The Venice of America, Fort Lauderdale is built around thousands of canals and inland waterways. Getting around is an experience like no other in America, and cheap water taxis carry you downtown from the beach to shopping and dining opportunities on Las Olas Boulevard.
About 45 minutes north of Miami and four hours south of Orlando, in the middle of South Florida’s Gold Coast, Fort Lauderdale used to be Spring Break central, thanks to the 1960 movie, Where the Boys Are. College students landed cheap flights to Fort Lauderdale and partied for a week nonstop. But starting in the 1980s, the city of Fort Lauderdale made efforts to change its image and started to put limits on the mega-party scene, hoping to ensure a family-friendly experience. In recent years, with older, cheaper motels demolished and hotels such as the St Regis and Hilton springing up, Fort Lauderdale has grown up. Now couples and families visit for the beaches, cultural and historic sites, and social events.
There’s plenty to see in Fort Lauderdale. Along with the blue wave beaches are the Museum of Discovery and Science, Museum of Arts, Broward Center for the Performing Arts, and Stranahan House, all within walking distance along the New River.
Today, the city still draws plenty of college kids in March, but the energy is not quite so wild. In fact, Fort Lauderdale has moved upmarket and Port Everglades is now one of the largest cruise centers in the world. The T-shirt shops and souvenir stores that once overwhelmed the waterfront have given way to trendy shops, nice restaurants, and a two-mile promenade that offers unobstructed pedestrian access along one of the city’s nicest beaches.
The water is what attracts most travelers to book a flight to Fort Lauderdale – the area boasts more than 20 miles of powdery sand beaches and 300 miles of waterways, making it truly the “Venice of America”.
Fort Lauderdale’s weather from November through April is outstanding, and also the peak season. This is the dry period, which experiences average high temperatures between 75 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit and average low temperatures of 59 to 66 degrees. While it’s not quite the Spring Break hotspot it was in the 60s and 70s, lots of tourists still travel to Fort Lauderdale during this time. It is therefore best advised to book several months in advance for the best deals on airfares and accommodations.
The peak season also plays host to a number of popular annual events. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival (March) is a great event for the whole family, which includes the grand parade, traditional Irish music, dancing, a children’s village full of activities and a wide variety of food and beverages. Another event which is more suited to adult visitors is the Wine and Culinary Celebration (April), which showcases a vast array of spirits, wines and beers from around the world with a variety of food pairings from some of South Florida’s leading restaurants.
Book up to a year in advance for travel during holidays and school vacation periods, which include, Thanksgiving (late November), Christmas (late December to early January), winter (February/March), spring vacation (April), summer (May/June to August/September) and all federal and state holidays.
Late spring (May) and fall (October) can be a great times to visit; the weather is nice and the crowds will be slightly smaller. Temperatures on average will be in the late 60s to early 80s and although there is some rainfall, it is significantly less than during summer (June to September). It may be possible to find cheaper flights to Fort Lauderdale and better hotel deals during these in-between seasons, but book ahead to avoid disappointment.
Fort Lauderdale summers (June through September) are hot and humid. This is when the most rainfall occurs, particularly in the months of June and September. However, this is the most affordable time to fly to Fort Lauderdale and get a great deal on flights. Hotels in the area also reduce their prices considerably during the summer. As most days thunderstorms occur in the afternoon or evening, you can still make the most of your vacation.
Before booking your flight, you should take into consideration that the hurricane season falls from June through November. Major hurricanes are most likely to affect the area during the months of September and October.
Fort Lauderdale is a popular winter destination for snowbirds and northerners who want to escape cold and snow. If you plan to visit during winter or early spring, check for flights early to get the best rates. Spring break time, in particular, receives heavy crowds. Start your search several months in advance if you plan to join the crowds. Holidays and other school breaks are also popular with high demand. The beginning of June to the end of November is considered hurricane season, so book tickets with caution during this period. You’ll likely find some great deals, but you may find your travel plans cancelled or delayed due to weather.
With an international airport in the city, you can reach the stunning beaches of Fort Lauderdale quickly with flights from many other cities. Escape the hustle and bustle of New York City in about 2.5 hours. Travel across the country from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale in about 4.5 hours. A trip from Seattle takes just over five hours.
With four terminals serving an average of 80,000 passengers daily, the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport offers plenty of airline options. Domestic carries include Alaska Airlines, Allegiant, American, Delta, Florida Coastal, JetBlue, Southwest and United. International carriers include Avianca, Emirates and Norwegian Air.
Like the rest of Florida, Fort Lauderdale is hot and humid during the summer. Fill your suitcase with lightweight, breathable clothes. Bring a sunhat, sunscreen and sunglasses, too. This city is a popular beach destination, so don’t forget your swimsuit, flip flops and beach gear. The winter months bring mild weather, with temperatures often in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Bring a few layers for chilly evenings, along with cool clothes for hotter days.
Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International (FLL) is located 25 miles north of Miami and 5 miles from the beaches of Fort Lauderdale.
Alternative Airports (distances in miles): Miami International, 21 miles; West Palm Beach International Airport 42 miles.
Getting from the Airport to the City
The main airport for flights to Fort Lauderdale is Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood International Airport (FLL). Bus, train and taxi all operate from the airport to the city center. The buses run every 20-30 minutes 7 days a week and take approximately 20 minutes.
The Tri Rail train service takes only eight minutes to get to town but runs only once an hour and finishes in the early evening.
Taxis are available from the transportation podium, located outside the baggage area of each terminal. They take approximately 10 minutes to town.
Many hotels in the area also offer free shuttles to and from the airport.
It’s advisable to hire a car when visiting the area.
Ample parking and wide-flung city limits make driving the easiest way to get around Fort Lauderdale. Renting a car is best, and you can often find package deals when you book your flight to Fort Lauderdale. Major car rental companies can be found at the airport. If you’re not a driver, there are plenty of taxis around the city, but they are expensive. The bus is much cheaper, but is very complicated. You can also take a water taxi downtown via the New River and the waterway.
The beach is the obvious choice when looking for activities in Fort Lauderdale. The city lies along the coast, greeting visitors with crystal clear water and beautiful sand beaches. Fort Lauderdale offers a more relaxing beach scene than nearby Miami, which makes it ideal for families. The wide shoreline prevents Fort Lauderdale Beach from feeling too crowded, and a promenade lined with palm trees along the beach offers additional entertainment, shopping and dining options.
Fort Lauderdale offers a lot of natural beauty beyond the beach. Visit Sawgrass Recreation Park for a glimpse at Florida wildlife and plants. You can also take an airboat tour to see gators and other Florida wildlife in their natural habitats. Take a nighttime tour for a look at nocturnal Florida animals. Hugh Taylor Birch State Park gives you another way to connect with nature. Canoe or kayak through coastal dune lakes, or explore dry land by bike or on foot. Check out one of the last maritime tropical hardwood hammock ecosystems in the country at the park.
For a cultural experience, visit one of Fort Lauderdale’s museums. The Stanahan House captures Florida life in the 1900s inside the oldest residence in the city. The Bonnet House is another way to travel back in time with a beautifully preserved plantation home from the early 1900s. The Museum of Discovery and Science offers lots of interactive displays covering everything from the weather and the Everglades to dinosaurs and commercial airliners. The NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale houses more than 6,000 pieces of modern artwork. The museum sits along Las Olas Boulevard, which is a hub of restaurants, art galleries and shops.
Explore beyond the beautiful beaches with a flight heading out of Fort Lauderdale. Jump a flight on American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest or United heading out of town.
Consider these flight options:
With more than 325 departures and 325 arrivals each day, the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport can get quite busy. Arrive early to sail though security smoothly. Courtesy shuttles carry passengers between terminals and from parking lots and the rental car center to the terminals. If you prefer not to drive, catch a ride on a Broward County Transit bus, or take Tri-Rail to the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Station, where you can take a quick shuttle ride to the airport.