Fort Lauderdale swells and pulses with sights, sounds, and smells. From sunny beaches, to luxury shopping,  and some of the southeast’s prime dining. It’s one of the top tourist destinations in Florida, and all of the United States.

There’s so much to see and do here, it’s difficult to narrow things down! That’s where we come in. We’ve nominated a list of 13 activities, eateries, and attractions that are must-dos next time you’re in Fort Lauderdale. Some you’ve clearly heard of, others are more hidden gems, but all of them are worth your time.

So read on and start planning your next trip — and if you need lodging, book a Fort Lauderdale vacation rental to save money and gain so much more space & privacy over a traditional hotel.

Top 13 Fort Lauderdale Activities

Jungle Queen River Boats

In their own words: Jungle Queen Riverboat has been sailing the waterways of Fort Lauderdale since 1935, that is over 80 years of expertise! The experience really shines when it comes to treating guests, navigating the sometimes tight river ways, and providing an entertaining atmosphere. Besides all of the history, we also have one of the best looking tour boats on the water.

The main section of the tour, near the New River, is home to some of the most amazing and expensive homes in Florida. These homes are reserved for the ultra rich; rightfully so, it should be called billionaire’s row. From television producer Michael Mann, who created the hit show Miami Vice, to the heir of Kohl’s department stores, some of the most wealthy individuals in the world have showcase homes here. Not to mention, yachts from Steven Spielberg and the like are also viewable.

You may not recognize the names of some of these rich and powerful people, such as Wayne Huizenga, who co-founded companies including Blockbuster, Auto Nation, and Waste Management, but their massive multi-million compounds are worthy of admiration and plenty of photos during your Jungle Queen Riverboat Cruise

Bonnet House Museum & Gardens

In their own words: Built in 1920, Bonnet House is an historic house museum on 35 acres on Fort Lauderdale Beach. Accredited by the American Association of Museums, Listed on the National Register of Historic Places & a City of Fort Lauderdale Historic Landmark.

Nestled among miles of beachfront development are 35 acres of a pristine barrier island ecosystem that make up the Bonnet House estate. See one of the finest orchid collections in the U.S., and catch a glimpse of a playful monkey.

Funky Buddha Brewery

In their own words: Florida radiates good vibes. Funky Buddha was founded in Florida, and to this day, still channels that goodness into a full-flavored beer brewed from high-quality ingredients. So let the good vibes flow and crack one open.

Funky Buddha started from humble beginnings at a small brewpub in Boca Raton, built off passionate people and sketchy craigslist ads. We were tired of the standard beer offerings. So we took matters to our own brew house, whipping up unconventional-yet-exceptional ales and pushing the boundaries of social norms.

Water Taxi

In their own words: Fort Lauderdale is known as the “Venice of America” due to its stunning waterways. Water Taxi gives you the best way to explore and tour these majestic routes, with insights about the history, homes, and heroes who made our city great.

That’s because Water Taxi was established to offer guests “more than just a boat ride.” It’s a means of transportation between the many great sights and a destination in its own right. You can enjoy refreshments on board and enjoy colorful narration from our knowledgeable crew. You can pick up tips about the best places to visit at each of the 11 stops along 15 miles of waterway in Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood—each of which has ample parking nearby—and even ask about our “cruise & save” partners, which offer discounts at notable locations along the route.

But the best way to learn what makes Water Taxi unique is to take a ride and find out for yourself!

Flamingo Gardens

In their own words: Flamingo Gardens is a 60 acre Botanical Garden and Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary. The Flamingo Gardens botanical gardens in Fort Lauderdale, (Davie) Florida, features over 3000 species of rare & exotic, tropical, subtropical, and native plants and trees. Flamingo Gardens wildlife sanctuary is home to the largest collection of Florida native wildlife including alligators, bobcats, eagles, otters, panthers, peacock, and of course, flamingos!

Historic Stranahan House & Museum

In their own words: The Historic Stranahan House Museum is Fort Lauderdale’s oldest and most historically significant surviving structure. This is where it all began. The Stranahan House holds the story of a family, a house, and the birth of a city.

The house is a wood-frame vernacular structure with wide porches and a stunning view of the New River. It was lovingly restored by the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society and the Fort Lauderdale Board of Realtors and opened to the public as a historic house museum in 1984.

Sawgrass Recreation Park

In their own words: Climb aboard for an Everglades airboat ride and go on an adventure in the Florida Everglades. Your airboat ride is guided by one of our highly-trained, experienced captains, who takes you on a thrilling ride. During your Everglades airboat tour, listen to fun facts about this impressive ecosystem while you take in the exciting sights.

You may even catch a glimpse of the wildlife as you skim across the glassy water on your adventure. Keep your eyes peeled as you cruise through the unbridled wild beauty of the Florida Everglades. Feel free to let your spirit soar as you view nature at its finest.

Museum of Discovery & Science

In their own words: MODS is one of the largest museums of its kind in Florida, and has the most visitors of any museum in the state. Explore and discover with more than 200 dynamic hands-on exhibits and six-story IMAX 3D Theater, live animals and more!

The Museum of Discovery and Science mission is: connecting people to inspiring science. MODS began its history as a project of the Junior League of Fort Lauderdale, opening as the Discovery Center, a hands-on museum of art, science and history, in 1977 in the historic New River Inn. Over the course of the next few years, several other historic buildings became part of the Museum’s complex.

More than 450,000 people visit the Museum of Discovery and Science annually. Over 8 million visitors have experienced the Museum since opening in 1992. The Museum currently serves more than 90,000 students annually who visit on school sponsored field trips.

Louie Bossi’s

In their own words: Classic Italian fare by Chef Louie Bossi. All of our pastas, breads, gelatos, pastries and cookies are made in-house daily. Serving Lunch, Brunch, and Dinner with a daily happy hour. #LikeABossi

Shooters Waterfront

In their own words: A lot has changed since 1982. But despite Fort Lauderdale’s evolution, one restaurant on the Intracoastal has been there every step of the way. With its dockside views, fresh seafood, weekend brunch, and lively events — all served up in a relaxed environment — Shooters Waterfront is a Florida icon. There’s a reason behind our longevity: We invite you to see for yourself.

Padrino’s

In their own words: Padrino’s Restaurants is a third generation, family-owned collection of Cuban restaurants. Each generation has added their touch to create the ultimate Cuban culinary experience- from our grandmother’s recipes, our father’s dedication to service, and our handcrafted cocktails all served in a contemporary-warm ambiance.

Caffe Europa

In their own words: Opened in 1990 by Tony Cupelli, Caffé Europa brings the heart of Calabria, Italy to the heart of beautiful Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Our recipes have been brought from Italy and were passed down from generation to generation. We never comprise in our ingredients, only using the finest meats, cheeses, extra virgin olive oil and pasta imported from Italy. Our wine and champagnes list were curated, by our family, to make each meal even more enjoyable.

Enjoy a little taste of Italy while you enjoying the beach, and experience the best life can offer. Mangia Bene, Mangia Sano, Mangia Italiano.

The Wilder

Great place, good vibes, good drinks! Love this little spot. Went two nights over a holiday weekend – one night they had live music (a very low-key feel) and then the next they had a DJ. Two different vibes, both a lot of fun!” – Google Review

Jen Robertson
Author

Hi, I'm Jen and I love to travel, go to the beach and write about all the places I have visited. I also have a bucket list of places I can't wait to try! I've visited Cape Cod every summer since I was a kid and now enjoy traveling to all great beach destinations, including Florida! I have worked in the travel industry for all of my career. I love sharing my experiences of different restaurants and places and helping travelers find the best fit for them!

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