Located in south Florida’s Broward County along with Miami and West Palm Beach, Lauderdale Lakes is smaller than many of its more metropolitan neighbors, making it an oasis of small-town charm and quaintness amidst the state’s most populous region.
Set just inland from the Atlantic coast, Lauderdale Lakes is bordered by Pompano Beach to the northeast and Fort Lauderdale to the southeast.
As its name implies, it’s surrounded by numerous lakes that are recreation hotspots for local and visiting nature lovers and outdoor recreation enthusiasts.
Below are 14 fun, educational and exhilarating things to do in and around Lauderdale Lakes.
1. Cho A Dong Oriental Food Market
When visiting relatively small cities like Lauderdale Lakes, you’ll need to think outside the box if you’d like to get a feel for the area without spending half the day in the car.
Located on North State Route 7 in Lauderdale Lakes, the Cho A Dong Oriental Food Market is a unique cultural attraction that’s full of exotic items you won’t find elsewhere.
If you’re the type who considers buying crackers imported from Canada a foray into epicurean adventurism, then a trip to this local market will be a real eye-opener.
Food from a number of Asian and Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, China, and Vietnam are represented.
2. Fern Forest Nature Center
Located on South Lyons Road in nearby Coconut Creek, the Fern Forest Nature Center is an amazingly beautiful attraction, and its staff are dedicated to promoting and preserving the area’s distinct habitats and the wide variety of plants and animals that call them home.
The center consists of indoor and outdoor sections, and the exhibits and nature trails are suitable for those of most ages.
Consider stopping at the visitor’s center first; it’ll provide an overview of the facility’s trails and amenities.
It’s common to see a variety of animals, but the trails can be buggy and muggy, so bring some bug spray and a few bottles of water.
3. Museum of Science and Discovery
Fort Lauderdale’s Museum of Science and Discovery is one of the area’s most family-friendly attractions and the perfect escape destination for when the weather outside isn’t cooperating.
Spread over multiple floors, the museum is brimming with interactive exhibits and activities that have been designed to engage and entertain young minds – and most parents end up having a blast and learning a thing or two as well.
Admission falls in the moderate range, though with so much to see and do, most parents consider it to be good value.
Expect crowds if you go during peak season, especially on the weekends.
4. The Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum
In their heyday, the automobiles produced by the Packard Motor Company were considered some of the most luxurious and technologically advanced and were largely reserved for those with deep wallets.
The Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum is dedicated to preserving more than 20 examples of these timeless machines, which have been lovingly restored to near-original condition.
The cars are from the decades between the turn of the 20th century and the ‘40s, and one of the most popular sections of the facility is dedicated to former president Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Guided tours are offered daily for those who’d like the inside scoop.
5. Stranahan House
Located on Southeast 6th Street in Fort Lauderdale, Stranahan House is the oldest original structure in Broward County and was built nearly 120 years ago.
The home is full of period furniture, housewares, art and clothes that give visitors a unique insight into the often difficult lives of those who lived in the area more than a century ago when it was mostly wild and undeveloped.
The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and in addition to the home and grounds, there are a variety of special events hosted throughout the year.
Check out their website for a complete list of guided and group tour options.
6. Fort Lauderdale Historical Society & Museum
As one of the prime attractions in Fort Lauderdale’s trendy and historic Riverwalk Park area, the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society and Museum are worth a look, especially for those history-minded travelers interested in learning about the area’s past.
The museum includes numerous exhibits containing photographs, maps, artifacts, and first-hand accounts of the area’s settlers. There’s a great gift shop too that’s the perfect place to pick up a few stocking-stuffers or keepsakes to remind you of your trip.
Guided walking tours of the museum and grounds are offered seasonally, so ask a local or check their website before making a special trip.
7. Jungle Queen Riverboat
Cruising on the Jungle Queen Riverboat is one of the most popular activities for visitors the Lauderdale Lakes area.
The world-famous cruise operator has been navigating the New River Since the mid-‘30s. In addition to offering guests some amazing sights that those stuck on shore won’t see, it’s also like a guided history tour.
Tours last between 90 minutes and three hours; there’s a dinner, show, and cruise option that includes a tasty all-you-can-eat buffet and live entertainment.
The perfect way to end a day on your feet, it’s a big hit with the romantic crowd.
8. Bluefoot Pirate Adventures
The waters off the coast of Florida were full of dastardly pirates for centuries, and though they’re largely relegated to history books these days, it’s still possible to get up close and personal with a few holdouts, and Bluefoot Pirate Adventures is the best place to do it.
Offering cruise options along the Intracoastal Waterway, Bluefoot Pirate Adventures specializes in entertaining families with little ones. Their activities include treasure hunts, dramatic reenactments of historic battles, and epic water gun fights.
Cruises last about 90 minutes and run every few hours between 9 AM and 3 PM. They often fill up quickly.
9. Amarena Bakery
Located on North University Drive in nearby Lauderhill, Amarena Bakery is one of the area’s premier destinations for those looking to satisfy their sweet tooth with fresh baked goods made on-site daily.
From bagels, muffins, and pastries to omelets, salads, and sandwiches, there’s probably a little something for everyone you’re traveling with. The bakery is particularly popular with the breakfast, lunch and mid-afternoon crowds.
The bakery is well-known for its tasty coffee too, so stop by and get your caffeine and sugar fixes either before or after a long day of seeing all the area’s sights.
10. Pompano Beach Amphitheater
The Pompano Beach Amphitheater is a trendy live entertainment venue that’s been well-known by locals for years and has started to gain an out-of-state visitor following as well.
Though it’s primarily known for its concerts, it also hosts fairs and festivals, like the Pompano Beach Seafood Fest, as well as arts and craft festivals.
In the past, big-name headliners have performed here, and there’s generally plenty of nearby parking that’s relatively inexpensive.
Even if there’s no show scheduled, it’s an excellent place for a relaxing stroll or an afternoon with a thermos of margaritas and a good book.
11. Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
Located along a particularly scenic stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway near Fort Lauderdale, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is one of the city’s most natural areas and is close enough to Lauderdale Lakes to make it a manageable day-trip option.
The land was once privately owned but was willed to the city with the stipulation that it was preserved in its natural state. Now, it offers visitors a wide variety of activity options, from boating and fishing to hiking, biking, and wildlife photography.
There’s also beach access, covered pavilions, and several campsites reserved for youth groups and other community organizations.
12. Butterfly World
What started as one man’s hobby more than 30 years ago has blossomed into one of the most complete butterfly facilities of its kind in the country.
Situated on acres of minimally developed land that’s a sanctuary for butterflies and birds, Butterfly World is a popular attraction for those traveling with kids who love animals and the great outdoors.
Butterfly World’s staff are also actively engaged in a number of programs designed to bolster wild butterfly populations the world over, so your admission dollars will go toward helping them continue their good work.
They’re located on West Sample Road in Coconut Creek.
13. Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse
Unlike many of Florida’s lighthouses, the Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse is unique in that it was fabricated thousands of miles away in Michigan, then shipped to Florida and constructed on the site on which it now sits in 1907.
In addition, the light-providing lens was manufactured in France, giving it an interesting combination of local, national, and international history that most guests find alluring.
The museum isn’t open every day, and guided tours are only offered on the weekends.
It’s possible to climb to the top of the lighthouse for exceptional views, but as a safety precaution, only guests wearing close-toed shoes are allowed to make the trek.
14. Boca Express Train Museum
Housed in a historic train depot from the ‘30s, the Boca Express Train Museum is located on Dixie Highway near the downtown area and is a must-visit attraction for railroad enthusiasts and all-around history buffs.
The museum’s centerpieces include a refurbished railcar and steam engine, both of which have been restored to near-original condition.
Train tours are available two times per month, so if that’s something you’d like to take advantage of, call ahead or check their website before making a special trip.
There’s also a nice little gift shop on-site that’s the perfect place to pick up a keepsake or two.