The city meets the beach in this tropical destination. Fort Lauderdale is all about gorgeous blue water, beautiful beaches, historic attractions, and and exciting arts and cultural scene.
A trip to Fort Lauderdale means fun for families with kids young and old.
You’ll discover there are adventures to be had both outdoors and in with this list of 19 things to do with kids in Fort Lauderdale, including kid-friendly places to shop and eat.
When To Visit – There’s really no bad time to visit, as the climate is tropical year-round. Springtime offers up perfect temperatures, calm seas, and clear skies. Winter is warm with just an occasional cold spell. Summer serves up pleasant mornings and hot and humid afternoons with frequent rain showers. Fall has great temperatures, but is also the heart of hurricane season, so you’ll need to be prepared.
Weather Tips – If you want to avoid the heat, plan to explore the city early in the day. Always check the forecast if you’re going out on the water, since high wind speeds can make for a miserable experience. And if the forecast happens to call for rain during your visit, know that it should pass quickly.
Getting Around – The most affordable way to get around is via Uber or Lyft. Public transportation is not recommended for tourists and is geared more toward local commuters. You can drive but prepare to pay a lot for parking. If your family is more adventurous, you can travel via water taxi, rent a bike at one of many stations around the city, or take the Brightline for high-speed travel. There is also the Sun Trolley which is fun and free to ride.
What to Pack
- Sunscreen – You don’t want to forget to pack your sunscreen! If you’re planning on swimming in the ocean or taking advantage of water activities, be sure to choose sunscreen that is reef friendly. The waters are filled with coral reefs all the way to the shoreline. So, reef-friendly sunscreen will help protect them.
- Sun Gear – Since sunshine is what you’ll be enjoying during your stay, you’ll want to pack your swimsuits and rash guards, hats, sunglasses, and UPF clothing to protect you from the harsh rays of the sun.
- Dry Bag – If you’re planning to go out on the water, pack a dry bag to help keep all your valuables dry during your adventures.
4 Kid-Approved Places to Shop and Eat
- Las Olas Boulevard – Stroll this boulevard and explore unique boutiques, art galleries, and places to eat. It’s like tropical eye candy with color and culture wherever you look. You’ll find local cuisine and food choices to cater to everyone in the family.
- Sawgrass Mills – If you love outlet shopping, this is the largest one in the U.S.! There are plenty of places to shop with over 350 stores. You can also choose from casual eateries or sit-down restaurants. Kids will love to pose with all the painted alligator statues throughout the shopping area.
- Mai-Kai Restaurant – This tiki-themed restaurant and Polynesian show is sure to be a hit! Adults will love the Asian food and kids will enjoy their own menu complete with drinks served in a real pineapple! The show itself is incredible, with dancers and performers on stage while you eat.
- 15th Street Fisheries – Located right on the marina, with views of the Atlantic Ocean, you can enjoy fresh seafood at restaurants that range from casual to luxurious. On weekends you can listen to live music, and you can buy shrimp from the dock store to feed the large tarpon fish!
15 Things To Do with Kids in Fort Lauderdale
Get ready to explore this tropical city with this list of 15 things to do with kids in Fort Lauderdale.
- Museum of Discovery and Science – As soon as you enter, you’ll be floored by the Great Gravity Clock. Kids will love watching the balls set the gears into motion. This museum is a great spot to visit on a rainy afternoon. Ride the see-through escalator, take a photo with a megalodon, learn about native species, or visit the 2-story Otters at Play.
- Jungle Queen Riverboat Cruise – Explore the waterways of Fort Lauderdale on this historic riverboat. You can go sightseeing during the day to learn all about noteworthy landmarks and boats and view some of the massive homes of the ultra-rich. Or you can choose to enjoy an evening cruise with an all-you-can-eat dinner and show featuring fire dancers, a magician, and more.
- Las Olas Gondola Tours – Fort Lauderdale is also known as “Little Venice” because of its winding canals and waterways. Take a 75-minute gondola tour through the canals and feel like you’ve just escaped to Italy while you listen to music. You can even bring your own snacks and drinks on board, so the littlest riders will always be happy!
- Flamingo Gardens – Just a short drive from Fort Lauderdale, this botanical garden, aviary, zoo, and wildlife sanctuary spans 60 acres. You’ll find plenty of pink flamingos and other tropical birds, as well as otters and fish. Kids will love feeding the flamingos and koi fish. Grown-ups will love exploring the lush gardens.
- Deerfield and Hillsboro Beaches – These beaches make the perfect pair, as both are extremely family friendly. Parking is plentiful, as are the restaurant options, and you can explore lots of fun shops. Enjoy water sports like jet skiing or paddleboarding or go swimming in the calm waters. You’ll find plenty of photo ops and the beautiful sandy beaches are perfect for building a sandcastle.
- Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale – Stroll or bike down this tropical waterfront and visit 10 different parks along the way. You can also rent a kayak and explore Fort Lauderdale from the water. Be sure to check their calendar before your visit to take advantage of exciting events like classes, festivals, and concerts.
- Fort Lauderdale Segway Tour – What a fun way to see the city! This 4-mile Segway tour takes you along the Riverwalk and offers some fantastic views including yachts, canals, and art installations. You can take a daytime or nighttime tour. There is no minimum age to ride, but there are weight restrictions.
- Sawgrass Recreation Park – This popular spot offers guests an exciting airboat tour through gator habitats. You’ll take in the beauty of the Florida Everglades and have the opportunity to glimpse the native wildlife. They also have a small zoo filled with reptiles of all shapes and sizes and wildlife exhibits with tortoises, peacocks, and iguanas.
- Bluefoot Pirate Adventures – Climb aboard the ship for a swashbuckling good adventure. You’ll gear up and get your temporary tattoos before you set sail. Kids will love shooting water cannons and searching for treasure while they battle Barnacle Bill.
- Fort Lauderdale Beach – Relax on the palm-lined beach and take in amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean. You’ll find plenty of vendors offering umbrellas and cabanas as well as bike and water sport rentals. Walk along the iconic Wave Wall to enjoy shopping or to grab a quick meal. Kids will love the beach playground located at Sebastian Street.
- Butterfly World – This amazing spot is home to more than 20,000 butterflies from around the world. You’ll not only have the chance to get up close and personal with butterflies, but you can also explore the Bug Museum, visit with exotic birds, and enjoy all the tropical flowers.
- Young at Art Museum – This might just be the coolest museum ever, and it offers some amazing photo ops. Stroll through the interactive galleries where you can explore different customs, build sandcastles, visit a cave, be immersed in Alice’s Wonderland, and create your very own masterpieces!
- Billie Swamp Safari – About an hour outside of Fort Lauderdale, this place is worth the trip. Take a swamp buggy eco tour over dry land and through muddy swamps, where you’ll catch glimpses of native wildlife. You can also enjoy snake and live critter shows, animal exhibits, and airboat rides. Located on a 2200-acre Seminole Indian Preserve, you can explore an authentic Seminole village and learn all about how they preserved the land.
- EZ Ride Surf School – Have you always wanted to learn to surf? You’ll have the chance to ride the waves while you take a lesson or hone your skills. Perfect for all skill levels and ages, their certified instructors will teach you everything you need to know. With its miles of beaches, Fort Lauderdale offers a beautiful place to surf.
- Hugh Taylor Birch State Park – This tranquil park is also known as “Central Park” and is a great place to picnic, ride a bike, go fishing, or do a little bird watching. The lagoon is perfect for kayaking or canoeing. Or you can walk through the pedestrian tunnel which takes you right onto the sands of Fort Lauderdale Beach.
The beauty of this beach town is undeniable. Have a blast on your vacation with this list of 19 things to do with kids in Fort Lauderdale!
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