Three thousand hours of sunshine yearly, 24 miles of beaches, and a myriad of outdoorsy activities make Greater Fort Lauderdale an alluring destination year-round, especially if you enjoy being outside to soak up the warm Florida weather. In fact, there are plenty of things to do for outdoor enthusiasts, from cruising the waterways by boat to paddling atop them in a kayak or on a standup paddleboard. Not sure how to paddleboard? Take a lesson from a local shop—and learn to surf, while you’re at it. During this five-day trip, you’ll also mingle at a beach cleanup, visit the world’s largest butterfly park, and take a wild ride on an Everglades airboat while keeping your eyes peeled for alligators. When it comes time to refuel, there are plenty of restaurants serving the freshest seafood you can find anywhere, and accommodations ranging from boutiques to resorts where you can recharge for the next adventure.
Itinerary / 5 DAYSPLAN YOUR TRIP
DAY 1Welcome to the Greater Fort Lauderdale
This afternoon, pay a visit to Island Water Sports in nearby Deerfield Beach for everything you need to live the beach life. Managed by professional surfer Cheyne Cottrell, you’ll pick up the best tips for any water-centric excursion. Before you leave, book a surf, skimboarding, or stand up paddling (SUP) lesson for the next morning. Or, if you’re visiting over a weekend, sign up for the shop’s free surf or SUP lessons held every Saturday morning, open to all ages and all levels of experience.
Before leaving Deerfield Beach, stop by JB’s On the Beach and ask for a table on the patio for an early dinner. The fresh seafood on the menu is only outdone by the spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean. The tiki bar is a fun spot to grab a drink to toast your first day in Greater Fort Lauderdale, as well as the fun that’s sure to come.
DAY 2Beaches, Boats, and Brews
Spend the rest of the day on the water with a rental from Boatsetter. From pontoon boats to yachts, you’ll find just the right fit to cruise north along the calm waters of the Intracoastal Waterway. Pull up to the dock at Two Georges At the Cove Restaurant to grab a quick bite to eat before setting out on the water again. Cruise south to check out the Hillsboro Lighthouse before returning.
Dinner tonight is at Beach House Pompano. The casual and relaxed vibe invites you to stay awhile and enjoy bites from the wood-burning grill and sips of signature cocktails. Before turning in for the night, stop for a nightcap at Broski Ciderworks, a brother-owned craft cidery with its own ciders and guest beers on tap.
DAY 3Butterflies, Airboats, and Alligators
Later in the afternoon, get ready for adventure with Sawgrass Recreation Park. Hovering atop the water, your captain will maneuver through the Florida Everglades on an airboat tour, all the while sharing its history and stopping for wildlife sightings. Keep your eyes peeled for alligators, an occasional deer, and all types of birds. Choose between public or private tours or venture out after dark for an unforgettable night of spotting alligators by the lights of their eyes.
After the thrilling airboat adventure, pull up a stool at Bamboo Beach Tiki Bar, the only tiki bar on Fort Lauderdale Beach and part of Ocean Manor Resort, which Johnny Carson once called home. You can’t go wrong with the fish tacos and a frozen daiquiri.
DAY 4Explore the Canals of the Venice of America
Plan to hop off at stop #3 at 15th Street Fisheries, one of South Florida’s favorite waterfront dining spots for nearly 40 years. Snag a table downstairs for a casual lunch at Fisheries Dockside in the marina and watch the boats cruise by while dining on fresh local seafood favorites like Cedar Key clams, Mahi tacos, or spiny lobster tail. Buy some bait at the dock store and feed the tarpon that hang out under the dock to delight the young and young-at-heart. For a more formal dining experience and a bird’s eye view of all the boats docked, ask for a table Upstairs at the Fisheries.
Before hopping back onto the Water Taxi, stop by the family-owned Lauderdale Marina to pick up a hat for the ride back up the Intracoastal. During the afternoon, take a dip in the garden side pool or the ocean back at Sun Tower. Celebrate another terrific day at a themed happy hour like Martini Mondays and Tequila Tuesdays at Aruba Beach Cafe in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea. Stay for dinner and dine on fresh seafood and succulent steaks, starting with ceviche from the raw bar. If the stars align and there’s a full moon during your visit, join Blue Moon Outdoor Adventures for a nighttime paddle tour on a standup paddle board or in a kayak that’s lit by the light of the silvery moon.
DAY 5An Art and Flamingo-Filled Last Day
If you’re flying out or even driving to your next destination, save some time to visit Flamingo Gardens in Davie, just west of the airport. What better way to end a visit than with some pink-feathered friends? Stretch your legs at the botanical gardens and wildlife sanctuary that encompasses 60 acres and start making plans for your return visit.