If you haven’t been to Fort Lauderdale in awhile you may have visions of bikini clad spring breakers blanketing the beaches. That scene has come and gone …
With average winter temperatures in the high 70’s, Fort Lauderdale still sees some college students during spring break but in the last 20 years, the entire beach has undergone a renovation and rebirth. Upscale hotels, restaurants and shops have moved in and many hotels cater to families with kid-friendly activities and amenities.
Funky Fish Ocean Camp
While the beaches and warm waters are the top draw for families there are many kid-friendly activities within a 15-minute drive or walk from the main beach area. It’s an easy vacation with kids here. You can choose to relax at the pool or beach or get out and explore and still be back for nap time or afternoon water fun. We recently had a family reunion here and these kid-tested activities are at the top of my list for things to do in Fort Lauderdale with kids.
Fort Lauderdale is sometimes called the “Venice of America” because it has a system of residential canals called the Intracoastal, lined with gorgeous homes and yachts. Venice has gondolas; Fort Lauderdale has water taxis.
The iconic Fort Lauderdale water taxi is a relaxing and inexpensive way to cruise the Intracoastal. Buy a pass for the day for $20 and hop-off for lunch and hop back on for more sightseeing. Captains provide some commentary of the sights as you cruise.
Tip: Kids will be fascinated by the iguanas that hang out, literally, underneath the Sunrise Bridge, North of downtown Fort Lauderdale.
Funky Fish Ocean Camp
This ocean camp is a hidden gem for kids and their parents. Funky Fish has been in business for over 18 years and they know how to safely entertain kids in a water environment.
The 5-hour camp for kids ages 4-17 has locations at several area hotels. The camp includes tie-dye t-shirt making, snorkeling in a pool, lunch and either boogie boarding or skim boarding in the ocean. Instructors are well trained and patient.
My kids had never done any of the water activities and my 8-year-old left thinking he was a professional skim boarder and my 6-year old, who couldn’t get the hang of skim boarding, was equally as happy with the interesting sand castle creatures she learned to build. Both kids begged for another day of camp when I picked them up.
We would repeat this camp in a heartbeat – kids love it and parents get some downtime.
Museum of Discovery & Science
Located in downtown Fort Lauderdale the Museum of Discovery & Science is the premier museum for kids in the area. With the recent opening of the EcoDiscovery center, the museum has twice as many exhibits to entertain the kids.
For the 7 and under crowd, the museum has an exceptional activities area. Our kids spent almost their entire visit here building a house with foam tiles, making bubbles and working in the “orange grove” – one of the best interactive exhibits we’ve ever experienced. Other favorites include the airboat adventure ride which feels and looks like the real thing, the storm center where kids experience hurricane force winds in a simulator and the sea otters – they are just too cute. The museum also has an IMAX theater.
Bike Riding in Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
If you’re looking for active things to do in Fort Lauderdale , this park, located on the Intracoastal, is a perfect place to go bike riding with kids. It’s small and flat. The 1.9 mile loop passes picnic areas and playgrounds. Best of all, the in-park rental company, MCruz Rentals has every imaginable type of bike rental for families: tricycles, trailers, kids’ bikes with training wheels and tandems.
They also rent canoes and kayaks and have Segway tours available for kids weighing 50 pounds or more.
IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum
Located 15 minutes south of Fort Lauderdale, and very close to the Fort Lauderdale airport, you can see the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum from the I-95 highway. This is a great little museum for a short visit. The highlight for kids is the simulated fishing experience where kids can reel in the “big one” and the wetlands walk with native turtles, birds and alligators.
Tip: The famous Rustic Inn crabhouse is less than ten minutes from the museum. This is a fun but very loud restaurant where kids and adults whack away at their crab with wooden mallets. Wait time can be long so go early and ask for outside seating.
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Ciao Bambino recommended Florida family hotels
The Fort Lauderdale Visitor’s Bureau and Funky Fish Ocean Camp provided Kristi and her family with complimentary admissions to attractions in Fort Lauderdale. They did not ask her to express any particular opinion.
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