Celebrating mom is a year-round affair, but why not make Mother’s Day extra special this year by dedicating an entire weekend to the important women in your life. Greater Fort Lauderdale offers plenty of ways to indulge on Mother’s Day, from lavish waterfront brunches to gallery hopping, horseback riding, and gondola rides along the Venice-inspired canals.

Aerial view of Deerfield Beach in Broward County, Florida

Enjoy Local Flavors

DUNE

Start the morning by the water in Las Olas at The Wharf Fort Lauderdale sampling some of the decadent donuts from Mojo (off-the-wall flavors include fruity pebbles and funfetti) or pass by the mom-run Sweet Rustic Bake Shop for a selection of homemade, freshly baked treats like pop tarts and sticky toffee pudding. If you’d rather sit and stay awhile, linger over craft cocktails, blue crab cake benedict, and steak and farm eggs with truffle butter at DUNE, whose terrace shows off sweeping views of Fort Lauderdale beach. Not far from downtown Fort Lauderdale, Wilton Manors, Florida’s LGBT+ capital, has a small-town feel and features wonderful restaurants and cafés like The Alchemist, where you can sit in the garden of the gated artist community sipping iced coffee, served in a Mason jar in true southern style. Explore Mother's Day Brunch and Other Dining Options.

Take the Scenic Route

Birch State Park

After fueling up, head to Fort Lauderdale’s Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, to cycle or hike through the native hardwood hammock or a leisurely cruise on a pedal boat around the freshwater lake. When you’re ready to sit and enjoy the scenery, pause for frosé or craft brews at farm-to-table Park & Ocean, a shaded restaurant and brewery with oceanfront seating on the southeastern side of the park. Another great place to explore Greater Fort Lauderdale’s natural attractions is at Tradewinds Park in Coconut Creek. One of the main draws is Butterfly World, the world’s largest butterfly park, home to more than 20,000 live butterflies from across the globe, as well as aviaries with exotic birds, waterfalls, and botanical gardens. The park also offers plenty of other family things to do, from horseback riding to model steam train rides. 

Make Friends with Some Critters 

Blog Copy of Flamingo Gardens

Further west, Davie is known for its western roots and has been the home of the Bergeron Rodeo Grounds—the largest rodeo east of the Mississippi River—for the past 40 years. Hit some of the town’s 187 miles of stunning nature trails at Tree Tops Park, where a boardwalk runs through restored freshwater marsh. At Flamingo Gardens Botanical Garden and Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary, you’ll find over 3,000 rare and exotic plants and 90 species of native animals, as well as some of the largest trees in the state. At the 10-acre Marando Farms & Ranch in Davie, kids can interact with animals at the petting zoo and go for a pony ride while mom shops at the organic farmer’s market or relaxes with a smoothie in the Bonsai garden. 

Treat Yourself 

Sawgrass Mills - Colonnade

If the weather isn’t cooperating, surprise mom with a Mother’s Day gift at Sawgrass Mills, an outlet mall in Sunrise with more than 350 stores, that’s really a destination in itself (shops include everything from Coach and Michael Kors to Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom Rack). If you’re in Fort Lauderdale, hop on the Water Taxi and cruise over to The Galleria mall for an afternoon of shopping and dining at restaurants like The Capital Grille and Seasons 52. On nearby Las Olas Boulevard, Greater Fort Lauderdale’s “style mile,” you’ll come across independently owned boutiques, sidewalk cafés, and fine art galleries. 

The area is also a dining hotspot thanks to buzzy restaurants like Italian Louie Bossi’s Ristorante Bar & Pizzeria, known for its homemade pasta and wood-fired pizzas, and more upscale seafood spots like Lobster Bar Sea Grille and Wild Sea Las Olas, located inside the historic Riverside Hotel. If you want to treat mom to a nice bottle of vino, pop into Wine Watch, where the experts will guide you through wine tastings, as well as the shop’s 30,000-bottle selection. A restaurant that’s great for families with kids of all ages is Fort Lauderdale’s Rustic Inn Crabhouse. Take a seat on the patio along the canal and watch the boats cruise by or the fish swimming down below. The concept here is to get a little messy. Diners don bibs and are encouraged to eat with their hands and crack open the signature garlic crabs with the help of a wooden mallet.

Get Your Head in the Clouds

fort lauderdale air show

One event you can enjoy as a family is the annual Fort Lauderdale Air Show, which happens to fall on the same weekend as Mother’s Day. Reserve one of the Sand Boxes, a secluded stretch on the beach for up to four people (beach chairs included!) where you can safely watch the planes zoom overhead on the second stop of the six-destination tour from Florida to New York. There’s also a dedicated zone for boats off Fort Lauderdale beach where you can catch the action from the comfort of a sailboat or catamaran. 

Continue the nautical theme and end the evening in style on a private sunset cruise aboard an authentic Italian gondola (complete with a straw-hatted gondolier as your guide), taking in views of the stunning waterways that earned Fort Lauderdale its nickname as the “Venice of America.”