Best Fort Lauderdale Attractions in 2021
Here are the best Fort Lauderdale attractions to explore on your vacation in 2021! Some cool options include a drive through Lion Country Safari, a stroll through the Flamingo Gardens or lounging on the white sands of Hollywood Beach. There is fishing at Dania Beach Pier, airboat rides through the Everglades and excellent beach scuba diving at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.
One of the best Fort Lauderdale attractions to understand the surrounding is to take some type of boat transportation along the many segments of the Intracoastal Waterway. The Intracoastal Waterway has provided Fort Lauderdale the luxury to take advantage of these waterways and is now known as the Venice of America because of the incredible experiences travelers have while being transported. There are several Intracoastal Waterways within the Fort Lauderdale area which connect some 300 miles of inland canals for transportation purposes as well as several recreational opportunities. The Intracoastal Waterway is a main artery within Fort Lauderdale and is a convenient way for people to travel from one attraction to another. The Intracoastal Waterway provides a platform for gondola boat rides, a water taxi type service and there are several cruises that include dinner as well as sightseeing on larger boats. Riding along the Intracoastal Waterway is a perfect way to reach fabulous Fort Lauderdale attractions such as Las Olas Boulevard, the Port of Everglades, the Stranahan House and Seville Street Beach.
Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk
When you are searching for an area that includes something for everyone from children to adults then the best Fort Lauderdale attraction is the beautiful Riverwalk. Located in historic downtown Fort Lauderdale, the Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk follows the shoreline of the New River for one mile and offers an abundance of activities as well as attractions along the way. The Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk is exclusively a pedestrian walk way which has become a favorite for fitness with several fitness stations located along the way as well as three distinct park areas. The Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk is lined with several exquisite restaurants as well as unique shopping venues and you can even find a water bus so you can take in the sites of the magnificent built environment from a different vantage point. Another aspect to the Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk is that many downtown Fort Lauderdale attractions are linked by its walkways which include the Broward Center of Performing Arts, the Florida Grand Opera and the Museum of Discovery and Science. With the Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk’s close proximity to Las Olas Boulevard night life is abundant in the area and the excitement is raised to another level with live music and several nightclubs.
Photo by Cristina Bejarano
One of the best Fort Lauderdale attractions for families that like nature, wildlife and viewing incredible tropical landscapes is the Flamingo Gardens. Located at 3750 South Flamingo Road just west of Fort Lauderdale in Davie, the Flamingo Gardens is situated on 80-acres within a lush jungle landscape which includes a wildlife sanctuary, botanical garden, aviary and a museum. One of the best ways to see all of Flamingo Gardens is to take the narrated tram tour that gives you an excellent aerial view of 50-acres of natural Florida jungle growth that has never been touched since the days that the former Seminole tribes occupied the area. Once you are at Flamingo Gardens you will be pleased with walking through Wray Botanical collection features 3,000 plants and trees in eight different garden and arboretum areas. Another aspect of Flamingo Gardens is the Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary where you can view magnificent animals like black panthers, alligators, bobcats and black bears being rehabilitated in order to release back into the wild. The Bird Aviary is a spectacular Fort Lauderdale attraction with over 250 birds and 45 of the species are native to Florida. An added bonus at the Flamingo Gardens is the Wray Home Museum which allows you to peak into the lives of Floridians during the 1930s through a number of interactive exhibits.
Sawgrass Recreation Park
When you are searching for a unique outdoor adventure for the family that includes wildlife and a thrilling boat ride, then the ideal Fort Lauderdale attraction is the Sawgrass Recreation Park. Located at 1006 North U.S. Highway 27 just 3-minutes from downtown Fort Lauderdale in Weston, Sawgrass Recreational Park is situated within the Everglades Wildlife Management Area and offers fantastic opportunities for wildlife viewing as well as thrilling airboat rides. Sawgrass Recreational Park boasts several exhibits within the park that feature information on the Everglades eco-system, reptiles and exotic species that are found within the park. Airboat rides can be packed with adrenaline as you speed across the top of the sawgrass laden waterways and swamps. During your ride you will spot alligators, black leopards, pythons and possibly the elusive Florida panther living within their natural habitat. Airboat rides are offered during the day as well as evening and generally leave 20-minutes apart. Other exciting adventures within the park include fishing, camping and there is even a children’s zoo where kids can watch these animals up close.
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
One of the more popular Fort Lauderdale attractions for families and travelers that are active in the outdoors is the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. Located at 3109 East Sunrise Boulevard between the Intracoastal Waterway and State Road A1A, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is situated on 180-acres within a lush tropical environment. Once at the park you will be thrilled with the number outdoor activities that are offered within the space and a must stop is a visit to the Terramar Visitor Center which is contained within a gorgeous Mediterranean and Art Deco style building that was the original home of Hugh Taylor Birch. Here you will find interactive exhibits about Hugh Taylor Birch, the park’s eco-system and the history of Fort Lauderdale. Outdoor Fort Lauderdale attractions are plentiful with paved roads for bicycling, skating, numerous nature trails, fishing from the seawall and you can even canoe or kayak in the one-mile long lagoon. Access to the beach area is through a tunnel that crosses underneath State Road A1A. Wildlife viewing is fabulous with gopher tortoise, turtles, butterflies and the eastern indigo snake as well as over 200 species birds. Other facilities include restrooms, campground, picnic areas and rental equipment is offered onsite.
Photo by Christine Warner Hawks
When you are want to view one of the more pristine and fun beach areas in south Florida then a superb Fort Lauderdale attraction is the nearby Hollywood Beach. Located just 10 miles south of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Hollywood Beach is a spectacular 2.5-mile stretch of white sand which sports an incredibly fun atmosphere for families and all types of travelers. You will find plenty of room on this spacious stretch of beach for lounging, people watching and beach games. The Atlantic Ocean is excellent for swimming, body boarding, standup paddleboarding and there are numerous vendors offering watersport rental equipment as well as adventures from jet skiing to parasailing. The Hollywood Beach Boardwalk stretches the length of the beach and is ideal for walking, jogging, bicycling as well as rollerblading. The Hollywood Beach Boardwalk area has over 50 eateries for you to indulge in fantastic tasting food as well as 30 unique shopping venues. Hollywood Beach hosts several events throughout the year directly on the white sands like concerts and art festivals. Families will be pleased with spending time in one of the two parks along the beach which include an interactive water fountain at Charnow and exciting activities at ArtsPark at Young Circle. Other facilities along the beach include life guards, restrooms and showers.
Photo by Phillip Pessar
If you are interested in doing some great offshore beach scuba diving then the best Fort Lauderdale attraction is Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Located along State Road A1A between Fort Lauderdale on the south and Pompano Beach to the north, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is a small community situated along a narrow barrier island that boasts incredible beach scuba diving, snorkeling and even fishing opportunities. Known as Florida’s Beach Diving Capital, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea sports a coral reef just 100 yards offshore which has become very popular with scuba divers that are interested in exploring the wonderful underwater world of the area that includes sea turtles, sharks and hundreds of fish that live within this colorful coral reef. Diving is especially good south of Anglin’s Pier which is a destination for people fishing in the area. Scuba divers will be thrilled with exploring the SS Copenhagen which is a 19th century British steamship that crashed into the coral reef and is now an underwater preserve as well as listed on the Register of Historic Places. The town boasts several hotels constructed in the 1950s with Modernist architecture, four business plazas and Anglin’s Square is ideal place to relax.
Photo by Matthew Warner
Fort Lauderdale Beach
Fort Lauderdale Beach is one of the more popular Fort Lauderdale attractions for families and travelers who are looking for a superb white sand beach that boasts plenty of activities. Located along State Road A1A between Las Olas Boulevard and Sunrise Boulevard, the Fort Lauderdale Beach is a spacious 4-mile stretch of white sands along the coastline of the beautiful Atlantic Ocean. The Fort Lauderdale Beach has been recently overhauled to become one of the more chic beaches in South Florida. The beach area is soft white sand which boasts plenty of area for lounging as well as beach games and the ocean is generally calm for swimming. Other watersport adventures like standup paddleboarding, kayaking, jet skiing are also popular and there are plenty of venues onsite with watersport as well as beach equipment rentals. There is a superb walkway for bicycling and jogging that stretches the length of the beach. If you forgot your picnic lunch there are plenty of restaurants along the walkway which serve excellent cuisine. The Fort Lauderdale Beach also hosts a variety of events from air shows to live concerts to food festivals. Facilities at the beach area include lifeguards, restrooms and showers.
Photo by Daniel Dudek
Las Olas Beach
When you want to relax on a white sand beach that offers plenty of amenities for families and all types of travelers then the perfect Fort Lauderdale attraction is Las Olas Beach. Located at the eastern end of Las Olas Boulevard, Las Olas Beach is a long stretch of soft white sands along the coastline of the beautiful Atlantic Ocean. Las Olas boasts great swimming, body boarding and there is plenty of area for lounging as well as beach games. You should not worry if you forgot something because there are several places you can rent beach and watersport equipment onsite. The beach area is more tranquil during the day and is perfect for families. You can bring your own picnic or you can indulge in lunch at one of the many restaurants that line the beach. In the evening Las Olas Beach comes alive when a younger crowd is attracted to the nearby bars and nightclubs which boast live music. Friday nights are especially fun and lively with a free concert series that takes place for everyone’s enjoyment. Facilities at the beach include lifeguards, restrooms and showers.
Photo by Ed and Eddie
Las Olas Boulevard
When you are searching for a fun and lively atmosphere that has something for everyone then the best Fort Lauderdale attraction is the Las Olas Boulevard. This thoroughfare stretches from the central business district of downtown to Fort Lauderdale Beach and is one of the more popular spots for shopping as well as dining. Las Olas Boulevard is spectacular with features like antique street lamps, palm trees, olive trees, open courtyards, canals and several Mediterranean style buildings lining the thoroughfare. Las Olas Boulevard is an oasis of fun activities which begin at the beach area and as you travel over the Intracoastal Waterway you will spot million dollar homes as well as luxury yachts. During the day you can walk along the main stretch of ten blocks that feature cool breezeways and visit one of the twelve superb art galleries or stop in at one of the three museums before enjoying a bite to eat in one of 30 fantastic restaurants. Shopping is fantastic with over 75 unique venues for fashion, gifts and souvenirs. Nightlife is hopping with several nightclubs as well as many restaurants and bars boasting live music.
Photo by Phillip Pessar
Bonnet House Museum and Gardens
When you want to see a beautiful historic home and learn more than just the early history of the area then the best Fort Lauderdale attraction is the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens. Located at 900 North Birch Road in East Fort Lauderdale, the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens was constructed in 1920 with a Plantation style architectural design and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. For many years the house served as a winter sanctuary for Helen and Frederic Clay Bartlett. After her death in 1931 Frederick remarried to Evelyn Fortune Lilly and they began the task of refurbishing the home with decorative elements including an orchid garden. Today the home features these decorative elements in period furnishings, many pieces of art that were created by Frederic hang on the walls and the surrounding gardens that feature the five distinct eco-systems of a South Florida barrier island. When you visit this popular Fort Lauderdale attraction you will be pleased with the numerous exhibits about early life in Florida as well as several interesting archeological studies that have taken place which revealed a shell midden from the Tequesta people that is presumed to be 4,000 years old.
Photo by Smart Destinations
Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science
If you are the type of person that is interested in learning about science and discovery in a place that is family friendly, then a superb Fort Lauderdale attraction is the Museum of Discovery and Science. Located at 401 Southwest 2nd Street in downtown Fort Lauderdale, the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science is situated in great two story facility that is home to many exciting exhibits which are perfect for families and inquisitive minds. The Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science have five permanent exhibits which are the Powerful You! where you will about the power of the human body; Go Green promotes green thinking; the Minerals Rock helps teach you about the necessity of minerals in rocks and the food we eat; Runways to Rockets examines the mysteries of outer space and living in the Everglades is a nature trail that informs you of the eco-systems in Florida. Children will be pleased with the 34,000 square feet Eco Discovery Center where they can dig for fossils, feel hurricane force winds and take a simulated ride on an airboat through the Everglades. The museum also houses a massive IMAX 3D Theater.
Photo by osseous
When you want to learn about the early history of Fort Lauderdale and view the oldest building still standing in Broward County then an ideal Fort Lauderdale attraction is the Stranahan House. Located at 335 Southeast 6th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, the Stranahan House was originally constructed in 1901 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. The Stranahan House is a perfect place to learn about the early days of the area through several exhibits and living history that is presented at the museum. The original home when completed housed a trading post on the lower floor and a community hall on the upper floor. In 1906 Frank Stranahan decided to renovate the trading post into their family residence after they had constructed a new general store closer to the railroad station. Frank’s wife Ivy was also instrumental in the community being the first school teacher in the area. Over the years the house was used by his wife as a schoolhouse. After Frank Stranahan’s death in 1929, his wife Ivy continued to live in the house until her death in 1971. Today, the Stranahan House portrays the early history of Fort Lauderdale with hundreds of antique photographs, exhibits and period furnishings throughout the house.
Photo by Phillip Pessar
When you are searching to go shopping for the world’s best known name brands then an ideal Fort Lauderdale attraction is the Aventura Mall. Located at 19501 Biscayne Boulevard which is south of Fort Lauderdale in a northern Miami suburb named Aventura, the Aventura Mall is situated within 2.7 million square feet of shopping as well as dining pleasure and is the third largest retail mall in the United States. Once at the Aventura Mall you can choose to browse over 300 shopping venues that range from Chanel to Gucci to Tiffany and Company. There are also a number of department stores like Nordstrom, Sears, Macy’s, Bloomingdales and J.C. Penney. You can find everything from women’s wear to jewelry to home furnishings to children’s toys and clothes. When you are hungry you can indulge at one of the many restaurants that range from chain establishments like the Cheese Cake Factory to Five Guys Burgers and Fries as well as specialty restaurants such as Grand Lux Cafe, Rosalia’s and there is caviar at the Beluga Bar. The food court has grab-n-go bites from eighteen different dining venues that offer everything from quick caviar to pizza to cookies.
Photo by Bob B. Brown
Sawgrass Mills Mall
When you want to shop until you drop and enjoy numerous entertainment venues then the best Fort Lauderdale attraction is the Sawgrass Mills Mall. Located at 12801 West Sunrise Boulevard in the town of Sunrise which is just west of Fort Lauderdale, the Sawgrass Mills Mall encompasses almost 2.4 million square feet with more than 300 shopping and dining venues. Once you reach Sawgrass Mills Mall you will be pleased with the wide favorite of stores you can browse which range from Adidas to Diesels to Kate Spade. If you have a favorite brand or high-end retailer you like to shop with, you can almost be guaranteed that they reside within the mall. Other options include numerous factory outlet stores such as Ann Taylor, Giorgio Armani, Barneys New York Warehouse, Blooming Dales, Chico’s, Columbia Sportswear, Elizabeth Ardin, Guess, Lacoste, Levi, Nordstrom Rack and Michael Kohrs. Overall there are 300 retailers offering new and discounted merchandise to the general public. Dining options are numerous from Texas of Brazil to the California Pizza Kitchen to the Yard House for sit down dining and there is a food court for quick bites on the go.
Photo by NNECAPA Photo Library
Lion Country Safari
When you want to experience wildlife like you were on a safari in Africa, then best Fort Lauderdale attraction is the Lion Country Safari. Located at 2003 Lion Country Safari Road just an hour north of Fort Lauderdale in Loxahatchee near West Palm Beach, the Lion Country Safari is situated on 252-acres with 5-miles of paved road and was the first drive-thru cage less zoo in the United States. Lion Country Safari houses over 900 animals that reside in seven distinct areas in the park which are Las Pampas, Ruaha National Park, Kalahari Bushueldt, Gir Forest, Gorongosa Reserve, Serengeti Plains and Hwange National Park. When you enter Lion Country Safari you will be pleased with the easy navigation of the park in your car as you explore each individual area of amazing wildlife. An added bonus are several Fort Lauderdale attractions included in the price of admission which are a miniature golf course, safari maze, two waterslides, a carousel, a prehistoric park, a pontoon boat tour, a train ride, flying elephant ride, a petting zoo and Safari Splash which features 23 interactive water activities as well as an area where your children can pan for fossils and gems.
Dania Beach Pier
If you want to experience a great fishing experience on an exceptional pier looking out over the Atlantic Ocean, then an ideal Fort Lauderdale attraction is the Dania Beach Pier. Located at 300 North Beach Road 5-miles south of Fort Lauderdale in Dania Beach, the Dania Beach Pier juts out into the Atlantic Ocean and offers excellent fishing opportunities for anglers of all skill levels as well as a perfect place to just walk while you view the ocean waters. Once at Dania Beach Pier you will be pleased with the onsite fishing equipment rental that are available throughout the day. You can cast your line into the ocean with the hopes of catching one of several different species including bluefish, yellowtail snapper or a grouper. The pier is lit for nighttime fishing and also has facilities like restrooms, benches and a fish cleaning station. If you did not bring your own food and drink then stop by the Quarterdeck which prepares pub style food.
Photo by Sally Taylor
Fort Lauderdale Butterfly World
When you want to visit tranquil manicured gardens that are packed with incredible scenery as well as thousands of butterflies, then the best Fort Lauderdale attraction is the Butterfly World. Located at 3600 West Sample Road in Coconut Creek, Fort Lauderdale Butterfly World is situated on 10-acres within Tradewinds Park and is 10-miles north of Fort Lauderdale. The Fort Lauderdale Butterfly World houses over 5,000 butterflies from more than 80 different species and is the largest butterfly park in the world. There are several gorgeous garden areas within Fort Lauderdale Butterfly World which include the Tropical Rian Forest Aviary which is complete with a waterfall; Paradise Adventure Aviary has ponds with fountains; Jewels of the Sky Aviary features hummingbirds and the Hanging Garden and Butterfly Emerging Area is packed with pupa and hatching butterflies of all different species. Stroll through Grace Gardens which is an outdoor botanical garden that feature tropical flowers and one of the largest collections of Passion Flowers in the world can be found within the Wings Secret Garden. If you get hungry you can visit one of the two onsite cafes or have a picnic in Tradewinds Park.
Photo by Bob B. Brown
NSU Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art
One of the more interesting and relaxing Fort Lauderdale attraction for all travelers including families is the NSU Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art. Located at 1 East Olas Boulevard in central Fort Lauderdale, the NSU Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art is situated in an interesting Modernist building which contains 75,000 square feet of space. The NSU Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art has a fascinating contemporary 20th century collection of over 6,200 pieces of sculptures, artwork, photography and ceramics. The museum houses a large collection of Pablo Picasso pieces of his ceramics as well as a contemporary collection of Cuban creations from over 125 different artists. Exhibits have ranged from Kahlo, Rivera + Mexican Modern Art to From Within and Without: The History of Haitian Photography to the Spirit of CoBRa which highlighted artwork from the northern European avant-garde period. Other exhibits have included William J. Glackens: A Modernist in the Making, Catherine Opie: 700 Nimes Road and Bellissima: Italy and High Fashion 1945-1968. The museum also provides lectures, workshops and musical performances as well as family oriented programs which are perfect for children.
Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum
If you want to see one of the finest collections of antique cars on the East Coast, then the perfect Fort Lauderdale attraction is the Antique Car Museum. Located at 1527 Southwest 1st Avenue within South Fort Lauderdale, the Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum is situated within a 30,000 square foot facility that houses twenty-two outstanding cars from the Packard Motor Company. Once inside you will be thrilled with viewing these beautifully engineered machines that range from 1909 to the 1947. As you stroll through the museum you will see cars such as a 1909 Packard Model 18 Speedster, a 1921 Packard Model 3-35 Twin-Six Phaetin, a 1932 Packard Model 900 Shovelnose Sedan and a 1940 Packard Model 1803 160 Super Eight Sedan. There are a number of unique trucks like the 1915 Packard Model E 1/2 –Ton and there is even a 1930 Packard Model 640 Fire Engine. You will be taken down memory road when you see all of the memorabilia that ranges from signs to oil cans to gas pumps. An added bonus to this fabulous Fort Lauderdale attraction is an exhibit area that features the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt.