Fort Lauderdale Vacation Planning Guide

Fort Lauderdale Florida

D Ramey Logan / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0 

More than 300 miles of navigable inland waterways wind through palatial estates, citrus groves, and the unique and exotic Everglades—beckoning boats of all sizes and shapes. It is the Intracoastal Waterway—stretching south to Miami—and the waterfront homes which dot it, that have earned Greater Fort Lauderdale its reputation as the "Venice of America."

Sun-seekers from all over the world come to Fort Lauderdale to play, relax, and sometimes even to work. Although long thought to be only for the "rich and famous" that can afford luxurious lifestyles, loyal visitors know that the area offers a wide variety of accommodations and experiences.

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Fort Lauderdale FAQ

Lifeguard tower at Fort Lauderdale Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA
Danita Delimont / Getty Images

Frequently Asked Questions About Fort Lauderdale

What is Fort Lauderdale's weather like? The weather in Fort Lauderdale is nearly perfect, although somewhat unpredictable. The water gets chilly in the winter, but it can still get warm enough to lay on the beach.

When is hurricane season? The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and ends November 30, with the highest storm probability is from August through October.

Is Fort Lauderdale still a popular spring break destination? Not so much. "Where the Boys Are," the 1960 hit feature film brought spring breakers flocking to Fort Lauderdale. However, by the mid-1980s, the city was tired of its rowdy reputation and discouraged spring breakers by banning open containers in public. Soon, developers began drawing a classier crowd by sprucing up the beach, opening trendy restaurants and boutique hotels.

Is it true that Fort Lauderdale is a popular gay and lesbian vacation destination? Yes. Once the cheap hotels and fast-food eateries along a one-mile strip of Ocean Drive from Sunrise Boulevard to Las Olas were replaced by trendy restaurants and upscale shops, the city began marketing the city about 15 years ago to more sophisticated travelers, including gay and lesbians seeking an upscale tropical getaway. 

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Getting to and Around Fort Lauderdale

Terminal Two Rainy Sunrise at FLL
formulanone/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

When planning your Fort Lauderdale vacation, how you're going to get there is an important consideration. First, you'll need to decide if you're going to drive or fly.

If you decide to fly into Fort Lauderdale, you'll want to book your flight directly into Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL).

Fort Lauderdale is located in the center of South Florida's Gold Coast, midway between Palm Beach to the north and Miami to the south. The Greater Fort Lauderdale area stretches across 1,200 square miles, including over a half-million acres of Everglades on its western edge and includes Deerfield Beach and Pompano to the north to Hollywood and Hallandale Beach to the south. The region encompasses 30 cities.

Once you arrive in Fort Lauderdale, you'll find an array of transportation choices for getting around and seeing the sights other than your rental car. Public transportation includes a bus service with 40 routes, including some 410 square miles. Pedicabs, motorcycle rentals, and water taxis are all modes of transportation that make seeing the sights fun.

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Where to Stay in Fort Lauderdale

The W Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Farragutful/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

Fort Lauderdale boasts about 33,000 hotel rooms from Hollywood to Deerfield, including several new hotels conveniently located near the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Port Everglades and the Broward County Convention Center.

In terms of room size, at Marenas Beach Resort, convenient to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, you’ll get way more for your travel dollar here than in any of those cute Art Deco hotels or fashion-forward resorts further down the beach.

If you're looking for romantic accommodations, check out these hotel choices:

  • The Atlantic Hotel was Fort Lauderdale's first luxury hotel on the beach.
  • The Ritz-Carlton Hotel is the first hotel in Broward County to receive AAA’s 5 Diamond Award.
  • W Fort Lauderdale Hotel is the largest hotel on Fort Lauderdale Beach, with two towers and more than 500 units.
  • Marenas Beach Resort is convenient to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and features roomy suites with kitchens, balconies and private beach.

While other choices exist in this gay-friendly locale, those seeking gay/lesbian accommodations should consider the Royal Palms Resort. As North America's first and only full-service gay hotel, the 62-room resort, set in a tropical oasis, offers a spa, gym, cafe and bar among other amenities opened early in 2011.

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Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale

Parakeets at Butterfly World
AdA Durden/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

There's a lot to do in Fort Lauderdale beyond just laying on the beach (although you'll want to do that too!). Find world-class shopping, casinos, boat tours and more.


Butterfly World, located in Coconut Creek is 10 acres of aviaries, botanical gardens, and butterflies. It is the largest butterfly park in the world and the first in the Western Hemisphere.

Jungle Queen Dinner Cruise tours the historic New River, Millionaire's Row and a stop to see rare birds, monkeys and alligator exhibition. Three-hour tours depart daily.


Coconut Creek Seminole Casino offers guests a day of gaming that includes a variety of slots and poker; and, dining that includes casual dining selections in either an all-you-can-eat buffet or table service.

Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino in Hallandale Beach is Florida's premier Thoroughbred horse racing track; home to some of the foremost Triple Crown races, including the Florida Derby. Plus, adjacent to the track is two floors of casino action!

Dania Jai Alai features the world's fastest game — Jai Alai (pronounced Hi Li) — plus poker and simulcasting of dog and horse racing.

Isle Casino Racing at Pompano Park in Pompano Beach features live harness racing, plus slots, poker and simulcasting of Jai Alai and harness and Thoroughbred racing.

The Big Easy Casino in Hallandale Beach features live Greyhound racing, slots, poker, simulcasting and several dining options.

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is a destination in itself, with spacious accommodations, luxurious amenities and entertainment just steps away.

Seminole Indian Casino in Hollywood was the first high-stakes operation in the country when it opened in December of 1979. Today, it is a 24-hour gaming facility.


Riverwalk is an upscale destination shopping and entertainment district and park located in the heart of Fort Lauderdale's downtown along the New River. Cafes, restaurants, trendy shops and clubs that hold frequent events make this a popular area with locals and visitors alike.

Sawgrass Mills Mall located in Sunrise is the largest mall in Florida with over 350 shops.


Carrie B Sightseeing Cruises offer three 90-minute cruises daily. See yachts and homes of the rich and famous and cruise ships from around the world at Port Everglades.

Las Olas Gondola Tours offer romantic 75-minute tours that must be reserved in advance. 

Water Taxi tours will take you on a leisurely cruise along Fort Lauderdale's world-famous waterways with 14 stops along the way. Visit the beach, shop and dine on Las Olas Boulevard and see the cruise ships at Port Everglades.