Fort Lauderdale, Florida faces the Atlantic Ocean, but it’s no cookie-cutter beach town. It’s the “Venice of America,” dissected by miles and miles of canals and waterways. It’s not uncommon for a local to dock their boat right by their house, or hail a taxi… a water taxi, that is. Once a hustling haven for Spring Breakers, Fort Lauderdale is now relaxed and refined. But don’t be mistaken. It’s not as uppity as Miami, a fact that residents will proudly fill you in on. So, take a dive into this wonderful water world with a Fort Lauderdale beach rental, and find out what to expect with Vacation Rentals.com’s comprehensive Fort Lauderdale Travel Guide. If you’ve got some insider knowledge on the area, please share your tips!
If you’re afraid to get wet, then why on Earth are you going on a Fort Lauderdale vacation? We’ll assume you enjoy a good swim every now and then and sum up the top Fort Lauderdale attractions and best and brightest beach activities.
Fort Lauderdale Activities on the Water
- Scuba diving – For divers, Fort Lauderdale may just seem too good to be true. But it really is that good, thanks to a gigantic and gorgeous three-tiered reef, tropical species of fish like the Trumpetfish, and shipwrecks, all waiting to be discovered. If you’ve never gone scuba diving before, sign up for some instruction and you’ll be on your way in no time!
- Snorkeling – Not digging the idea of scuba lessons? Stay close to the surface instead and snorkel.
- Fishing – Cast a line off the pier or board a deep-sea fishing charter. For those who love to go fishing, Fort Lauderdale promises an unforgettable experience.
- Fort Lauderdale Parks - Spend a day at the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. One hundred and eighty acres of peaceful beaches, lagoons, mangroves, and more, make a great hub for surfers, canoeists, swimmers, and anglers. You can even go on a guided nature hike here.
- Glide through the Everglades at the Everglades Holiday Park - Take an airboat ride around the fascinating Florida Everglades, which is full of native wildlife.
Fort Lauderdale Things to Do off the Water
- Coral Ridge Country Club – There are a slew of great Fort Lauderdale golf courses out there, and this one is top-rated and sure to be close to your Fort Lauderdale vacation home.
- Butterfly World – It’s exactly what it sounds like.
- International Swimming Hall of Fame – If you’ve got a sports lover in your group, make sure to stop by this museum, which celebrates the triumphant history of aquatic athletes.
- Bonnet House Museum – Unlike the Butterfly World, this isn’t totally what it sounds like. There aren’t hats on display everywhere, but breathtaking gardens.
- Museum of Discovery & Science – This is definitely a museum for folks who prefer to participate than observe; it also helps if you're ADD, as you’ll learn about sharks, rockets, and other randomly interesting subjects.
- Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame – If you’re a baseball fan, you’ll be fan of this museum, dedicated to the sport and its legends.
- Fort Lauderdale Stadium – The Baltimore Orioles spend their spring training in Fort Lauderdale every year.
- Laffing Matterz – Bored? Hungry? Get entertained and stuffed at Laffing Matterz, Fort Lauderdale’s favorite comedy dinner show. (Or is it dinner comedy show?)
- Stranahn House – Fort Lauderdale’s oldest estate is also its most interesting.
- Anne Kolb Nature Center – Get to know Florida’s indigenous animals.
- Spas – It’s not hard to track down a soothing spa; Fort Lauderdale has lots of spas, as well as health/fitness clubs.
Fort Lauderdale Cruises
Fort Lauderdale vacations often involve a lot more than just Fort Lauderdale, but the surrounding cities; cruising around the area is a popular and easy thing to do, thanks to all the water taxis and shuttle boats available. There are many cruises from Fort Lauderdale, which travel to the Caribbean and other island hot spots, so don’t be surprised to see ships loading and unloading tourists. While Fort Lauderdale cruises can be convenient and fun, they can also be costly and confining. We suggest you choose Fort Lauderdale condos over cruises, so you can make the most of the town (and your budget).
See a baseball game or a Blue Parrotfish! Fort Lauderdale is filled to the brim with sights to see, so better keep your eyes peeled while you’re here. Hundreds of tour guides are eager to show you around – whether you’re interested in seeing the Everglades, a shipwreck at the bottom of the ocean, or a mangrove tree.
Shopping and eating used to be a routine thing to do here, rather than a vacation highlight. However, since the coeds have been replaced by more critical tourists, this has changed for the better. Today, Fort Lauderdale is home to some of the trendiest shops, most talented jazz artists, and tastiest seafood around.
Fort Lauderdale Restaurants
The Grill Room on Las Olas, Sunfish Grill, Café Seville, and Coco Restaurant are some of the most talked about Fort Lauderdale restaurants (in a good way). From scrumptious sushi to superb service, and easygoing to elegant, you’ll find it here.
Fort Lauderdale Shopping
If you’ve got some cash to spend, then spend some time on Las Olas Boulevard. Other great places to shop in Fort Lauderdale include the Gallery at Beach Place, an oceanside open-air mall.
Fort Lauderdale Nightlife
As night nears, put your shopping on hold, and head to the Las Olas Riverfront for some bar hopping. Just because the college students are gone, doesn’t mean the nightlife is gone. Listen to some blues a the Poor House, eat shrimp and drink beer at LuLu’s Bait Shop, and let loose at hangout spots like the Elbo Room and Parrot Lounge.
When planning your Fort Lauderdale vacation dates, weather will play a big role in your decision making. Even though Hurricane Katrina is behind us, there’s no telling when the next storm will hit (well, a meteorologist may disagree). If you’re okay with your odds, feel free to visit Fort Lauderdale in September and October, but if you’re feeling unlucky, that’s exactly when you shouldn’t visit. Those months are smack dab in the middle of hurricane season. However, for most the year, a Fort Lauderdale vacation rental is a great idea. The summer can be wet and humid, but the winter is dry and warm – snowbirds are no stranger here. In essence, spring and winter are your best times, weather-wise, to visit Fort Lauderdale. However, there’s more to Fort Lauderdale than beautiful beach weather. If you’re coming to the area for the events, Fort Lauderdale has lots for you to choose from.
Fort Lauderdale Festivals and Events
- Oceanfest – every June, the city puts on a dive show and expo
- Florida Film Festival – a hurricane won’t ruin your day if you’ve got a pass to see indie films and hang out at industry parties at this October festival
- Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade – celebrities, boats on parade, glamorous galas, and a golf and tennis tournament are all part of this annual December get-together
- Florida Renaissance Festival and Crafts Village – get into the medieval mood all February long
- Las Olas Wine and Food Festival – sample fine, you guessed it, wine and food in May
- Baltimore Orioles Spring Training – located at the Fort Lauderdale Stadium
Getting up-to-date about Fort Lauderdale’s personality will help you get into the flow of things once you arrive.
There’s a major yachting culture here; after all, you’re just as likely to cross the canal as you are the street. So, get used to the idea of water taxis. Also, get used to the humidity.
While Fort Lauderdale boasts some of the most temperate weather in the wintertime, you’ll experience intense humidity in the summer. The good news is, rain and hurricanes aren’t as big of a problem as you might expect. Rain does indeed come during the wet months, but just give it an hour or so, and it will go. As for the hurricanes, you’ll have plenty of forewarning, so if it’s not on the forecast, it shouldn’t be on your mind.
Okay, so you’ve booked your Fort Lauderdale vacation condo – now it’s time to make your packing list. What you bring really depends on your itinerary and vacation dates. Are you coming in the winter and basing your whole vacation around the beach, or are you more interested in a local festival or museum? Whatever the case, make sure to pack lots of sunscreen and if you’re a gal, lots of defrizzer (hot and humid just doesn’t look good on your hair).
Fort Lauderdale tourism is thriving, so you’ll have all your needs taken care of here, whether you need a ranger to guide you through Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, a babysitter to watch the kids for a day, or a check cashed.
Most people will fly into the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (or FLL), and then take I-95 to their Fort Lauderdale rental.
Fort Lauderdale vacations are now more family-friendly then ever, partially because of the city's makeover, but also because of the wide availability and selection of Fort Lauderdale vacation rentals. If you’re looking to save a buck and still enjoy the vacation of a lifetime, then choose Fort Lauderdale rentals over hotels. You’ll be immersed in the charming lifestyle of the locals and still have plenty of privacy and personal space – unlike at a hotel, where you’ll be back-to-back with other guests and separated from the real Fort Lauderdale.
Come to Fort Lauderdale as soon as possible; book your Fort Lauderdale vacation rental condo or house today!