Things to Do near Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port
Being a homeport for some of the best cruise ships globally, Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale receives millions of visitors entering Florida after cruise vacations.
Unfortunately, most people end up overlooking this beautiful port city that has too much to offer.
If you plan to start your cruise in Fort Lauderdale, you can avoid the last-minute rush by having a few days stay in the area before your cruise.
You can also take advantage of what the city offers by staying for a few days after your trip.
There are many attractions, especially if you love beach activities and water sports, plus the weather here is warm and sunny for most of the year.
Besides the good weather and beautiful sandy beaches, visitors can splurge on shopping in the city’s shopping centers and enjoy the vibrant nightlife in the casinos and night clubs.
There are also several museums where you can learn about the city’s history, or you can visit nearby parks if you are a nature lover.
What are the Best Places to Visit in Fort Lauderdale?
1. Shopping at Las Olas Boulevard
Las Olas Boulevard is the part of the city where you can spend the afternoons. This 1-mile waterfront stretch between 6th avenue and 11th avenue is one of the most popular dining and shopping destinations in South Florida. The street is perfect for dining and shopping as it is lively and full of shops and restaurants. You can do some window shopping in the chic boutiques along the streets after lunch or enter some art exhibitions and galleries for a souvenir search. Also, stop by the Stranahan House to enjoy the unique exhibition of the 1900 antique furniture.
2. Afternoon walk at Las Olas Riverwalk
This winding tropical footpath in downtown Fort Lauderdale is also a great shopping area as well as dining. The path runs along the north and south banks of the New River and is part of the area where early settlers shipped their harvest. The stores and shops here are friendly and lively, plus you will enjoy the picturesque surroundings.
Other attractions along the footpath include a butterfly garden, parks and gazebos. You may also be lucky to find some of the many events like the Sunday Jazz Brunch every first Sunday in the month.
3. Harbor Shops
Harbour Shops is an expansive shopping center located just west of 17th Street Causeway Bridge.
It is a one-stop shopping destination where you can purchase everything you need before boarding you board your cruise or go yachting. There are grocery shops, wine stores, beauty boutiques, cell phone shops and many more.
You can also find several restaurants where you can have a meal before or after your shopping.
4. Dine and Shop in Downtown Hollywood Florida
Downtown Hollywood is the best place to visit if you want to experience old-school Florida while doing your holiday shopping. This beautiful boulevard is lined with trees and varieties of cafes and shops on each side. The shopping boutiques here have the best varieties of shoes, clothing, antiques and novelties from different parts of the world.
You can also interact with locals at the pizza restaurants or try something new at the Mexican and sushi restaurants.
5. Fort Lauderdale Galleria
Galleria Mall is one of the best-located malls in Fort Lauderdale as it is steps away from the beach and close to other entry points like the port, the cruise ships’ terminal and the airport. This upscale shopping destination houses popular stores like Apple, Banana Republic, J.Crew, H&M, Lucky Brand and many more. There are more than 100 fashion retailers, including Macy’s and Dillard’s, and Neiman Marcus.
The dining establishments inside the mall include The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Truluck’s, Blue Martini and P.F. Chang’s.
6. Experience the Famous Sawgrass Mills
Sawgrass Mills, located 14 miles west of downtown Fort Lauderdale, is the US’s largest outlet mall. In fact, you need a full day to explore the entire mall. The mall stores range from budget-friendly merchandise like Marshals, J.Crew Factory, and Super Target to exclusive luxury brands outlets like Jimmy Choo, Prada, Tory Burch and Kate Spade.
Other facilities inside the mall include an IMAX movie theatre, a post office, Starbucks coffee shops and restaurants like California Pizza Kitchen and Rainforest Café. The best time to visit the mall is in the morning as it can become overcrowded from afternoon to evening.
7. Relax at Fort Lauderdale Beach & Las Olas Beach
Fort Lauderdale Beach can be a good choice if you are looking to combine your lunch with a day at the beach. The beach boasts a 23 mile stretch of white sand that provides enough space for basking and other beach activities. The beach is always bustling with activities due to the high number of visitors it receives every day.
If you are not interested in water-based activities, you can stay at a patio in one of the luxury beachfront hotels and watch people and cruise ships in the deep sea.
8. Unwind at Hollywood Beach & Broadwalk
Hollywood Beach is one of Florida’s most famous beaches, thanks to its wide sandy stretches and numerous activities. Visitors can enjoy various activities, including roller skating at the asphalt strip along the beach, kayaking, bike-riding, beach volleyball and swimming. You can also rent a cabana or a lounger and watch street performers and other people.
For Culture (Museums)
9. Learn more about Water Sports at the International Swimming Hall of Fame
A visit to this museum located at One Hall of Fame Drive will inspire you to be a fan of swimming and water-based activities. The Museum has numerous exhibitions like Olympic medals, badges, pins and certificates from some of the world’s champions in water sports like swimming, diving, water polo and many more. The displays and memorabilia highlight the achievements of the world’s greatest water sports athletes like Johnny Weissmuller and Mark Spitz to inspire others and keep their memories alive. It also has a library with thousands of aquatic books, literature and manuscripts.
10. Watch a Film at the Museum of Discovery and Science
The Museum of Discovery and Science is an amazing attraction for kids as there are numerous child-friendly activities and exhibits: kids will love the aviation stations, where they can climb into the cockpit of a World War II fighter plane and the 300-seat IMAX theatre. The experience in the theatre is more fun and intense, thanks to its five-story 3-D screen and an amazing sound system
Entertainment and educational content in the films is also family-friendly. Remember to buy some snacks at the snack stand before entering the theatre if you plan to stay for a full session.
11. Fort Lauderdale Historical Society Museum
Fort Lauderdale Historical Society Museum is a complex with a combination of several historical buildings. The buildings include the 1905 New River Inn, a former hotel now housing the main museum of local history.
The museum has a room decorated to appear like a typical 1908 hotel room and displays artifacts, dioramas and photographs.
The 1899 Replica School House was originally constructed as an American Bicentennial project in the 1970s. The Schoolhouse is only open by guided tour. The other building is the 1907 King-Cromartie House, which has been furnished which is now a historic house museum of 1915. Additionally, Fort Lauderdale Historical Society has a public research library and archives of the city’s history.
12. Learn Art at NSU Art Museum
NSU Art Museum Art lovers should also be on your list if you love art. This museum, located in Las Olas Boulevard, occupies an area of 83000 square feet and has 25000 square feet of exhibition space. There is also an auditorium, a bookstore and a café.
The museum’s exhibitions contain more than 6000 works by artists from all over the world. The museum has the largest collection of works by American painter William Glackens and works by leading Latin American artists.
13. Broward Centre for the Performing Arts
Broward Centre for the Performing Arts is the place to visit if you love watching live performances. It is located on the west side of the Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District, meaning you can explore the waterway and have dinner before the show. Broward Centre has various shows, but it is still advisable to check their website for more about the shows before visiting.
It is also advisable to arrive early to allow enough time for a security check and grabbing some drinks and snacks before the performance begins.
14. Learn Local History at Stranahan House
This storied building just off Las Olas Boulevard is one of the oldest buildings in Fort Lauderdale. Frank Stranahan, the first owner of the house, moved from Ohio to Florida in the early 1890s and built the house in 1901 for use as a trading post and a community hall. Stranahan later made the building his private residence, where he stayed with his wife Ivy until he died in 1929.
After Stranahan’s death, Ivy rented out the rooms and leased the lower floor to some restaurants, and when she passed on in 1971, the house was transferred to the Seventh Day Adventist Church. The church later sold it to Fort Lauderdale Historical Society in 1975 that restored it and opened it to the public in 1984. See Tours
15. Explore Bonnet House Museum & Gardens
This house located in between Fort Lauderdale Beach and the Intercoastal Waterway got its name from the bonnet lily flower that grew in the area. For art and history lovers, visiting the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens can be a good pass-time activity when staying in Fort Lauderdale. The house is decorated with artwork created by its former occupants, who were artists.
The property’s original owner was a white settler who gave it to his son as a wedding gift. The newlyweds (Frederic and Helen) soon decided to build the bonnet House, which would be their winter getaway, but construction did not take long because the wife died after five years in marriage. Fredric later remarried, and the new couple continued building and decorating the house up to the time when Frederic died. In 1983, Evelyn donated the house to the Trust for Historic Preservation, and it has been open for visitors since then.
For Nature & Outdoors
16. Go for an Adventure at Everglades Holiday Park
You will have the best nature and wildlife experience at Everglades Holiday Park, thanks to the animal encounters at the pack and the airboat tours. The airboat ride is a perfect way to explore the Everglades both as a group or alone. Other activities include a thrilling Alligator presentation by the Gator Boys from Animal Planet’s hit series, fishing and bike trails, plus you will get a free professional-grade Kodak group photo and a baby gator group photo to take home.
17. Unwind at Hugh Tailor Birch State Park
Hugh Tailor Birch State Park (tours) is an attraction that you should not miss even when your time at Fort Lauderdale is limited. You can combine a visit to this park together with that of the Bonnet House Museum & Garden as they are less than a kilometer apart. The beach is also easily accessible from the park through a tunnel under the highway.
Some of the park activities include canoeing and kayaking in the coastal dune lakes, hiking and biking. Birders can enjoy watching the different bird species in the park, and fishers can try their luck at the seawall.
18. Watch Cruise Ships at John U. Lloyd Beach State Park
If you prefer a quiet and peaceful beach in Fort Lauderdale, this area south of Fort Lauderdale downtown will give you all that because it is located at the quiet corner of the inlet and is always less crowded. This spot is also perfect for watching cruise ships heading to the terminal or to the ocean. Yu can also explore the mangroves using a Canoe, kayak, or paddleboat.
19. Botanical Gardens and Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary
A visit to the flamingo gardens is not complete without visiting the wildlife sanctuary. The sanctuary’s aviary has over 250 birds representing more than 45 species native to Florida. Most of these birds are injured and cannot live in the wild. There is also a bird of prey center where you can see various injured vultures, hawks, owls, falcons and eagles. Other habitats in the sanctuary include the otter habitat, panther and bobcat habitats, parrot aviary, the rookery and the turtle walk.
20. Have a Nature Tour at Flamingo Gardens
Located in Davie, Florida, 17 miles west of downtown Fort Lauderdale, Flamingo Gardens (see tickets) is a botanical garden and a wildlife refuge run by a non-profit organization. The garden helps protect endangered and injured animals and to protect the area’s flora and fauna.
The best way to explore the park is through the free twenty five minute tram tour. You can easily spot Caribbean flamingos and other birds. The pack is home to more than 250 bird species and other animals like alligators, sea otters and many more. Rescued animals include a black bear and Florida panthers.
21. Butterfly World
This attraction located just 15 miles north of the city should be at the top of your list if you visit Fort Lauderdale with your kids. Butterfly world has more than 20,000 live butterflies and an area of 3-acre, making it the largest butterfly house globally and the first one in the US. The kids will love watching more than 50 butterfly species fly around, feed birds and admire different tropical birds.
You cannot eat inside Butterfly World, but there are designated picnic benches at the entrance where you can eat your lunch before entering. There are also nearby cafes where you can buy some snacks and drinks.
22. Board a Water Taxi
Taking the water taxi is the best way to explore the beautiful waterways. Riders can enjoy seeing the stunning intercostal estates and luxurious yachts tied to docs along the way. Fort Lauderdale is also known as the Venice of Florida as it has waterways similar to those of Venice. Since the Water Taxi goes to the Riverwalk and back all day, you can take as many trips as you wish. You can also take the Water Taxi when to go shopping or dinner at the famous Las Olas Boulevard.
23. Experience Fort Lauderdale’s Night life at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, The Guitar Hotel
Gambling and nightlife lovers can taste Fort Lauderdale’s nightlife at this Hard Rock Hotel and Casino situated 10 miles southwest of downtown Fort Lauderdale. The 140,000 square foot casino is currently the largest in South Florida. Patrons can choose from over 100 table games and 2000-plus slot machines. If you are willing to try your luck, you can join other serious gamblers in the high-limit table and the high-limit slot rooms.
Visitors who are not fans of gambling can have fun at the bars and lounge or go to see rock music entertainers at the Hard Rock Live arena. There are also several dining establishments like The Bol, where you can try Asian Cuisines.
What are the Best Activities and Excursions near Cruise Port Everglades?
Fort Lauderdale ranks at the top of the world’s cruise destinations.
If you and your family are looking for the top things to do or excursions near Port Everglades during your trip, check out our list of some of best activities you can take.
24. Florida Everglades Airboat Tours and Show
Have sun fun at the Everglades Holiday Park, where you can enjoy a 1-hour narrated airboat tour and a quarter-hour alligator rescue show. This adventure is great for nature lovers as they can explore the Everglades’ unique subtropical ecosystem and an abundance of flora and fauna in their natural habitat.
Additional perks include a free group photo and a live alligator presentation by The Gator Boys, alligator trappers from Animal Planet.
25. Sightseeing Cruise
A sightseeing cruise is the best way to Explore Greater Fort Lauderdale from the Intracoastal Waterway and the world’s busiest cruise ship port — Port Everglades. You will see celebrity homes and other beautiful mansions at the Millionaires Row, plus the massive yachts docked outside the homes and the Bahia Mar Marina and Hyatt Pier 66.
26. Fort Lauderdale Segway Tour
This guided Segway tour is a sure way of exploring Fort Lauderdale like a local. Unlike driving or a water taxi, this tour will enable you to cover more distance than a walking tour, but at a pace similar to walking. You will see deluxe yachts and mansions since the route is mostly around Fort Lauderdale’s downtown, the residential areas and the beachside routes. Your guide will teach you how to use the Segway and also tell stories about the neighborhoods.
27. Try Indoor Skydiving
Indoor skydiving at iFly Fort Lauderdale is the closest you can get to sky diving without jumping out of a flying plane. You only need a small training as a group, and you’re ready for two 60-seconds solo sessions inside the wind tunnel, but with the guidance of an instructor. You can choose your most convenient time as they are open from 9 am to 10 pm.
28. Go for a Fishing Trip
Whether experienced or an amateur in fishing, the Fort Lauderdale half day fishing trip is a great way to explore the coastal waters. You can admire the city’s views from the ocean as you test your skills and compete with others in your group. You don’t have to worry about fishing equipment as they will be provided at the beginning of the tour, plus you will have a guide to help you make your first catch. Fish cleaning is also included so you can cook your catch at home.
29. Explore Fort Lauderdale like a Pirate (Adventure Cruise)
The 1-hour Pirates Adventure Cruise is a family-friendly way to enjoy Fort Lauderdale’s Intracostal Waterway. This fun-filled cruise also includes finding the hidden treasure and fending off the attacks of rival pirates with water cannons. Kids will enjoy face fainting painting, temporary tattoos and learn to talk and dress like a pirate. They will also receive a pirate certificate and a loot bag to take home after the cruise.
30. Experience the Sunset in the Champagne Sunset Cruise
Fort Lauderdale Charters Cast Away the Day Sunset Cruise at sunset is a perfect way to enjoy the beautiful sunsets while relaxing on the Atlantic Ocean. The best outfits for the cruise are sundresses, flowered shirts and sandals. Also, carry your cold beer or chilled wine to sip as you cruise past the mega-mansions at Millionaires Row and cruise ship on your way to the Atlantic Ocean.
The sea breeze and sail ups combined with the relaxing music increases the fun in the cruise as you wait for the sun to touch the horizon and spread orange and red rays in the sky.
31. Jet Ski Rental
Jet Skiing through the finest neighborhoods in Fort Lauderdale along the Intracoastal waterways can be better than taking cruises and water boats, as it enables you to explore the area at your pace. Unlike other options, you only need a few hours to explore the waterways with a jet ski. There are also speed zones for travelers who love the trilling speeds.
32. Join the Fort Lauderdale Classic Bike Tour
Fort Lauderdale Bike Tour is a unique way of exploring the city’s waterfront neighborhoods. Learn about the history of the city’s trading post at Stranahan House before you proceed to Las Olas Boulevard and the entertainment district. The experienced guide ensures a leisurely pace and brief stops for snacks, drinks and photos at the most scenic spots.
33. Have Fun by Taking a Paddleboard Tour
The Paddleboard Tour along the Las Olas canal is a great opportunity to interact with other travelers and locals. You don’t need to have a previous paddleboarding experience to join the tour, as it is simple to learn as long as you are comfortable in the water. The tour also starts with a safety lesson, plus you will be provided with safety equipment.
However, you must be physically fit: without any recent surgery, pregnancy, heart condition or injury. You should also wear a life vest if you don’t know how to swim.
34. Try the Kayak Tour
The Kayak Tour is a perfect leisure activity for sunny days if you are a fan of water based activities. This tour takes you along the Intracoastal waterways, where you can watch flora and fauna of South Florida as well as the mansions and yachts of the rich and famous at the Isle of Venice.
35. Go for a Private Yacht Cruise through Fort Lauderdale
A private yacht cruise through Fort Lauderdale is best for private celebrations like birthdays, anniversaries, proposals or corporate events. The cruise allows private and quiet sightseeing while on the water and other activities like sun basking and private parties.
(Latest update December 23th 2020)
Please contact us if any information is incorrect or not up-to-date.
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