‘The Venice of America’ – Fort Lauderdale. The famous coastal city in Florida is loved for its beachfront promenade, “The Strip”, upscale restaurants, bars, and luxury hotels.
Fort Lauderdale is too often compared with the nearby city of Miami. Sure, there’s so much to see and lots of cool free things to do in Miami. However, Fort Lauderdale also boasts long stretches of iconic white palm-fringed beaches and activities to rival the Magic City.
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There are loads of fun and exciting things to do in the vibrant city. But for those who want to wander a little further afield, there are some fantastic Fort Lauderdale tours and day trips, many a short drive from the centre. We offer tour recommendations where we think they are good value and worth the experience.
If you are flying into Fort Lauderdale, you may want to consider renting a car to make the most of the region and your time.
Discover Cars find the best local deals with free cancellation and no extra fees.
Slightly longer day trips such as Key West would be perfect for those including Fort Lauderdale or Key West on a Florida road trip.
These are some of the best day trips from Fort Lauderdale to help you plan an unforgettable vacation.
Where To Stay In Fort Lauderdale
One of the USA’s most popular vacation destinations, Fort Lauderdale is constantly evolving with not just sunseekers but also adventure travellers in mind. As a result, more so than ever, there are plenty of fantastic hotels in Fort Lauderdale to choose from.
If you want to stay in the hub of the action, plan your stay around Central Beach. Fort Lauderdale is renowned for its beautiful, social beaches, and Central Beach is by far the most popular.
Here, you’ll enjoy a wide variety of restaurants, food stalls and beach bars where you can kick back and enjoy the local culture.
Another popular area to stay is Las Olas. Located between downtown Fort Lauderdale and the shoreline, Las Olas lays claim to being one of the most beautiful areas of the city. The boulevard, historic sights, art galleries and waterfront restaurants keep travellers coming back time and again.
Search Great Deals on Vacation Rentals and Hotels in Fort Lauderdale.
How to Keep Your Valuables Safe at the Beach: We have found the Best Beach Safe Solutions for a stress-free day by the pool or at the beach.
The Best Fort Lauderdale Day Trips
While there are many exciting Fort Lauderdale sightseeing tours to enjoy, we’ve narrowed down some of the best day trips to really enhance your holiday.
Day Trip To The Bahamas
Many don’t realise that the exotic Bahamas is only 300 kilometres from Fort Lauderdale. A day trip to the Bahamas promises an idyllic escape from the mainland to the paradise island for the day.
How to Get to Bimini Island
Hop on board a high-speed catamaran and enjoy a relaxing day in the sun as the ferry scoots you across the Atlantic Ocean to the white sandy beaches of the Bahamas.
Book a combo Ferry Transfer with Day Pass to The Hilton at Resort World Bimini, where once on the island, you can enjoy full use of the beach, pool, a wide variety of water sports, beautiful views and tasty food.
If you prefer an idyllic day exploring Bimini Island, you can book a Bimini Day Trip with hotel transfers.
Remember: You will need your passport to take a day trip to the Bahamas from Fort Lauderdale.
Everglades Wildlife Safari
The Everglades is a 1.5 million acre wetland preserve located 1.5-hours outside of Fort Lauderdale and is one of the best-rated national parks in the US.
The wild flora and fauna in the Everglades are a treat for both nature lovers and adventure junkies. You can choose to enjoy a wildlife safari in the Everglades, nature walks with an airboat ride or even a cruise.
The beautiful natural area offers something extraordinary for travellers. The marshes and swamps bring you up close with alligators, manatees and dolphins, turtles and a variety of wetland birds.
See an ancient forest of towering Cypress trees and learn about the diversity of flora and fauna in the Florida Everglades National Park.
Handy tip: Although they have a similar name, the Port Everglades day cruises do not depart from the Everglades wetland areas.
Ten Thousand Islands
One of Florida’s hidden gems, the Ten Thousand Islands off Florida’s southwest coast, is an ecological paradise where the waters of the Everglades meet the Gulf Coast. The world’s second-largest mangrove forest, the remote chain of islands and mangrove islets, is beautifully wild, rugged, and teeming with wildlife. It also has a rich history of resilient people that made a living there.
Contrary to the name, there are only a few hundred keys. Some of the islands are incredibly tiny and unnamed. Others are as big as football fields with names like Panther Key and Mormon Key, given to them by the area’s early settlers. Others are mere spits of sand and oyster shells with enough space to land a small boat or stop for a picnic.
There is a lot to do in the Ten Thousand Islands, from kayaking to camping. But for a day trip, we recommend booking a tour of some description to get you out on the water to see the most of this fascinating region. You can find a full range of Ten Thousand Island Tours here for every interest.
Biscayne National Park
Only a little over an hour from Fort Lauderdale, the Biscayne National Park is the largest marine sanctuary in the National Parks Service. The park also has the only living coral barrier reef in the States, the Florida Reef, one of the most extensive offshore coral reefs in the world.
Covering over 270 square miles, 95% of the Biscayne National park is underwater. Experience four different ecosystems while looking out for the park’s most precious endangered species, such as manatees, sea turtles, and crocodiles. There are also many dolphins, turtles, and pelicans in Biscayne Bay.
Highlights of Biscayne Bay are the historic Boca Chita Key & lighthouse, hiking trails on Elliott Key, Stiltsville – the fascinating old prohibition town in the water of Biscayne Bay, Jones Lagoon, and Fowey Rocks lighthouse.
Deep-Sea Fishing Boat Trip
As a coastal city, it’s no wonder one of the top activities to do in Fort Lauderdale is on the ocean. If you’re looking for an ocean-centric day trip, deep-sea fishing is a very exciting day on the water.
A deep-sea fishing trip is a unique experience, whether with the whole family or a group of friends – A fun alternative to a day on the beach.
Experience Fort Lauderdale from a different perspective and the exhilaration of catch and release game fishing. You might even catch dinner. With a professional crew at hand, you don’t need any prior experience.
There are lots of game fishing charters from Fort Lauderdale ranging from half to full day. Charters should include all your fishing gear and fishing licence.
These are some of the fishing experiences on offer for beginners and pros:
- 4 hour offshore Drift Fishing experience, which is perfect for families and beginners.
- 4 hour Offshore Shared Sports Fishing Tour for those who want to try their hand at game fishing.
- Half-day Inshore Sport Fishing experience for those who prefer calmer waters but still like exciting fishing.
- A full-day private game fishing charter for those who love the experience and want more fishing time.
Handy tip: If you do suffer from motion sickness, you don’t have to miss out. There are tried and tested sea-sick preventions to make sure you enjoy your day on the water.
Big Cypress National Preserve
One hour and fifteen minutes to the southwest of Fort Lauderdale, Big Cypress National Preserve offers visitors a glimpse of what natural Florida once looked like. The massive swampy wetland is a wonderland for outdoor enthusiasts.
There are scenic driving routes and boardwalks that allow visitors to explore closer to the wetlands. There are plenty of opportunities for kayaking and paddling tours. Alternatively, try “Cypress Slogging“; a ranger-led hike on a submerged hiking trail really gets you off the well-worn track.
The vast wetland also offers plenty of wildlife viewing and birding. You may even encounter the elusive Florida Panther.
Key West is the southernmost city in the United States and offers a fabulous day trip from Fort Lauderdale. A perfect mix of land and sea.
Many people take a day trip to Key West to enjoy the laid-back Caribbean atmosphere. Others, to enjoy the journey there.
On the trip down, you will travel through the Florida Keys – crossing 34 islands and 42 bridges. Travel over the 7 Mile Bridge – the longest in the world, flanked by stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the west.
With a good part of the day to explore Key West, you can hop from one trendy café to another, soak up some rays on the beach and enjoy the festive atmosphere in Mallory Square.
If you’re more of an outdoor enthusiast than a casual stroller or beach bum, take your pick from activities like kayaking and dolphin-watching.
You can book a day trip from Fort Lauderdale to Key West on an air-conditioned coach to and from your accommodation. The tour also has the option for additional activities add ons in Key West. See here for full tour details.
Miami Day Trips From Fort Lauderdale
A Miami day trip from Fort Lauderdale is perhaps one of the most popular for visitors – and for a good reason.
Only a short distance from one another and so often compared, you will find a surprising number of experiences unique to each city.
Although Miami is known as a beach paradise, the city itself is full of hidden gems. There are so many things to do in Miami, from the vibrant Art Deco District to the sophisticated stretch of beachfront. Hip markets and galleries, street art walks and of course, Little Havana.
Less than 45 minutes from Fort Lauderdale, it’s an easy day trip to organise on your own steam. If you prefer to take a tour option, so you don’t have to worry about parking or transport, you can book a full Day trip to Miami in an airconditioned vehicle with a tour guide, which includes a city tour of Miami’s highlights. See here for full details.
Tip: If you decide to visit Miami independently, I highly recommend purchasing the Miami Explorer Pass, where you can choose 2, 3, 4 or 5 Attractions. You can save up to 50% on Miami’s best attractions.
Only half an hour from Fort Lauderdale, Delray Beach is a must-visit.
Thanks to the Pineapple Grove Arts District’s public art installations and galleries, Delray Beach is known for its unique artistic beach vibe. The charming village by the sea also offers an eclectic array of boutiques, bars, breweries and restaurants, set against a two-mile stretch of pristine beaches.
Head to the lakeside Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens to enjoy a tea ceremony in an incredible serene atmosphere or participate in calligraphy workshops.
Visit the Wakodahatchee Wetlands Park, a 50-acre man-made wetland constructed from an unused wastewater utility property. The park is free to the public and features a three-quarter mile boardwalk that crosses the open water pond areas and marshlands where you can view birds, turtles and alligators.
West Palm Beach
Only 45 minutes from Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach is also making its mark as a cultural centre.
West Palm Beach has fine dining and fantastic shopping. In the four retail and entertainment districts, you’ll find world-class restaurants, fashionable bars, nightclubs, boutiques and collectables. A 3-Hour Food Tour of Historic West Palm Beach Neighborhoods is a great way to get your culinary bearings.
West Palm Beach also boasts Broadway-quality shows and Florida’s largest waterfront music festival– SunFest.
There are also lots of cultural events and galleries, including the world-renowned Norton Museum of Art.
Of course, West Palm Beach also has incredible beaches and waterways where you can enjoy a 2-hour Sunset Cruise.
Fort Lauderdale Excursions
Too often, people focus on Miami without realising the lively city of Fort Lauderdale is a stone’s throw away. Fort Lauderdale promises long, relaxing days in the sun and festive nights. It is also the jump point for a wide variety of incredible day trips.
These are only a few Fort Lauderdale trips that will enhance your vacation. Whether you’re a solo traveller, family, couple or group, there are loads of day trips from Fort Lauderdale to suit all interests and budgets.