17 Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale
By Janet Benoir – October 9, 2023
Fort Lauderdale, a destination famous for its stunning beaches, crystal clear waters, luxurious yachts, and opulent mansions, has transformed into an ideal location for a family vacation. With an abundance of family-friendly activities, Greater Fort Lauderdale now offers fun-filled experiences that cater to both children and adults, making it the perfect getaway for your next visit to Florida.
To make your family trip memorable, we have compiled a list of amazing things to do in Fort Lauderdale with kids that you’ll enjoy too. So gather your sunscreen, prepare for some adventure, and get ready to explore the myriad of attractions that Fort Lauderdale has in store for you and your loved ones.
Ft. Lauderdale Beaches
In Ft. Lauderdale, you can enjoy seven miles of picturesque beaches, offering ample space for your kids to swim, build sand castles, and have fun. You’ll appreciate the safety ensured by lifeguards stationed every few hundred yards on Ft. Lauderdale Beach, stretching from the South Beach Picnic Area to Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. For a more secluded beach experience, a pedestrian tunnel under A1A leads you from the park to the beach.
The Greater Ft. Lauderdale area also boasts several other stunning beaches. Deerfield Beach, Hillsboro Beach, Pompano Beach, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Dania Beach, Hollywood, and Hallandale Beach are just a few of the nearby options. These beaches offer everything from water sports to shops and restaurants, ensuring you’ll have an unforgettable time.
Embark on a snorkeling adventure with Square Grouper SoFlo to discover the underwater world that awaits. Fort Lauderdale boasts stunning coral reefs, housing more than 500 species of fish, including sharks and sea turtles. You’ll start with a helpful snorkeling lesson directed by a PADI-certified instructor who will provide you with high-quality equipment like masks, fins, snorkels, flotation devices, and de-fog solution.
Dive into the clear waters at three of Fort Lauderdale’s premier shore dive locations, situated just 150 feet from the shore. Your instructor will highlight the fascinating aquatic life and guide you through the captivating marine environment during the approximately 1-hour-long trip. This snorkeling experience is recommended for individuals aged 13 and up, with a minimum age requirement of 8 years old.
Museum of Discovery & Science
At the Museum of Discovery & Science, you and your family will find engaging exhibits to capture your interests. With various interactive displays designed for kids of different ages, everyone in your group will enjoy the experience. For your dinosaur fanatic, they can step into a Megalodon’s mouth and dig for fossils, while the airboat ride simulator and large indoor and outdoor aquariums provide more excitement.
For younger children, the Discovery Center offers a space designed specifically for them. Arriving at the museum in style is possible using Fort Lauderdale’s affordable water taxi route.
Young at Art Museum
The Young at Art Museum provides a spectacular experience for kids, blending fun and creativity with education. With interactive galleries designed to cater to young minds, you’ll ride a subway, visit a cave, and even dive into the imaginative universe of Alice in Wonderland. As your children unleash their inner artists in each gallery, they’ll also gain valuable insights into art and music.
This incredible museum features a range of exhibits that rotate throughout the year, ensuring a fresh experience with each visit. In addition to the exhibits, the museum offers a variety of camps and classes for even more year-round enjoyment.
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park serves as a haven from bustling city life. This park provides boat access from the waterway and beach access via a pedestrian tunnel under A1A. Additionally, there are picturesque picnic spots overlooking the water, pavilions, and youth campgrounds for group visits.
At Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, you can partake in numerous popular activities such as bicycling, hiking, fishing, and paddling. The park’s central location allows you to experience a rejuvenating escape without being far from the city’s attractions.
Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park
At Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park, previously known as John U. Lloyd Beach State Park, you can reconnect with nature in an undisturbed coastal ecosystem, unique to Broward County. This park bears the names of two Civil Rights advocates who organized “wade-ins” to desegregate Florida’s beaches during the 1950s and 60s.
Right on the beachfront, you can participate in various activities such as swimming, boating, hiking, picnicking, and fishing. This 310-acre natural park is an ideal place for children to explore and learn about its history while having fun.
Butterfly World, located in Coconut Creek, houses an impressive collection of 20,000 butterflies from across the globe. Here, you can get close to these colorful creatures, walk among the six aviaries filled with exotic birds, examine the intriguing Bug Museum, and even feed the playful lorikeets. The beautiful tropical flowers and plants throughout the grounds create enchanting habitats that capture your imagination.
This one-of-a-kind destination is perfect for both kids and adults to enjoy. To make the most of your visit, consider purchasing the Fort Lauderdale Sightseeing Pass – offering Day Passes or FLEX Pass options allowing you to choose from over 60 distinct attractions to explore the city economically.
At Flamingo Gardens, a diverse blend of botanical gardens and wildlife sanctuary awaits, ensuring a unique experience for everyone in your group. The botanical gardens showcase over 3,000 species of tropical plants and flowers across 60 acres of lush terrain in South Florida. Meanwhile, the wildlife sanctuary serves as a refuge for animals and birds that cannot be safely returned to the wild, such as alligators, bears, bobcats, panthers, and, of course, flamingos.
In addition to the gardens and sanctuary, Flamingo Gardens offers an interactive children’s garden and a hummingbird garden to explore. The site also boasts an arboretum, further enriching your experience.
Jungle Queen Riverboat
Experience the luxury of Millionaire’s Row as you embark on the Jungle Queen Riverboat. This vessel offers various cruise options throughout the year to suit your preferences. During the festive season, the 90-minute Holiday Lights Sightseeing Cruise sails along Millionaire’s Row, showcasing extravagant mega yachts and more.
Opt for the 90-minute morning or afternoon Sightseeing Cruise, coursing through the picturesque “Venice of America,” where you can learn more about this distinguished region. Alternatively, the Tropical Isle Dinner with Sightseeing Cruise provides both entertainment and satiation. Ascend the river, taking in the opulence of Millionaire’s Row, before reaching a private tropical isle.
Las Olas Boulevard
When searching for fantastic dining establishments, cafés, and shopping opportunities, set your sights on Las Olas Boulevard. With options to ride bikes, hop on a trolley, or use a pedi-cycle, you can easily make your way down the boulevard and visit all your preferred locations.
Not only is Las Olas Boulevard a stop on Ft. Lauderdale’s water taxi route, which occasionally offers “kids ride free” promotions during summer, but it also hosts various special events throughout the year, such as art exhibitions and autumn festivals.
Las Olas Gondola Adventures
While visiting the renowned canals of Ft. Lauderdale, the “Venice of America,” make sure to experience the Las Olas Gondola Tours. This 75-minute journey navigates through the picturesque canals, providing an enchanting atmosphere for you and your family.
With soothing music playing in the background, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Italy. To enhance the experience, you can bring your preferred snacks and beverages on board, ensuring a delightful time for you and your kids.
Experience a unique dining event at the historic Mai-Kai Restaurant and Polynesian Show. This tiki-inspired eatery offers a blend of Asian cuisine, while also catering to children’s preferences with dishes like chicken fingers and mac and cheese. To make it even more enjoyable for kids, drinks are served in actual pineapples!
The central attraction is the Islander Revue Polynesian show, which makes you feel as if you’ve arrived in Hawaii. Marvel at the talented dancers and musicians who perform this ever-changing show annually. In the summer months, Mai-Kai also showcases young performers in a special children’s show every Sunday evening.
Bluefoot Pirate Adventures
Have you ever wanted to share a pirate joke while cruising the high seas? Bluefoot Pirate Adventure has you covered with their 1-hour family pirate cruises. Ideal for children and adults alike, this adventure allows you to dress up, speak, and battle like a pirate using real water cannons.
This fully interactive, family-friendly pirate experience is sure to leave an impression that will last a lifetime. To book your 1-Hour Family Pirate Cruise, visit platforms like Get Your Guide and embark on the swashbuckling adventure of a lifetime!
Sawgrass Recreation Park
Embark on an airboat journey through the Florida Everglades at Sawgrass Recreation Park. With their knowledgeable guides, explore the heart of this unique ecosystem on a thrilling airboat tour. For the more adventurous, the park even offers a nighttime airboat experience known as Gator Nights, a couple of evenings each week.
In addition to the exciting airboat rides, Sawgrass Recreation Park is home to a reptile exhibit, giving you the chance to hold a baby alligator and interact with iguanas and turtles. Other exhibits within the park include an exotic wildlife exhibit and a glades exhibit, ensuring an unforgettable experience for the whole family.
Everglades Holiday Park Adventure
Embark on an hour-long airboat tour through the magnificent Everglades, followed by an engaging alligator presentation at the Gator Pit. You’ll have the opportunity to witness the expertise of the Gator Boys, who are committed to safely catching nuisance alligators, as seen on Animal Planet.
After these thrilling experiences, enjoy a 45-minute animal encounter, where you can interact with various creatures and even pose for pictures with them. This Everglades Holiday Park adventure promises a unique and unforgettable experience, sure to leave you with a greater appreciation for the wonders of the natural world.
Billie Swamp Safari
Located about an hour west of Ft. Lauderdale, Billie Swamp Safari offers a unique and exciting experience. The main attraction here is the Swamp Buggy eco-tour. A Swamp Buggy is a custom-built, open vehicle with a canopy and large tractor tires, making it perfect for navigating both muddy swamps and dry land. This allows you and your family to observe numerous plant and animal species that would otherwise be difficult to see.
There’s more to Billie Swamp Safari than just the Swamp Buggy tours. You can also enjoy Everglades airboat rides, snake shows, live critter shows, and various animal exhibits. While exploring the expansive 2,200-acre preserve, you can learn about the Seminole Indians’ efforts in preserving the land that is home to thousands of plant and animal species.
EZRide Surf School
Fulfill your dreams of riding the waves by joining the EZRide Surf School. With expert guidance available for all abilities and ages above five, this is the ideal opportunity for you and your family to develop your surfing skills.
In Fort Lauderdale, multiple surfing spots ensure a consistent wave experience. With certified professionals by your side, you’ll soon master the art of hanging ten in this picturesque setting.