One of the great things about living in a vacation destination with a hugely popular cruise port means friends and family often come to town to hop on a cruise. While the options out of Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale’s cruise port, include the eastern and western Caribbean, South America and even repositioning cruises across the Atlantic to Europe, we all know vacationing on land is very different from a cruise vacation. I’m a fan of both – and I’d like to make the case for planning some extra time in the Fort Lauderdale area before or after you jump on your ship and sail off into the sunset. Here are just a few ways to enjoy your time here.
Soak up the Sun
If you’re getting on a cruise to escape cold, dreary weather at home, perhaps the biggest no-brainer is getting out and enjoying life in the sun in Fort Lauderdale, whether that’s at your hotel or short-term rental pool, at one of our beautiful beaches or through a water sport like paddle boarding, kayaking or jet skiing. ’Nuff said.
I’m on a Boat
Before you say, “Seriously, I just got off a 7-day cruise and you want me to get on another boat?” Hear me out. It’s a fabulous way to see the city. If you’re already a boater, you can rent a boat and take it out for the day, or even charter one – or maybe convince your boating friends or family to go out. If that’s not an option, grab a ticket to the Water Taxi, which takes you all around Fort Lauderdale and even to (Florida’s) Hollywood, hop-on, hop-off style. There are beverages for sale on board and you can also BYOB and/or grab food and drinks at stops along the way. I have been known to bring a bottle of wine. Plus, the ticket is discounted after 5 p.m. from $35 to $20, so it makes for a great budget-friendly evening out on the water. There are also sightseeing boats like the Jungle Queen and the Carrie B river boats, and deep-sea fishing charters – something I have yet to do here. One more boat I recommend is an Everglades airboat tour – alligator sightings included!
Check out the Culture
Believe it or not, when we aren’t Florida Man-ing it up here at the beach, pool, or on a boat, the more than 6 million of us who live in South Florida enjoy a variety of cultural amenities from concerts to sports, theater, museums and festivals. Pro-tip – check Visit Lauderdale’s calendar (and while you’re at it, also Palm Beaches and Greater Miami’s) to see what’s going on in the area before you book your trip. There are some events that are so huge, like the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, the Orange Bowl and others that you might have a hard time getting a decently priced hotel room, depending on where you want to stay. Then again, some of those events might be on your bucket list and even more reason to be here before or after your cruise.
All of the Eats
There’s no shortage of great food here, from sit-down haute cuisine to reasonably priced “hole-in-the-wall” restaurants with ridiculously good food. It’s a very diverse and multicultural area, so you can get great Cuban, Mexican, Salvadoran, Peruvian, Brazilian, Japanese, Greek, Indian and Italian food just to name a few. Many of these restaurants are on the delivery apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats, so if you don’t feel like leaving your hotel or rental, you can still get good noms. A handful of my favorite non-chain restaurants in the area are (based solely on the food): Sozo Sushi, Bulegreen Cafe Yard, Smoke BBQ, Tortilleria Mexicana, Papa’s Raw Bar, YOT, The Sticky Bun, Fetta Republic, Top Hat Deli, Foxy Brown and YOLO. As I write this, I realize a more in-depth article on favorite independent restaurants may be necessary!
This is just a small sampling of things you can do with an extra day or two in Fort Lauderdale. You can also, of course, make a whole vacation of it. With no shortage of things to do, I hope you’ll choose to spend some time here.