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Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale

Sandwiched between the sizzling beach scene of Miami and the glitz-and-glamour of Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale offers respite for travelers seeking the simple pleasures of a Florida vacation: sunshine, shopping, and wholesome family fun. Although it has a past reputation as a spring-break party destination, the city has come into its own over the past couple decades, with a renovated waterfront, a burgeoning culinary scene, and daydream-worthy beaches bringing rightful attention to the “Venice of America.” Experience all the area has to offer with a hop-on hop-off water taxi or a sightseeing cruise down the Intracoastal Waterway, featuring views of popular attractions such as Millionaires Row, Hyatt Regency Pier 66, the 17th Street Causeway, and the Las Olas Riverfront. Round out your day with a post-cruise shopping trip or a Segway tour down the boardwalk. Practically in Fort Lauderdale’s backyard, the 1.5 million–acre (607,000-hectare) Everglades National Park promises a full day of family fun. Board an airboat to scout for sightings of alligators, roseate spoonbills, and egrets on a swamp tour through the aptly named "River of Grass;" or take a nature walk through palmetto-lined trails. Other easy day trips include snorkeling in Key West or fishing in Pompano Beach, making Fort Lauderdale a convenient base for your South Florida vacation.
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Fort Lauderdale Beachfront
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Thanks to more than 23 miles (37 kilometers) of pristine sand, visitors to the Fort Lauderdale beachfront are spoiled for choice when it comes to water sports and sunbathing spots. Spend the day swimming, windsurfing, deep-sea fishing, or more—or stay on land playing volleyball, jogging, or just kicking back in a lounge chair.

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Intracoastal Waterway Fort Lauderdale
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Stretching 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers) between the United States' Atlantic and Gulf coasts, Fort Lauderdale's Intracoastal Waterway provides easy access to maritime activities and on-shore attractions along the 300 miles (483 kilometers) of inland canals that wind through south Florida's unmistakable sky-high resorts and Everglades ecosystem.

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Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale
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Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale is a linear public park located by the New River in the historic downtown district of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Its tropical landscaping and winding pathways link some of the city’s best attractions.

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Las Olas Beach
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With soft, white sand and clean, calm waters ideal for families and people who like to wade and relax in the ocean, Las Olas Beach is the quintessential Fort Lauderdale beach. The beach offers great sunbathing, and you can also rent beach umbrellas and chairs.

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Sawgrass Recreation Park
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Located only 30 minutes outside downtown Fort Lauderdale, Sawgrass Recreation Park offers guided airboat rides through the marshy, humid swamp waters of the Florida Everglades. Visitors can spot alligators and other marshland animals, such as pythons, black leopards, and the endangered Florida panther living in the wild.

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Las Olas Boulevard
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You can spend a full day strolling up and down this eclectic South Florida district, which is filled with art galleries, boutiques, and al fresco dining options. The 10 blocks that span all the way to the ocean are lined with palm trees and Mediterranean architecture, and set the stage for a relaxing day or night in Fort Lauderdale.

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Historic Stranahan House Museum
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The Historic Stranahan House Museum is the oldest surviving structure in Fort Lauderdale. It was built in 1902 as a trading post by Frank Stranahan, the founder of the city, and used by Stranahan’s wife, Ivy, as a school house. Over the decades it has also served as a post office, community center, and town hall. Today it’s a historic attraction that’s open daily for guided tours.

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Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
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The Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, which spans 80 acres (73 hectares) of land, is a ruggedly beautiful park in the middle of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. There’s something for everyone here: paved paths for bicyclists, several nature trails for hikers, and more than 200 plant species. A freshwater lagoon is a great place for canoeing or kayaking, and you can fish here, too.

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NSU Art Museum
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The NSU Art Museum is located on Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas Boulevard, a key part of the vibrant art district. Visitors can view more than 6,000 works in the museum’s international collection, which has a strong focus on South Florida and Caribbean culture, with artwork by Cuban artists, William Glackens, and northern European CoBrA artists.

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Everglades Holiday Park
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Everglades Holiday Park is a classic (if a bit kitschy) introduction to the Florida Everglades and its wild inhabitants. Geared toward the whole family, the 29-acre (11.7-hectare) park has been entertaining and educating visitors for almost 40 years and is also the home of Animal Planet’sGator Boys TV show.

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More Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale

Hollywood Beach

Hollywood Beach

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Florida’s Hollywood Beach is best known for its red-brick boardwalk and panoramic seaside views. Located in the coastal city of Hollywood between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, this sandy stretch of coast is an ideal spot for people watching, sunbathing, and swimming.

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Flamingo Gardens

Flamingo Gardens

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Founded in 1927, Flamingo Gardens pays homage to Florida’s native jungle ecosystem with more than 3,000 plant and flower species. The vast botanical garden contains rare tropical plants along with pristine sections of native Florida wilderness, an animal rehabilitation center, aviary, and onsite museum.

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Museum of Discovery and Science

Museum of Discovery and Science

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More than 200 interactive exhibits await families at this Fort Lauderdale museum, which is dedicated to curiosity and exploration. With the largest captive live Atlantic coral reef habitat, an IMAX theater, an Everglades Airboat Adventure, and an FA-18 cockpit 7D simulator, the museum offers children and their parents a day of exploration.

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Sawgrass Mills

Sawgrass Mills

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Shop until you drop at Sawgrass Mills, the largest outlet and value retail destination in the country. Just outside Fort Lauderdale, the shopping center features more than 350 stores, with plenty for both high-end fashion lovers and bargain hunters. A movie theater, a family fun area, and lots of dining options round out the experience.

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Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood Florida

Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood Florida

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The Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood in Florida is a multi-tiered venue with a hotel, casino, restaurants, spa, and nightlife entertainment all on-site. It features 500 luxury suites, award-winning dining experiences, and performance venues hosting popular music and comedy acts. There’s also the Beach Club, a tropical pool, and a fully-equipped spa for those who just want to relax.

Like all Hard Rock Cafes, the main emphasis here is on food and fun. However, the Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood, Florida provides the space and functionality to host events and meetings of all kinds; while it’s ideal for groups who like to play and party all through the night, it’s also set up to accommodate things like corporate meetings and networking events.

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Port Everglades

Port Everglades

Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is the home port for many Caribbean and Atlantic cruises, one which welcomes over four million passengers each year. One of the largest and busiest cargo and container docks in the US, it’s also the jumping-off point for visits to some of South Florida’s best beaches and the so-called “Venice of America.”

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Dania Beach Pier

Dania Beach Pier

If you’re an angler— or just an aspiring angler—head to Dania Beach Pier in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This pier has some of the best fishing in the area, plus everything to help you get started, with on-site fishing pole rentals and bait, plus prime spots for catching yellowtail snapper, grouper, and bluefish.

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Butterfly World

Butterfly World

A visit to Butterfly World in Fort Lauderdale is a relaxing day and a visual feast for the eyes. Come experience thousands of butterflies fluttering around you in an atrium filled with exotic plants and flowers all while soft classical music envelops your senses.

On a visit to Butterfly World, up to fifty species of butterflies can be seen. There are at least 10,000 butterflies on display at any time. Another major attraction is the hummingbird aviary, where you can sit and observe the tiny birds flying. Remember to bring your camera and extra film to you can pose with the beautiful butterflies

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Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum

Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum

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Founded by Arthur O. Stone, former floral company owner, the Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum has assembled an impressive collection of pre-war Packard automobiles and other memorabilia. The museum excellently showcases the development of American automotive engineering skill.

Mr. Stone, an automobile aficionado, decked out the museum with everything from grease caps, gearshift knobs, and spark plugs to Texaco Oil signage. The museum also contains a recently added wing and a renovated, bigger library. 22 Packard automobiles from 1900 to the 1940's are displayed, ranging from a 1909 Packard Model 18 Speedster to a 1947 Packard Model 2111 Clipper Eight Deluxe Custom PU Truck. Alongside the automobiles is a gallery dedicated to the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

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Jungle Queen Riverboat

Jungle Queen Riverboat

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The dignified Jungle Queen Riverboats have plied Fort Lauderdale’s New River for more than 80 years. Passengers aboard the historic vessels enjoy sightseeing along the city’s riverfront as well as in the waterway’s tropical environment—complete with extraordinary plants, exotic birds, and resident alligators. Whether you opt for a daytime or evening cruise, all come with the crew’s signature hospitality and entertainment along the way.

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Big Cypress Reservation

Big Cypress Reservation

In the Seminole language, Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki means “a place to learn” so come to the Big Cypress Reservation and learn about the fascinating history and culture of the Seminole Indians. See how their ancestors lived in the Florida Everglades and swamps in a museum rich with stimulating exhibits and rare artifacts.

You can also explore Nature trails through the stunning 60-acre (24 hectares) cypress dome and experience a living village. The museum film, “We Seminoles,” tells the Seminole story in their own words and chronicles their trials and tribulations to remain in Florida. The museum also contains interactive computers and a Native American gift shop. Experience history at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum on the Big Cypress Reservation.

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