Super useful & totally free travel guides, written by locals who love Fort Lauderdale
Why We Love Fort Lauderdale: The South Florida city is quickly becoming one of the most popular destinations in the United States as Americans continue to seek a tropical getaway within the confines of home. And rightfully so, this is where the city meets the sea – offering a rare blend of urban living with a hint of ocean adventure.
Boating, in particular, is popular as the city features 300+ navigable miles of waterways. Not a boater? No worries. The beaches are spectacular, the city is culturally vibrant, the nightlife is electric, and the nearby day trips are renowned destinations by themselves. This helpful guide will ease the planning of your next trip to Fort Lauderdale.
Best of Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale is a big city mixed with a hint of ocean adventure. The most popular things to do include water sports, exploring hidden natural settings, and enjoying the conveniences of an urban area.
- Lauderdale-by-the-Sea – small beach town with a lively downtown, quiet beaches, and vibrant coral reefs accessible from shore.
- Everglades National Park – Florida’s largest National Park loaded with alligators, tropical birds, and airboat tours.
- Las Olas Boulevard – active downtown strip parallel to the New River with cocktail bars and tasty taquerias.
- Boating – Fort Lauderdale has a boat tour catering to all crowds throughout its 300+ miles of navigable waterways.
- Bonnet House Museum & Gardens – historical beachfront mansion tucked away in a slice of natural coastal landscape.
👉 Explore all things to do in Fort Lauderdale.
Fort Lauderdale consists of two distinct regions with outlying neighborhoods and municipalities – each with its own unique flair.
- Las Olas – Downtown – the epicenter of activity in the growing city with bars, nightclubs, art galleries, and museums.
- Lauderdale-by-the-Sea – family-friendly, beachfront vacation destination north of downtown.
- Fort Lauderdale Beach – Central Beach – lively oceanfront promenade lined with resorts geared towards tourists.
👉 Read full guide to where to stay in Fort Lauderdale.
🛎️ Best Hotels
Beachfront resorts, reputable hotels, and privately owned motels provide a blend of options throughout the greater Fort Lauderdale area.
- Hyatt Centric Las Olas – centrally located, high-end hotel in the heart of downtown.
- Beach Aqualina Apartments – a quaint, 40s Florida-style hotel in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.
- Conrad – luxurious beachfront resort in Fort Lauderdale Beach equipped with a spa and rooftop pool overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
South Florida’s Latin influence and proximity to the open ocean are evident in Fort Lauderdale’s food scene.
- 954 Nuevo’s Cubanos – window-serve Cuban cuisine with outdoor seating, live salsa music, and colorful decor resembling the streets of Havana.
- Louie Bossi’s Italian Ristorante – vibrant eatery with a beautiful outdoor terrace dishing out wood fire pizza and weekend brunch.
- Tacos El Papi – a local’s spot nestled in Oakland Park serving up the most authentic street-style tacos in Florida.
- 15th Street Fisheries – a Fort Lauderdale staple and award-winning seafood restaurant with options for fine-dining or casual fare.
- Sea Watch On the Ocean – an upscale seafood restaurant with ocean views and beachfront seating.
The main draw to Fort Lauderdale is its 26 miles of sandy beaches each attracting different crowds.
- Hugh Taylor Birch State Park – State Park with hiking trails, playgrounds, cycling loop, and even an oceanfront bar & grill.
- Hollywood Beach Broadwalk – car-free ocean drive along the waterfront in beautiful Hollywood Beach.
- Fort Lauderdale Beach Park – largest public beach in Fort Lauderdale with bathrooms, basketball & volleyball courts, picnic tables, and grills.
- Lauderdale-by-the-Sea – quaint, family-friendly stretch of sand with frequent visits from nesting sea turtles.
- Pompano Beach Park – a newly renovated oceanfront community with tiki bars, playgrounds, and a fishing pier.
- Miami – the vibrant city known for its nightlife and Latin culture is a mere 20 miles south.
- Jupiter – an emerging destination in Florida with outdoor adventure abound.
- Fort Myers – straight across the Everglades is Fort Myers – a taste of the Midwest right on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
- Key Largo – visit the only natural coral reef in the continental United States down in the Florida Keys.
- West Palm Beach – the culturally significant city boasts museums, high-end shopping, and beautiful beaches.
👉 Read full list of the best day trips from Fort Lauderdale.
- Las Olas – a downtown district with bars, nightclubs, museums, and the famous dive bars of old Fort Lauderdale.
- Central Beach – main tourist area in town along the crystal blue Atlantic Ocean.
- Victoria Park – oldest neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale with a thick canopy covering historical homes and family-owned apartments.
- Flagler Village – up an coming arts district with trendy breweries, coffee shops, and nightclubs.
- Galt Mile – crowd-less public beaches in a quiet neighborhood on the north end of Fort Lauderdale Beach.
- The Wharf – massive open-air bar with food trucks, yard games, and riverfront views in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
- Elbo Room – cash-only, beachfront dive bar established in 1939 with live music and a lively crowd.
- Glitch Arcade Bar – free arcade games, trivia nights, food trucks, and cold drinks at this unique bar in Flagler Village.
- Rosie’s Bar & Grill – quality food and drink on a tropical patio in Fort Lauderdale’s LGBT neighborhood of Wilton Manors.
- The Wilder – classic cocktail bar in the heart of downtown with a leafy terrace and a 3-room lounge.
- Jungle Queen – a riverboat tour culminating with a tropical island BBQ, comedy show, and fire juggling.
- Water Taxi – explore the entire city as you hop on and off at your leisure aboard the Water Taxi.
- Paddle Pub – paddle and drink your way up and down the New River with your closest friends.
- Jet Skiing – jet ski on the open ocean or within the Intracoastal Waterway through Millionaire’s Row.
- Sailing – set sail to the Bahamas, Miami, or the Florida Keys aboard one of the many sailing charters in the city.
👉 Read full list of best Fort Lauderdale boat tours.
🍸 Museums & Culture
- NSU Art Museum – a beautiful art gallery on Las Olas Boulevard with rotating exhibits and Latin influence.
- Museum of Science & Discovery – geared towards children, the museum is the perfect way to spend a rainy day for families.
- Stranahan House – the longest standing structure in Fort Lauderdale is now shadowed by skyscrapers.
- Broward Center for the Performing Arts – concerts, plays, and dances all take place in this classical theatre.
- Fort Lauderdale Fire and Safety Museum – an interesting exploration of the firefighting days of old.
Fort Lauderdale Travel Advice
With a year-round tropical climate, there’s no bad time to visit Fort Lauderdale. However, each season does come with its pros and cons.
- 🍂 Spring – the best, yet busiest (thus most expensive), time to visit. The temperatures are perfect, the skies are clear, and the seas are calm.
- 🌞 Winter – generally stays warm but a cold spell or two can pass through for a week at a time.
- ❄️ Summer – hot and humid with daily afternoon showers. Morning’s are pleasant for boating and beaching.
- 🌼 Fall – Weather is amazing, but it’s the heart of hurricane season – airfare may be cheap but it’s a roll of the dice.
👉 Read full guide to when to visit Fort Lauderdale.
🚌 Getting Around
Public transit isn’t geared to visitors but other, unique ways are available to get around Fort Lauderdale.
- 🚶♀️ Walking – each neighborhood is walkable within itself (i.e downtown, the beach, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea). However, you won’t want to walk from one to the other.
- 🚗 Driving – recommended to maximize your time but you’ll pay a lot for parking.
- 🚇 Public Transit – used by locals commuting into the city. Not recommended for tourists.
- 📲 Ride Share – Uber and Lyft are affordable means to get around.
- 🚴♀️ Biking – Broward BCycle stations are scattered throughout the city and are unlockable via phone.
- 🛥️ Boating – a day pass with the Water Taxi will get you around town in a unique way.
- 🚄 Train – the Brightline is America’s only eco-friendly, high-speed railway traveling between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach.
👉 Tips & Things to Know
- 🌧️ Don’t Mind the Rain – the forecast will call for thunderstorms every day during the summer but in reality, it usually holds off or lasts a short time.
- ☀️ Wear Sun Protection – the tropical sun is no joke so cover up and use plenty of sunscreen.
- 🌊 Check Wind Speed – if boating, windy days are miserable on the water. Plan accordingly.
- 🌆 Explore Nearby Areas – surrounding cities like Pompano Beach, Dania Beach, Davie, and Hollywood are worthy of exploration.
- 🌞Beat the Heat Early – temperatures are the coolest early in the day if you’re seeking outdoor exercise while visiting.
🧳 What to Pack
- 🧴 Reef-friendly Sunscreen – our waters are covered in coral reefs right near shore. Reef-friendly sunscreen helps protect them.
- 👡 Flip-Flops – sandy toes are but one flick of the foot away.
- 🎒 Dry Bag – with water sports likely on your itinerary, a dry bag backpack is useful to keep your valuables dry.
- 🕶️ Sunglasses – the sun always shines bright in South Florida.
- 👕 UPF Clothing – clothing with a high UPF rating can save your skin from the intense sun.
🤓 Facts & Info
- Census Population (2020) – 183,109 (Fort Lauderdale city), 6.17 million (Miami-metro area)
- Time Zone – Eastern Time (UTC -5:00 / UTC -4:00 during daylight savings)
- Area Codes – 954 & 754
- Airports – Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood International Airport (FLL), Miami International Airport (MIA)
- Nickname – Venice of America; Yachting Capital of the World
- State – Florida
- Country – United States of America
💵 Costs & Budgeting
- 3 Star Hotel Room – $120 – $300 /night
- 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – $80 – $200 /night
- Rental Car – $100+ /day
- Public Transit Ticket – ~$5 ($10 to airport from center)
- RideShare from Downtown to Airport – $15 – $20
- Take Out Meal for Two – $20 – $40
- Sit Down Dinner for Two – $70 – $200
- Draft Beer – $5 – $10
FAQs About Visiting Fort Lauderdale
Is Fort Lauderdale safe for tourists?
Fort Lauderdale is very safe for tourists. The main parts of town including Las Olas, Fort Lauderdale Beach, and Lauderdale-by-the-Sea see very little crime. That’s not to say to let your guard down – petty crime obviously exists everywhere.
Is Fort Lauderdale worth visiting?
Fort Lauderdale is a great place to visit for those seeking a tropical getaway right here within the United States. Plus, the scene isn’t as busy as nearby Miami – offering an equally as beautiful, yet slightly less crowded vacation.
What are the bad areas of Fort Lauderdale?
The bad areas of Fort Lauderdale are sporadic and typically on the outskirts of downtown. Just west of I-95 can get rough while neighborhoods north of downtown surrounding Sunrise Blvd and Sistrunk Ave have seen an uptick in crime.
Is Fort Lauderdale or Miami better for visiting?
Fort Lauderdale is better for visiting than Miami if you’re seeking a tropical getaway without the madness of a massive city. Make no mistake, Fort Lauderdale is a big city but is still severely smaller than its sprawling neighbor.
Fort Lauderdale is great, but so are many other destinations throughout the Sunshine State. And honestly, that might be the best reason to visit here: so much diversity with a wide range of things to do from one city to the next.
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Meet Our Fort Lauderdale Travel Experts
Andrew Bloem is an adventure travel writer from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A pirate at heart, Andrew’s travels usually don’t stray too far from a palm tree and an ocean view. When he’s not writing guides for Travel Lemming, you can find him typing away at the local tiki bar for his site OceanWide Explorers.