When it comes to fun, Fort Lauderdale offers much more for visitors than 23 miles of beaches. Other Fort Lauderdale attractions include historical homes, airboat rides on the Everglades, and a whole park devoted to butterflies.
Must-See Fort Lauderdale Attractions
These are the top nine must-see Fort Lauderdale attractions to add to your itinerary.
Museum of Discovery and Science
There’s so much to discover and explore at the Museum of Discovery and Science. Exhibits include a Florida Everglades airboat simulator, a live otter display, and a storm center where kids can discover first-hand what hurricane winds feel like. You can also go dig for bones in the Dino Boneyard and check out colorful gems in the mineral collection. When you’re ready to relax, head to the IMAX Theater for movies and educational programs in 3D and surround sound.
Historical Center and Homes
Travelers seeking historical Fort Lauderdale attractions have several intriguing options. Start at the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society, where you can learn about the area at the History Museum and see well-preserved buildings from the early 20th century. Then check out the Stranahan House Museum, originally built in 1901 by Frank and Ivy Stranahan. The county’s oldest surviving building, it has served as a home, trading post, town hall, and post office. Guided tours are offered daily. Finish up your day exploring Fort Lauderdale’s past at the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens, featuring unique and colorful architecture, tranquil gardens, and a varied collection of art.
NSU Art Museum
Art lovers should make a beeline for the NSU Art Museum, where the 7,000-item permanent collection includes important works by American, European, and Latin American artists, along with pieces by artists in Africa and Oceania. The museum hosts a rotating variety of visiting exhibitions and is within walking distance of the shops of Las Olas Boulevard.
Both kids and adults are enchanted by Butterfly World, one of the most unique Fort Lauderdale attractions. Located about 17 miles north of the city in Coconut Creek, this park is home to some 20,000 colorful butterflies that flutter overhead when you step into their six aviaries. You can also feed lorikeets and visit the creepy-crawly bug zoo.
Jungle Queen Riverboat
The iconic Jungle Queen Riverboat began offering tours in 1935. Options include 90-minute and four-hour sightseeing cruises as well as evening options with dinner and a show. These entertaining, fully narrated cruises offer a glimpse at mega-yachts and the mansions of Millionaire’s Row.
International Swimming Hall of Fame
One lesser-known Fort Lauderdale attraction is the International Swimming Hall of Fame, where you can learn about famous swimmers like Johnny Weissmuller and Mark Spitz, see old-fashioned bathing suits, and see decades’ worth of swimming art and artifacts.
Everglades Holiday Park
One of the coolest things to see in Fort Lauderdale is the natural wonder known as the Everglades. Take a high-speed airboat ride through the grassy wetlands at Everglades Holiday Park. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot an alligator—but if not, the park offers entertaining Gator Shows. You can also rent a boat to go bass fishing.
Sawgrass Mills Mall
Retail therapy awaits at this huge outlet shopping mall. Sawgrass Mills is located in Sunrise, just west of Fort Lauderdale. With more than 300 retailers, Sawgrass Mills is one of the largest outlet malls in the United States. It’s also got a movie theater and plenty of dining options.
The Wreck Bar
Experience Fort Lauderdale’s only mermaid show at the Wreck Bar at the B Ocean Resort on Fort Lauderdale Beach. Real-life “mermaids” look out through portholes over the bar where travelers can relax over drinks or a meal. The World-Famous Wreck Bar Mermaid Show is offered every Friday and Saturday evening.
—Original reporting by AnneMarie Mathews