Located on Florida's southeastern coast, Fort Lauderdale is known for its beaches, canals, and bustling arts scene. With a sophisticated vibe that’s a far cry from the spring-break setting of yesteryear, the city is a prime starting point for day trips thanks to its proximity to Miami and the Bahamas. Here’s how to make the most of three days in Fort Lauderdale.
Day 1: See It by Sea
Around 7 miles (11 kilometers) of Atlantic beaches stretch out from Fort Lauderdale, offering cooling breezes in this tropical climate that averages 85°F (30°C) in summer and a balmy 75°F (25°C) in winter. View the area’s over-the-top mansions from the water on a sightseeing cruise of the port and yacht marina before spending the afternoon on the sand. Alternatively, head out to the Everglades to spot alligators from an airboat. In the evening, take a dinner cruise with live entertainment aboard the popular Jungle Queen riverboat. Another option is a live Polynesian performance at a local landmark restaurant that serves Chinese dishes and tropical drinks; the kitschy 1950s tiki setting is fun for the whole family.
Day 2: Go Fish
Head offshore on a half- or all-day fishing trip to catch snapper, grouper, trigger fish, grunts, and amberjacks, or travel to the Everglades where you can snag bass. Half-day trips typically offer morning and afternoon departure times, and private charter options are available. For those who prefer their fish on a plate as opposed to a hook, stroll down Fort Lauderdale’s picturesque Las Olas Boulevard with a small-group food crawl to sample a variety of restaurants and bars. Alternatively, join a Segway or bike tour to catch more of the city’s sights, or rent a Vespa scooter and motor around on your own. At night, grab a cocktail aboard a sunset cruise or go barhopping with a pub crawl.
Day 3: Out and About
Spend your last day exploring beyond Fort Lauderdale. Less than an hour’s drive away, Miami is a popular option; guided tours that include round-trip transportation from Fort Lauderdale are ideal for first-time visitors. Alternatively, venture off coast with a ferry ticket to Freeport Harbour on Grand Bahama, where you’ll have free time to snorkel, sunbathe, and explore the island—just remember to bring your passport. A guided day trip to Key West involves a long bus ride, so it may not be ideal for some travelers, but it offers a taste of the Keys and the chance to see top attractions such as the Ernest Hemingway House without committing to a full stay there.