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Arial view of Fort Lauderdale
Photograph: Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors BureauLas Olas Boulevard

The 10 best things to do in Fort Lauderdale

Butterfly gardens, casino slots and shopping excursions are among the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale right now

Megan duBois
Written by
Megan duBois

Fort Lauderdale was once thought of as a spring breaker’s paradise with cheap hotel rooms to share with friends, dive bars and ample beach space to enjoy some fun in the sun. While spring break in Fort Lauderdale is definitely still a thing, the city has more to offer. In fact, some of the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale are so far off the beaten path that you might forget you're in a city lined with skyscrapers and million-dollar homes. 

The city is also known as the yachting capital of the work and plays host to the largest annual boat show, so it’s no surprise that getting out on the water is a local and traveler favorite. After dining at some of the best restaurants in town you can test your luck at the casino, or hit some of the wildlife preserves for an encounter with local flora and fauna.

No matter what you choose to do while exploring the bustling town, you can't go wrong with our list of the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale right now. 

RECOMMENDED: The best restaurants in Fort Lauderdale

Best things to do in Fort Lauderdale

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, which is 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.

The Yard
Photograph: Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB

3. The Yard

This small village includes tons of shopping and dining options, all of which are 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 the larger-than-life, ultra-colorful murals that are worth a coveted spot on your Instagram feed.

The Broward Center is located along the New River, making it a beautiful spot for a date night or night out with friends. The theater often hosts big acts and Broadway shows like Kinky Boots, Cats, Frozen 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. 

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, peacock 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.


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 something about how the world works.

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


For a glimpse into the history of Fort Lauderdale take a tour of the Stranahan House Museum. The historic home was built in 1901 by Frank Stranahan, 'the founder of Fort Lauderdale.' The home is the oldest structure in Broward County and has been a trading post, post office, home and now museum. Tours of the home are offered everyday and last about an hour during which you’ll learn about the history of Fort Lauderdale and some of the secrets about the home and its past owners.

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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