If you’re looking for fun things to do with kids in Fort Lauderdale, you’re in luck, because there are plenty of family-friendly options. From building sandcastles on one of Fort Lauderdale’s beautiful beaches to exploring botanical gardens or joining a pirate crew sailing the high seas, kid-friendly attractions are plentiful here. You can catch a movie at the drive-in theater, get a treat from an old-fashioned ice-cream parlor, and learn new things at the science museum. Fort Lauderdale also has a ton of family resorts, vacation rentals, and unique hotels, so it’s a great spot for a family vacation.

Nature activities with kids in Fort Lauderdale

Learn about Florida’s wildlife at Flamingo Gardens

Flamingo Gardens is a tropical botanical garden and Everglades wildlife sanctuary. Florida native wildlife in the sanctuary range from bobcats, panthers, and alligators to otters, eagles, peacocks, and flamingos. Also included are a free-flight bird aviary and a Birds of Prey center housing a large raptor collection. The botanical garden includes massive live-oak trees, a Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden, and themed gardens. You can take a peek into 1930s South Florida life with a visit to the historic Wray Home Museum found here. A narrated tram tour is available, as well as wildlife shows and programming. The park is stroller-friendly and wheelchair accessible.

Kid-friendly Fort Lauderdale beaches

Fort Lauderdale Beach is a popular local spot offering a lively atmosphere, year-round lifeguards, volleyball and basketball courts, a playground, and picnic tables. Pompano Beach is known for sugary sand and warm, clear water with an offshore reef for snorkeling, as well as a 24-hour pier. Deerfield Beach houses a cable water-ski park, Ski Rixen, where older kids and adults can water-ski, kneeboard, and run a water obstacle course. Hillsboro Beach offers views over the charming Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse and a more tranquil, low-key environment than other area beaches, perfect for relaxing with your family.

Ride an airboat through the Everglades at Sawgrass Recreation Park

Just 30 minutes outside Fort Lauderdale, you’ll find Sawgrass Recreation Park, known for unique, family-friendly airboat tours. You’ll glide across the water of the Everglades as your airboat captain teaches you about the area's diverse ecosystem and wildlife. Once back on land, you can explore their nature center, which houses rescued animals, and even meet a baby alligator. Evening airboat tours are also available where you’ll learn about nocturnal wildlife in the Everglades and search for alligators. Earplugs are provided for all tours, as the airboats are loud. Tours are suitable for all ages, and lifejackets are provided for children 6 and younger.

Explore Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

If you’re looking for something inexpensive to do with kids in Fort Lauderdale, check out Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. This slice of wilderness is uniquely sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway. You’ll likely feel as if you’ve been transported to another world as you explore live-oak trees, a banyan tree, and extensive mangrove habitats. Keep an eye out for gopher tortoises on the ground and iguanas up in the trees. The park has beach access and tons of family-friendly amenities, including a playground and picnic areas. Wheelchair-accessible trails and facilities are available.

Fun things to do with kids in Fort Lauderdale

Sail the high seas on a pirate cruise

Kids can join the Bluefoot Pirate Adventures' swashbuckling crew of pirates as you sail the Intracoastal Waterway hunting for treasure and firing water cannons. If your little ones have pirate costumes, bring them along, as dress-up for kids is highly encouraged. Little pirates can arrive 30 minutes early for dress-up and temporary nautical tattoos so they’re ready to join the crew in style. During the hour-long voyage, parents are welcome to join the captain at the stern for lively sightseeing. The ship and its restroom are ADA-accessible for nonmotorized wheelchairs. You’ll want to pack water, sunscreen, and sunglasses for your voyage.

See an evening movie at Thunderbird Drive-In Theater

By day, this quirky complex houses the Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop, one of the largest historic flea markets in the country. At night, it transforms into the Thunderbird Drive-In Theater, a 14-screen vintage drive-in. The drive-in is a great, inexpensive family activity, as you can bring your own snacks and get cozy in the comfort of your own vehicle. The Swap Shop and drive-in theater are open virtually every day of the year, and you’ll find the theater’s movie schedule across several websites online. Swap Shop also houses a free Ferrari museum on-site, if you’re a fan of vintage cars.

Listen to live music on the beach at Hollywood Beach Broadwalk

Hollywood Beach Broadwalk (yes, Broadwalk) is a multiuse complex just steps away from the shore that offers tons of things to do with kids. In addition to family-friendly shopping and dining, there are playgrounds, shaded pavilions, a picnic area, and a splash pad. Massive, colorful murals by local artists are spread throughout and are great for unique family photos. Older kids and adults can enjoy escape room games, ax-throwing lanes, a wave machine for surfing and boogie-boarding, and an indie-arthouse cinema. You’ll also find live music every Wednesday through Sunday evenings on the Broadwalk.

Eat old-fashioned ice-cream at Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlour

Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlour is part vintage sweets shop, part restaurant, and part country store. This family-owned business offers 50+ flavors of homemade, old-fashioned ice cream and toppings. Food includes “Grown-up mac and cheese,” hamburgers, hot dogs, and wraps. Then, there are the ice cream options, from sundaes, banana splits, and ice-cream goblets to shakes, ice-cream soda floats, and a quirky waffles-and-ice-cream combination. The store and restaurant are full of nostalgic decor and Americana collections, creating just the right atmosphere for a vintage ice-cream parlor that your kids are sure to love.

Imagine what you can be at the Museum of Discovery and Science

The Museum of Discovery and Science (MODS) houses 2 floors of interactive exhibits as well as an IMAX theater. Exhibits range from a cockpit simulator where you can captain an aircraft through the sky to an indoor Everglades Airboat Adventure ride. There’s a workshop space for kids to get creative, as well as live science shows and an otter habitat. Younger kids have dedicated spaces to play and learn, and the outdoor science park playspace is for all ages. MODS is fully wheelchair-accessible and offers resources for those with sensory processing sensitivities and autism, as well as monthly sensory-friendly IMAX screenings.

Enjoy dinner and a show aboard the Jungle Queen

The historic Jungle Queen has been hosting riverboat tours, sightseeing cruises, and theater shows since 1935. All tours on board the Jungle Queen and River Queen ships are family friendly and fun for kids. Narrated sightseeing tours take you down Fort Lauderdale’s historic New River and past Millionaire’s Row, mega-yachts, and more. Dinner-and-a-show tours are a family favorite in which, after a sightseeing cruise, you’ll visit their tropical isle to enjoy live entertainment during dinner, followed by a comedy and variety show. You can explore the Jungle Queen tropical isle and its exotic wildlife before setting sail on your return cruise.

Family resorts in Fort Lauderdale

Pelican Grand Beach Resort

Pelican Grand Beach Resort is a casual beachfront resort with lots of family-friendly amenities. Guest rooms are casual and have free WiFi, minifridges, coffee makers, and cozy sitting areas. Upgraded guest rooms include balconies, and suites offer separate living rooms. A zero-entry outdoor pool and lazy river are great for kids, as is the old-fashioned ice-cream parlor you’ll find on-site. Lounge chairs and umbrellas are provided for you to use on the resort’s private beach, and you'll find beachside food and beverage service. A porch front veranda offers rocking chairs and ocean views, perfect for relaxing as the sun sets.

Marriott’s BeachPlace Towers

Marriott’s BeachPlace Towers is located beachfront on Fort Lauderdale Beach and is great for families who love spending time on the shore. You’ll find a mixture of modern guest rooms and villas, each with free WiFi. Guest rooms include kitchenettes, pull-out sofas, and balconies. Villas are 1- or 2-bedroom and house separate living rooms, full kitchens, whirlpool tubs, and washer/dryers. Outside, the resort’s heated outdoor pool and hot tub have ocean views, and there's a poolside bar and grill. Amenities also include a Starbucks coffee shop, a kids' activity center, and a game room.

Ocean Manor Beach Resort

Ocean Manor Beach Resort sits just off the shore on the Galt Ocean Mile and features its own family-friendly private beach. Accommodations range from guest rooms to studios and suites, all with free WiFi and minifridges. Upgrading to a studio adds a kitchenette, and suites add a full-size kitchen. Resort amenities include an outdoor heated pool overlooking the ocean, a café, and a themed tiki bar. Families can take advantage of daily yoga classes on the beach, as they're open to kids, too. The resort also offers cabana rentals, a spa and salon, and an on-site piano lounge.

Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort

Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort is on the A1A Beach Strip, just across the street from Fort Lauderdale Beach. Studios offer casual furnishings along with free WiFi, DVD players and flat-screen TVs, and cozy kitchenettes. Apartments are 1- or 2-bedroom and include full kitchens, living rooms with pull-out sofas or wall beds, and balconies. The resort has an outdoor pool, a hot tub, and a sauna. Tons of local shopping and dining options are within walking distance of this location, making it easy for families to get a bite to eat and shop for souvenirs. Additional family-friendly amenities include free parking, a free shuttle service, and a café serving Starbucks coffee.

Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort

The Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort is a beachside, all-suite resort offering accommodations ranging from studios to 3-bedroom units. Suites have either a kitchenette or full kitchen, private balconies, marble bathrooms, and whirlpool tubs. The resort houses multiple dining options along with beachside service. Your family can enjoy a large wraparound deck and outdoor pool space with private cabanas. In the evenings, you’ll often find live music in the outdoor resort spaces, and the resort hosts a variety of special events. A daily resort fee includes internet access, 2-hour daily bike rentals, beach yoga classes, beach chairs, and more.