The Best Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale on Your Next Dream Vacation

The Evolve Team
The Evolve Team
July 2, 2021

Fort Lauderdale is your ideal vacation destination for sun, sand, and seafood. With a historic riverwalk district, golden beaches, and 300 miles of canals, Southern Florida’s “Venice of America” really does have something for everyone. (And with Miami only a quick 35-minute drive away, it’s easy to hop over to the “Magic City” for even more beachside bliss.) 

Find your home base with a Fort Lauderdale vacation rental, then plan your perfect coastal getaway around these top things to do.

In This Article: 

The Best Beach Activities 

The Best Kid-Friendly Activities

The Best LGBTQ+-Friendly Activities

The Best Beach Activities 

People on a boat tour by mansions in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Fort Lauderdale’s 23 miles of sun-kissed beaches are some of the area’s best features. From reefside snorkeling to fresh-caught food, these activities make Fort Lauderdale’s shores a hub for endless fun. 

1. Dive Into Watersports

The beaches of Fort Lauderdale have a ton of watersports available for all experience levels. With an average year-round temperature of 72-80 degrees, one of the best is to get up close to one of the many man-made wrecks via a scuba diving adventure in the “wreck capital of Florida.”  

But if going deep into the sea isn’t quite your style, you could stay closer to the surface and try your hand at surfing, or go on a quiet paddleboard trip for a more relaxing excursion. Add fishing charters and flyboard rentals to the mix, and there’s no way you’ll run out of reasons to make a splash!

2. Grab a Seaside Bite to Eat 

After working up an appetite playing in the water, you can grab some grub at one of the many beachside restaurants in Fort Lauderdale boasting shimmering Atlantic views. 

For starters, there’s contemporary Mexican food at Lona Cocina & Tequileria. Whimsical boardwalk dining at Wild Thyme Oceanside Eatery. And an ultra-lively atmosphere awaits at Bo’s Beach or Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

 If you’re craving fancier fare, upscale options like 3030 Ocean or Mastro’s Ocean Club (dress code required) are worth a reservation. 

3. Set Sail on a Scenic Boat Tour

With miles of canals and beautiful coastal scenery, Fort Lauderdale earns its nickname as the “Venice of America.” Whether you want to take in the views from a relaxing catamaran or yacht, cruise on an old-timey riverboat, or spark some romance on a gondola tour, there are plenty of ways to explore the Intracoastal Waterway. 

If adventure is the name of your travel game, you can’t miss out on an airboat tour of the Everglades — these thrill rides offer a unique way to experience the swamps of Southern Florida.

The Best Kid-Friendly Activities

Flamingos at a watering hole in Fort Lauderdale's Flamingo Gardens

Once known as an iconic spring break destination, the greater Fort Lauderdale area is now a hotspot for family entertainment, kid-friendly resorts, and these popular all-age attractions.

1. Embrace Nature at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

Set between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intercoastal Waterway, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is considered the “Central Park” of Fort Lauderdale and provides a refreshing escape into nature. Take the kids on a hike along the Coastal Hammock Trail, catch a glimpse of the endangered gopher tortoise, or go on a ranger-guided tour of the park. A youth campground is even available, so the adults can relax while the young ones enjoy some supervised fun.

2. Put Your Learning Cap on at MODS

Calling all future scientists! The Museum of Discovery and Science (MODS for short) is packed to the brim with adventure. This massive museum has enough to keep the whole family entertained, including two-story live animal habitats, simulated hurricane force winds you can personally experience, and interactive augmented reality exhibits.

3. Go Botanical in the Flamingo Gardens

Settled onto 60 acres of preserved tropical land, the Flamingo Gardens feature exotic plants, some of the area’s oldest trees, and a sanctuary for over 90 species of Florida-native animals. (When the kids aren’t relaxing in the shade or watching the otters play, it’s worth it to sneak a peek at the flamingos the gardens are named after.)

This botanical garden also hosts the Wray Home Museum, where guests can step back in time to see what life in South Florida looked like for a prominent family in the 1930s. Explore carefully-restored rooms that still feature the Wrays’ personal effects, including framed family portraits and thank you letters from President and Mrs. Eisenhower for delivery of fruit to the White House.

The Best LGBTQ+-Friendly Activities  

Sebastian Street Beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Earning a perfect score in 2020 on the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index, the greater Fort Lauderdale area is one of the most progressive destinations you can visit in the U.S. Here you’ll find a variety of LGBTQ+-friendly things to do. 

1. Unwind at Sebastian Street Beach 

A popular gay beach on the corner of Sebastian Street and A1A, Sebastian Street Beach is easily accessible from popular resorts and the city’s entertainment district. Relax and get your tan on in the welcoming atmosphere, take in the ocean views from the boardwalk, or grab a bite to eat at the trendy Casablanca Cafe right across the street. 

2. Experience the Energy of Wilton Manors

Ranked the “Second Gayest City” in America, Wilton Manors is home to a variety of LGBTQ+-owned businesses and bars, as well as the vibrant-yet-peaceful community of “Island City.” You can party at Georgie’s Alibi Monkey Bar, one of South Florida’s longest-running bars and nightclubs, and dine at the quirky (and always-bustling) Rosie’s Bar and Grill. To tap into a more relaxed energy, explore quiet mangroves in Colohatchee Park.

3. Visit the Stonewall National Museum and World Aids Museum

Operating for nearly 50 years, the Stonewall National Museum & Archives is one of the largest gay archives and libraries in the United States. You can walk through exhibits that chart LGBTQ+ history, catch an author presentation, or experience the professionally-curated archive of LGBTQ+ media from around the country.

Fort Lauderdale is also home to the World Aids Museum and Education Center, the first museum dedicated to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. You can take a guided tour through the exhibits and art galleries, including Chronology of AIDS and the Colors of HIV.

Explore More of Fort Lauderdale, FL

Thanks to the inclusive community, fresh-caught seafood, and beautiful beaches, Fort Lauderdale is one of the best vacation spots for many travelers. To learn more about visiting — including where to find a great vacation rental to serve as your home base — check out our vacation-made easy guide to Fort Lauderdale.

Rest Easy with Evolve

The moment you book your vacation, you should start looking forward to your trip — not worrying about the little details. When you choose Evolve for your Fort Lauderdale vacation, you can feel confident that the home you book will live up to our standards.

Every Evolve vacation rental comes with a team of hospitality experts, and we’re here to make your stay comfortable 24/7. To help you feel even more confident, we created our Rest Easy Promise: if a stay doesn’t match our standards, we’ll make it right.

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