Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale for 2024

I just got back from a weekend in Fort Lauderdale and had an amazing time! Even though this is one the best vacation spots in Florida, I have only taken day trips here until recently. This time, we spent a long weekend here and found so many fun things to do in Fort Lauderdale!

I consider Fort Lauderdale to kind of be a lowkey Miami. Both Southeast Florida cities have a lot going for them from nightlife and museums to beaches and nature experiences. However, there are just as many things to do here as Miami, but they are often cheaper and less crowded! With so much variety, it really is a great place to visit for young and old. Here are 20 different things to do in Fort Lauderdale that I recommend for an awesome vacation here.

Things to do in Fort Lauderdale

Cultural Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale

For a taste of culture in South Florida, Fort Lauderdale definitely does not disappoint. This area is home to a thriving art and foodie scene, with creatives from all over the world residing here. Whether you are seeking art and music in the evening or museums and culinary delights in the day, you will find plenty of things to do in Fort Lauderdale

Take a Stroll Down Las Olas

You cannot say you have visited Fort Lauderdale until you have walked Las Olas Boulevard. This famous street features a couple of miles of boutiques, bars and restaurants with views of the canals that are almost reminiscent of Venice. You can even take a gondola ride through the canals!

During the day, I recommend checking out the shops and dining at excellent restaurants like Casa Sensei, Yolo and Rocco’s Tacos. At night, there are plenty of bars to visit, with favorites being Vinos, Fat Cat’s and the Rooftop @1WLO.

las olas fort lauderdale

Sail Away on the Jungle Queen Riverboat

One of the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale for sightseeing is take a Jungle Queen Riverboat Cruise. The Jungle Queen has been doing tours since 1935 and offers daytime sightseeing cruises or dinner and a show. You get the chance to see the houses of Millionaire’s Row while relaxing and enjoying food and drink on a real riverboat.

Take a Mural Tour

Just south of Fort Lauderdale, Wynwood may be the most popular place to see murals, but there is plenty of wonderful street art here too. The Downtown Hollywood Mural Project is the best place, as there a few dozen unique murals to see made by local artists. We also happened upon The Yard in Wilton Manors, which was an Urban Oasis of all sorts of colorful sights. Whether you visit to take pictures or just to see the sights, it is one of the many fun things to do in Fort Lauderdale.

fort lauderdale murals

See Mermaids at the Wreck Bar

You may have heard of the famous bar where patrons can watch mermaids swim through portholes and it happens to be right in Fort Lauderdale! At the B Resort’s Wreck Bar, you can see Mermaid or Merman burlesque shows with underwater actors performing as mermaids. The bar offers views into a pool through portals, but it feels like you are watching a below deck show! They even offer kid friendly and brunch shows too, so check it out if you want to experience one of the most unique things to do in Fort Lauderdale!

Visit a Museum

There are also a handful of museums worth visiting for an engaging day in Fort Lauderdale. The most popular is the Museum of Discovery which is fun for all ages. We enjoyed the interactive exhibits and watching the otters swim around! Fort art lovers, the NSU Art Museum is an excellent spot full of modernist designs, or you can take the kids to Young at Art for a creative experience. Any classic car fans would also enjoy the Antique Car Museum, which has the largest museum of Packard cars and an exhibit on FDR.

ft lauderdale musems to visit

Go to the Local Theater for a Play

Fort Lauderdale is also a wonderful area to see the performing arts. Between the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and the Parker Playhouse, there are always a variety of shows to see. Whether you like musicals, stand ups or classic plays, you can find a show to your liking at either of these. Having a nice dinner beforehand and then taking in a show is one of the most entertaining things to do in Fort Lauderdale.

Check out a Local Brewery

Fort Lauderdale is known for one of the best craft breweries in Florida, Funky Buddha Brewing, which paved the way for many other Florida breweries. This expansive taproom has so many beers to try, games to play and it even offers tour of the massive brewhouse. For a taste of beer you can only find in here, also check out breweries such as Invasive Species Brewing and Tarpon River Brewing, which also have fun tap rooms!

fort lauderdale breweries

Active Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale

For those looking for less relaxation and more excitement on their vacation, there are plenty of active things to do in Fort Lauderdale. Whether you want to get out on the water or go for a hike, you can find places to do this here. This next section goes over some ways to be active on your Fort Lauderdale vacation.

Go Paddleboarding with a Corgi

Hands down the best of the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale is to take a paddleboard tour with Mr. Beaches! This adorable corgi and his owner Natasha offer paddleboard tours of the canals around the city. If you are a beginner, she will offer instructions for paddling and then you can get out on the water and see the city alongside an adorable corgi. We did this tour and it was the highlight of the trip, as we learned so much from Natasha and got to explore. If you can’t make the tour, you can still rent paddleboards from SupPup and possibly meet the famous Mr. Beaches! Either way, you definitely want to see this city from the water on a paddleboard or a kayak.

things to do in fort lauderdale paddleboard

Take a Surfing Lesson

Another way to have fun on the water in Fort Lauderdale is to take a surfing lesson. The waves here are often great for learning how to take a ride. There are multiple places to take lessons here and you will be able to catch a wave on your own in less than two hours. If you already know how to surf, rent a board and paddle out on your own!

Go for a Hike

For those wanting to experience the great outdoors of Fort Lauderdale, there are multiple areas perfect for trekking. The best is the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, where you can explore the hardwood hammock ecosystem, preserved right in the middle of the city! Here you can also fish, bike and picnic. Other great places to hike near Fort Lauderdale include the Johnson State Park, the Chapel Trail Nature Preserve and the Bill Keith Nature Preserve

ft lauderdale nature hikes

Play a Game of Golf

Fort Lauderdale is home to many world class golf courses that regularly host PGA events! Though they are tough to play on, many are open to the public for a daily fee. Some of the most popular ones are the Heron Bay Golf Club, the Hollywood Beach Golf Resort and the Pembrokes Lakes Club. If you are a more casual player, the TopGolf in Miami Gardens is not too far, or there is always AllGolf for some mini golf.

Take a Boat Ride

If seeing all the yachts and boats zipping around Fort Lauderdale have you envious, there are many ways to get on the water yourself. All over Fort Lauderdale are places to rent a boat, pontoon, jet ski or even a yacht to get you going fast on the water. If you prefer not to captain, consider taking a sunset cruise, a fishing trip, a party boat or even go paragliding!

ft lauderdale things to do

Practice your Yoga Moves

If you are a yogi, there are so many great places in Fort Lauderdale to practice. For some one of a kind beach yoga, check out these donation based classes going on multiple days a week. If you can’t make those classes, Ocean Manor Resort also offers daily ones for $10. If you want to get a really good workout, Suppup also has paddlboard yoga classes. This is where you can truly see how balanced you are! This is a great way to get outside and experience one of the unique things to do in Fort Lauderdale.

Nature Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale

With my comment about all the nightlife, you may be surprised to hear there are plenty of nature things to do in Fort Lauderdale. In fact, this area is probably one of the best places to visit in South Florida for nature! Not only is the city surrounded by scenic canals, but it also has state parks and is close to the Everglades! Of course, there are plenty of beaches and I will explain all the best nature spots below.

Check out the Beach

Fort Lauderdale is known for its sandy beaches and turquoise water, so I definitely recommend checking them. Close by to the city, the beast place to go is North Beach, as it can be less crowded. You can park at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park and walk over for plenty of room to spread out. For an even more relaxing experience, leave the city limits and check out Hallandale Beach and Hollywood Beach.

fort lauderdale beach things to do

Take a Drive Through the Everglades

Though Everglades National Park is a bit south, the start of the Everglades with the Francis S. Taylor Wildlife Area is just west of Fort Lauderdale. This is only a short drive away and you can experience natural Florida. This park has places to walk around, or you can even take an airboat ride and get up close to some gators! The southern part of the Everglades is more secluded and untouched, but this is a great way to get a taste of it nearby!

Explore a Historical Garden

One of the best attractions to experience in Fort Lauderdale is the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens. This historic estate was built in the 1920’s by one of the most influential Fort Lauderdale residents.  Here you can take a fascinating tour of the eclectic house and grounds. The exhibits also help you learn about the culture of Fort Lauderdale back in the day.

bonnet house fort lauderdale

Be Surrounded by Butterflies

Another nature experience you won’t want to miss is a visit to Butterfly World. This attraction features over 20,000 butterflies in their natural habitats, as well as tropical birds and bugs. This immersive attraction is an excellent way to see the beauty of butterflies and learn a lot about them and the environment too.

Visit a Nature Sanctuary

One last garden you cannot miss is the Flamingo Gardens. This is a wildlife sanctuary that houses injured and non-releasable birds and animals native to Florida. You can see the highlight, the Flamingo Gardens, as well as otters, panthers, and much more. All this is surrounded by a lush botanical garden with exotic trees and flowers to see.

Fort Lauderdale Annual Events

There are fun things to do in Fort Lauderdale all year, but certain times of year are great to visit because of the annual events. I especially prefer going in the spring and fall when there are frequent music and foodie fests. Even as a tourist, these events can give you a greater appreciation for Fort Lauderdale. Here are some events to check out for a once in a lifetime experience.

fort lauderdale events

Music Festivals

Fort Lauderdale is an excellent spot for concerts, but there are also two big annual music festivals here. The most well-known is Tortuga Music Festival which is a country music fest on the beach usually every spring. However, It will be resuming in November of 2021 due to the pandemic. Also in November is the yearly Riptide Fest, which always has dozens of popular bands, from The Killers to Reel Big Fish.

Food and Wine Festivals

Often when I am on vacation there are so many restaurants I want to try, but not enough time! This is where Food and Wine Festivals are perfect because you can taste a variety of local favorites in one event! The Las Olas Food and Wine Festival has been renowned for 25 years and takes place every April. Here you can try popular local spots like SuViche and Indigo. Another fest to look out for is the Greater Fort Lauderdale Food and Wine Fest in March. This is where restaurants from all over the area are invited to participate.

Film Festivals and Art Shows

One of the most famous Fort Lauderdale events is the International Film Festival that has been going on every November for the past 35 years. This fest attracts people from all over the world to view independent films of all kinds. Another annual event that locals and tourists alike love is the Las Olas Art Festival. This has been going for 33 years. This takes place in October, is free to peruse. You get the chance to see original art, crafts, sculptures and jewelry made by local artisans.

Maple Bacon Coffee Porter Festival

Beer lovers will want to visit the area in January for a chance to experience the beloved Maple Bacon Coffee Porter Festival hosted by Funky Buddha Brewing. Here you get the chance to sample this popular beer and many others. It’s a celebration of local breweries and always a fun way to try different beers.

Know Before You Go: Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale

Clearly there are a lot of things to do in Fort Lauderdale and the Hollywood area. If you are a local, I hope this guide provided you with some new ways to experience your town! And for those visiting, I recommend spending some time at the beach and doing at least a couple of nature or active activities on this list during the day. Then in the evening, head to Las Olas or A1A for dinner and some nightlife. This guide should have you covered for figuring out the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale! Here are some other things to keep in mind for your visit.

  • The best times to visit Fort Lauderdale is October through April. You may be able to get better deals in the summer, but it is hotter and there could be hurricanes.
  • If you are going in the ocean, use sunscreen without oxybenzone. Sunscreens that contain this ingredient can be harmful to sea life.
  • For flying into Fort Lauderdale, I recommend the Fort Lauderdale Hollywood Airport. It is only 10 minutes away from the main area and you can easily avoid renting a car if you are staying in Fort Lauderdale. The Miami Airport is about half an hour away and also an option. You can take the Tri Rail to get to Fort Lauderdale if you don’t want to rent a car.
  • If you are staying by the beach or on Las Olas, you do not need to rent a car. The only reason you should is if you want to go to the Everglades or north to Orlando. There is a lot to do within walking distance of this area and you can take rideshares. Keep in mind, Disney World is over three hours away by car and probably not doable for a daytrip.
  • For nightlife, you can find a lot of fun bars and restaurants along Las Olas and the Riverfront. This varies from nightclubs to casual tiki bars.
Fort Lauderdale things to do 2021
things to do in fort lauderdale florida

Have you been to Fort Lauderdale before? I was starting to think Miami is the reigning South Florida vacation spot. However, this last trip showed me what a gem Fort Lauderdale is, especially for a more affordable vacation! If you want more tips for your trip, check out my Fort Lauderdale Restaurant Guide or for things nearby, my travel guides for Miami Beach and Palm Beach.