Greater Fort Lauderdale Road Trip: 8 Beaches in 5 Days
Itching to go on an adventure? These road trips in the Sunshine State are calling.
Fort Lauderdale is famous for waterfront mansions and festivals, but there are several nearby cities worth adding to your bucket list. Here, you’ll find everything from cruises and casinos to gardens, murals and antiques. And beaches — so many beaches.
See it all on one epic road trip through Greater Fort Lauderdale. Take the scenic coastal A1A whenever possible, but both U.S. 1 and I-95 run parallel in case you need to move a little faster or get weary of those sweeping ocean views.
In This Article
Logistics and Where To Stay
Broward County covers some 23 miles of golden shoreline with eight distinct beaches. Some are quiet and secluded. Others buzz with activity. Two are part of state parks.
To see them all in under a week, plan to overnight in Fort Lauderdale for 2-3 days and hit the highlights as you drive down the coast. You can stay right on the water (with your own private beach) at the historic B Ocean Resort, which is especially convenient if you plan to attend one of Fort Lauderdale’s beachfront parties, such as the Tortuga Music Festival or Audacy Beach Festival.
Rooms are spacious and modern, and the resort amenities are luxurious: two pools, a spa, fitness studio, beach loungers, complimentary bike rentals and several restaurants, including the fresh seafood of the upscale Naked Crab. And then there’s its internationally renowned Wreck Bar, where you sip cocktails or bottomless mimosas while watching mermaids (or aquamen) perform underwater.
It’s been a Fort Lauderdale tradition for decades and is just one of the must-do experiences on this packed five-day road trip along the South Florida coast.
If you’re driving south, this is your first stop. Deerfield Beach is known for having one of the environmentally cleanest beaches in the country, but don’t miss its parks.
Deerfield Island Park, for example, is a 53-acre refuge accessible only by boat. Take the free shuttle to discover the remote mangroves, butterfly garden, wildlife and more. Back in civilization at Quiet Waters Park, you can try one of the longest cable ski courses in the country, suitable even for beginners, or frolic on the floating aquapark.
Next up, the small town of Hillsboro Beach has one big icon: a 138-foot iron lighthouse. Dating to 1907, the Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse is open for tours about once a month, so check the schedule before you go.
If the timing doesn’t work out, you can always catch a glimpse of the black-and-white landmark from Hillsboro Inlet Park. Then, stroll down the street for an acai bowl from the local Bambú Juice Bar and picnic in style.
Pompano Beach is the wreck capital of Florida, a good thing if you’re a scuba diver. Explore Shipwreck Park to see sunken ships alongside underwater art.
Not a diver? Visit the art on land — there’s music at the amphitheater, shows at the playhouse, workshops at the Pompano Beach Cultural Center, and galleries galore at the Bailey Contemporary Arts Center and the Ali Cultural Arts Center.
Then wind down the day at the 900-foot, fish-shaped Fisher Family Pier and surrounding restaurants.
If Lauderdale-by-the-Sea sounds quaint, it is! This tiny beach town is your go-to spot for relaxation.
Stroll the boulevard to check out the marine sculptures. Browse artisanal shops or dine al fresco at a beachside cafe. If you need to get anywhere, simply walk, bike or catch a free ride on the Pelican Hopper shuttle.
Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is also one of the best places in Florida to snorkel, thanks to its coral reef just 100 yards offshore.
After a day or two on the road, you’ll arrive in cosmopolitan Fort Lauderdale, where entertainment comes in every style: pirate tours, parasailing, breweries, ballet.
Fort Lauderdale’s longest-running attraction is the Jungle Queen Riverboat, delighting travelers since 1935. Take a cruise down Millionaire’s Row, passing mega-mansions, sleek yachts, strange but expensive lawn ornaments, and condos you just might be able to afford. Along the way, your guide entertains you with surprising true tales.
Sign up for their dinner cruise and you’ll visit a private tropical island for an unlimited barbecue dinner followed by a variety show of comedy, music, magic and fire dancing. It’s the ultimate way to see the “Venice of America.”
Another essential Fort Lauderdale experience is Las Olas Boulevard. Go for the shopping, people-watching and the new giant “Thrive” sculpture, which you can walk inside. See art at local galleries and antiques at the county’s oldest house.
And come hungry. Foodies will love the variety, ranging from fresh bagels at Offerdahl’s to swanky bites like the double lobster tail (costing just under $100) at YOLO.
Other top attractions include the Museum of Discovery and Science, the 1920s Bonnet House, airboat tours of the Everglades and the waterfront Hugh Taylor Birch State Park.
Dania Beach offers a nice wind-down from Fort Lauderdale.
Start the final day of your road trip by hunting for treasures along Antique Row or admiring ceramic and glass creations at the Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts.
Need to escape to nature? Visit Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park, a pristine oasis away from the crowds.
You can’t do justice to retro-cool Hollywood by breezing through town, but if you only have a few hours, hit up the Broadwalk. This 2.5-mile, ultra-wide beachfront trail is ideal for walking, cycling and spectacular sunrises. Cafes and tiki bars abound for your dining pleasure.
Don’t skip downtown, where over 30 colorful murals cover walls and even sidewalks.
Southernmost of the eight beaches, Hallandale Beach brings your road trip to a close with its vibrant nightlife.
If you’re feeling lucky, there’s the Big Easy, with 1,300 slot machines. Gulfstream Park offers thoroughbred racing and gaming, plus an arcade, bowling, dining, shopping and karaoke. Be sure to get a photo of the 100-foot statue of Pegasus slaying a dragon. This is also where the county fair happens every fall.
Greater Fort Lauderdale
This digital edition of the Greater Fort Lauderdale is sponsored by Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance.