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Fort Lauderdale is a great family-friendly destination for a few reasons. One of South Florida’s most popular cities offers beautiful beaches, exciting museums, and outdoor attractions. The city also gets nearly year-round sunshine and is a great alternative to Florida’s other tourist destinations like Orlando and Miami.
There’s truly an activity for kids of all ages, and a trip to Fort Lauderdale can include lounging on the beach, hanging with live sharks, or spending an afternoon in a world-class museum. Ready to pack your bags yet? Here are five places to visit in Fort Lauderdale with kids for your next Florida vacation.
Fort Lauderdale Beach
Fort Lauderdale has some of the best beaches in South Florida, and Fort Lauderdale Beach is at the heart of all the action. Visitors can stroll down the brick-paved sidewalk of the beachfront promenade or rent bikes from Broward B-Cycle. The beach has lots of palm trees for shade, and there are beach chairs and umbrellas for rent. While you’re here, you can rent equipment to snorkel, jet ski, or go paddleboarding.
Part of the fun of Fort Lauderdale is the people watching, and there’s usually a beach volleyball game happening nearby. Fort Lauderdale Beach also has a lot of great restaurants nearby. Lona Cocina Tequileria has a delicious bottomless brunch buffet, Takato is great for sushi, and Bo’s Beach serves up some of the best burgers on the beach. For easy access to Fort Lauderdale Beach, consider staying at one of the many beachfront hotels like the Pelican Grand Beach Resort or the Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach.
The Museum of Science and Discovery
Located in downtown Fort Lauderdale, The Museum of Science and Discovery is the largest science museum in South Florida and has tons of interactive exhibits for families. Visitors can take a ride on the Everglades Airboat Adventure Ride in the EcoDiscovery Center or feel what it’s like to experience hurricane winds in the Storm Center. Other interactive exhibits include digging for fossils and riding in an F-18 simulator jet. There are also live animal encounters with otters, gators, and sharks. Visitors can also take a virtual trip to Mars and participate in a virtual reality scavenger hunt. Family members of all ages will love watching a movie on the six-story IMAX screen. The theater offers environmental documentaries and the latest blockbuster movies. There are also 3D glasses for specific movies, and the theater has stadium seating, ensuring everyone has a good view.
The NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale
Perfect for a rainy afternoon activity, The NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale is located inside an 83,000-square-foot modern building in Fort Lauderdale’s downtown district. Spend a few hours with the family browsing the museum’s 6,000-piece permanent exhibits. Kids may recognize the work of modern artists like Keith Haring and Frank Stella, along with new and upcoming artists.
The artwork at the museum represents the rich diversity of South Florida’s population. It has an extensive collection of work by Latin American and Black artists and an impressive array of African art from the 18th-21st century. There are colorful outdoor murals on the museum’s exterior walls and permanent indoor exhibits. Before you leave, stop by the museum’s cafe and browse the selection of art-focused books, jewelry, and stationery in the museum store.
The Bonnet House Museum and Gardens
Step back in time to The Bonnet House Museum and Gardens in Fort Lauderdale, a historic 1920s home modeled after a Caribbean-style plantation house. The 35-acre property is listed on the National Register for Historic Places and served as the winter getaway for Chicago businessman Frederic Clay Bartlett. Today, visitors can take guided tours through the main house and the surrounding immaculate grounds. It’s hard to believe that this idyllic property is just a few minutes from Fort Lauderdale Beach. Once inside, visitors can marvel at the collection of animal sculptures from Asia and Africa that belonged to Barlett’s wife. Several trails wind around freshwater lagoons, and the museum grounds are also home to swans, cranes, and Brazilian squirrel monkeys.
The African-American Research Library and Cultural Center
If you need a break from the Florida heat, head to The African-American Research Library and Cultural Center in downtown Fort Lauderdale. The unique attraction has a central library and a children’s library with the largest collection of Black history books and Black-authored books in the country. The library also serves as a social hub with a dance studio and auditorium, and the center often hosts community events. A special collections room also contains over 85,000 rare manuscripts, artwork, and artifacts. Besides books and magazines, the two-story library has an exhibit area and gift shop celebrating African and Caribbean cultures.
What are your favorite things to do in Fort Lauderdale? Let us know in the comments.