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Fort Lauderdale Florida Port Guide

It’s true Fort Lauderdale has an abundance of everything—smooth, white sandy beaches, endless shopping on Las Olas Boulevard, and the Atlantic Ocean welcomes you to swim almost year-round. For nature enthusiasts, head to Hugh Taylor Birch State Park for trails and biking blanketed by mangroves, or travel down to the Florida Everglades for an airboat tour, complete with alligator and flamingo-sightings. Beat the heat with a trip to the Museum of Science and Discovery in downtown Fort Lauderdale, where kids and adults alike will learn something new.

Once a Spring Break town, now called the “Venice of America” for its intricate system of canals and lush tropical landscape, Fort Lauderdale is full of surprises and contradictions that make it even more fun to experience for yourself. Bahamas cruises from Fort Lauderdale give passengers a chance to depart from one of the biggest cruise ports in the world—Port Everglades.

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Top Sights & Attractions for Cruises from Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale Beach

While on your Bahamas cruise from Fort Lauderdale, it’s a crime to leave without seeing the beautiful Fort Lauderdale Beach. Rent beach chairs and dive into the Atlantic waters, rollerblade on the boardwalk, or go windsurfing here. This beach has the benefit of being less crowded than Miami’s. Fort Lauderdale Beach is active, still brimming with activities for families, and endless nightlife options once the sun goes down. Over seven miles of white sand and clear waters await you there.

Bonnet House Museum & Gardens

Don’t miss a guided tour—already included in the cost of admission—of this plantation style home in Fort Lauderdale, was originally built in 1895. Explore 35 acres of the estate’s grounds, including its gardens. The Bonnet House happens to contain an extensive art collection, so it feels a little like an art museum, historic home, and garden all rolled into one. Everything is open on Tuesday through Sunday.

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

Tucked between Florida’s famous A1A Highway and the Intracoastal Waterway, you’ll stumble upon Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, where visitors can camp, hike, bike, swim, and paddle at the park. The trails are leisurely and not too taxing, and you’ll pass through forests of mangroves and coastal dunes along the way. On your Bahamas cruise from Fort Lauderdale, take a break from a conventional beach and head into more undiscovered Florida.

Museum of Discovery and Science

This fascinating museum is one of the most visited in the state of Florida. It’s perfect for kids or a rainy day, complete with interactive exhibits and an IMAX theater. You can dig for prehistoric fossils, learn about the ecosystem of the Everglades, or take a trip to Mars. The Museum of Science and Discovery provides education and escapism for all ages.

Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park

This natural state park is less manicured than the surrounded South Florida beaches, perfect for a relaxing afternoon away from activity or city lights. There’s something for everyone here. You can paddle, kayak, or walk the long beachfront. Walking trails lined by mangrove trees will give you a sense of the tropical Floridian landscape. There’s a picnic area too, and you can rent a sailboat or pontoon boat at the park, too.

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Top Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale

Stroll Along the Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk

The Riverwalk starts along the New River, and today it represents downtown Fort Lauderdale’s vibrancy. You’ll feel a warm breeze and views of boats docked in the nearby waters. Meander down the Riverwalk on the way to the Stranahan House, connecting many of the sites downtown, and offering you plenty of shops and eateries along the way.

Go Swimming At An Atlantic Beach

Fort Lauderdale Beach, Las Olas Beach, Hollywood Beach, and others make up a famous stretch of South Florida beaches. The beauty of these beaches are that you can hop from beach to beach to see what each is all about.

See the Stranahan House

Before departing on cruises from Fort Lauderdale, take a guided tour of this historic museum where residents Frank and Ivy Stranahan lived and left a lasting impact on the Fort Lauderdale community. The Stranahan House was built in 1901, and it happens to be the oldest building in Broward County. You’ll learn about their story as well as the growth of the town throughout the 21st century.

Head to the Everglades

An airboat tour of Sawgrass Recreation Park is just one way to experience the mythical magic of the Everglades. This is a one-of-a-kind experience for families and eco-friendly tourists who want to see wildlife and the plant life of the Florida Everglades. While on your airboat tour, you’ll likely see alligators and you’ll experience the magic of this ecosystem first hand. If you feel adventurous, try out the nighttime airboat tour.

Stop at Las Olas Boulevard

Las Olas Boulevard embodies the spirit of Fort Lauderdale. This stretch of bars, nightclubs, restaurants, art galleries, and boutiques is bordered by yachts dotting the nearby waterfront and trees lining the entire fourteen blocks. Perfect for a stroll or for some heavy-duty shopping while you’re in Fort Lauderdale.

Tour A Shipwreck Dive Site

Snorkel and dive to discover historic shipwrecks in the waters surrounding Fort Lauderdale. Plus, the Florida Reef is offshore from Fort Lauderdale. Groups like the Greater Fort Lauderdale Dive Association, Dixie Divers in Deerfield Beach, and the Sea Experience in Fort Lauderdale can help get you set up for your wreck adventures.

Top Food and Drink Spots Near the Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port

Brew Urban Cafe

Address: 203, 537 NW 1st Ave suite b, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311

Start your day in Fort Lauderdale with a cup of joe at Brew Urban Cafe. Come inside for nitro cold brew and cool off with an iced drink. The coffee beans are locally roasted, too. There’s a wall of books for you to peruse as you sip. It’s cozy and spacious, so you probably won’t have to fight your neighbor for a seat.

Laspada’s Hoagies

Address: 1495 SE 17th St Ste D, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316

Laspada’s Hoagies are cheap eats that really hit the spot. Their cold subs and hoagies come highly rated, and the place itself is uncomplicated and casual. No overly fancy dining here. Grab a quick bite of a really good hoagie before you continue your sightseeing.

925 Nuevo’s Cubano’s

Address: 925 N Andrews Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311

If you’re searching for authentic Cuban food or a good cafecito, head to 925 Nuevo’s Cubano’s for a juicy Cuban sandwich, carne asada, croquetas, and much more served from a window. You’ll find quaint outdoor seating and here, they don’t skimp on the size of the sandwiches.

Casa D’Angelo

Address: 1201 N Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304

For a fancy date night, try Case D’Angelo, which brings Northern Italian food to Fort Lauderdale. You’ll find everything from gnocchi with buffalo mozzarella to classic risotto on the menu here, plus wood-fired pizzas, as well as an extensive wine list.

Culture & History of the Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port

The first human settlement in the Fort Lauderdale area happened over 4,000 years ago by Native Americans, including the Tequesta tribe. Throughout the 17th to the 20th centuries, Spain, England, and the United States all claimed the territory for themselves at different points, but the area didn’t see development by the United States until the early 1900s. Florida experienced a major real estate boom in the 1920s, and people began to flock to the Fort Lauderdale area as a result. Then, Fort Lauderdale acted as a major naval base during World War II, which led to unprecedented population increase and major growth of businesses in Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding areas.

In the 1980s, Fort Lauderdale was a massive destination for “spring breakers,” and college students from around the country came to Fort Lauderdale for its nightlife and beaches. The city took careful measures to reallocate the spring breakers to other parts of Florida, and put their focus on attracting tourism from other sources. Fort Lauderdale makeover from a Spring Break town to a sunny, year-round destination for relaxing and family-friendly vacations was successful. Today, Fort Lauderdale continues efforts to revitalize its downtown and arts community, maintain its beautiful beaches, and seamlessly service the area’s massive cruise economy.

 

Fort Lauderdale Port Facilities & Location

On cruises from Fort Lauderdale, your departure port is called Port Everglades, which is South Florida’s answer to a consistently booming cruise business. In fact, cruising and tourism brings a significant chunk of money and value to the area each year. Port Everglades is the main seaport for both cruise traffic as well as major cargo like petroleum. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is only a ten minute drive from Port Everglades, and there are also shuttle buses available to take you from the airport to the cruise port. Today, Port Everglades is one of the busiest ports in the world.

Transportation in Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale’s Riverwalk and beachfronts can be pedestrian friendly and fairly walkable, but you’re better off getting a taxi for distances further than a mile. Florida’s highway system is detailed and heavily used. Renting a car is recommended if you want to venture further inland or further south to Miami or the Everglades. Uber and Lyft are both available in Fort Lauderdale as well.

Shopping Near the Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port

Though a little further from Port Everglades, Sawgrass Mills Mall is a huge shopping complex with over 350 outlets, designer shops, and restaurants available. You could spend an entire day shopping here. Sawgrass Mills is located 16 miles from Port Everglades, so a car or taxi is your best bet for transportation. For shopping a little closer to the cruise port, head to The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale, which is conveniently close to Fort Lauderdale Beach. Over 120 stores can be found in The Galleria, staples like H&M to luxury names like Neiman-Marcus.

Local Currency & Tipping Customs

The U.S. dollar (USD) is the official currency in Fort Lauderdale and all other areas of Florida. You’ll find ATMs almost everywhere. If you need to exchange currencies, most airports and large banks have exchange centers available to you. While at a bar or restaurant, a tip of 15-20% for good to excellent service is part of the culture. Most food service workers rely on tips to make the majority of their income. Be sure to tip your barista, taxi driver, or bellhop as well.

 

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In the 1800s, William Lauderdale built a fort. Today, 16 million visitors come each year for miles of broad white sandy beaches, dozens of lush green golf courses, and Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale. Stroll the famous beachfront promenade, just 15 minutes from the port, and plunge into the warm Atlantic.

Head downtown to Las Olas Boulevard, paralleling New River, to sip lattes in outdoor cafés, shop chic boutiques, and catch concerts at the performing arts center. Stop at Stranahan House, the city's oldest structure, built in 1901 as a trading post and preserved as a museum, or explore a whole village of historic buildings at History Fort Lauderdale. Join a Segway tour along the river or a waterborne cruise of Millionaire's Row.

During your cruise to Fort Lauderdale, head out to the Everglades and enjoy Flamingo Gardens, home to pink flamingos, snarling alligators, black bears, and Florida panthers—plus exotic trees, butterfly gardens, and native flowers.

You'll find great shopping on Fort Lauderdale cruises. Look for high fashion at Galleria Fort Lauderdale, north of the port and blocks from the ocean. Head west to Sawgrass Mills for 350 designer outlets, specialty shops, and eateries. Spend a relaxing day in downtown Hollywood, south of the port, for quaint shops, sidewalk cafés, and events in the park.

Discover Floribbean cuisine, a fusion of old Florida favorites with new Caribbean influences. Local seafood includes lobster, grouper, mahi-mahi, pompano, snapper, tuna, and stone crabs.

Florida dominates production of citrus fruits. Before you cruise from Fort Lauderdale, take advantage of anything orange—juices, sauces, marinades, marmalades, dressings, soups, and cakes. Try authentic key lime pie, which is sweet, tart, creamy, and yellow—not green—in a Graham cracker crust.


Tip from Travel + Leisure

 

The Floridian 

The Floridian is a funky 24/7 diner that remains a shrine to kitsch, down to the Champagne Room (actually just a booth with a sign), bedecked with a chandelier and pinup photos of Marilyn Monroe.

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