Last Updated on June 22, 2020 by Amanda Stancati
Get sun-kissed in Greater Fort Lauderdale on your next family vacation, friends getaway or couple’s retreat. Its best feature? Thirty-seven kilometers of palm-fringed beaches and a promenade perfect for people-watching, leisurely strolls, and rollerblading. From kid-friendly Fort Lauderdale attractions to watersports and sightseeing cruises, Fort Lauderdale has it all.
You’ll find a trendy shopping and dining scene on Las Olas Boulevard and more parks, restaurants, and attractions at the Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District. If you’re seeking nightlife, take your pick from comedy shows, dance clubs, wine bars, and sports bars. And, for avid snorkelers, the intriguing coral reef system makes Fort Lauderdale a popular dive destination. What’s your interest? Read on to learn if a Fort Lauderdale vacation is right for you.
Who Should Visit?
Fort Lauderdale really is a destination for everyone. Families with young children or teenagers visit for the beach, swimming pools, and attractions like museums and nature parks. Groups of friends visit for the dining, shopping, spas, gaming, and nightlife, while couples love the romantic atmosphere of a relaxing Florida vacation. More than 40 golf courses for all skill levels make Fort Lauderdale a premiere destination for golfers. Fort Lauderdale is also an LGBT-friendly destination with hundreds of LGBT owned and operated hotels, bars, clubs, restaurants, and attractions. Fort Lauderdale has also been an important retirement community for active adults 55 plus who flock to the city for the beautiful white sand beaches and high-end amenities. The area is also a popular destination for French Canadian snowbirds looking to relax under the Florida sun.
Fort Lauderdale Attractions
Fort Lauderdale has something for everyone, from casinos and horseracing for adults to jazz and art festivals for the whole family to enjoy. The excitement of Miami’s attractions like Sun Life Stadium and Millionaire’s Row are just a half hour away. Aside from the things to do in Fort Lauderdale listed below, enjoy day trips like water tours, wildlife adventures, and visits to Key West that you can book in advance.
The Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District
The Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District in downtown Fort Lauderdale has many attractions, shops and restaurants along its brick-lined walkways. Discover the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Museum of Discovery and Science (with a 3D IMAX Theatre), Florida Grand Opera, Fort Lauderdale Historical Center, Stranahan House and the Museum of Art.
Shopping in Fort Lauderdale
If your vacation isn’t complete without some souvenirs, you’re sure to find something unique here. Shopping in Fort Lauderdale offers everything from boutiques to department stores, and even shopping tours with shuttles from the beach. Visit the upscale Galleria shopping mall for everything from Abercrombie and Fitch to Victoria Secret. At the enclosed outlet mall, Sawgrass Mills, you’ll find over 350 stores including outlets like Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, and Gap stores as well as Saks Fifth Avenue, Target and Marshalls. There are also flea markets like the huge Swap Shop or Festival Flea Market, and the chic Las Olas Boulevard lined with boutiques, sidewalk cafes, and art galleries is an elegant place to spend the day or evening.
For nature-enthusiasts, there is plenty of fun to be had in Fort Lauderdale. Kayak through canals at the Anne Kolb Nature Center, enjoy fishing, canoeing, and spotting turtles at John U Lloyd Beach State Park in Dania Beach, or snorkel and scuba dive to explore Fort Lauderdale’s 90+km of natural coral reef. The airboat everglades tour, Butterfly World, and Flamingo Gardens are all visitor favourites.
Other Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale
Take a three-hour Jungle Queen Riverboat Cruise past Millionaire’s Row and Port Everglades or take a full day trip to explore the wilderness of the Everglades with a naturalist guide, including an airboat ride and boat cruise to see manatees, dolphins, and osprey. For an entertaining boat ride, indulge in an all-you-can-eat shrimp and barbeque dinner before enjoying a comedic variety show onboard the Jungle Queen Riverboat Dinner Cruise.
For those who want to explore the street artists and outdoor cafes of Key West, leave Fort Lauderdale for a Day Trip to Key West and choose to upgrade to add a glass-bottom boat ride, snorkeling cruise or parasailing adventure. Or, take a Key West Sail and Snorkel specific day trip.
Visitors to Fort Lauderdale typically book a vacation package which includes round-trip flights and hotel accommodations, and then rent a car from the airport. Our Fort Lauderdale vacation packages include airfare and hotel stays in a variety of 3 and 4 star accommodations. Most of our packages include a car, but you can also switch to an airport transfer where available. Others choose to drive from their home straight to their Fort Lauderdale hotel.
People also visit Ft. Lauderdale by cruise; a dozen cruise lines sail from Port Everglades, carrying a few million people each year. Canadians typically visit Fort Lauderdale to board a cruise and stay a night or two in a hotel to extend their stay, pre or post cruise.
Visitors can purchase passes for Fort Lauderdale attractions in advance and your travel agent can help you plan an exciting itinerary.
Cruising in Fort Lauderdale
Many cruise itineraries depart from Fort Lauderdale or Miami. Short durations like 3 or 4 night cruises are great for long weekend getaways. A 4-night cruise could visit Key West and Cozumel and average $400 (including tax). On a 7-night cruise, you can explore more of the Eastern, Western, or Southern Caribbean for approximately $600-$800. Examples of itineraries include stops in St. Thomas, San Juan, and Grand Turk for an Eastern Caribbean cruise; Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel for Western Caribbean cruise; and Grand Turk, Dominican Republic, Curacao, and Aruba for Southern Caribbean cruise.
Ft Lauderdale Hotels
Fort Lauderdale is a great place for family vacations and longer stays because of the varied and spacious accommodation options. Choose from hotels, vacation rentals, and condos, depending on your travel style and budget.
Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort: 4 star
This waterfront hotel on Fort Lauderdale’s North Beach offers a relaxing setting for diving and fishing or simply lounging by the pool. The hotel features a spa and fitness center, oceanfront heated pool, kids club, and wonderful on-site dining.
Gallery One Fort Lauderdale: 4 star
Enjoy views of the downtown skyline from this hotel across from the Intracoastal Waterway, and a five minute walk from the beach and Galleria Mall. Each suite has a fully-equipped kitchen and separate living room, offering the comforts of home.
Harbour Beach Marriott: 4.5 star
Just minutes from Las Olas Boulevard, the Beach Promenade, and Sawgrass Mills Mall is Habour Beach Marriott. Here, you’ll find a 22,000 square-foot spa, private beach, upscale restaurants, tropical lagoon pool with water sports and children’s activities, and luxury suites.
Ocean Sky Hotel and Resort: 3 star
This beachfront hotel is just 20 minutes from the airport and 15 minutes from downtown Fort Lauderdale and the historic Las Olas Boulevard. Bask in the Florida sun in the oceanfront swimming pool, tiki bar, jacuzzi, or along the soft sands, or head indoors for the restaurant, fitness center, business centre, and premier accommodations.
When to Go
With over 3000 hours of sunshine per year, Fort Lauderdale is a Canadian favourite destination at any time of the year. It has a tropical climate with little seasonal variation, boasting a year-round average temperature of 25C. January sees average temperatures of 20C with highs of 24C and lows of 13C. In July, the average temperature is 28C. A trip to Fort Lauderdale promises sunny skies, warm ocean waters, and gentle breezes.
The average stay is 7-8 days for families while Canadians originating from Quebec tend to visit for one or two weeks. Retirees retreat to Fort Lauderdale for weeks or even months at a time.
By Car: Some Ontarians prefer to drive straight south through the U.S. to Fort Lauderdale.
By Plane: Visitors to Fort Lauderdale can arrive into the Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport or the Miami International Airport (approx. 50 km from Fort Lauderdale).
There are multiple non-stop daily flights year-round from Toronto and Montreal and non-stop daily flights from Ottawa. Departures from the rest of Canada are connecting flights. Sometimes, cheap flights to Fort Lauderdale are available from US border cities.
A car is highly recommended for visitors to Fort Lauderdale. Car rentals are approximately $30-40 per day during the summertime and $40-60 per day during the winter. If you’re visiting to catch a cruise and only staying a night, it may not be worth renting a car.
Ft Lauderdale vacation packages range from $500-$1500 depending on the season, your location, and the hotel. Flights range from $250 (if you’re departing from a US border city) to $800 during high season. Visitors to Fort Lauderdale can purchase attraction passes in advance. Consult your travel agent for price monitoring and recommendations for the best Ft Lauderdale vacation for you.