Fort Lauderdale is one of my favorite places to visit with my kids. I may be a little biased because we used to live there, but I LOVE taking my kids back and re-visiting the places that brought us such joy. Even though Fort Lauderdale is known as a top vacation spot for Spring Breakers and First Weekers, it is also very kid friendly and has so much to offer families for a weekend of sun, fun, and relaxation.
I am going to give you plenty of options to choose from for your weekend away. If you can’t fit them all in at once, don’t worry, another weekend away is always good for the soul!
What is there to do in Fort Lauderdale for families?
Water Activities to do in Fort Lauderdale with Kids
The Greater Fort Lauderdale area has beaches that span 23 miles. Found in the sand of Fort Lauderdale Beach is Fort Lauderdale Beach Park. This park is complete with picnic tables, a playground, a basketball court, a volleyball court, and bathrooms for your convenience.
Fun on the water never stops in Fort Lauderdale with a ton of water sports rentals and sightseeing cruises like The Jungle Queen Riverboat. The Jungle Queen takes you on a tour up the historic New River and a visit to Tropical Isle where you can see tropical birds, lemurs, monkeys, and an alligator show.
Bluefoot Pirate Adventures takes you on an engaging and fun pirate cruise along the Intercoastal waterway where you’ll learn how to talk like a pirate, hunt for treasure, and battle with water cannons.
At Island Water Sports you can book surf lessons, paddle board lessons, skate lessons, or paddleboard tours for the whole family.
A trip to Fort Lauderdale wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the heart of the city, Las Olas Boulevard. Las Olas is home to restaurants, shops, a ton of things to do. The Holidays are an especially fun time on Las Olas, with snow machines, and an ice hill for sledding. A small alleyway nestled between shops will have a big screen with a Christmas movie playing.
Thursday – Sunday enjoy a stroll through the Criswell Farm and Market, on your way to enjoy one of the many restaurants waiting to serve you.
Indoor Activities to do in Fort Lauderdale with Kids
If there’s a rainy day on your visit, no worries, just over The 17th Street bridge, check out Flippo’s, an indoor playground, complete with laser maze, jungle gym, toddler zone, and more.
The Museum of Discovery and Science is home to over 200 hands on hands-on exhibits like a flight simulator and an airboat simulator. It is the most visited museum in Florida, and with good reason, there is so much to see and do and the time flies by while you’re there. It is also home to the 5 story Autonation IMAX 3D Theater.
Another great indoor option is my kids’ favorite, and the place they miss the most! It is Young at Art Museum. Young at Art is a museum dedicated to growing children’s creativity through hands-on fun experiences. There is never a dull moment at Young at Art.; every turn you take leads you to a new hands-on exhibit. Kids will love visiting one of their ever changing exhibits, a library, a coloring and climbing room, a stomp room where kids can use drumsticks to play on metal trash lids or plastic buckets or stomp to hear the different sounds.
Interested in swimming. Check out The International Swimming Hall of Fame. Its museum is home to the largest collection of swimming memorabilia and illustrates the history of aquatic sports.
*Due to the Pandemic the museums remain closed at this time. Please check their websites for reopenings.
Outdoor activities to do in Fort Lauderdale with Kids
You wouldn’t think so, but just outside of Fort Lauderdale, in Davie Florida, you can catch a rodeo. Bergeron Rodeo Grounds has been Davie’s largest tourist attraction for 40 years.
Horseback Riding is always a favorite. With a few options to choose from you’ll find beauty on all the trails. At Bar-B Ranch you’ll walk, trot, or canter through the Robbins Open Space Preserve.
Choose from different trail experiences and learn about South Florida’s habitat at American Horse Trails.
At A&A Adventure explore trails through the Everglades and lush landscape.
Speaking of the Everglades, take an airboat ride or a swamp buggy tour at Billie’s Swamp Safari. If a ride isn’t for you, stay on land and enjoy it’s many shows and exhibits. On this 2,200 acre property you’ll experience the everglades like never before.
Flamingo Gardens, a wildlife sanctuary and botanical garden is another way to take a step into nature. Tour the botanical gardens, learn about the animals that live on property, or visit the Way Home Museum, and take a glimpse into life in South Florida in the 1930’s.
Butterfly World is home to over 20,000 butterflies from around the world and the most beautiful birds too. It’s a can’t miss on your trip to Fort Lauderdale.
No matter what suits your family best. Fort Lauderdale is sure to offer something for everyone!
If your kiddos love to wish, or just want to try, take them fishing at Anglin’s Fishing Pier.
Visit Pompano Beach Pier, park nearby and enjoy walking the pier, shopping, and dining. Stop in by land or by boat to Shooters Waterfront, it has delicious food and a beautiful atmosphere. We like to dine outside so the kiddos can watch the boats passing by on the intercoastal and they love watching the boats park
*The rodeo and Billie’s swamp Safari remain closed due to the pandemic. Please check their websites for reopening dates.
Camping in Fort Lauderdale
The Fort Lauderdale area has a lot of options for outdoor activities without going to the beach. If a trip spent more in nature is your idea of a vacation, consider camping at T.Y. (Topeekeegee Yugnee) Park or C.B. Smith Park, where they have full RV hookup available. Topeekeegee Yugnee, which means “The Gathering Place” Park was our home away from home. It’s 138+acres has 2 miles of trails that are great for walking, jogging, and bike rides.
Take a lunch and enjoy a picnic at one of their picnic tables, a pavilion or better yet, under one of their huge shade trees. You can also order lunch from a local favorite, Shenanigans , or grab a coffee from Starbucks, both located right across the street from the park. T.Y. Park’s amenities also include basketball courts, tennis courts, a playground, a fitness zone, and volleyball court.
Typically, the months of March- October their water park Castaway Island is open with a Lagoon Pool, and 2 water playgrounds. C.B. Smith Park is located on 299-acres with full RV hookups, playgrounds, sand volleyball courts, 10 tennis courts, pickleball, and 4 racquetball courts.
For the families that love golf, the All Family Golf complex has a lit driving range and miniature golf. Batting Cages and a pro shop are also on property. C.B. Smith has its own water park, Paradise Cove, which is also open seasonally.
*Bookings for campsites must be done via phone at this time. NO online booking is permitted during the pandemic.
Best Hotels in Fort Lauderdale for families
Just a 15 minute walk south of Fort Lauderdale Beach Park is the beautiful Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Hotel. The Marriott Harbor Beach is located right on Fort Lauderdale beach, with an amazing pool area complete with cabanas and pool side service.
Another great hotel option is The Bahia Mar. It is located at the bottom of the park. The Bahia Mar has views of the intercoastal waterway, as well as views of the ocean. It also has a walkway that stretches over A1A and drops you right on the beach, so you don’t have to worry about crossing the busy street with beach toys and kiddos. The Market Deli & Liquor is located in the hotel and is great for picking up a quick breakfast, lunch or snack.
Places close to Fort Lauderdale that are also worth checking out
South of Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood Beach is a small beach town with a 2.5 mile boardwalk along the beach. Check out their website for deals on hotels and local spots for Florida Residents. For fun on the boardwalk or the beach check out rentals from Bouyah Watersports located inside Hollywood Beach Marriott, or Sun and Fun Cycles
Don’t miss the newest addition to The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, the Guitar Hotel, which stands 450 feet tall. Only 18 and older are allowed on the casino floor, but you can have lunch inside at Hard Rock Cafe or for hands on fun head to PlaPlay, a next level sports bar with 25 screens for an interactive sports and gaming experience.
Also located in Hollywood Beach is a favorite vacation spot for many, Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort. Margaritaville Hollywood is located on the beach where you can put your toes in the sand every day. They are currently celebrating their 5th Anniversary by offering special pricing for the occasion. If you can’t take advantage of this offer, don’t worry they also offer special Florida resident rates!
Onsite at Margaritaville, open to guests and to the public, is the awesome surfing simulator the Flowrider Double. So, whether you choose to stay onsite or nearby you can hop on and enjoy the ride.
One of our favorite things to search for on a weekend trip is a place that we can pack as little as possible, check into the hotel, park the car for the weekend, and walk everywhere. Weekends spent at our own pace is our kind of vacation and if you like that too then I’ve got the spot for you! Located about 30 minutes north of Fort Lauderdale and away from more of the party scene there is Deerfield Beach.
Check into the Wyndham Deerfield Beach Resort, spend your days on the beach, fish from the Deerfield Beach Pier, and then walk to dinner. The hotel itself has 4 restaurants serving drinks, snacks, burgers, or Italian.
If you go on a short walk around the corner, you will find other selections of small locally owned restaurants, fine dining, shops and bars.
Fort Lauderdale has a lot of fun activities to do with the kids. If you choose to go for a weekend stay, we are sure you will have a good time.
by Abby O’Connor