A vacation to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida will typically involve the sand and sea, but in the event that you get a little too much sun, or rain, you may be seeking activities that don't involve the beach. Ft. Lauderdale is the second largest city in South Florida, and houses museums, historical sites, art and music venues, shopping and restaurants, and a ton of those options cater to children. Our pick for the six best beach alternatives in Ft. Lauderdale, that are also fun for the entire family include:
6). Funderdome - An indoor playground for all ages is great for escaping the heat or rain, and gives you space to get the energy out. If heights are your thing, you can choose to balance the ropes course 22 feet in the air or climb the rock wall in Funderdome City. For a younger crowd, you can hit the target in the Ball Blaster Arena or run the many obstacles of steps, mazes, ladders, and slides in the Vertical Play Tower. The Toddler Zone is the perfect place for children under three to play.
Jaxson's Ice Cream, great for a celebration.
5). Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlor and Restaurant - Step back in time and into kitsch when you visit this old fashion ice cream parlor located just South of Ft. Lauderdale. Jaxson's is serving up giant bowls of homemade ice cream, huge plates of food, and if the entire family is REALLY hungry for ice cream, you might consider ordering The Kitchen Sink®. For a family of 4, this is 12 scoops of Ice Cream (each person chooses a flavor) with unlimited toppings served-up in an actual kitchen sink. WHOA! and YUM! The walls are adorned with what Jaxson's calls the "nation’s largest Collections of rural American memorabilia, including a world class automobile license plate collection". It is a spacious enough venue, but there can be lines out the door. Between the decor and the sizable Ice Cream creations, it is worth the wait. TIP: Bring coins for the Merry-Go-Round outside, as the little ones will more than likely want a ride.
Defending the ship on Bluefoot Pirate Adventure.
4). Bluefoot Pirate Adventure - Get a taste of the Pirate's Life on a one hour boat ride down the intercoastal waterways. Children dress up in pirate costume, get their face painted, learn pirate terms, and hoist the sails before fighting off Barnacle Bill with water cannons to save the treasure of the Jolly Roger. Parents will enjoy a guided tour of the multi-million dollar mansions and mega yachts along the route. TIPS: Bring water, snacks, sunscreen and hats, as it gets sunny. Tuesday and Thursdays are 2 for 1 days. Morning can be the best time to enjoy the ride to avoid the heat and afternoon showers. Bluefoot is located in the Bahia Mar Marina and parking is $5 for the entire day, so after the swashbuckling good time, you can leave your car and walk to the beach and restaurants just off A1A.
Butterfly Garden at Secret Woods
3) Secret Woods Nature Center - Take a stroll on the boardwalk through butterfly gardens and mangrove forests to the New River where you will see fiddler crabs and possibly manatees. Spend time in the Nature Center learning about other plants and animals native to the area, as well as the how commerce on the New River between Native Floridians and settlers helped create the city of Ft. Lauderdale and the surrounding area. These often overlooked, free parks that scatter throughout the region are wonderful examples of the natural landscape of South Florida prior to its development. Learn about the ecology of the area and see a side of South Florida that is much different than the beaches we know and love.
Young At Art in Davie, Florida
2). Young at Art Museum - Spend all day in this interactive Children's Museum located in the Main branch of the Broward County Library in Davie, just West of Ft. Lauderdale. YAA hosts 7 exhibit rooms with an array of hands-f on displays in each. From dress up, to water play, slides, sand, sketching, and instruments, there is so much for everyone to enjoy, that you will never get bored, only tired. TIP: Check the Play Dates at YAA calendar for extra classes for children ages 5 and under on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 11:30-12pm, free with museum admission.
Digging for Fossils at YAA
1) Museum of Discover and Science - Experience all that South Florida has to offer ecologically, but indoors. If you can't make it through the vast area that is the Everglades or the Atlantic Ocean, you can spend a hands-on day learning about the diverse ecological systems that make up the area. In addition to EcoDiscovery, learn about Trash and Recycling, Minerals, and The Human Body, and Flight. There is also an IMAX theater to see movies on the big, big screen. MODS is located in Downtown Ft. Lauderdale.