Whether or not you’re pinching your pennies, there are plenty of fun, free activities in and around Fort Lauderdale for your whole family to enjoy. Check websites for full details before you walk out the door. For more ideas, read Free Things to Do in Miami.
Watch Planes Land/Take-Off at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport
Ron Gardner Aircraft Observation Area
Hours: 7:00 am – 11:00 pm
Along the western side of the airport’s northern runway, around the corner from the Broward Animal Shelter, is the Ron Gardner Aircraft Observation Area. Visitors can drive their cars around Perimeter Road along I-95 to the observation area, roll down their windows and listen to the traffic controllers speak to the pilots via radio through large speakers installed at the site.
Picnic in a Broward County Park
Visit any Broward County park during a non-holiday weekday and pay no admission fee. Picnic tables are abundant at most parks, as well as free use of charcoal grills, playgrounds, and hiking trails or walking paths. Bring your dog too, with a leash, of course. Check specific park websites for hours.
Geocaching is a hobby using a Global Positioning System (GPS) (often a feature on cell phones too) to find little treasures (trinkets) hidden by other geocachers - just for the fun of it. There are over 4,100 geocaches in Fort Lauderdale alone and many other thousands throughout the county. Just search for a geocache in your area on the website, go out and find it and then sign the log sheet inside the cache letting the owner know you were there. It’s free to do and a lot of fun for the whole family.
Visit the Plantation Historical Museum
Info: (954) 797-2722
Hours: Monday, Wednesday 10:00 am – 4:30 pm, Friday noon - 4:30 pm, Saturday 10:00 am– 5:00 pm (Closed noon to 1:00 pm for lunch each day of operation)
What started as a small collection inside Plantation’s City Hall is now a museum featuring local artifacts and items from the police and fire departments as well as traveling exhibits throughout the year. The museum is adjacent to the Botanical Gardens Park, known for its butterfly gardens.
Use Florida International University's Interactive Bicycle trip map to plan out your ride. You can get ideas for new areas to explore and determine how much or how little traffic you are willing to encounter. Don't ride without a helmet no matter where you bike.
Paddle or Wade Through Whiskey Creek
The waterway on the west side of Dania Beach is mangrove-lined Whiskey Creek, meandering north to John U. Lloyd State Park. (Note that you must pay the John Lloyd entrance fee if you enter that park’s waters.) The waterway is less than a mile long, but is an excellent place to kayak or canoe or even wade through the shallow water near the shore. You’ll see fiddler crabs, fish and a variety of birds. Wear protective water shoes as the sharp shells and rocks in the water can cut your feet.
Take a Nature Hike at Ann Kolb Nature Center
Hike along the paths at the nature center along Hollywood’s Intracoastal Waterway. Fiddler crabs and birds endemic to Florida abound in the mangrove wetlands. You can enjoy a panoramic view of the area atop the observation tower. Pets are not allowed in the park. Although not free, there is an Exhibit Hall inside the center with a huge aquarium and other exhibits for the nominal fee of $1 admission.
Stroll Arts Park at Young Circle
Downtown Hollywood’s Young Circle had a $5 million facelift in 2000, with a new stage for concerts, a playground, fountain, sculptures, and gardens. The park is a great place for an evening stroll or to have a picnic and listen to a free concert. There's also a workshop on the premises where you can watch glassblowers crafting their wares. Check the Calendar for free park events.
Enjoy a Hollywood West Concert With Friends and Family
Boulevard Heights Amphitheater
Hours: 2nd Saturday evening of each month with (Except December and July), 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., weather permitting.
Free concerts, showcasing a variety of music genres, are held at the Boulevard Heights Amphitheater, in West Hollywood. Bring blankets, chairs, and a picnic dinner.
Mizner Park offers some free concerts for everyone. Also, concerts that require purchased tickets for guests to enjoy inside the amphitheater can be enjoyed outside the theater for free. There is a designated outdoor area for this purpose. Guests cannot, however, bring coolers, alcohol or pets.
Hollywood Beach Theater
Hours: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 7:30 pm-9:00 pm
Weather permitting, enjoy live music and dancing on the beach at Hollywood’s historic bandshell. Music genres vary from jazz to rock, and easy listening to blues. Stadium style seating is available.
Hours: Saturday nights from dusk until midnight
Bring your own telescope to the observatory where the experts at the South Florida Amateur Astronomers Association will guide you through night observing and answer any questions you may have. On rainy or cloudy nights with poor visibility, films are shown.