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Fort Lauderdale City Guide – 10 Activities for Cruise Travelers

Welcome aboard, cruise-goer!

Before you set sail on your oceanic adventure from Port Everglades, one of the world’s busiest cruise ports, take some time to explore the wonders of Fort Lauderdale. This vibrant city is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered.

Fort Lauderdale

Top 10 must-visit places and activities to consider while you’re in port:

1. Fort Lauderdale’s Signature Beaches

Stop by Fort Lauderdale Beach or Las Olas Beach to soak in some sun and revel in the shimmering ocean waves. It’s the perfect way to kick off or wind down your cruise holiday.

Ft Lauderdale Beach

2. Explore the Venice of America

Traverse the city’s picturesque canals on a rented boat, kayak or hop on the Water Taxi. It’s a unique way to experience the city’s charm.  I suggest buying a Water Taxi ticket and riding to one of the stops for dinner.  Start early so you can enjoy the scenery along the way.  Fort Lauderdale’s most magnificent houses (and Yachts) are along the canal.

Everglades

3. Journey into the Wild Everglades

This is one of my favorite things in Fort Lauderdale.  It’s just a 30-minute drive from the beach to the Everglades, where you can hop on an airboat tour for a thrilling exploration of the Everglades. Keep your eyes peeled for alligators and a rich birdlife. In fact, there’s no way you’ll miss an alligator.  For a little more thrilling option, try a nighttime Everglades Adventure.

4. Visit Bonnet House Museum & Gardens

Nestled between Fort Lauderdale Beach and the Intracoastal Waterway lies a house with a rich history. Established in 1919, this 35-acre estate, named after the local bonnet lily flower, was gifted by a prosperous settler to his daughter, Helen, on her wedding to Frederic. By 1920, the couple started constructing the Bonnet House, envisioning it as a serene winter retreat where art, music, and poetry would flourish. However, Helen’s untimely demise in 1925 due to breast cancer halted the project. It wasn’t until 1931, after Frederic wed Evelyn Fortune Lilly, that the property renovations resumed. The artistic duo infused the house with their unique flair until Frederic’s passing. In 1983, Evelyn bestowed the house upon the state’s Trust for Historic Preservation, making it accessible for public tours.

Florida State Park

5. Explore Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

Located in Fort Lauderdale, this urban oasis offers a unique combination of natural beauty, outdoor recreation, and historical significance. Hugh Taylor Birch State Park has historical significance due to its original owner, Hugh Taylor Birch, who gifted the land to the state of Florida in 1947. Birch’s former home, the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens (just mentioned above), is located just north of the park and provides insight into the history and lifestyle of early 20th-century Florida.

5.Visit the Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District

Spanning 22 blocks, the Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District holds some of Fort Lauderdale’s top attractions. You’ll find the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, the Museum of Discovery and Science and the Historic Stranahan House Museum, in addition to many restaurants, green spaces and shops. The district is set along the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale and is a lovely place to stroll or sit on a bench with a cup of coffee. It also encompasses Las Olas Boulevard, where you will find many shopping, dining and nightlife venues.

6. Shop Til You Drop at Sawgrass Mills

Nestled in Sunrise, Florida, approximately 15 miles from the heart of Fort Lauderdale, lies Sawgrass Mills mall, an unparalleled shopping marvel. Often referred to simply as “Sawgrass” by locals, it boasts the title of being the largest outlet mall in the entire U.S. The expansive 350-store arena offers a diverse array of shopping zones, encompassing affordable stores like Super Target, Marshalls, J.Crew Factory, and Nike Factory Store, and upscale, luxury-brand sections like Tory Burch, Prada, Jimmy Choo, and Kate Spade in the Colonnade.

Besides the vast shopping options, Sawgrass is also home to an IMAX cinema, a post office, dual food courts, and a range of eateries such as The Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen, family-friendly Rainforest Cafe, and the unique SushiGami with its conveyor belt sushi system. Dedicate at least a day if you aim to explore every nook and cranny of this shopping paradise.

Ft Lauderdale at Night

7. Twinkling Lights of Nightlife

Las Olas Boulevard is undoubtedly a highlight of Fort Lauderdale’s vibrant scene.

It’s a delightful blend of chic cocktail lounges, culinary treasures, quaint boutiques, and even a sprinkle of museums. This lively street is a haven for both daytime wanderers and night owls. After a day of sightseeing, there’s nothing quite like meandering down Las Olas in the early evening, soaking in the ambiance and deciding where to indulge next. Whether you’re a food enthusiast, a shopaholic, or simply looking to immerse yourself in the local vibe, Las Olas Boulevard promises a memorable experience.

Flamingos

8. Visit Flamingo Gardens

Following a leisurely morning soaking up the sun on Fort Lauderdale’s pristine beaches, make your way to the verdant haven of Flamingo Gardens.

Spanning an impressive sixty acres, Flamingo Gardens showcases both a botanical paradise and a dedicated wildlife sanctuary. This sanctuary serves as a refuge for permanently injured or non-releasable birds, providing them with a safe haven where they might otherwise not survive. Beyond its role as a sanctuary, the gardens are a rich tapestry of flora, conserving the distinctive natural beauty and heritage of this splendid Floridian region. Without a doubt, Flamingo Gardens stands as a must-visit gem, ranking high on the list of top attractions in Fort Lauderdale.

J&J in Fort Lauderdale

9. Eat at Coconuts

Just a stone’s throw from the beach, and nestled dockside along the serene Intracoastal, sits Coconuts – a true embodiment of local South Florida charm. It’s evident in both its ambiance and the devoted local crowd that frequently gathers here. Patrons have a plethora of dining choices: they can savor their meals indoors, enjoy the cool breeze on a shaded deck, or even settle dockside, offering front-row views of gliding boats, enthusiastic paddleboarders, and the occasional diving pelican.

The menu boasts an array of delectable options, with standouts like the rich lobster roll, the zesty fish tacos, the tropical coconut cheesecake, and the mouthwatering blue-crab “scoobies” appetizer, a medley of butter, garlic, and chili flavors. If you happen to swing by for their Sunday brunch, you’re in for a treat with offerings ranging from indulgent chocolate chip pancakes and a medley of flavorful Benedicts to their ever-evolving French toast special.

Lifeguard Station Ft. Lauderdale

10. Explore Hollywood Beach

Spanning an impressive two miles along the shimmering Atlantic shoreline, the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk offers a picturesque backdrop replete with swaying palm trees, golden sands, and a vibrant stretch of boutiques, hotels, bars, and eateries. This bustling promenade beckons visitors to take a leisurely stroll, enjoy a bike ride, glide on rollerblades, or cruise on skateboards, all while relishing the panoramic ocean views. For those with a penchant for live music, the Hollywood Beach Bandshell comes alive with performances from Wednesdays to Sundays. And for beach enthusiasts, the sun-kissed shore invites sunbathing, while the tranquil waters are perfect for paddleboarding.

But the allure of Hollywood doesn’t end at the beachfront. Venture inward to discover a thriving arts scene with galleries, unique boutiques, and captivating attractions like the ArtsPark. Indeed, Hollywood seamlessly melds coastal charm with cultural richness, making it a destination worth exploring.

Ready to Plan?

If you are ready to explore Fort Lauderdale, and would like to plan your next cruise from this vibrant Port, or just visit Fort Lauderdale itself, contact your Love of the Magic Travel Agent today, or email hello@LOTMV.com.  And of course, whether you want cruise from Fort Lauderdale or any other Port, or plan at totally different, your LOTMV Travel Advisor will work with you to create the unique experience you’re looking for. 

 

 

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