9 Unusual Things to do in Ft. Lauderdale

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Jul 06, 2017 / 0 comments

Say Ft. Lauderdale, and what you do think? Beaches, crazy parties, overdone fun? Maybe...but the town has worked hard to discourage the Spring Break mentality, and offers a wide range of things for visitors to explore. Click through for the best places to stay in Ft. Lauderdale! It's a great place to visit, full of interesting things to discover - and, of course, nature all around you. Explore all these fun things – and THEN hit the beach. Because, really, what’s a visit to Ft. Lauderdale without the beach? 

9 unusual things to do in Ft. Lauderdale

Flickr cc: 1950sUnlimited, adapted by Wandering Educators

Get out of town.

No, really! Take the Intracoastal water taxi around the canals of Ft Lauderdale (called the Venice of America) or even down to Miami, a 3 hr trip. You’ll see islands, houses, flora and fauna, and sometimes dolphins. It’s a nice way to rest and see the area, while being on the water. Ft. Lauderdale has over 300 miles of inland waterways – why not explore them? The water taxi to Miami runs on Tuesdays and Saturdays.


Ft. Lauderdale Intracoastal waterways

Wikimedia Commons: Ianaré Sévi

Discover an Urban Wilderness Area.

Head to Secret Woods Nature Center, along the New River. Located over a 57 acre site, you can see Butterfly Island (and walk through an enormous butterfly garden!), walk along several trails through a variety of ecosystems, and learn about the local flora and fauna 9(ncluding a reptile habitat).

An Atala butterfly sitting in a fire bush, Secret Woods Nature Center

An Atala butterfly sitting in a fire bush, Secret Woods Nature Center. Wikimedia Commons: Korall

Go Native

Learn more about the Native American Big Cypress Seminole Tribe. At the reservation, visit the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, and discover how the Seminoles lived in the swamps and Everglades (and hike a nature trail yourself). If you prefer a bit more adventure, you can take a safari trip through the Everglades on an airboat, and see all kinds of animals (dangerous and not!). Want to experience a night excursion? That’s available, too – taking a swamp buggy ride, or listening to Native storytelling. You can also see Seminole arts and crafts, and different animals on exhibit (including alligators!).

Kissing an Alligator at the Big Cypress Seminole Tribe, Ft. Lauderdale

Flickr cc: CGAphoto

Refresh yourself.

Head to Hugh Taylor Birch State Park – right in the middle of Ft Lauderdale! While you’re at it, thank the late Hugh Taylor Birch, who left his estate to the community. You can rent a canoe, segway, kayaks, beach gear, or bikes. You can stroll along beautiful trails, see manatees, and even take a ranger-guided walk, or see the Intracoastal waterway (and the houses across the canal). You can also access the beach. Truly, this is a hidden treat!

Great Egret in Hugh Taylor Birch State Park.

Great Egret in Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. Wikimedia Commons: Korall

Movies…and a flea market?

Head to the Florida Swap Shop! Started in 1963, this has grown into a multi-screen drive-in movie theater AND flea market! If you forgot your beach towels or sunglasses, this is the place to go. You never know what you'll find here.

Florida Swap Shop, Ft. Lauderdale

Flickr cc: Herb and Victoria

Dive into the history of swimming.

Visit the International Swimming Hall of Fame! There are pools, of course – two competition pools and a diving well. You’ll see a museum, theater, library and more.

International Swimming Hall of Fame, Ft. Lauderdale

Wikimedia commons: Hajor

It’s all about the science!

Visit the Museum of Discovery and Science, where you can ride on an Everglades airboat, watch river otters and sharks, be right in the middle of the storm in the Storm Center, dig for fossils, learn about space, catch an IMAX film, walk under a 12 foot mammoth, and more. It’s not only for kids, and definitely a great day break from the beach (especially if you’re sunburned!).

Museum of Discovery and Science, Ft. Lauderdale

Wikimedia Commons: Ebyabe

Get spooked!

Take the Ft Lauderdale Ghost Walk – a two hour tour of the most haunted locations downtown. Take a walk with John Carr, of SouthEast Florida Ghost Research, and the author of the book Haunted Fort Lauderdale. Boo!

Stranahan House, Ft Lauderdale.

Stranahan House, Ft Lauderdale. Wikimedia Commons: Florida Memory Project

See the Mermaids.

You can see MeduSirena and her friends at the Wreck Bar every Friday night at 6:30pm. The Bar is located in the Sheraton, and features enormous wrap-around aquariums, porthole views, and, of course, mermaids!

Before you go:

Get inspired by these Ft Lauderdale Webcams!

Ft. Lauderdale information can be found at http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/cities/fort-lauderdale.html


What to pack:

Warm weather clothes
A light jacket
Comfortable shoes
Any athletic gear you may need (hiking shoes, running shoes, whatever your passion!)
Bug spray (especially if you are hitting the nature areas)
Swimwear (you will be hitting the beach, after all!)
A sense of adventure!


What will you discover first?