The Fort Lauderdale cruise terminal is only a few miles from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. So, that often leaves cruisers with time to do fun things before catching their cruise ship or plane home. If you love cruising out of Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port on a Caribbean cruise or even heading off for a Disney Holiday do not forget the port! There is so much to do in the cruise port of Fort Lauderdale.
If you’re arriving a day early or staying an extra night or two, there are tons of great things to do around the city. However, for the purpose of this article, I’m going to assume you’re like most cruisers and only have enough time to do something near the port.
So, I will cover some of the best attractions, museums, shopping, and tours within a 10-mile radius of Port Everglades cruise terminal.
15 Fun Things to Do Near Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port
If you want extra time in the sand, you can head to one of several nice beaches within a short drive of the port. You are in South Florida, after all, so what better way to enjoy its sunny weather? Florida or the Caribbean is the perfect place to stop before or after a cruise and Fort Lauderdale is a prime example. So what can you do in the port of Fort Lauderdale?
Just north of the port is stunning Las Olas Beach. It’s a quintessential Florida beach with white sand and palm trees with nearby restaurants and stores.
It’s located at the end of Las Olas Boulevard, which makes it a great option for those who want to fit in multiple activities. As you’ll see, most of the activities on this list are around Los Olas, and Las Olas Boulevard itself is considered a “thing to do.”
FAMILY TIP: Just south of Las Olas Beach is Fort Lauderdale Beach Park and Playground. It has picnic tables, a fun play structure for kids, public restroom, and outdoor showers.
If you head south from the port instead of north toward downtown Fort Lauderdale, you’ll find Hollywood Beach. Though there isn’t quite as much to do as Las Olas, it’s known for its “Old Florida” feel. You can sunbathe, rent a bike, or stroll along the beach.
There are plenty of outdoor cafes and shops to enjoy as well.
3. Dania Beach
Dania Beach is a small beach at the north end of Hollywood Beach. There are only a few restaurants and shops in the area, and it’s typically less congested than Hollywood.
If you have a fisherman in the family, this is the beach you’ll want to go to. It’s famous for a fishing pier that extends well into the water. You can rent rods and purchase tackle and bait, as well as drinks and snacks.
Frank C. “Tootie” Adler Park is located across the street with green spaces and a nice playground for young children.
There are many shops all along the beaches above, but there is one nearby street is known as one of the best places for shopping in the entire city. Since I’ve already mentioned it, let’s jump right in to the only shopping destination that makes this list…
Las Olas Boulevard is considered the “forefront of everything from fashion boutiques and art galleries to memorable restaurants, sidewalk cafes, and bars.” You can easily spend all of your excess time here shopping at specialty shops, eating, and admiring the unique architecture.
And don’t forget it ends at the beautiful Las Olas Beach. On the opposite, west end of the boulevard, there are several restaurants that wit on the New River. So, you can enjoy different water views at either end.
Museums, Art, and Historical Sites
There are quite a few cultural sites, historic homes, and educational activities to do near Port Everglades. As promised, the following are all within 10 miles of the cruise lines.
The Museum of Discovery and Science is fun for the whole family, and you can easily spend a couple of hours here. You’re greeted by this massive clock-slash-ball tower that’s like a giant version of a toy marble tower your kids play with at home.
Once inside, there’s even more to make you go “whoaaaa!” The multi-level museum has high-quality exhibits, demos, shows, and even animal encounters.
This historic house was originally owned by Frank Stranahan, a businessman who played a significant role in the development of the area. The house was used as a trading post and community center for many years and was later converted into a residence for the Stranahan family.
The house has since been restored and opened to the public as a museum, showcasing the history and culture of Fort Lauderdale and its early settlers. Visitors can explore the beautifully preserved rooms and learn about the life and legacy of the Stranahan family and the early pioneers who settled in the area.
The Bonnet House Museum is a historic home and art museum that was built in the 1920s by the artist Frederic Clay Bartlett and his wife Evelyn. The couple designed the house to reflect their love of nature, art, and architecture, incorporating elements of Spanish and Caribbean style into the design.
The house is surrounded by lush botanical gardens and features a lily pond, a desert garden, and a tropical orchid display. It also boasts an extensive art collection that includes paintings, sculptures, and decorative art from around the world.
The museum is dedicated to preserving and promoting the rich history and culture of the city and the surrounding region. Fort Lauderdale museum features a variety of exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays that showcase the area’s diverse history.
The museum takes you on a journey through Fort Lauderdale’s history, from its Native American roots to its role in the Civil War, and from its development as a winter resort to its present-day status as a thriving urban center. Visitors to History Fort Lauderdale can explore the museum’s galleries, attend educational programs and events, and take guided tours of the surrounding historic district.
The International Swimming Hall of Fame Museum is a popular destination for swimming enthusiasts, sports fans, and families. Visitors to the museum can explore the history of aquatic sports, from ancient civilizations to the modern Olympic Games, and learn about the people and events that have shaped the sport over the years.
It’s a unique thing to do and a great way to spend an hour or two before your flight home.
There are also some great tours you can jump on before or after you get on the ship. However, I always recommend checking your cruise line’s shore excursions first. They usually offer at least one excursion on your last cruise day in Ft. Lauderdale.
There are two main benefits of booking through your cruise line than directly with the tour. The first benefit is cruise lines usually cover their excursions in the case of a cancellation or change to the booking due to uncontrolled circumstances.
For instance, if a storm blows in and the tour is canceled, you typically get an automatic refund. However, if you book outside the cruise line, you’ll have to deal with the tour company, which often has stricter refund policies.
The second main benefit is the cruise line organizes shuttle services. That’s a big added convenience and usually cheaper than getting your own transportation. Don’t forget to account for that if the ship excursion seems more expensive than booking directly!
Many people agree that the best way to sightsee Fort Lauderdale’s waterways is on the Jungle Queen Riverboat. The vintage riverboat takes you on a scenic ride through the city’s waterways, passing by luxurious homes and tropical landscapes.
You can choose between 90-minute sightseeing cruises on the river or a tropical isle dinner and show with sightseeing cruise. Either way, you’ll learn about the area, see some impressive houses and yachts down the “Venice of America”, and enjoy some good food and drinks.
*Speaking of cruise ships and river tours, check out my article on What You Can Expect to Find on a European River Cruise.
This company offers yacht/mansion, nature park, beach, and food tours 7 days a week! No balance, coordination, or expertise is needed, so don’t feel intimidated if you’ve never driven a segway before.
If interested, you can opt for one of their combo deals, which combines a segway tour with a jet ski or historical walking tour.
Things to Do Near Port Everglades for Nature Lovers
I’m going to break my 10-mile radius for this section because only one item fits within that distance. But it’s worth including the others because the greater Fort Lauderdale area backs up against the everglades.
There is some incredible and unique landscapes and wildlife you can’t see anywhere but Florida. So, if you have the extra time, it’s definitely worth making a trip to at least one of the following.
This state park IS WITHIN 10 miles of Port Everglades. This urban oasis is a few minutes north of Las Olas Beach along Ocean Boulevard.
If you rent a bike in the area, it’s worth riding through the 1.9-mile park drive. You can also picnic, take a leisurely hike, or rent a paddle board at the concession shop in the park.
This park is approximately 30 minutes from the port, but it’s the perfect place to get the full Florida everglades experience. You can go on an airboat ride, an everglades VIP tour, watch an alligator show, and experience other animal encounters. All at one place!
Again, be sure to check your cruise excursions, as this might be an option to round off your cruise vacations.
Sawgrass Recreation Park is also just under 30 minutes from the port. It’s also worth the trip if you have time to go on guided Everglades tours and airboat rides.
This park also offers exclusive nighttime airboat tours, which is an entirely new way to experience the everglades.
You’ll need at least an extra day before or after your cruise to visit Everglades National Park. But it is well worth the trip extension as you’ll see plants and wildlife found nowhere else in the world.
The park is one of the most unique national parks in the United States and certainly one of the best things to do in Florida. So, schedule it into your vacation if you can!