Popular Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) Shore Excursions
Beaches: Fort Lauderdale's beaches are among the nicest urban sand stretches in Florida. In the central area, between the Intracoastal Waterway and the ocean, there are numerous casual eateries, bars, T-shirt and souvenir shops and stores that sell essentials. As you go farther north, the nicer hotels offer more elegant restaurants -- most with oceanview seating. (See "Beaches" section below for more information.)
Las Olas Boulevard: The stretch between 6th and 11th Avenues near downtown is a lively destination for shopping, dining and people watching. During the day, you can hop a boat for a tour of the Intracoastal Waterway (canals) that wind through this picturesque section of Fort Lauderdale or stroll along the Riverwalk (U.S. 1, south of Broward Boulevard), a 1.5-mile stretch of boardwalk along the New River that links many of the city's historic and cultural landmarks. If you're in town the first Sunday of the month, the Riverwalk is home to a jazz brunch with food vendors and live music.
At night, festive diners spill out of sidewalk cafes, and romance-seekers ride in horse-drawn surrey carriages.
Gambling: At Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino you'll find a gamers' paradise. Live thoroughbred racing happens at the height of cruise season, from January until April, and there are also Vegas-style slots, no-limit poker, dining and entertainment -- all under one roof. This is a great spot for night owls; you can play until 3 a.m. during the week and all night on weekends. (901 South Federal Highway, Hallandale,; 954-454-7000)
Nature: For a peaceful experience, head to Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. Canoes are available for rent, and guided Segway tours are offered. This 180-acre barrier island is a great place to in-line skate or bicycle along the scenic circular road or hike the trails. In addition to picnic tables along the Intracoastal Waterway, a tunnel connects to the public beach. (3109 E. Sunrise Boulevard; 954-564-4521; open 8 a.m. to sundown; entry fee)
Delray Beach: This is an easy "time stands still" getaway (you'll need to rent a car.) The heart of the community -- shops, boutiques, art galleries and fashionable restaurants -- runs from the ocean along Atlantic Avenue. Check out Old School Square, which has a number of restored 1920s buildings.
Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens: It's one of a handful of museums in America devoted exclusively to Japanese culture, but even better is the beautiful Japanese garden, which includes everything from fish-filled ponds and Zen gardens to pathways that wind in and out of pine woodlands. (Morikami Park Road, Delray Beach; 561-495-0233; open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday; entry fee)
Jungle Queen Riverboat: A Fort Lauderdale institution for more than 60 years, the riverboat offers daytime sightseeing trips up the New River and evening dinner cruises with barbecued ribs and shrimp. Afternoon cruises include a stop at the Jungle Queen's tropical isle for an alligator show, and dinner cruises last four hours and include an all-you-can-eat repast and entertainment. Two sightseeing cruises are also available that last 90 minutes but do not include a stop at the isle. (Bahia Mar Yachting Center, 801 Seabreeze Boulevard; 954-462-5596; 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. departures)
Sawgrass Mills: The huge outdoor outlet mall about 20 minutes west of the port houses more than 350 designer shops like Burberry, Calvin Klein, Coach, Kenneth Cole and many more with uber-discounted prices. (12801 West Sunrise Boulevard, Sunrise; 954-846-2350; open 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday)
Galleria Mall: Broward county's largest upscale shopping center is located about 10 minutes north of port, just minutes from the beach. It offers name-brand stores like Macy's, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as restaurants and refuge from the sun. (2414 East Sunrise Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale; 954-564-1015; open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday)
Festival Marketplace: Go early to this monster market, where more than 500 vendors are featured along with complimentary valet parking. Weekends are busiest. You can browse stalls with antiques, new electronics and designer clothing; there's a farmer's market on weekends and an international food court. (2900 West Sample Road, Pompano Beach; 954-979-4555; hours are Monday through Friday, 9:30 to 5:30; 10 to 6, Saturday and Sunday).
Golf: The area offers more than 40 golf courses. Troon Golf at the Diplomat Gold and Tennis Club is the only five-star course in South Florida. The 6,728-yard, par-72 course has been around since the 1950s. Golfers can rent clubs, carts with GPS systems and shoes. (501 Diplomat Parkway, Hallandale; 954-883-4000)
No time for a full 18 holes? Not enough money for a country-club outing? Eco Golf Club is the way to go. This little nine-hole course not far from the port offers great greens, reasonable rates and a full-service restaurant for breakfast or lunch. (1600 Johnson Street, Hollywood; 954-927-1751)
Located a few minutes away from the port, the 7,280-yard Club at Emerald Hills was designed by Bruce Devlin and Robert Von Hagge and has been consistently rated one of the best places to play by Golf Digest magazine. Challenging and demanding, with water on 12 holes, the course is also spike-less, so plan accordingly. (4100 N. Hills Drive, Hollywood; 954-961-4000)
Best Beach for Action: Fort Lauderdale Beach bustles with activity. Lined with waterfront hotels and an array of restaurants with oceanfront patios, this is where you go to see and be seen.
Best Low-Key Beach: Compared with other beaches in the area, Lauderdale by-the-Sea, located just north of Fort Lauderdale Beach and south of Pompano Beach, is a quiet hideaway. Though close to hotels and beachfront dining venues, it's less frenetic and makes a great place to spend a lazy afternoon. Plus, conditions for snorkeling and diving are ideal there -- in fact, a reef is within swimming distance.
Best Beach for Watching Cruise Ships: If you're in town for a pre- or post-cruise stay, go to John U. Lloyd Beach State Park's beach on the corner of the inlet. The mangrove-lined waterway is a great place to be active or just relax. There, you can rent canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, sailboats, pontoon boats, gazebos, barbecue grills and volleyballs.
Best Beach with Small-Town Charm: Dania Beach, just south of the cruise port in Dania, is one of the area's best-kept secrets. Warm sands, shady palms and a quaint fishing pier characterize this calm beach. With just a little legwork, you'll discover a historic arts and antiques district, ice cream parlors, pubs and seafood restaurants, all encompassed in a small beach town with big character.
Best Beach for a Half-Day Visit: Hollywood Beach with its famous two-and-a-half-mile "Broadwalk" -- an asphalt strip along the beach that is filled with street performers, couples walking hand-in-hand and families with young children meandering along in the sunshine -- was featured in the movie "Marley and Me." It's the perfect setting for an ideal day at the beach. Get involved in sports of all sorts (bike-riding, roller-skating, kayaking and beach volleyball), or simply soak up the sun -- loungers and cabanas are available for rent. Shops and restaurants are close by, too. There's something for everyone at this popular beach.