Want to savor some old-time charm in South Florida? Swing down to captivating Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, FL, to sample a simpler time. Nestled between Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach in South Florida, this seaside village may be small, but it’s packed with Old Florida delights.
With its pristine beaches, sparkling waters, and beautiful parks, this dreamy beach town is a family-friendly aquatic playground. Sun yourself, take a leisurely beach stroll on the golden sand. Or, as you’re in Florida’s “Beach Diving Capital”, gear up and take the plunge! After all of that, wind down at a welcoming beachside eatery as you savor the fresh ocean air.
Not sure where to start? Check out our guide to things to do in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, including where to eat, drink & stay—and get going!
Why Treksplorer? Founded in 2011 by Ryan O’Rourke, Treksplorer provides travel recommendations and advice to millions of readers every year. Our content is rooted in our writers’ firsthand experiences, in-depth research, and/or collaborations with other experts and locals. Read more about our editorial policy.
Things to do in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, FL
Looking for a beautiful spot to get away from it all? Find your bliss at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Beach, just 30 miles and a world away from the condos of Miami Beach. Grab your shades, put on your flip flops, and head out to discover why the local motto is “Relax … you’re here”.
This “Blue Wave Beach” – a designation given to clean and environmentally-responsible beach communities – is a sand-and-surf paradise. Play in the waves, soak up the sun, stroll on the beautiful beach, or picnic on the sand. Kayak, paddleboard, or even soar above it all with a kiteboard. Want to get underneath the waves? Strap on diving gear and explore the living coral reef just 100 yards offshore of this top-rated Fort Lauderdale beach.
Want to relax? Settle back in the shade of the open-air beach pavilion on an Adirondack chair, and drink in the ocean view.
Anglin’s Fishing Pier
You don’t need to be a hardcore angler to figure out why Anglin’s Fishing Pier is so popular. Set on Commercial Boulevard, the main waterfront thoroughfare, this fishing hotspot is about more than just landing the big one.
Originally built in 1942, the reconstructed pier is a hugely popular tourist attraction. Jutting more than 900 feet over the Atlantic, this Fort Lauderdale icon is a favorite among anglers and sightseers.
Head down early to take in a gorgeous sunrise over the beautiful blue of the Atlantic Ocean. Once you’ve taken in the sunrise, drop into the bait shop to pick up anything from fishing tackle to sunscreen. Cast a line to see what bites, or snag a bench on the pier to relax and people-watch.
For a tasty break, grab a table at the pier’s cafe. Dig into some fresh seafood as you take in one of the best seaside views in South Florida.
Want to find the heart of the action in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea? Zip over to the famous “Commercial Blvd and A1A” intersection, better known as Anglin’s Square. Check out this lively enclave of oceanfront shops and restaurants and see what makes this picturesque beach town tick.
This buzz-worthy town square is a popular destination, whether you want to just people-watch or give your credit card a workout. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see the colorful Adirondack chairs and umbrellas that welcome visitors. Snag a seat, take in the amazing ocean view, and watch the world go by.
Want to explore? Duck into the funky shops to check out the unique wares from local artisans. Scope out a slew of tempting beach bars and eateries that feature goodies ranging from oven-fired pizza to hand-made ice cream.
Any time is the perfect time to chill out on a patio and enjoy the ocean breeze as you savor a frosty cocktail and a delicious meal.
Wondering about a place to chill out before or after soaking up the sun? Drop into the Beach Pavilion in colorful Anglin’s Square. Think of it as your gateway to and from the beach. Shaded by palm trees, this beautiful open-air pavilion is a cool oasis when you want a break from the sun.
Refresh yourself with a cooling shower, wind down and take a big gulp of fresh ocean air, or settle into an Adirondack chair, savor some ice cream, and people-watch as you take in the oceanside view.
Up for some action? Check out some fun outdoor games like Cornhole or Jenga. Just steps away, browse an array of bars, shops, and restaurants. Stick around after dark to soak up the nightlife, including live music and free ballroom dance classes under the stars.
El Prado Park
Looking for a laid-back oceanfront haven? Then carve out some time for El Prado Park. Set between Fort Lauderdale Beach and the town center, this serene spot is the most popular park in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.
Start your day out right with a sunrise yoga class or hit the curved brick pathway to jog or rollerblade. Want to relax? Settle back in the shade on a colorful Adirondack chair or park yourself on the grass, unpack a picnic, and enjoy a brilliant blue oceanfront view.
Visiting on a Sunday? Check out the popular arts and crafts exhibits and farmer’s market. Browse an intriguing array of goodies ranging from fresh honey to smoked brisket to handcrafted jewelry. You’re bound to find something that hits the spot!
SS Copenhagen Shipwreck
Ready for some eye-popping undersea sightings? Then put the SS Copenhagen Shipwreck at the top of your must-see list. With over 10,000 visitors a year, this is the most popular underwater preserve in South Florida!
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this is the fascinating relic of a 19th-century British cargo steamer. The ship crashed on a coral reef and sank less than a mile off the coast of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. It sits just 25 feet below the surface – ideal for snorkelers and divers.
Grab a waterproof guide from a local dive shop to help you locate points of interest like the ship’s anchor and cargo boo, then book a local dive charter from Deerfield Beach or Pompano Beach to get to the site.
Once you’re suited up, you can take the plunge and explore the ship’s century-old remains, enjoying great up-close views of turtles, lobsters, nurse sharks, and other marine life.
Shipwreck Snorkel Trail
Ready to hit the trail beneath the waves? Grab some gear, dive in, and discover the Shipwreck Snorkel Trail. Set 15 feet below the surface off of the Datura Avenue Portal, this unique artificial reef was created to promote Broward County’s impressive maritime heritage. Dedicated by marine explorer Jean-Michele Cousteau in 2002, it’s renowned as a shore-diving capital.
This recreation is so detailed, you’ll feel like you’re exploring the real thing. Take it all in as you drift over the ship’s replica cannons, ballast pile, and anchor, all set against a vibrant coral reef. This area teems with marine life, so expect to get great views of local favorites like stingrays, lobster, and nurse sharks.
Bonus: The town of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea offers special divers parking permits so divers can park closer to the beach.
PRO TIP: The current can be strong in this area. Snorkeling and diving are only suggested for very competent swimmers.
Laura Ward Park
Looking for a tranquil spot to cool off and catch your breath? You’ll find it in Laura Ward Park. One of several gateways to the popular beaches of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, this mini-park comes equipped with showers, chairs, and benches. This natural space is the perfect destination for when you want a few minutes to put your feet up and relax.
Set in the El Mar neighborhood, this little park’s main function is to give easy access to and from the town to the beach. Enjoy a stroll or bike ride along the bike path or park yourself on a bench under tall, waving palm trees, and savor a beautiful ocean view.
Got your swimming gear? A beautiful stretch of sand lies just steps away. Go for it!
Friedt Family Park
Up for some fun family time? Gather the gang, and head to Friedt Family Park to get your fill. You’ll find a slew of great options at this beautiful green space. Set just behind Town Hall in the heart of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, this community park is a welcome haven away from the urban buzz.
There’s something here for everyone at Friedt Family Park. Hit the tennis courts to swing a racket, shoot some hoops, try your hand at shuffleboard or bocce ball. Got youngsters in tow? Let them loose on the playground to burn off some energy. Parents of little ones will be happy to know there are onsite restrooms!
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
Craving some serene time in nature? 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 hustle and bustle. This leafy green space invites leisurely outdoor exploration.
At Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, you can slow it right down with a book under the shade of palms and oaks, sun yourself on the beautiful beach, or keep it moving with some leisurely inline skating. Looking for natural wonders? Hike or bike the nature trails through the native hardwood hammock ecosystem.
Scope out the Adventure Center for rentals of everything from kayaks to canoes to stand-up paddleboards so you can effortlessly drift through the park’s calm lagoon. Keep those binoculars handy for bird sightings!
Worked up an appetite? Settle yourself at a picnic table and chow down or drop into the onsite Park & Ocean restaurant for a tasty snack or meal on their patio.
Where to eat & drink
If you’re craving a Caribbean vibe, stroll over to Aruba Beach Cafe. Nestled beneath the swaying palms, this beach casual bar is a favorite with locals and tourists alike. Soak up the island vibe as you sip a delicious frozen cocktail, groove to live music, and sample from a menu offering everything from prize-winning seafood to steaks and burgers.
Enjoy a friendly welcome at Vinnie’s, a long-time neighborhood favorite where the vibe is low-key and casual. Check out their full-service cocktail bar, and choose from a menu that ranges from fresh seafood to oven-fired Neopolitan pizza.
Looking for a lively hangout? Head to the friendly Village Grille. Their burgers are highly recommended, but they also offer plenty of vegetarian options. Enjoy a drink or snack at the bar, or head to the oceanside patio for some great people-watching.
Hungry for a taste of Mexico? Dig in for a taste of the real deal at Taco Craft Taqueria & Tequila Bar. Choose from a zesty menu that includes their signature fire-grilled steak, Mexican street corn, and a wide range of guac, salsas, and Margaritas of course!
Stake out a spot at 101 Ocean for a dining atmosphere that combines casual with classy. Check out the indoor waterfall or head outside to the patio if you want to drink and dine alfresco. Take your pick from an eclectic menu that includes tempting items like fresh seafood, specialty pizzas, and one-of-a-kind pastas.
Looking for a lively watering hole where you can feel at home? Duck into Mulligan’s Beach House, the perfect place to “chillax.” Savor a tasty nachos appetizer while you sip on an ice-cold beer and watch the game or dive into a filling entree like the monster fish fry. Early birds take note: this is a breakfasters’ favorite.
Where to stay
Luxuriate in the peaceful beauty of Plunge Beach Resort. This oceanfront getaway offers a modern take on the retro South Florida style. Slip into the Backflip Beach Bar & Kitchen for a drink or a bite or burn off those carbs at the fitness center, then cool off and relax in the outdoor pool.
Check in at Tides Inn Hotel for some beachy chic. This beachfront boutique hotel offers a range of rooms and studios as well as one- and two-bedroom apartments. All offer stunning views of the ocean, pool, or hotel garden. When hunger strikes, hit the restaurant for delectable dishes like truffled mac and cheese.
Hang your hat just steps away from the ocean at Windjammer Resort and Beach Club. These studios and apartments sit directly on a pristine beach, making them ideal for divers and snorkelers. Settle in and relax by one of the two heated outdoor pools or stroll the beach to the iconic Anglin’s Fishing Pier, the best fishing/sightseeing spot in South Florida.
Frequently asked questions
What is the difference between Fort Lauderdale and Lauderdale-by-the-Sea?
Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is located north of Fort Lauderdale proper. Although it's contiguous with Fort Lauderdale Beach, the town offers a quieter beach than those closer to the city center.
What is Lauderdale-by-the-Sea known for?
Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is known as Florida's Beach Diving Capital. Just 100 yards from the shoreline lies a three-tiered natural coral reef that's perfect for exploring by going snorkeling or scuba diving.
Is Lauderdale-by-the-Sea a good area?
Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is generally a quiet, safe, and peaceful area. The town is relaxed and family-friendly, with plenty of amenities, including shops and restaurants.
How long is Lauderdale-by-the-Sea?
The beach at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is approximately 2.5 miles long.
How deep is the reef at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea?
The offshore reefs at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea feature an average depth of 10 to 15 feet, up to a maximum depth of 25 feet. It's an excellent diving spot for divers of all skill levels.
Is Lauderdale-by-the-Sea crowded?
Lauderdale-by-the-Sea has a lower population density than nearby Fort Lauderdale. The beaches here tend to be less crowded than most beaches along South Florida's Atlantic Coast.
Are dogs allowed on the beach at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea?
No, dogs are not allowed on the beach at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. The closest dog-friendly beach is Fort Lauderdale Dog Beach, located about 4 miles south of the town.
Can you drink on the beach in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea?
No, you may not drink on the beach in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. There are, however, many bars in the area.