3rd Avenue by the Broward Judicial Center.

People in a science park

Museum of Discovery and Science

The Museum of Discovery and Science offers a wealth of permanent and rotating exhibits and programs designed to entertain and educate the entire family. In the Prehistoric Florida exhibit, you can meet dinosaurs and examine real fossils, while the present-day Florida ecosystems exhibit showcases one of the largest living coral reefs on display.

The Storm Center and the Wall of Wind provide an in-depth look at hurricanes and their impact on all aspects of life. For a more immersive experience, the Everglades Airboat Adventure and various nature and feature films at the IMAX theater are not to be missed.

Additional exhibits include Harry the Heap, an eco-conscious singing robot that teaches about recycling, and the Keller Science Theater, which features live demonstrations. The museum also boasts a two-story otter habitat and a dedicated Discovery Center where children under seven can play and learn.

A house museum with flags

Historic Stranahan House Museum

In 1901, Ohio businessman and trader Frank Stranahan constructed this pine pioneer’s home at the site where he managed his barge ferry business. Over the years, the house was expanded multiple times, now boasting wide verandas, bay windows, a Victorian parlor, and lush tropical gardens.

Visitors can enjoy guided tours that highlight the period Victorian furniture and decorative pieces displayed throughout the house. Originally built to function as a trading post, Stranahan House also served various roles including post office, community center, and town hall. Additionally, it has been used as a restaurant and boarding house at different times.

Today, the museum’s gift shop offers a unique selection of handmade items crafted by local artists, providing a charming memento of the visit. Stranahan House stands as a testament to the area’s rich history and the versatile purposes it has served throughout the years.

An Island with boats

Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park

Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park boasts a stunning 2.5-mile stretch of beach along the Atlantic Ocean. It’s the perfect spot to set up your beach chairs and umbrella for a relaxing day by the water. The serene ocean view invites you to unwind and soak in the natural beauty.

For those with a boat, the park offers top-notch launch facilities that make it easy to get your vessel in the water. Thanks to its proximity to Port Everglades Inlet, reaching the Atlantic Ocean is quick and convenient, making it an ideal spot for boating enthusiasts.

Scuba diving enthusiasts will find this park a haven with three distinct reef systems offshore. The closest reef is just 300 yards from the shore, the second is half a mile out, and the third is two miles away. Additionally, bird watchers will delight in spotting warblers, sparrows, pelicans, and various shorebirds that frequent the area.

A river with trees and plants

Bonnet House Museum & Gardens

Recognized as a Fort Lauderdale landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens beautifully blends art, architecture, history, and ecology. Designed by Frederic Clay Bartlett and built in 1920, the historic house showcases a stunning collection of art and personal treasures.

Spanning 36 acres, this estate was once the winter retreat of the Birch/Bartlett family. Nestled amid the commercial development of the Fort Lauderdale beachfront, the grounds provide a virtual oasis of coastal wilderness. The property features five distinct ecosystems, including a beach, dunes, maritime forest, freshwater slough, and delicate mangrove wetlands. The formal gardens boast a hibiscus garden, desert garden, and the Orchid Display House, adding to the estate’s charm.

flamingo house

Flamingo Gardens and Wildlife Sanctuary

If you’re curious about the diverse plant and animal life in Florida’s wilderness, Flamingo Gardens is the perfect destination. Spanning over 60 acres, this park is a treasure trove of flora, fauna, and history waiting to be explored.

The botanical garden at Flamingo Gardens boasts over 3,000 tropical and subtropical plants. Among its many attractions is the impressive arboretum, home to some of Florida’s largest trees. As you stroll through the 11 distinct gardens, you’ll encounter everything from stunning orchids to a serene live oak hammock.

The wildlife sanctuary at Flamingo Gardens is the largest in Florida dedicated to native species. It houses non-releasable animals like bobcats, eagles, alligators, and bears. A standout feature is the Flamingo Pond, where you can observe these vibrant birds up close and even hand-feed them for an additional fee. Additionally, the Wray Home, once the weekend retreat of Floyd L. and Jane Wray, offers a glimpse into the past with its meticulous restoration to its 1930s splendor.

A boat on the river

Everglades Holiday Park

Everglades Holiday Park has recently become famous as the frequent filming location for Animal Planet’s “Gator Boys.” Now, the park offers daily live gator shows hosted by the show’s cast members, drawing in visitors eager to see these impressive creatures up close.

These shows provide more than just entertainment; the staff members offer fascinating insights into the world of the Everglades’ most notorious residents. They educate the audience about the alligators’ habitat and their lives, making the experience both fun and informative.

In addition to the gator shows, the park offers airboat tours of the surrounding wetlands. These tours offer a unique opportunity to learn about the diverse plants and animals that are native to the Everglades, providing visitors with a deeper understanding of this unique ecosystem.

A huge tree at the center of the park

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, gifted by Hugh Taylor Birch to the residents of Florida, is a beautiful 180-acre estate nestled between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean. This green haven provides a peaceful retreat from the bustling city life.

Visitors can enjoy a serene walk along the trails or have a relaxing picnic in the lush surroundings. Canoe rentals are available, and those with their own stand-up paddleboards can explore the freshwater lagoon, offering opportunities for wildlife viewing and fishing.

The park features beach access and paved trails ideal for cycling and rollerblading. Don’t miss the Birch House Museum, where you can delve into the park’s history and learn about Birch’s legacy and the ecological importance of this unique barrier island.

Art museum

NSU Art Museum

The NSU Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale stands as a striking, modern three-story building nestled in the upscale Las Olas neighborhood. Its permanent collections boast over 7,000 works of art, featuring significant exhibits that highlight multicultural and female artists, as well as Latin American, Cuban, African, and Oceanic Tribal Arts.

Recently, the museum has enriched its collection with over 100 items from the esteemed collection of David Horvitz and Francie Bishop Good. Among these new additions are remarkable pieces by renowned artists like Cecily Brown, Catherine Opie, and Kiki Smith, adding to the museum’s diverse and impressive array of artworks.

Beyond its extensive collections, the NSU Art Museum is a hub for educational programming, offering a variety of learning opportunities. It also hosts special events and traveling exhibits throughout the year, making it a vibrant and dynamic cultural destination.


Choosing the best cruise from Fort Lauderdale depends on your preferences and what you hope to experience. Whether you’re seeking luxurious amenities, thrilling adventures, or serene relaxation, there’s a cruise that caters to your desires. With options ranging from family-friendly voyages to romantic getaways, Fort Lauderdale serves as a prime departure point for unforgettable journeys. Consider your interests, budget, and the type of vacation you envision to select the perfect cruise.

To make the most of your cruise experience, research each cruise line’s offerings, read reviews, and compare itineraries. Don’t forget to check for any special deals or packages that could enhance your trip. By planning ahead and choosing wisely, you can ensure a memorable and enjoyable cruise from Fort Lauderdale. Ready to set sail? Start planning your dream cruise today and embark on an adventure of a lifetime.