Day Trip to Ft. Lauderdale


To the citizens of Fort Lauderdale, their home offers quintessential Florida – beaches, palm trees, shopping and relaxation – without the see-and-be-seen attitude of the state's other beachside cities. You can judge if they're right, but certainly expect a different atmosphere than their close rival Miami Beach.

Best Time to Visit Ft. Lauderdale

The best time to visit Fort Lauderdale is between December and April. Yes, anytime in that whole half of the year. The warm climate (between the high 50s and mid-80s) makes it an ideal getaway for anyone looking to escape bitter winter temperatures.

Getting to Ft. Lauderdale

The Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport (FLL) is just a 5-mile drive south of downtown Fort Lauderdale and welcomes many commercial airlines. You can also fly into Miami International Airport (MIA), located about 30 miles south of downtown Fort Lauderdale, or Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), approximately 45 miles north of Fort Lauderdale. Rental cars are available at all three airports.

Things to Do in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Fort Lauderdale's wide stretches of white sand surpass those of its southern neighbor and, to some, are the best shores statewide. And when you consider its fantastic scenery, great dining options and range of things to do, Fort Lauderdale is also somewhat affordable compared to similar vacation spots. The "Venice of America," nicknamed for its 165 miles of waterways and canals, is slowly but surely climbing the ranks of top beach destinations to the cheer of its residents.

Fort Lauderdale is a city made for beach bums and nature lovers. Case in point: Fort Lauderdale Beach and Sawgrass Recreation Park, home to alligators and other Florida wildlife. History buffs will find things to do here as well (we recommend a stop at the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens). And though the Venice of America may lack the rollicking nightlife adjacent cities are known for, downtown Fort Lauderdale has its charms. The Riverwalk, the arts and entertainment district along the New River, and Las Olas Boulevard host art exhibitions and concerts that might surprise you with their quality.

1. Fort Lauderdale Beach

Want a beautiful Florida beach without a crazy party scene? Fort Lauderdale Beach may be just what you're looking for. Here you'll find a calmer and less chaotic version of Miami Beach – but with the same sugary sands and crystal clear water. There are still parties, but you're more likely to find families relaxing or leisurely walking the waterline than raucous groups of college kids. Backing the shoreline, the palm tree-lined promenade bustles with visitors looking to shop and dine in the many establishments along it. There are also beach chair and water sports equipment rentals near the shore.

2. Fort Lauderdale Beach Park

Located less than a mile south of Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale Beach Park beckons to families who want to spend their beach day doing more than just lounging and swimming. At this free beachfront park, visitors have access to all sorts of facilities, including volleyball and basketball courts, outdoor showers, restrooms, a playground and a picnic area with tables and grills. Plus, the park's sands are less crowded than nearby Fort Lauderdale Beach, and lifeguards are on duty daily during daylight hours.

3. Las Olas Beach

Head north from Fort Lauderdale Beach Park or east on Las Olas Boulevard and you'll find Las Olas Beach, a small stretch of sand that attracts beachgoers of all ages. Beach amenities are not as plentiful as those offered at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park; however, visitors have access to beach chair and water sports equipment rentals, restrooms and metered parking. Restaurants, bars and shops are also available across the street.

4. Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

Located a few blocks north of Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park's position between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean makes it a fun locale for all types of travelers. Those looking to get a little wet can canoe or kayak in the largest of the park's coastal dune lakes. Adventurers who want to get their adrenaline pumping can bike along the nearly 2-mile paved park drive. Meanwhile, visitors who prefer to explore by foot can hike the Coastal Hammock Trail, which snakes through a native maritime tropical hardwood hammock ecosystem, one of the last of its kind in the county. Fisherman can make a catch at the seawall, while birders can look for 250-plus species that live in and regularly grace the park.

5. Fort Lauderdale Boat Tours

One of the best ways to take in your surroundings is to sign up for a boat tour. Fort Lauderdale boat operators offer a variety of ways to get out on the water, from traditional sightseeing outings to fishing charters to themed excursions in specialty boats.

6. Gulfstream Park

Whether you're looking to spend a day at the races or just find a nice spot for dinner, Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach has you covered. The Gulfstream Park racetrack opened in 1939 as one of the top horse racing venues in the United States. It has continued its legacy with world-class races every Wednesday to Sunday from December through September, and it caters to both beginners and experienced bettors. Admission is free, but various luxury boxes and private suites are available for serious racing enthusiasts. Special events at the park include Breakfast at Gulfstream (December through March), where visitors can enjoy a bottomless buffet for $10 per person while watching morning training on the track, listening to guest speakers and more. Gulfstream Park also hosts the annual Florida Derby – considered the biggest racing day of the year in South Florida – at the end of March or beginning of April.

7. Las Olas Boulevard

Diverse restaurants, 10 international art galleries and dozens of retail options line Las Olas Boulevard. But while casual walkers and window shoppers enjoy soaking in the Floridian atmosphere and overall aesthetic of the boulevard, the more intent consumer may not find this commercial street as appealing due to the high price tags. However, travelers recommend grabbing a bite to eat above all else, as many were impressed with the quality of food and the amount of alfresco dining options available. Our advice would be to make a stop here if you're planning to visit the nearby Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale or local museums like the Museum of Discovery and Science.

8. Sawgrass Mills

Located in Sunrise, Florida – about 14 miles west of downtown Fort Lauderdale – Sawgrass Mills mall is a shopping destination like no other. Known by locals simply as "Sawgrass," it is the largest outlet mall in the United States. Within the 350-store complex, you will find a variety of retail sections with shops ranging from budget-friendly options like a Super Target, Marshalls, J.Crew Factory and Nike Factory Store to the Colonnade's exclusive luxury-brand outlets like Tory Burch, Prada, Jimmy Choo and Kate Spade. Sawgrass also houses an IMAX movie theater two Starbucks coffee shops, a post office, two food courts and several restaurants, including The Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen, Rainforest Cafe (a great spot for families) and Zinburger wine and burger bar. If you hope to see the entire mall, plan on spending at least one full day here.

9. Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District

Spanning 22 blocks, the Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District holds some of Fort Lauderdale's top attractions. You'll find the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society, Bonnet House Museum and Gardens, the Nova Southeastern University Art Museum, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, the Florida Grand Opera and the Historic Stranahan House Museum, in addition to many restaurants, green spaces, movie theaters and shops. The district is set along the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale and is a lovely place to stroll or sit on a bench with a cup of coffee. It also encompasses Las Olas Boulevard, where you will find many shopping, dining and nightlife venues.

10. Bonnet House Museum & Gardens

This house sitting between the Intracoastal Waterway and Fort Lauderdale Beach has a long romantic history. In 1919, a wealthy settler gave the 35-acre property (named after the bonnet lily flower that grew on the grounds) as a wedding gift to his daughter Helen and her husband Frederic. In 1920, the newlyeds began construction of Bonnet House, hoping to build a winter getaway where Frederic could pursue his art and Helen could work on her music and poetry. But construction soon stopped when Helen unexpectedly died in 1925. Frederic didn't resume property renovations until 1931 when he married Evelyn Fortune Lilly. The new couple continued decorating the house until Frederic's death. Several decades later in 1983, Evelyn donated the house to the state's Trust for Historic Preservation, opening it to visitors for guided tours.

11. Lake Sylvia

Lake Sylvia is a hidden gem known mostly to the locals. Tucked away just off the Intracoastal north of Fort Lauderdale and surrounded by a community of exclusive waterfront homes, it’s well-protected from the elements and provides a safe, secure anchorage. Since there’s no access to shore nearby, you won’t find a rowdy party crowd here. It’s a perfect spot to drop the hook, take a dip, relax, and enjoy the quiet.

Distance from South Florida Yacht Rental

30 Minutes

Yachts & Homes of the Rich & Famous

The captain greets you over the PA system and you immediately realize the Carrie B has truly invested in their sound system – unlike typical sightseeing tour boats, you can actually understand every word he's saying - how refreshing! He smoothly pulls the Carrie B away from the dock, executes a flawless 180-degree turn and gently gets underway. The ride is so stable, you barely realize your moving. Your Fort Lauderdale tour begins with narration about the luxurious homes (indeed, mansions) and magnificent yachts that saturate the many canals of the New River. You then ease into the Intracoastal Waterway, glide past the Hyatt Pier 66 and Bahia Mar Marinas & Resorts, under the 17th Street Causeway, and into Port Everglades, home of the world's busiest cruise ship port. You are definitely enjoying the calm, smooth, ride on these protected waters as you glide along your tour.

Cruise Ships From Around the World

Wow - it's amazing just how large these cruise ships are! Depending on the day of the week and the time of the year, there will be anywhere from a few to many colossal vessels in port, from all parts of the world. These floating, self-contained, fully-functioning mini-cities just boggle your mind. Your captain tells you all about the current denizens of the port and point out interesting features of the various ships.

You may be one of the many cruise ship passengers who have chosen to enjoy a boat ride on the Carrie B on your arrival or departure day.  The Fort Lauderdale airport and the cruise ship terminals are so close – just grab a taxi to the Carrie B.  We offer the convenience of storing your luggage on board while you enjoy the sights & attractions.  Seeing your cruise ship from this perspective adds a whole new… perspective!

All Good Things Must Come To An End

On the return leg of your trip, you'll hear more great stories about the famous, as well as infamous, celebrities and citizens of the "Venice of America". And, while there's no guarantee, from time to time you'll be fortunate enough to spot some manatees that your captain will point out for you as he gingerly navigates around them to ensure the safety of these gentle giants. Before you know it, you've returned to the dock, having been wonderfully entertained, feeling very relaxed, and looking forward to your next trip on the Carrie B! (And yes, we've had people buy tickets to go right back out - you're welcome to cruise with us all 3 times a day if you want!)