26 Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for Cruisers
If you are taking a cruise out of Port Everglades, you might be interested in the many things to do in Fort Lauderdale during your visit. There are dozens of online articles listing what to do in Fort Lauderdale, Florida so why is this one the best?
Quite simply, it’s written by a South Florida local who has worked in the travel and cruise industry for over 12 years. We’ve picked the most suitable places to visit and things to do in Fort Lauderdale for cruisers who may only have a short time in this “Venice of America”.
Many cruisers plan to arrive in Fort Lauderdale a few days before their cruise to avoid any last minute problems such as canceled flights, traffic problems, or icy weather further north. If you’re arriving by road, there’s plenty of choice for affordable cruise parking near Port Everglades.
Once you’ve arrived in Fort Lauderdale you can relax and enjoy some of the amazing activities that are available. At the end of your Port Everglades cruise, why not extend your vacation and spend a couple of nights in a Fort Lauderdale hotel before returning home?
If you haven’t visited Fort Lauderdale Florida before, get ready to be impressed. This beautiful beach city really is as good as the photos and travel brochures suggest. It has 23 miles of soft sandy beaches lined with palm trees and lapped by the blue Atlantic Ocean. You can see it for yourself on the official Fort Lauderdale, FL beach cam here!
Fort Lauderdale is also known for its shopping on Las Olas Blvd, world-class dining, museums, theaters, a fabulous art scene, casinos, botanical gardens, shipwreck dive sites, fishing charters, boat trips and amazing wildlife – after all, the Everglades National Park is right on the doorstep! And, as if all that is not enough, the sun really does shine 246 days a year. Who wouldn’t want to spend a few days in Fort Lauderdale enjoying the sights, especially in the winter months?
We’ve chosen 26 top things to do in Fort Lauderdale before or after a cruise. You’ll find information, locations, current prices and a link to each attraction below. Whether you want family attractions, history, culture, outdoor adventures or things to do on the water, we have a great selection of Fort Lauderdale attractions just for you!
1. Segway Fort Lauderdale Tour
Taking a Segway Tour is a great way to explore Fort Lauderdale’s quieter neighborhoods while having fun. The 5-mile tour starts with a quick lesson in driving these balance-controlled vehicles, then follow the tour leader around the downtown area.
You’ll see luxury yachts, historic homes and other places of interest and you’ll learn snippets of local history along the way. Segway Fort Lauderdale Tours start from $63 and last one hour plus training time. Add on a jet ski tour for the ultimate fun!
2. Jungle Queen Riverboat Tour and Gator Show
- Bahia Mar Yachting Center A1A
The iconic Jungle Queen paddlewheeler is one of Fort Lauderdale’s longest-running attractions, started in 1935. The cruise takes you up the New River to see luxury sailboats, tugs, ferries, historic homes and lush gardens as you enjoy the breezy cruise.
The destination is a private island where you can enjoy refreshments, wildlife exhibits and entertainment including a Gator Show before returning to the marina. Evening tours include a BBQ dinner, live entertainment in a tropical island setting and souvenir photos. It’s magic!
3. Bluefoot Pirate Tours
- Set sail from Dock I909, Bahia Mar Marina at 801 Seabreeze Blvd.
Avast me hearties! The Bluefoot Pirate Adventures Tour is a boat cruise tailor-made for families. As well as enjoying the scenery, passengers get to use water cannons in this fun interactive cruise.
Help the pirates find the treasure, learn to speak the pirate language and dress up like a pirate. Defend the ship from rival pirates as part of the battle of the high seas on the Intracoastal Waterway. Tickets are $25 per person for the daily sailings starting at 10 am.
4. Flamingo Gardens
- 3750 Flamingo Road, Davie, 17 miles west of Fort Lauderdale
Flamingo Gardens is a full day out for families of all ages with 60 acres of botanical gardens, tours of the historic Wray family home and a wildlife refuge. It includes many of Florida’s native species including alligators, bears, bobcats, eagles, otters and flamingos. Many of the animals and birds are injured or non-releasable and have a permanent home at this well laid-out non-profit animal sanctuary.
The gardens include over 3000 species of rare and exotic plants and flowers and some of the largest trees in Florida. Admission is $19.95 for adults and $12.95 for children. It includes a narrated tram tour and informative animal shows.
5. Museum of Discovery and Science
- 401 SW 2nd St, Fort Lauderdale
The Museum of Discovery and Science is an educational and interactive experience for families and it makes a great place to escape the summer heat. Exhibits include prehistoric Florida, airboats, hurricanes, an otter habitat, the Great Gravity Clock, Mars Rover and flight simulator as well as a Discovery Lab, Café and IMAX Theater. Museum admission is $17 for adults. A combo ticket including the IMAX theater is $22+.
Even more details about the Museum are here.
6. Volunteer Park
- 12050 W. Sunrise Blvd, Plantation
Children will have plenty of safe space to run and play at Volunteer Park, a family-friendly park with something for everyone. Enjoy the walking trails, climb the giant slides in the play area, play tennis and spot fish and turtles from the boardwalk. Best of all, this park has free admission.
For History Lovers
7. Stranahan House
Surrounded by modern high-rise architecture, Historic Stranahan House sits on the banks of the New River and is the oldest surviving home in Broward County. The pioneer home was built by Frank and Ivy Stranahan who operated a ferry, the first Post Office and ran a trading post with the native Indians.
You can read more details about this attraction right here.
Guided tours of this furnished home take you back in time to a challenging life as a Florida pioneer. Learn about the early development of Fort Lauderdale in the late 19th century. Tickets for admission and a guided tour (afternoons only) are $12 for adults.
8. Antique Car Museum
- SW 1st Ave, Fort Lauderdale
One of the most popular things to do in Fort Lauderdale is to visit the Antique Car Museum in the heart of Fort Lauderdale. Tours are available from 10-4pm weekdays and by appointment on Saturdays.
Founded by Arthur and Shirley Stone as a private collection, the museum is now run as a non-profit and admission is a minimum $10 donation. Car lovers will appreciate the 39 shiny restored Packard vehicles dating from 1909 to 1958. They range from fire trucks to limos, many of which belonged to famous celebrities.
9. Fort Lauderdale Historical Society Museum
The Fort Lauderdale Historical Society Museum is a village of historic buildings that can be explored on a guided or self-guided tour. It includes some of Fort Lauderdale’s earliest settler properties including the 1905 New River Inn which houses the Museum of History; the Philemon Nathaniel Bryan House; King-Cromartie House, Replica Schoolhouse and the former post office annex now housing the Hoch Heritage Center which contains archives and photographs.
Museum admission for a self-guided tour is $10 for adults. Alternatively, there’s a choice of docent-led guided tours at $15.
10. Naval Air Station Museum
Fort Lauderdale was an important Naval Air Station during WW2 and many aviators were trained and stationed in the city. Aviation history is now captured at the Naval Air Station Museum along with personal stories of the aviators (including George H.W. Bush) who served and protected their country during WW2.
Photos, uniforms and memorabilia are well laid out. One of the most intriguing exhibits is the mysterious Flight 19, which vanished over the Bermuda Triangle in December 1945. Museum admission is free and you can take an optional Pay-what-you-wish guided tour with a docent. Open Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays 11.30 to 3.30pm.
11. Fort Lauderdale Beach
Fort Lauderdale has 23 miles of stunning white sand, waving palm trees and gorgeous Blue Wave certified waters. Surf the rolling Atlantic breakers or relax on the beach with equipment rentals that include sun loungers, shady umbrellas and sports equipment.
This great beach is perfect for people watching and the brick-lined promenade is ideal for romantic sunset strolls, jogging and rollerblading. Check out the neighboring beaches too.
- West of Federal Hwy (US-1) in downtown Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale’s Riverwalk is a delightful winding footpath lined with tropical plants in the heart of the downtown Riverwalk District. Known as “Florida’s Most Beautiful Mile”, it runs along the north and south banks of the New River and takes in the historic area where early settlers brought their harvest for shipment.
The footpath is lined with shops, restaurants, pubs, attractions, landmarks, a butterfly garden, gazebos, boats and parks. Riverwalk hosts many events including a Sunday Jazz Brunch (first Sunday in the month) with live jazz bands playing on three stages in Riverwalk Park.
13. Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is an urban oasis between Fort Lauderdale Beach and the Intracoastal Waterway. Open daily from 6 am to sunset, entrance is $6 per vehicle or $2 per pedestrian. Walk along the traffic-free Coastal Hammock Trail or rent bicycles and explore the natural Florida habitat on the 1.9 mile Park Drive.
Fishing and boating is permitted with equipment rentals available. It’s a great place to relax, take a tour or explore the Visitor Center (open weekdays only) in the original 1940s beach home of Hugh Taylor Birch.
14. Turtle Treks
- 3104 NE 9th St, Fort Lauderdale
Take a guided eco tour with Sea Turtle Oversight Protection staff at Turtle Treks of Terramar and enjoy the rare opportunity to see newborn sea turtle hatchlings. Learn about the threats sea turtles face, why bright city lights lure hatchlings to their death, and how turtle rescue operations increase their chance of survival. Tours are available in turtle nesting season – June through September.
15. Play Golf
- Lauderhill Golf Course, 4141 NW16th St
Treat yourself to a round of golf in the sunshine at City of Lauderhill Golf Course. Set on 15 acres, this executive golf course is open to the public daily from 7 am to 5 pm with green fees starting at a very modest $6 for 9 holes and $9 for 18 holes. Rent golf clubs for $5 per bag and an electric cart from $5 and you’re ready to tee off!
16. Hollywood Broardwalk
Eight miles south of Fort Lauderdale city center, Hollywood is home to a stunning 2½ mile beachfront promenade known as the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk. It is lined with over 50 small cafés, restaurants and hotels so you’ll find plenty of choice for drinks and dining.
In the evening, it’s the place for families and couples to stroll, ride bicycles and enjoy the live music and stunning beach views.
Cultural Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale
17. Bonnet House Museum
Bonnet House is a historic home, tropical garden and fantastic museum of artworks. Most paintings and sculptures were either done or collected by Fredric Clay Bartlett and his third wife, Evelyn Fortune Barlett, in the early 20th century.
Guided tours provide a fascinating insight into the life and home of this wealthy couple who filled their home and garden with fountains, exotic treasures and a menagerie of pets and monkeys!
18. Mai Kai Polynesian Dinner Show
The Mai Kai Restaurant has been thrilling Fort Lauderdale residents and visitors since 1956 with its Polynesian dinner shows. Start the evening with a generous cocktail from the full color menu of over 50 cocktails and tropical drinks, which has earned the restaurant the title “Best Tiki Bar in the World” by Critiki.
It serves an outstanding menu of Oriental dishes, local seafood and prime USDA steaks cooked over oak in a special Chinese oven. Once dinner is over, the entertainment begins with an authentic revue of cultural Polynesian dancers, drummers and fire jugglers.
19. Las Olas
- Las Olas Blvd, Fort Lauderdale
Lined with independent shops, boutiques and upscale wine bars, Las Olas is Fort Lauderdale’s eclectic shopping and dining district. Stroll along this shady tree-lined street, browse the art galleries and enjoy al fresco dining at one of the upscale restaurants.
Dine at the delectable Cheesecake Factory, which is known for its salads and desserts, or visit the Wild Sea Oyster Bar and Grille at the historic Riverview Hotel. Whole fish are chef-prepared in dishes such as Golden Tilefish with Poached Clams, Mushrooms and Julienned Kohlrabi over a Cream Sauce. Alternatively sample the menu at Timpano, which serves first class Italian cuisine.
20. Broward Center for the Performing Arts
Fort Lauderdale’s Broward Center for the Performing Arts is one of the most visited theaters in the world. Located on the Riverwalk, this purpose built theater complex offer more than 700 performances a year with everything from opera, ballet, live music concerts and plays to comedy and Broadway musicals.
Book tickets ahead of time and look forward to a memorable show before or after your Fort Lauderdale cruise.
21. NSU Art Museum
The NSU Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale is open daily except for Mondays and includes over 7,000 modern and contemporary artworks and murals. It focuses on works by artists including William J. Glackens, Tracey Emin, Frida Kahlo and other artists from Cuba and Latin America.
There is a café and gift store. Docent-led gallery tours are available on Fridays and Saturdays 2-3pm. Admission is $12 for adults, free for children 12 and under, and free to everyone on the first Thursday of the month from 4-8pm.
22. Airboat Ride and Everglades Tour
Just 24 miles from Fort Lauderdale, Florida you can be zooming across the Everglades on a thrilling airboat ride spotting gators in Florida’s wildest natural park. Sawgrass Recreation Park is the best place for a guided Everglades Tour and Airboat Ride and prices start from $22.95 for adults with discounts for children aged 4-12.
Rides last about 30 minutes. Airboats are LOUD so you’ll need to wear headsets, which double up as walkie-talkies with your driver/guide. The Everglades is a shallow freshwater river 100 miles long and home to thousands of gators, wading birds and more.
Once the ride is over, admission includes access to the wildlife exhibits and shows where you can hold a baby gator, take photos and learn more about Florida wildlife.
23. Water Taxi
- 19 stops on the waterfront
Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi offers a Hop-on, hop-off water taxi services that offer 19 stops along the Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood waterfront. The daily adult ticket price of $28 allows unlimited trips connecting your hotel with the beach, shops, restaurants, Birch State Park, attractions and things to do around Fort Lauderdale.
Alternatively, you can stay onboard and enjoy the whole round trip, which takes about 2 hours. The trip has a commentary by the captain who points out some of the famous landmarks and mansions belonging to the rich and famous.
24. All Good Fishing Charter
All Good Fishing Charters provide opportunities for freshwater inshore and offshore sport fishing for yellowtail snapper, mahi mahi and blackfin tuna. Charters start at around $200 per person and include the 20-foot boat with experienced local skipper, rods and bait, water and soda. Catch and release is permitted, or keep your catch and have it cleaned and filleted. It’s a fun day out on the water.
25. Champagne Sunset Cruise
- Bahia Mar Yachting Center, 801 Seabreeze Blvd.
Set sail with Tropical Sailing for a gentle 2½ hour sunset cruise with champagne for $50 per person. Sit back on the luxury 50-foot sailing catamaran Spirit of Lauderdale and enjoy breathtaking views on the Atlantic Ocean.
There’s a bar and lounge, plenty of covered seating and complimentary champagne and soft drinks. Bring your own snacks (no alcohol) for the perfect trip.
26. Grand Bahama Day Trip
- Port Everglades to Freeport Bahamas
Take the Bahamas Fast Ferry to the Bahamas for an unforgettable day trip from Port Everglades. The Balearia ferry departs at 8 am to reach Freeport on Grand Bahama at around 11 am.
Explore the town attractions and shops, the Port Lucaya market place and Grand Bahama Island for 4-5 hours before the return trip, arriving back around 10 pm. Tickets are $73 plus taxes and port fees each way.
Download a book of Days Out in Fort Lauderdale
If you want more ideas about where to eat and what to do in Fort Lauderdale, why not download the $4.99 ebook Days Out Around Fort Lauderdale and get all the details!
Fort Lauderdale Weather
Fort Lauderdale has warm sunny weather almost all year round so it makes a great place to stay before or after your Port Everglades cruise. Average temperatures range from highs of 75°F (24°C) in January, the coolest month, to 90 °F (32°C) in August, which is generally the hottest month.
The driest months are December and January and the wettest month is June, when Fort Lauderdale typically gets 9.8 inches over 16 days. However, the rain generally falls in the afternoons as short but heavy showers and the sun quickly returns.
The hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, but keep in mind that direct hits by a hurricane are rare occurrences, so don’t let it spoil your plans. There are always plenty of advance warnings and emergency help is available in the unlikely event that an evacuation is necessary.
Also Read: What to Do in the Nearby Miami, Florida
Fort Lauderdale weather is at its best from December through May. Days are warm, dry and sunny – just perfect for enjoying outdoor dining, beach activities, boating, cruising and other exciting things to do in Fort Lauderdale during your pre- or post-cruise stay.