Fort Lauderdale
Photograph: Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors BureauLas Olas Boulevard

The 10 best things to do in Fort Lauderdale

Whether you're here with kids, on a foodie venture or looking to soak up some culture, there's something for you here.

Megan duBois
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Welcome to Fort Lauderdale. We’re sure you’re here for some of Florida’s most wonderful beaches, restaurants with a spectacular view, and to spend some much needed time in nature. Well, the good news is that you’re in exactly the right place. This is a goldmine in Florida, even if it gets overlooked in favor of its place as a Spring Breaker destination. 

Fort Lauderdale is a layered city, from its wide open beaches to its foodie and culture spots, and a lot of what's on is completely free. It’s known for its yachting culture (you’ll find the best boat show on the planet here), but there’s a whole host of stuff to get into on land too – think great museums, kids' activities, serene botanical gardens, state parks and more. Here are the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale. 

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Best things to do in Fort Lauderdale

Since 1988, Butterfly World has welcomed guests to enjoy the whimsy of encountering colorful butterflies up close. As you walk through the vast gardens, you’ll be surrounded by thousands of fluttering insects. Over the year, Butterfly World will host up to 50 different species of butterflies! But that is not all: Butterfly World also has aviaries for tropical birds for the chance to interact with adorable lorikeets. 

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The Broward Center is located along the New River, making it a beautiful spot for a date night or a night out with friends. The theater hosts big acts and Broadway shows like Kinky BootsCatsFrozen, and Matilda. If you like dinner with your show, grab a bite to eat at Marti’s New River Bistro, where you can dine with a view of the water in a comfortable and casual setting. Theatergoers can choose from a three-course prix fixe meal before being seated for the show.

It’s not really a trip to Fort Lauderdale without dipping your toes into the water at Fort Lauderdale Beach. The sandy shore is a great spot to laze away the weekend or enjoy a picnic lunch, and the beachfront promenade that runs the length of the shore is a lovely space for a stroll. Beach parking can be hard to come by, so consider riding your bike or using an Uber to get to and from the beach. 

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Flamingo Gardens was established in 1927 and is one of the oldest botanical gardens in south Florida. The 60-acre garden and wildlife sanctuary has over 3,000 species of plants and trees. It’s also home to an abundance of native Florida wildlife like alligators, bobcats, otters, peacocks, and flamingos. Into our winged friends? Learn about native birds at the free-flight aviary, or see the Bird of Prey Center, which is home to one of the largest groups of raptors in the country.

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Try your luck at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The casino has thousands of slots, table games, live poker, and more to keep you entertained, and around the space, you'll spot some of music’s greatest memorabilia. Opt into a Seminole Wild Card Wallet, similar to Apple Pay, so you don't have to carry money around or keep heading back to the cashier – because you never know if the next game is the one where you hit the jackpot.

Walking down Las Olas Boulevard is a Fort Lauderdale must. The street is filled with restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues. Window shop at designer stores like Lilly Pulitzer before grabbing a bite to eat – the restaurant selection is varied – then pop inside some of the museums that dot the street, including the Museum of Discovery and Science, to learn how the world works.

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9. The Yard

This small village includes tons of shopping and dining options, all shaded by rainbow eucalyptus trees. After shopping at Lola’s Market, grab a cup of coffee at The Alchemist Coffee and Slicers and something sweet to munch on at New Day Desserts Bakery. Then peek at the larger-than-life, ultra-colorful murals worth a coveted spot on your Instagram feed.

Since 1935, the Jungle Queen Riverboat has been taking guests out on the New River in the evening to enjoy dinner and a show or out on a daytime sightseeing cruise. The evening show is tropical-themed, with a variety show that features comedians, dancers, and live music. The daytime sightseeing cruise is 90-minutes on the water as a guide points out all of the famous structures along the river and tells the story of Fort Lauderdale. Both cruise types are family-friendly, so feel free to bring the kids along. 

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