DAYS OFF! Fort Lauderdale

The guests are gone, you’ve got a break, and you’re itching to make some memories. Here are 8 iconic things to do around Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

By Jessica Duarte • 12 January 2023

Here are 8 iconic things to do around Fort Lauderdale

For Action: The Everglades. 

Let’s start with the obvious. Get yourself aboard an airboat and tear down the Everglades at 40 miles an hour, the giant fan whirring behind you and startling the alligators. Want to do it a little differently? Tour the Everglades at night, with moonlight shining on the waterways, and giant alligators slithering into the water from the dark banks.  At only 25 miles out of Fort Lauderdale, the Sawgrass Recreation Park is easy to get to, and hard to forget.

For History and Art: Visit Bonnet House Museum and Gardens. 

This historic property was built by renowned artist Clay Bartlet in the 1920s and has more than a touch of colonial frontier grandeur about it. The colourful building sits pretty on an oceanfront lagoon surrounded by lush gardens, dunes and palm trees, and today serves as a museum for art and conservation.

It’s a tranquil, colourful place, and is one of the last examples of a native barrier island habitat in South Florida. Bonnet House puts on a calendar of events, including classes, lectures, and an orchid festival.

For Street Art and Shopping: Get to Hollywood. 

No, not that Hollywood. This historic little shopping district on the outskirts of Lauderdale is home to some of the most fantastic street art in America, with enormous outdoor murals by international artists including The London Police, Tatiana Suarez, Rone, and Jessy Nite. Hollywood is also a fabulous spot for boutique shopping, soaking up the old-style Florida ambience as you stroll under the palms or enjoy brunch in one of the lively cafes.

For Pampering and Pool Time. Book a cabana and spa day at The Diplomat Resort. 

After a busy charter, it is surely utter bliss to lie by a pool, with no one asking anything of you. The Diplomat is an easy place to pass a day drinking cocktails in a private cabana or checking into the award-winning spa for a massage. Getting hungry? Adjourn to Playa for tortillas and tacos overlooking the sea, washed down with cocktails from the rum and tequila bar. If you feel like something more formal or are craving a steak, Diplomat Prime is an award-winning luxury steakhouse on site.

For Iconic Bars: Elbo Room for live music, Rock bar for open-air nightclub, Quarterdeckfor a yachtie hangout, 1WLO for Rooftop Cocktails and City Views, Rhythm & Vine for the beer garden and food trucks, Bokampers for watching the game, Waxy O’Connors for pubs. 

Fort Lauderdale is bar heaven, whether you’re looking for cocktails by the beach, live music, an Irish pub, or a dark, sometimes divey sports bar (of which there are plenty.) Elbo Room is an institution for live music by the beach, but remember your cash as this often rowdy place is seriously old-school. Feel like cocktails and champagne brunches with beautiful people? 1WLO is more your style. Can’t resist talking about boats for a whole day? Hang out with the old salts and newbies at Quarterdeck. Rhythm & Vine makes for a great afternoon of beer and food trucks, and all yachting roads seem to lead to Waxy O’Connor’s Irish pub, eventually.

For Shopping: Oh, the choice!

Of all the malls, Galleria is the most high-end, and lovely for an afternoon’s clothes shopping and cocktails. Take the water taxi there for a nice arrival. If you’re looking for homewares for the yacht, hit the Design Centre of Americas mall, or look for something unique in art galleries and antique shops in the Arts and Antiques district near Dania Beach Boulevard. For boutique shopping, take a wander along Las Olas Boulevard or Hollywood.

For Flea Markets and Ferraris: The Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop.

The Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop is a little nuts, but that’s the only ‘little’ thing about it. This 88-acre flea market is the largest in the world and transforms into a giant drive-in theatre at night, and there’s also a Ferrari Museum on site. You can wander this place forever.

For Chilling in Nature: The Flamingo Gardens

When you’ve been at sea for a while, a bit of calming greenery can really hit the spot. Pack a picnic, a book, and laze about in these 60 acres of Botanical Gardens on your day off, looking up through the canopy at the blue Florida sky. There’s also a bird sanctuary on site. Yes, the eagle-eyed will notice that the flea market is bigger than the botanical gardens, but hey, FL is full of surprises!

There’s so much to do in Fort Lauderdale, and we haven’t even touched on Miami yet, which is just up the road. This is enough to get you started, you might have to ask the captain for more days off if you really want to explore this great city. Good luck.