Fort Lauderdale Beach: What to See & Do and Where to Eat, Drink & Stay

Looking for the perfect patch of golden sand for your South Florida vacation? Find your little place in the sun on beautiful Fort Lauderdale Beach. The crowning jewel of the city of Fort Lauderdale, this Broward County gem is famous for its brilliant sandy shores and as a vibrant hub for arts, culture, and festivals. Whether you’re a foodie, nature enthusiast, keen shopper, or live music fan, you’ll find lots to love along this pristine shoreline.

There’s so much to choose from in Fort Lauderdale Beach: Hit the beach to soak up some sun and surf, explore Fort Lauderdale Beach’s famous oceanside promenade for the perfect outdoor eatery, browse a fabulous array of upscale boutiques, stroll the historic waterfront, and watch the superyachts glide by. The world’s your oyster!

Ready to plan your trip to one of Florida’s sweetest urban stretches of sand? Grab this complete Fort Lauderdale Beach guide including what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay.

What to expect

Want to enjoy the best of Florida’s sun, sand, and surf – minus the spring break noise? Fort Lauderdale Beach fits the bill. Long ago, this family-friendly destination outgrew its reputation as Florida’s college party zone—think of it as Miami Beach’s more sophisticated cousin.

Dig your toes into pristine, powdery sand, splash around in the turquoise water of the Atlantic Ocean, or up the action level, pull on some scuba or snorkeling gear and dive in.

Fort Lauderdale Beach

Rent a jet ski, parasail, or hang ten for some heart-pumping fun. Alternatively, hop on a fishing charter or scenic cruise and enjoy fantastic oceanside views.

Back on land, stroll the palm tree-lined beachfront promenade with its iconic white wave wall. You can also browse the beach’s unique shopping spots and check out the array of tempting restaurants, lively bars, and chic hotels.

End your day with a scenic gondola ride past some jaw-dropping superyachts and luxury hotels that are among the best places to stay in Fort Lauderdale. Keep those dreams alive!

What to see & do

Fort Lauderdale Beach Park

Looking for a spot with a full plate of activity options? You’ll find plenty to keep you going at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park. Set just south of the Bahia Mar Resort – one of the area’s most popular beach resorts – this destination has everything you could want for a jam-packed seaside stay.

Fort Lauderdale Beach Park

Love the water? Explore the mangrove-lined waterways by canoe or kayak. Want to shoot some hoops or spike one over the net? Hit the courts. Got youngsters in tow? Let them burn off energy on the playground. Ready to cool off? Hit the crystalline waters of Fort Lauderdale’s best beach for a refreshing dip.

When hunger hits, just fire up one of the grills, stake out a picnic table, and dig in. If it’s a Friday, you can eat to the beat of Friday Night Sound Waves, a series of free and family-friendly concerts featuring everything from country music to reggae, so you’re bound to find your groove.

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

Craving some serenity? Then you’ll want to make time for Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. Think of it as Fort Lauderdale’s Central Park – a welcoming oasis that feels a world away from the urban buzz. This leafy green hub invites you to dial it down and breathe deep.

Slow it right down with a book under the shade of lush palms or keep it moving with some leisurely inline skating. Hike or bike through the park’s native maritime tropical hardwood hammock ecosystem.

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

If you’re looking to drift through the park’s calm lagoon, scope out the Adventure Center for rentals of everything from kayaks to canoes to stand-up paddleboards. Keep those binoculars handy for bird sightings!

Worked up an appetite? Pick out a picnic table and chow down or drop into the Park & Ocean restaurant for a tasty bite on their patio.

Bonnet House Museum & Gardens

Want to break away from the hustle-and-bustle and take in some greenery? Head over to Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, a beautiful public haven once owned by early 20th-century artist and art collector, Frederic Clay Bartlett. An oasis amongst miles of beachfront development, this century-old gem has earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places.

Bonnet House Museum & Gardens

Step through the doors of this beautiful estate for a taste of Old Florida charm. Stroll through the magnificent rooms and take in the striking art collection, including works by Picasso and Gaugin. Browse the museum that’s dedicated to historic and environmental education and preservation.

Head back outside to wander the lovely tropical gardens. One of the coolest places to visit in Fort Lauderdale, The estate is a haven for migratory birds, so pack your binoculars.

If you want to venture further afield to explore the 35 surrounding acres, you’ll find one of the last remaining examples of a native barrier island ecosystem in South Florida. Definitely worth the trip!  

Las Olas Boulevard

Ask Fort Lauderdale locals for “must-see” recommendations, and one name will top the list: Las Olas Boulevard. Stretching through the heart of town, this is the vibrant hub of the Fort Lauderdale Beach shopping, dining, and cultural experience.

Las Olas Boulevard

Soak up the ambiance of this pedestrian-friendly, palm tree-lined promenade as it stretches alongside the Intracoastal Waterway. Daydream while you take in the amazing views of million-dollar homes and luxury yachts, then come back down to earth to browse the rich array of cafes, boutiques, galleries, and salons.

There’s something for every taste. Savor a leisurely sidewalk brunch, stroll through the local galleries, check out Las Olas Boulevard’s unique boutiques, slip into a salon for some personal pampering, then relax with a libation at a craft pub.

Night still young? The Boulevard boasts dozens of lively clubs and restaurants. Take your pick and enjoy!

BlueFoot Pirate Adventures

Up for some swashbuckling action? Round up your gang, channel Long John Silver, and sail on over to BlueFoot Pirate Adventures. One of South Florida’s top-rated boating attractions, this is a fun, interactive treasure cruise along Fort Lauderdale’s Intracoastal Waterway.

Pirates of all sizes can experience the thrill of the hunt on the BlueFoot. Youngsters are kitted out with colorful pirate attire, then it’s all hands on deck for the one-hour voyage. Kids will absorb fun and fascinating facts about the waterway, nautical history, and local landmarks. 

What’s a treasure hunt without a battle on the high seas? Enter the gold-hungry “Barnacle Bill”. Don’t worry, the good guys always win, and all little pirates go home with an official pirate certificate and a bag of booty. Victory!

Loggerhead Park

Looking for a secluded spot that lets you plug into the natural world? Plan for some “reconnection” time at Loggerhead Park, a 17-acre recreational area in Juno Beach, Florida. This often-overlooked gem is one of several pocket parks in the Hollywood North Beach area.

Loggerhead Marinelife Center

What’s so special about it? It’s home to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, renowned for its dedication to habitat conservation. The star attraction: the endangered Loggerhead sea turtle species that nests here. 

Drop into the center to explore its interactive and educational programs, see wildlife specialists at work in the hospital, take a guided tour to get up close and personal with these fascinating creatures and – if you time it right – watch hatchlings take their first steps.

If you can, don’t forget to check out TurtleFest, a family-friendly celebration promoting conservation through up-close interactions, music, art, and games. 

International Swimming Hall of Fame

Think you’re an aquatic aficionado? See how you measure up at the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Located near Fort Lauderdale Beach, this swimmers’ mecca features the world’s largest showcase of memorabilia and literature devoted to swimming and diving.

International Swimming Hall of Fame

Inside this unique, wave-shaped building is a 7,500-square-foot treasure trove of material. View over 40 exhibits and displays tracking the highlights of aquatic sports ranging from high diving to synchronized swimming. Check out eye-popping mementos that include the Olympic gold medals won by Johnny Weissmuller.

View the collection of historic national uniforms and swimsuits, and then drop into the Huizenga Theater for a video experience that features everything from tributes to Hall of Fame inductees to coverage of Olympics past.

While you’re there, drop by the ISHOF’s 50m pools and swimming flume – don’t forget your swimsuit!

Where to eat & drink

Set on the waterfront of West Fort Lauderdale, Steak 954 offers elegant beachfront dining. This modern take on the classic steakhouse serves up everything from dry-aged Wagyu beef to fresh-caught local seafood. The centerpiece: a beautiful reef aquarium that houses undulating jellyfish.

Burlock Coast is a popular oceanfront restaurant/bar that offers an eclectic mix of culinary delights. Swing by the market to check out its array of tasty artisanal offerings. Ready to relax? Settle in at the restaurant, chill out with a cocktail, and sample from a delicious dining menu that includes fresh seafood and locally-grown produce.

Outdoor Cafe at Fort Lauderdale

Craving some Mexican fare? Head to El Vez Fort Lauderdale for a generous menu that features fresh seafood and Baja-style cooking. Choose from a long list of guacamoles, ceviches, traditional tacos, and other Mexican classics. Heading to the beach? Just hit up the grab-and-go counter and you’re set!

Looking for a friendly neighborhood watering hole? Check out the Parrot Lounge, a local favorite that’s been going strong since 1970. Enjoy the widest selection of domestic, imported, and craft beers in Fort Lauderdale Beach, then settle back and catch a game on the widescreen TV.

For a touch of the Irish, drop into McSorley’s Beach Pub. Check out their huge selection of beers, cocktails, and tasty Irish dishes and catch a game on the wide-screen TV. Up for some cardio? Head to the rooftop lounge to take in awesome beach views – and hit the dance floor!

Where to stay

Nobleton Hotel

Nobleton Hotel

Looking to save a few bucks on your beach vacation? Settle down at the Nobleton Hotel. Rooms are spacious and comfortable, featuring extras like a fridge and microwave. If you don’t want to swim in the outdoor pool, the hotel is within close walking distance of the sandy shores.

Deco Boutique Hotel

Deco Boutique Hotel

Split over two buildings, the Deco Boutique Hotel is a fantastic choice for mid-range travelers. Cool down and chill out in the pool and lounge area or enjoy a nightcap at the rooftop terrace for the perfect end to the day.

The Lago Mar Beach Resort and Club

Lago Mar Beach Resort & Club

Sitting on a private beach, the Lago Mar Beach Resort & Club is one of the city’s top accommodation picks. Besides private beach access, you’ll enjoy two outdoor pools, a full-service spa, four restaurants, and excellent recreational facilities.

Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach

Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach

With its beautiful ocean views, it’s hard to beat the Conrad for a luxury stay around Fort Lauderdale Beach. The beachfront hotel pulls out all the stops, offering a swimming pool, hot tub, fitness center, and restaurant & bar.

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