If you’re looking for a great spot for your next family vacation, head to Fort Lauderdale for some fun in the sun. If you’re looking for big theme parks, there are plenty of family activities in Orlando the entire family can enjoy. However, if you’re looking for beautiful beaches, and plenty of fun for the entire family, we’re sure you’ll find plenty to do in Fort Lauderdale with kids.
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Is Fort Lauderdale good for kids?
Fort Lauderdale is on the southeastern coast of Florida, north of Miami and south of Boca Raton. With easy access to the Atlantic Ocean and the Florida Everglades, it’s one of the best places the whole family can enjoy.
Whether your kids love the beach, going on hikes, water sports, or just want to explore greater Fort Lauderdale, they are sure to find something they love.
Best Things to do in Fort Lauderdale Florida with Kids
1. Explore Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
While Florida is known for miles of beaches, head to Hugh Taylor Birch State Park for a full day of activities for all ages. The park has a beach, picnic tables, and a playground.
Families can rent jet skis, pedal boats, kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, and bicycles. Take a self guided audio tour of the trails or one of the free guided tours available Fridays and Saturdays. There are also live animal presentations on those days.
When you get hungry, visit the park’s restaurant for some tasty grub.
2. Spend time relaxing at the Deerfield Fishing Pier
While a chartered fishing excursion seems fun, it might not be the best idea with kids. Young children might get bored, complain about the heat, or get seasick. Granted, adults may experience some of the same feelings.
Why not take a break from the beach and go fishing from the Deerfield Beach fishing pier? Here you can rent rods and buy fresh or frozen bait, as well as tackle. There are also souvenir shirts which are a great way to remember your trip to Fort Lauderdale.
3. Go to a waterpark
When the temperatures hit the mid 90s, and the humidity is so thick you can cut it with a knife, it’s time to head to the local water parks.
While these don’t carry the amount of thrills as Wet ‘n’ Wild in Orlando, they are the perfect place for families with tweens and young kids. Cold water cycles through cascading jets to refresh even the hottest customer.
All of the water parks have toddler play areas and larger splash playgrounds for the rest of the kids. Those who prefer to stay in the shade can lounge on chairs under umbrellas.
4. Show off your pirate skills at BlueFoot Pirate Family Adventure
For those with kids between 3-10 years old, the BlueFoot pirate adventure is the most popular intracoastal waterway tour. It is only an hour long so it is perfect for younger kids with short attention spans. Show up 30 minutes before it is time to sail so your child can get decked out with tattoos and pirate garb.
During the cruise, kids will get to battle a pirate with water cannons. While the children are busy sailing the high seas, parents can enjoy seeing the homes of the rich and famous from the water.
TIPS: While there is a limited bathroom on board, there are no concessions. Water is provided. However, feel free to bring your own beverages. Space is limited so strollers should stay in the car. Car seats are permitted for infants.
5. Meet an alligator: Everglades Holiday Park
You can’t visit south Florida without seeing the Everglades, the slowest moving river in the world and home to amazing wildlife. Everglades Holiday Park offers hour-long airboat tours through the wetlands. It’s the perfect opportunity to learn about this incredible ecosystem and the local flora and fauna.
After your airboat tour, watch a gator presentation by the folks from Animal Planet. In addition, you can purchase a 45 minute animal encounter where you will interact with several uncaged animals.
TIP: Visit the Everglades during the late fall or late winter months. The weather is cooler and there are less mosquitos. Be sure to wear sunscreen and insect repellent.
6. Experience nature’s fairies with kids: Butterfly World
About a half hour from downtown Fort Lauderdale is Butterfly World, the largest butterfly park in the world. Located in the city of Coconut Creek, you will find Butterfly World on the south side of Tradewinds Park.
Walk through outdoor aviaries where millions of winged creatures flutter through the air. Maybe one will land on you, bringing good luck!
There are also numerous botanical gardens, a bug museum, and viewing areas displaying the butterfly life cycle. You can also purchase nectar to feed the lorikeets.
Tip: This is an outdoor park so check the weather ahead of time. The best times to visit are November through April. Summers are hot, and the butterflies won’t fly in heavy rain. They also won’t fly in the cold, but that is rarely the case here.
Food and beverages are available at the cafe, and the park is wheelchair accessible. There is also a playground and picnic area available in Tradewinds Park.
If you are planning to visit Butterfly World, consider investing in a South Florida Adventure Pass. This gives discounted admission for Butterfly World, Sawgrass Recreation Park, Museum of Discovery & Science, and Flamingo Gardens.
7. Hands on learning at the Museum of Discovery and Science
The Museum of Discovery and Science is fun for kids of all ages and adults will love it too. The museum has numerous permanent hands-on exhibits as well as temporary displays.
Kids can learn how we get our drinking water and how to improve our planet through recycling. They can feel the power of hurricane force winds in a simulator. There are even cute river otters swimming in their two story water habitat. Kids under 6 will enjoy a play area where they can create giant bubbles.
Across the street is the Riverwalk, an area with 10 parks set on the Fort Lauderdale waterfront. If the weather is nice, take a stroll while waiting for the museum to open.
8. Best ice cream shop in Ft. Lauderdale for kids: Cherry Smash
All good vacations should feature ice cream and Cherry Smash in Coral Springs is a great place to cool off on a hot summer day. This store front stands out with its circus-like memorabilia. Once inside you are immediately transported back in time, to an old fashioned ice cream parlor.
Ice cream flavors include Superman, which is as brightly colored as the comic itself, and the bright blue Smurf. My favorite is the cotton candy sundae which has a big tuft of cotton candy on top.
Pull up a stool at the counter and watch the electric train traveling overhead. Or sit at one of the tables and check out the collage of photos covering every inch of the ceiling.
Browse the life size figurines. Check out your reflection in the funhouse mirror. Or get nostalgic over the old advertising signs that might stir up some childhood memories.
Don’t leave without visiting the back room. Looking out over the balcony you will see a 50s carhop. Reruns of the TV show Happy Days play on a nearby TV. Old time carnival fortune tellers and other fantastic machines fill the area.
9. Fun things to do in Ft. Lauderdale with teens – Escape rooms
If you have never been to an escape room, it’s a fun place to visit with older kids. Each escape room has several unique themes to choose from.
Solve a mystery like Agatha Christie. Save the world from a deadly virus. Or step back in time to stop outlaws in the Old West. You will have an hour to piece together clues to solve the puzzle.
A few words of caution, if you are claustrophobic this might not be for you. Also, check age restrictions, as some subject matter might not be appropriate for kids. These are geared for tweens through adults who have abstract reasoning skills.
Most rooms are geared for between 3-10 people. If you have a small number of people in your party you may be paired with another group.
10. Thrill worthy Fort Lauderdale with kids – Xtreme Action Park
Do you fantasize about being a racecar driver? Now is your chance. Head to Xtreme Action Park for energetic fun. They have go kart racing divided into different age groups.
Are you a bit of a daredevil? Try your skills at a ropes course high in the air.
They also have roller skating, bowling, an arcade, trampoline park, laser tag, as well as escape rooms.
When the grown ups need a break, they can head to the restaurant or full bar for some refreshments. Check age and height restrictions for certain attractions.
Add a few of these fun things to do in Fort Lauderdale with kids to your agenda to make it even better. Whether you’re taking a road trip or flying directly into Fort Lauderdale, your family might call this the best vacation yet.
About the Author: Donna Emperador writes for Explore the Road with Donnamarie, a lifestyle blog focusing on travel, food, and creative cocktails. Donna believes in bringing people together by traveling and learning about different cultures while sharing good food and cocktails.
Originally from New York, she has lived in South Florida for over 20 years and enjoys spending time exploring the road to find unique places to share with readers.
When home, she enjoys creating recipes inspired by different cultures from across the globe and inventing new cocktails to share with friends.
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Context Travel is another option and they offer more educational-based activities. The former teacher in me loves their tours.
One of our favorite things to do annually is taking photos with Flytographer. They have photographers around the world and we’ve used them on four separate occasions. This is our favorite travel souvenir.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
With the state of travel these days, it’s important to have some type of travel insurance to cover any unforeseen accidents, illnesses, threats, or cancellations. We always travel with insurance and would recommend SquareMouth, Travelex, or Medjet as good options. And if you want to compare different insurance options, use Travel Insurance Master to find the best policy for your group.