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11 Things You Must Do Your First Year in Fort Lauderdale, FL

Moving to the Greater Fort Lauderdale area? The most challenging part is narrowing down your to-do list. Let us help.

By Rebecca Treon on October 14, 2022

Visitors stroll along the New River at Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Jeff Adkins

As part of the seventh-largest metro area in the U.S., Greater Fort Lauderdale generates enough cosmopolitan energy to keep you busy day or night.

Located just an hour north of Miami in the heart of South Florida, Greater Fort Lauderdale offers dozens of indoor and outdoor activities. Here are 11 things you won’t want to miss during your first year here.

Visitors bike along the New River at Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Jeff Adkins

1. Stroll Riverwalk Linear Park & The Downtown District

Along the banks of the New River, a winding path snakes through 10 parks, linking galleries, museums, shops, eateries and other attractions on what is called “Florida’s Most Beautiful Mile.” Right downtown, this picturesque pathway is pedestrian- and bike-friendly.

2. View the Downtown Hollywood Mural Project

Murals abound in downtown Hollywood, where there are 30 curated murals by local, national and international artists. You also can join the monthly Artwalks at FATVillage in Fort Lauderdale (currently held online while under construction), Art Fair on Las Olas Boulevard or the Downtown Hollywood ArtWalk.

Group of people cheers their drinks at American Icon Brewery in Fort Lauderdale, FL
Jason Nuttle

3. Sample Some Craft Beer on the Ale Trail

Warm weather and ice-cold brews go hand in hand. Ready to raise a glass to adventure? Hop on Greater Fort Lauderdale’s Ale Trail, which features more than 45 breweries, taprooms and beer gardens, whether you’re craving a traditional tap style or a locally inspired mango ale.

Greater Fort Lauderdale is home to several standout galleries and museums like the Coral Springs Museum of Art, highlighting emerging artists, or the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, a complex with more than 6,000 works.

Glass shoes are on display in Rob Stern's Stern's Stilettos Exhibition at the Wiener Museum of Decorative in Dania Beach, Florida. Dania Beach is part of the Greater Fort Lauderdale area.
Jeff Adkins

5. Catch a Show

There are many venues to catch live music of all kinds in Greater Fort Lauderdale, including FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, the Pompano Beach Amphitheater, Hard Rock Live in Hollywood or Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale.

People ride on a water taxi at the Everglades Holiday Park, which is located in the Greater Fort Lauderdale region of Florida.
Everglades Holiday Park

6. Discover Nature

South Florida is home to one of the most unique ecosystems in the world, and you can experience it at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, where you can hike a two-mile loop, paddle and even have a bite to eat on the water. At Everglades Holiday Park, an airboat will take you through 29 acres of wetlands, plus teach you all about gators.

Children hold an alligator at the Everglades Holiday Park, which is located in the Greater Fort Lauderdale region of Florida.
Everglades Holiday Park

7. Enjoy Film at its Finest

The Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival takes place each November at historic regional cinemas, offering hundreds of unique independent, studio and international films in what’s considered one of the most important film festivals in the country.

8. Take a Boat Tour

There’s no shortage of creative ways to experience the city’s waterways, whether it’s a paddleboard or kayak tour, hopping on a water taxi, saying ahoy on a pirate tour or cruising on an authentic Italian gondola. In addition, you can take a jungle boat tour, a sailing charter, a riverboat cruise or a cycling boat ride.

Visitors are allowed to get up close and personal with the sea life at the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi, TX. Last year, the aquarium drew a record number of visitors and generated $43 million in tourism dollars.
Jeff Adkins

9. Snorkel the Reef at Lauderdale-By-The-Sea

Just 300 feet off the shore of the charming beachfront community Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, snorkelers can revel in the sights of dazzling underwater flora and fauna. The area is one of the busiest turtle nesting sites on earth, so glimpsing t turtles is possible.

10. Explore Fort Lauderdale’s History

At Flamingo Gardens, a 60-acre wildlife sanctuary takes visitors back to what the area would have been like in 1933, with tropical plants, panthers, gators, flamingos and more. Visit the Historic Stranahan House Museum, the city’s oldest surviving structure, which Ohioan Frank Stranahan built as a trading post with local Seminole tribes.

Artist on stage in front of a large crowd at the Tortuga Music Festival. The Tortuga Music Festival is held in the Greater Fort Lauderdale region each year.
flickr.com/Tortuga Music Festival

11. Hit a High Note

The Greater Fort Lauderdale area is home to various music festivals and live events. Here’s a small sampling of some of our favorites:

  • Rock the Ocean’s Tortuga Music Festival: Held in April, this three-day country music festival aims to raise awareness and funds for ocean conservation. 
  • Audacy Beach Festival: This two-day festival in December features some of the most popular artists on the airwaves, from Weezer and Lil Nas X to Twenty One Pilots and The Lumineers.
  • Pompano Beach Brazilian Festival: Each October, Pompano Beach hosts the Brazilian Festival, the largest festival of its kind in the southern U.S., featuring top musicians, exhibitors and food vendors.
  • Sunday Jazz Brunch:  One of the most popular community events on the Riverwalk and held the first Sunday of every month, locals can grab a chair or a picnic blanket and enjoy the sounds of jazz at three separate gazebos during Sunday Jazz Brunch.
  • Wet Mango Festival: This fest showcases South Florida’s diverse independent alternative music and arts.

If you’d like to learn more about the Greater Fort Lauderdale Region, check out the latest edition of Livability: Greater Fort Lauderdale

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