A Day in Fort Lauderdale (Full Itinerary)

Wondering how to spend a day in Fort Lauderdale? From dawn till dusk, I’ll guide you through a seamless blend of nature, culture, and relaxation. Venture through parks, urban art scenes, waterfront dining, and end with a tranquil beach sunset. This article serves as your concise, no-fluff blueprint for a memorable day among the best of Fort Lauderdale’s attractions, straight from a Ft. Lauderdale local.  We call this home and often get this question, so I figured it was time to get this itinerary on the blog!

What to Do for One Day in Ft Lauderdale

  • Start your day in the peace of Hugh Taylor Birch State Park – birds chirping, beach chairs, picnic spots, and ranger-guided walks included.
  • Las Olas Boulevard is the afternoon treat with its range of dining options, shopping options, and a taste of the local art scene.
  • Round off your day by cruising Fort Lauderdale’s waterways on a taxi tour, where you can enjoy riverfront dining, and experience the city’s diverse evening entertainment.

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

Tranquil morning at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park exudes a magical tranquility in the morning. Nestled in the heart of Fort Lauderdale, this oasis of natural beauty is the perfect spot to start your day. As you venture north of Stranahan House and into the park, you’re greeted by the harmonious chirping of over 250 bird species. Featured on the Great Florida Birding Trail Guide, this park serves as a sanctuary for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.

But birdwatching is just the beginning. With accessible amenities like beach wheelchairs and audio tours, you can explore the park to your heart’s content. Enjoy a picnic in the designated areas, complete with playground equipment and pavilions, or take a leisurely cycle along the park’s scenic drives. Don’t miss the ranger-guided walks every Friday and Saturday for an educational insight into the park’s unique ecosystem.

Beyond just being a park, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is a distinguished attraction in Fort Lauderdale, earning a significant place in travel guides. And for good reason. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, a day spent in the park is a day well spent.

Canoeing and Kayaking

Ready to take your adventure to the next level? The park’s largest coastal dune lake beckons. Visitors can rent:

  • canoes
  • kayaks
  • paddleboards
  • pedal boats

to explore this area of natural beauty. As you navigate near the park’s beach, the intimacy of the surroundings truly takes your breath away.

For a guided experience, Park & Ocean offers the ‘Paddle along an ancient and fresh water Coastal Dune Lake’ adventure tour. This tour provides a chance to enjoy a part of the Everglades and its captivating ecosystem. Yes, you read that right! In Fort Lauderdale’s Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, you get to experience a slice of the Everglades right in the heart of the city.

For an unparalleled nocturnal paddling experience, the Monthly Full Moon Kayak is a must-try. Equipped with lights to illuminate the waterways, this tour allows you to paddle under the moonlight, taking in the stunning sunset and beyond. Canoeing and kayaking in the park is truly an experience like no other.

Wildlife Encounters

Although the park’s water sports are exhilarating, its wildlife encounters are just as captivating. The park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including the threatened gopher tortoise, marsh rabbits, and various bird species.

Birdwatchers are in for a treat with more than 180 bird species recorded in the park. Look out for the Key West Quail-Dove and Western Spindalis, and you might just catch sight of these rare Bahamian species. The park’s hammocks serve as observation points for migratory songbirds, including various wood-warblers, while herons and anhingas can be found along the mangrove edges and freshwater lagoons.

Venture into the park’s nature trails to delve deeper into the hammock ecosystem. You may witness the Magnificent Frigatebird in flight from the park’s beaches. And don’t miss the Live Animal Presentation – an educational experience where guests can get acquainted with various Florida native reptile species at Flamingo Gardens. It’s a fun and interactive way to learn about wildlife awareness and conservation.

Las Olas Boulevard

Las Olas Fort Lauderdale

As morning gives way to afternoon, make your way to the lively Las Olas Boulevard. This bustling street in the heart of Fort Lauderdale is a hub of activity, offering a smorgasbord of dining and shopping options. Whether you’re in the mood for the pan-Asian & Latin fusion menu of Casa Sensei or the homemade salumi boards and spaghetti at Louie Bossi, you’re guaranteed a gastronomic delight.

But Las Olas Boulevard is more than just a foodie’s paradise. It offers a myriad of activities for every visitor, including:

  • Cocktail bars
  • Cigar bars
  • Exquisite boutiques
  • Art classes
  • Relaxing and watching the world go by

With so many options, there’s never a dull moment in this bustling atmosphere.  If you want to focus on this area (and I recommend it) check out my full list of things to do in Las Olas.

If you fancy a seafood restaurant with Intracoastal Waterway views and live music, Wild Sea is an excellent choice. The establishment’s high-quality food and alfresco dining options make it a must-visit on Las Olas Boulevard.

Shopping

Las Olas Boulevard is a shopper’s paradise. Recognized as a ‘shoppers’ paradise’, the boulevard offers a diverse mix of stores, boutiques, and galleries. From designer fashion and jewelry to home decor and unforgettable gifts, you’ll find it all here.

But the shopping extravaganza doesn’t end here. A visit to Sawgrass Mills Mall, the largest outlet mall in the United States, is a must for retail enthusiasts visiting Fort Lauderdale. Located in nearby Sunrise, the mall offers an incredible variety of high-end designer fashion, electronics, home furnishings, and unique souvenirs spread over 350 stores. After a day of shopping, unwind and explore the natural beauty of the area at Sawgrass Recreation Park, just a short drive away.

So whether you’re looking for the perfect outfit, a unique gift, or just want to browse through a variety of items, the shopping experience in Fort Lauderdale is sure to leave you with a bag full of memories and goodies!

Art Appreciation

A stroll down Las Olas Boulevard reveals the city’s vibrant art scene. Prestigious art galleries like New River Fine Art Gallery, Bellagio International Gallery, and Blue Gallery dot the street, presenting museum-quality art in a variety of artistic styles.

You can admire the creativity of both local and international artists and engage with their works at events like the Las Olas Art Fair. The boulevard also houses unique artistic offerings such as collectible spectacles curated at Edward Beiner Eyewear Las Olas and apparel featuring the designs of artist Guy Harvey at his gallery and shop.

Whether you’re an art enthusiast or a casual observer, the art scene on Las Olas Boulevard is sure to leave you inspired and awe-struck.

Cruise the Venice of America

Next, prepare for a unique perspective of Fort Lauderdale. Known as the ‘Venice of America’, this city is best explored on water. Water taxis provide a distinctive mode of transportation around Fort Lauderdale, offering access to numerous attractions along the city’s picturesque canals, waterfront mansions, and luxurious yachts.

Water Taxi Tour

Imagine cruising along the waterways, taking in the sights of Fort Lauderdale from a water taxi. The Water Taxi Tour offers a comprehensive view of the city, allowing you to discover different parts of the city and its scenic waterways at your own pace. After your water taxi experience, consider an airboat tour for a thrilling adventure on the water.

With multiple routes and various stops, the Water Taxi Tour offers an unparalleled flexibility. Whether you want to hop off at an attraction that catches your eye or stay on board for the entire tour, the choice is all yours! Plus, during the tour, you have the opportunity to learn about the history and notable landmarks that contribute to Fort Lauderdale’s unique character.

Riverside Dining

Once your water taxi tour concludes, it’s time to recharge with a meal. And what better way to do that than with a meal by the river? Fort Lauderdale offers a variety of riverside dining options where you can enjoy a meal with stunning waterfront views.

Enjoy the freshest seafood at Ocean 2000 Pelican Grand, or try some of the recommended dishes at the place, including East coast oysters, steak and eggs, and a seafood platter. Whether you’re a seafood lover or prefer other cuisines, the riverside dining options in Fort Lauderdale cater to every palate.

Artistic Exploration at NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale

Post a delightful riverside meal, embark on an artistic exploration at the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, located near the historic Bonnet House. The museum is renowned for its contemporary exhibitions like ‘The Daily Act of Art Making’ and ‘Glory of the World: Color Field Painting (1950s to 1983)’, which engage visitors with interactive elements and educational activities.

The museum’s permanent collection boasts over 7000 works, including:

  • Works from the early 19th century until the mid-20th century
  • The largest collection of works by William J. Glackens
  • A significant representation of Latin American, Cuban, African, and Oceanic Tribal Arts.

Whether you’re a seasoned art enthusiast or a novice, the enriching programs and workshops at the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale make it an engaging and thought-provoking destination.

Guided Tours

During your museum visit, consider the docent-led ‘Museum Highlights Tour’ for a comprehensive overview of all exhibitions in about an hour, instead of spending hours wandering. This tour offers a comprehensive understanding of the museum’s collections and exhibitions.

Group tours need to be scheduled at least three weeks in advance and are available for up to 100 people per day from Tuesdays to Fridays. So, whether you’re visiting with your family or with a group of friends for a few hours, the museum can accommodate you.

If you prefer exploring at your own pace, you can also opt for a self-guided tour. The museum provides resources for this purpose, offering the flexibility to choose between docent-led tours or self-guided tours based on your preferences.

Workshops and Events

The NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale is not just about admiring art; it’s also about creating it. The museum hosts the ‘Creativity Exploration: Changing Creations’ workshop that encourages creativity through activities inspired by the museum’s collections.

Visitors can participate in a myriad of events and workshops tailored to a variety of interests, including art installations and educational programs. For school groups, there are STEAM-based activities available during their tour of the museum, although it’s subject to an additional charge.

Moreover, the museum offers ‘Virtual Mini Muse: At Home Art Activities’ for children, which allows families to engage with art amenities without leaving home. Even from afar, the museum ensures that family-friendly activities and educational resources are accessible virtually, making art exploration possible for everyone.

Beachside Bliss at Fort Lauderdale Beach

Ft Lauderdale Beach
We LOVE Fort Lauderdale Beach.

Conclude your trip to Fort Lauderdale with an afternoon of artistic exploration, followed by some beachside bliss at Fort Lauderdale Beach. The pristine sands and clear waters make it the perfect backdrop for an afternoon of relaxation. Here, you can enjoy ample opportunities for sunbathing, swimming, and even some adrenaline-pumping water sports.

You can choose from a variety of beaches in Fort Lauderdale including:

  • Dania Beach
  • Hollywood Beach
  • North Ocean Park
  • Hallandale Beach

Each offering a unique atmosphere for beachside activities. One of the favored spots for beachgoers is the area at Sunrise and A1A, where you can watch the sunset, despite the common issues of tourist congestion and limited parking.

Water Sports Adventures

For those who crave a bit of action, Fort Lauderdale Beach offers a host of water sports adventures. Jet Skis and WaveRunners provide adrenaline-pumping experiences, and sailing along the Greater Fort Lauderdale coastline is a peaceful alternative.

The beach is also a hub for activities such as kayaking, surfing, and especially standup paddleboarding. Whether you’re a beginner or an enthusiast, there are options like lessons and paddleboard yoga to cater to all levels.

If you’re a fan of underwater exploration, the coral and artificial reefs near Fort Lauderdale are popular destinations for snorkeling and scuba diving. There, you can witness magical underwater vistas and marine life encounters. Plus, visitors can easily rent kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and even bicycles to enhance their beach adventure.

Beachside Eateries

A day of water sports and beach relaxation is sure to build up an appetite. Thankfully, Fort Lauderdale’s beachfront is dotted with beachside eateries where you can savor fresh seafood and international cuisine with stunning ocean views.

Seafood lovers can relish in the ocean vistas while enjoying fresh seafood at:

  • Burlock Coast in The Ritz-Carlton
  • Southport Raw Bar & Restaurant
  • Sea Watch On the Ocean
  • OCEAN 2000 in the Pelican Grand Beach Resort.

If you’re looking to try authentic Italian cuisine or high-end Mexican flavors, visit Casa Calabria and El Vez. For steak lovers, Ruth’s Chris Steak House offers perfectly cooked steaks. The beachfront dining scene in Fort Lauderdale caters to every taste, from the adult twist on classic boardwalk fare at Wild Thyme to the vintage Florida ambiance at Boathouse and the lively setting of Shooters Waterfront.

Evening Entertainment in Downtown Fort Lauderdale

As dusk falls and city lights begin to twinkle, Fort Lauderdale springs to life as a vibrant hub of evening entertainment. Whether you’re a fan of live music, gourmet dining, or craft brewery tours, downtown Fort Lauderdale has something for everyone.

Consider kick-starting the evening with a Pedibus Pub Crawl or a Cycle Party Tour. These unique experiences provide an enjoyable way to explore the local bars and breweries of downtown Fort Lauderdale. And when it comes to dining, you’re in for a gourmet treat! Savor dishes like Toro caviar at Monkitail or umimasa at Kuro for a sophisticated dining experience downtown.

If you’re looking for a fine dining Mexican cuisine experience, The Canyon is conveniently located next to an independent movie theater for a complete upscale evening. And for a touch of culture, the Historic Stranahan House Museum offers guided tours where visitors can learn about the history of Fort Lauderdale.

Or, if you prefer a vibrant nightlife scene with options for dining, gambling, and entertainment all in one venue, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is the place to be.

Live Music Hotspots

Fort Lauderdale boasts a vibrant music scene with live performances scattered across the city. Hotspots like 14 North Daiquiri Bar & Restaurant and Blue Jean Blues showcase diverse genres of live music, representing the array of sounds in Fort Lauderdale’s nightlife.

All That Jazz Restaurant is another venue where you can enjoy live performances. And for a unique combination of live music with dining, Café Ibiza is a must-visit among the best restaurants.

These venues contribute significantly to the dynamic nature of Fort Lauderdale’s evening entertainment, making the city a must-visit for music enthusiasts.

Craft Brewery Tour

Beer enthusiasts should seize the opportunity to embark on a craft brewery tour in Fort Lauderdale. The city offers a diverse array of craft beer venues including:

  • Nanobreweries
  • Industrial microbreweries
  • Beer gardens
  • Brewpubs

This makes craft beer a significant part of the city’s social scene.

Visitors can utilize the Greater Fort Lauderdale Ale Trail map to navigate the local craft beer landscape, benefitting from special offers and discounts. Top destinations to experience include:

  • 26° Brewing
  • 3 Sons Brewing Co.
  • Big Bear Brewing Company
  • Black Flamingo Brewing Company

Whether you’re a craft beer aficionado or a casual beer drinker, a craft brewery tour is a great way to explore Fort Lauderdale’s diverse beer scene and discover unique brews.

Unwind with a Sunset Stroll along Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale

riverwalk fort lauderdale

Following a day teeming with adventure, it’s time to relax. And there’s no better way to do that than with a sunset stroll along Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale. This picturesque promenade runs along the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale, offering stunning views of the city skyline.

Along the Riverwalk, you can enjoy live music, outdoor dining, and various arts and entertainment venues. As you stroll along the river, you can take in the stunning views, enjoy the cool evening breeze, and reflect on the day’s adventures.

The sunset stroll also offers close proximity to other key attractions for you to explore. It’s the perfect way to end your day in Fort Lauderdale – a city that truly has something for everyone.

Summary

From the tranquil morning at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park to the bustling Las Olas Boulevard, from the scenic water taxi tours to the artistic exploration at NSU Art Museum, from the beachside bliss at Fort Lauderdale Beach to the lively evening entertainment in downtown, Fort Lauderdale is a city that never ceases to amaze.

So, whether you’re a nature lover, a foodie, an art enthusiast, a beach bum, a shopaholic, or a music fanatic, Fort Lauderdale has something for you. Come and experience the sun-soaked adventure that awaits in this vibrant city. After all, there’s no day like a day in Fort Lauderdale!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Fort Lauderdale best known for?

Fort Lauderdale is best known for its amazing beaches, but the city also has much more to offer, including unique experiences like Sea the City hot tub boat tours. So, if you’re planning a visit, be sure to explore beyond the beaches!

Is it worth visiting Fort Lauderdale?

Yes, it’s definitely worth visiting Fort Lauderdale for its beautiful beaches, boating canals, and vibrant cultural scene. You can relax on Fort Lauderdale Beach and enjoy the scenic Riverwalk along the New River. Enjoy your trip!

Can you walk around Fort Lauderdale?

Yes, you can walk around Fort Lauderdale using the Riverwalk, which spans from the Sailboat Bend neighborhood to the Federal Highway, and offers various attractions and sights along the path. So, it’s a great way to explore the city.

What activities can I enjoy at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park?

You can enjoy birdwatching, picnicking, cycling, canoeing, kayaking, and wildlife encounters at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. Have fun exploring!

What can I do at Las Olas Boulevard?

You can enjoy diverse dining, cocktail bars, unique shopping, boutiques, and art galleries at Las Olas Boulevard. It’s a great place to explore and experience various activities.

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About 

Tim Schmidt is a 20+ year Entrepreneur and Digital Marketer. A Fort Lauderdale-based "Digital Nomad," he enjoys traveling as much as possible with family and friends. AllWorld is his escape to document all of his adventures, including being a hardcore "foodie." He has property in Costa Rica and visits several times each year and is happy to offer his expert advice for planning your trip.

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