Whether you’re looking for new scenery as you work remotely, enriching experiences for your kids after virtual learning hours, or trying to balance work and family life, Greater Fort Lauderdale is the perfect place to hit the restart button and refresh. From the beaches to the arts, nature parks to the Everglades, families will find sun-drenched days and fun-filled nights for all generations throughout Greater Fort Lauderdale. Get inspired by these top 9 family-friendly activities in Greater Fort Lauderdale.
1. Roam & Relax Among 8 Beaches
With a 23-mile stretch of golden sand, you can take your pick of eight beaches for your sun-filled days with the family or for that break from the screen.
Starting at the northern end of Greater Fort Lauderdale, you’ll find Deerfield Beach. The International Fishing Pier and promenade offer a walkable, relaxing experience and a wide beach for watersports. Heading further south, and with a guided tour, travel back in time at the historic, 138-foot-tall Hillsboro Beach lighthouse. Climb the 175 steps to the top for sweeping ocean views.
Continuing south, Pompano Beach offers the newly reconstructed Fisher Family Pier with Wi-Fi and underwater cameras for viewing fish and other marine life. Pompano Beach is also home to 18 shipwrecks, which are prime for scuba diving and snorkeling. Lauderdale-By-The-Sea is a charming beach town with great snorkeling right off the beach, while Dania Beach is home to some of the prettiest and least crowded stretches of ocean in the area.
Fort Lauderdale Beach is lined with palm trees hugging a brick-lined beachfront promenade and an iconic white wave wall. Here you can take surf lessons with Hang Loose Surf School, for ages 4 and up. Hollywood Beach has an award-winning boardwalk with ample room for leisurely strolls, biking, and segway touring. Hone your surfing skills at Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort's Flowrider, a thrilling, stationary surfing stimulator with ocean views. Hallandale Beach, just south of Hollywood, offers a more laid-back vibe and offers two beachfront parks.
2. Explore Picturesque Parks
Take a guided kayaking tour at beautiful beachfront state parks. Choose among daytime ecotours, sunset tours, or full moon tours at Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park in Dania Beach or Hugh Taylor Birch State Park in Fort Lauderdale. The full moon tours include glowsticks and end on a sweet note with s’mores around a campfire.
For another perfect family outing, visit Secret Woods Nature Center, designated the first “urban wilderness area” in Florida in 1978. This Dania Beach park features nature trails, a boardwalk trail, a butterfly garden, and a nature exhibit hall.
Rent a kayak, canoe or paddleboard at West Lake Park in Florida’s Hollywood and paddle your way through winding mangrove-lined trails. Be on the lookout for osprey, vultures, crabs, turtles and ibis. If you paddle over to the connecting Anne Kolb Nature Center, you can visit the nature center or walk on beautiful boardwalk trails.
Heading out west, venture into Tree Tops Park in Davie for winding nature trails and horseback riding. Climb up into the canopy of a 28-foot-tall observation tower and check out a bird’s eye view of the lush scenery. Ride horses in this oasis of ancient live oaks, tropical hammocks and wetlands.
3. Experience the Florida Everglades
Climb aboard an airboat for a thrilling ride in the Florida Everglades with Sawgrass Recreation Park in Weston. As the boat glides across the glassy water, look out for alligators, turtles, fish and birds. Your experienced airboat captain will share fascinating facts about this impressive ecosystem as you take in the sights. Stop by the Gator Grill food truck for gator tail bites, burgers and sandwiches. Then head on over to the Reptile Exhibit, featuring dozens of species, both native and exotic to Florida, along with turtles, iguanas, and rescued exotic snakes. Learn about Cannibal, a 1000-pound alligator, and all the rescued and adopted animals that call Sawgrass Recreation Park home. For the more adventurous, take a ‘Gator Nights’ tour.
4. Learn about Wildlife
Enjoy some other outdoor activities that are perfect for animal lovers and budding environmentalists. Flamingo Gardens in Davie features a 60-acre botanical garden and Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary. Embark on an enriching experience as you discover diverse native plants and trees, a Birds of Prey Center, a free-flight aviary, and the chance to view alligators, black bears, eagles, otters, panthers, bobcats, peacocks, and of course, flamingos. Learn about the habitats that make it possible to host such a wide variety of different species and how the Flamingo Gardens Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary gives residence to permanently injured and non-releasable birds and animals.
5. Marvel at Butterflies
Surround yourself with rainbow-hued butterflies at Butterfly World in Coconut Creek, the largest indoor butterfly aviary in North America. In addition to butterflies, this tropical oasis teems with hummingbirds, lorikeets and other exotic birds. Walk among them in six free-flight aviaries. Complete your self-guided tour at the rose garden and bug zoo.
6. Get an Adrenaline Rush
If you're looking for an adrenaline rush, Xtreme Action Park in Fort Lauderdale will definitely get your heart racing. Florida's largest all-ages indoor entertainment complex offers plenty of action-packed experiences. Choose among a gas-powered Go Kart Race Track, Arena Roller Skating Rink, Indoor Ropes Course Adventure, Evolution Escape Rooms, Virtual Reality Games and Escape Rooms, XD Dark Ride 7D Theater, Bowling Lanes, Arcade Game Room, and Glow-in-the-Dark Bazooka Blast.
For the thrill-seeking family, make sure to visit iFly in Davie for indoor skydiving. Featuring a 14-foot diameter wind tunnel powered by four quiet and clean running electric motors, iFly caters to people aged 3 to 103.
Kids who can’t get enough of the water will enjoy Tigertail Aqua Challenge. This 8,000 square-foot inflatable water obstacle course and playground includes a climbing wall, trampoline, jungle gym, gigantic bouncing dome, a multi-level enclosed splash zone for playing or relaxing, and a freefall climbing wall with a slide.
7. Discover World-Class Museums
For indoor and outdoor fun combined with education, check out the Museum of Discovery and Science in downtown Fort Lauderdale, featuring more than 200 interactive exhibits, plus a five-story IMAX 3D Theater. Climb into replica cockpit simulators of aerobatic and combat aircrafts and learn about animals in the Florida ecosystem. The outdoor Science Park features giant full-body exhibits that demonstrate key principles of physics and engineering while also providing entertainment and group interaction.
Visit a native barrier island habitat with lush gardens and a historic artists’ estate. Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, Bonnet House Museum & Gardens provides a cultural experience plus plenty of photo-worthy backdrops. Step inside the impeccably kept 1920s home, gallery and studio of Frederic and Evelyn Bartlett. Marvel at the impressive orchid collection, swans, wading birds, and an occasional manatee and monkey.
For a deep dive into the history of Fort Lauderdale, make sure to check out the Stranahan House, the oldest building in the city. Built in 1901, Stranahan House served as a trading post, post office, town hall and home to Fort Lauderdale’s founding father.
Art enthusiasts of all ages will appreciate the various rotating and permanent exhibits at NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale. Highlights include its celebrated 6,000-work permanent collection, featuring works by American realist William Glackens, post-World War II avant-garde artists from Brussels, Copenhagen and Amsterdam, and Latin American artists. The Museum begins its new exhibition season on November 21 with the South Florida Cultural Consortium exhibition, featuring works by 13 preeminent South Florida artists. Transitions and Transformations will be on view through January 2021, and I Paint My Reality: Surrealism in Latin America and William J. Glackens: From Pencil to Paint will remain open until Spring 2021.
8. Tour the Waterways
Tour the winding Intracoastal canals of Greater Fort Lauderdale. Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi offers narrated tours as you go from downtown Fort Lauderdale to the beach, spotting out mansions and yachts along the way. Take the Water Taxi to a waterfront restaurant with gorgeous views such as 15th Street Fisheries where kids can feed tarpon or Shooters Waterfront. You can even take this taxi to Florida’s Hollywood.
On the Pompano Beach Water Taxi you can view the Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse, go to Lauderdale-By-The-Sea and also stop at restaurants for a dock & dine experience. For delectable seafood with a side of history, take the Pompano Beach Water Taxi to Cap’s Place, the oldest restaurant in Greater Fort Lauderdale. Among notables who have experiences Cap’s: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, the Vanderbilts and the Rockefellers.
Or take a daytime or evening cruise on the Jungle Queen Riverboat, a Fort Lauderdale institution. Hop off at Jungle Queen’s tropical isle to see exotic birds, monkeys and an alligator exhibition.
9. Become a Visit Lauderdale Junior Ambassador
Need help keeping the kids focused on learning? The Visit Lauderdale Junior Ambassador free online learning program provides compelling, tourism-themed educational lessons for kids in grades three through five and six through eight that are filled with fun ways to learn about math, science, history, geography, the arts and more – all brought to life through locations and experiences available in Greater Fort Lauderdale. Kids that complete all the online subjects become Visit Lauderdale Junior Ambassadors. Local kids that become Junior Ambassadors receive a certificate and Greater Fort Lauderdale-themed postcards to send out as invites for friends and family to come visit – with them as the expert tour guide.