With a year-round average temperature of 75 degrees F, Fort Lauderdale is a favorite for those who love sun, sand, and surf.
The main attractions for most tourists are the beaches, but you can find a full assortment of things to do here. Located on the Atlantic coast, 23 miles north of Miami, Fort Lauderdale is a predominantly residential resort city with a Venice-like series of canals and waterways.
Once known as a spring-break hot spot, Fort Lauderdale has become a more sophisticated urban destination. Looking for something a bit more refined and quiet? The city's wide boardwalks and seemingly endless restaurants and shops give it the laid-back atmosphere that sun-starved northerners crave in a Florida vacation.
Fort Lauderdale has far more to offer than just sand and sun, with a surprising amount of history, a lively art scene, and a unique ecology as part of the Everglades. Looking for something a bit more refined and quiet? Head to the the upscale Las Olas neighborhood with its galleries and museums.
Learn about the beaches, parks, museums, and more with our list of the top attractions in Fort Lauderdale.
1. Fort Lauderdale Beach
Fort Lauderdale Beach lies at the heart of the tourist area in Fort Lauderdale. Once known for spring break madness, when thousands of college students descended on the beach, the Fort Lauderdale beach area is now more sedate but still an entertaining stretch of sand and one of the best beaches in Florida.
The beach is backed by a pedestrian walk and numerous hotels, restaurants, and shops. In the streets leading away from the beach, visitors can still find smaller hotels and motels. As spring approaches, the beach gradually becomes busier and more lively as sunseekers hit the sand.
2. Las Olas Boulevard
Las Olas Boulevard stretches from downtown Fort Lauderdale along New River to Las Olas Beach, overlooking the mansions and yachts of the Intracoastal Waterway.
Here, you'll find plenty of tourist attractions and things to do along the boulevard, from touring museums and art galleries to shopping at more than 100 specialty boutiques. This is a popular spot for dining, and the street is packed with waterside cafés and bistros, many with patios.
Another great way to explore the area is by boat, from a simple gondola tour or by chartering your own yacht for the day. With less crowding and a more relaxing atmosphere, Las Olas Beach is a good alternative to the main beach. As a bonus, parking tends to be easier to find in this area.
3. NSU Art Museum
Founded in 1958, NSU Art Museum is a premier destination for exhibitions and programs encompassing all facets of civilization’s visual history.
The Museum is the hub of the South Florida Art Coast, situated midway between Miami and Palm Beach in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale, one of the fastest growing areas in the U.S. Its distinctive modernist building, which opened in 1986 was designed by the renowned architect Edward Larrabee Barnes. Located in Fort Lauderdale’s active Arts and Entertainment District, the Museum is a short walk to the shops, restaurants and galleries of vibrant Las Olas Boulevard as well as to the picturesque Riverwalk waterfront promenade.
NSU Art Museum’s 83,000 square-foot building contains 25,000 square feet of exhibition space, a 256-seat auditorium, Museum Store and Cafe.
4. Historic Stranahan House Museum
Ohio businessman and trader Frank Stranahan built this pine pioneer's home in 1901, at the site where he operated his barge ferry business. It was expanded several times over the years and now features wide verandas, bay windows, a Victorian parlor, and tropical gardens.
Guided tours showcase period Victorian furniture and decorative pieces on display throughout the house. Built to serve as a trading post, Stranahan House also served as the post office, community center, and town hall, and has been used at different times as a restaurant and boarding house. The museum's gift shop features handmade items crafted by local artists.
5. Museum of Discovery and Science
The Museum of Discovery and Science is home to permanent and rotating exhibits and programs that will entertain and educate the whole family. You can meet dinosaurs and look at real fossils in the Prehistoric Florida exhibit, or explore present-day Florida's ecosystems, including a look at one of the largest living coral reefs on display.
There are also hands-on activities, and live shows and movies, like the IMAX movie about the ocean. Other exhibits include the eco-conscious singing robot Harry the Heap, who talks about recycling; the Keller Science Theater, with live demonstrations; and a two-story otter habitat. There is also a dedicated Discovery Center for children under seven.