The history of Fort Lauderdale started 4000 years ago, with the arrival of aboriginal natives and then the Tequesta Indians, who mostly inhabited the area for about 1000 years. The control of the area after this period kept shifting between United States, Spain, England and Confederate States of America, but it was kept underdeveloped until the 20th century.

Fort Lauderdale today, was the location of a bloody massacre which took place during the Seminole Wars, between the United States Army and the Seminole, a Native American group which banded together, in what was known as Spanish Florida during the early 1700s. This event resulted in the abandonment of the area, but 50 years later, development started on a defensive barrier, in the same area, which was built in 1838 by the United Sates Army and named Fort Lauderdale. It mostly served as a site of fighting under the Second Seminole War.

In 1842, the fort was abandoned, and when the war finally ended, the area was still unpopulated until the 1890s. Prior to 20th century, Fort Lauderdale was called the ‘New River Settlement’. At this time, only a couple of pioneer families lived in the area throughout the 1840s. Then the Florida East Coast Railroad tracks were built throughout the area in the mid 1890s. This is when organized development in the area began. The city however came into being in 1911 and later in 1915, it was designated as the county seat of Broward County.

The first major development in the area began during the 1920s, during the Florida real estate bubble. In 1930s, a great deal of economic disturbance happened due to the 1926 Miami Hurricane and the great depression.

During World War II, Fort Lauderdale became one of the biggest and major US Navy bases, where pilots and radar controllers were trained. At the end of the war, the serving members returned and a huge population shift took place.

The most significant change to the fortunes of this city in recent years was the arrival of the yachting industry. Making use of the intra-coastal waterway, which runs parallel to the ocean, several marinas are now the winter home of dozens of million-dollar boats. This has given the city something of an upmarket character. Today, Fort Lauderdale is one of the biggest yachting centres and the country’s biggest and most loved tourist destinations with a population of more than 1.8 million people.

On the Atlantic coastline of United States of America, 37 km (23 miles) north of Miami, Fort Lauderdale is a predominant residential resort city. It is also called the "Venice of America", a nickname based on its 482 kms (300 miles) of inland waterways that run through Greater Fort Lauderdale, with about 165 of those miles in the city itself. With 11 kms (7 miles) of beachfront and a seasonal average temerature of 24 °C (75°F), it is a favorite for beachgoers. Once known as a spring break hot spot, Fort Lauderdale has become a more sophisticated urban destination. The city's wide boardwalks and seemingly endless restaurants and shops give it the relaxed atmosphere that tourists yearn for. Visitors who want to get away from the crowds will love the upscale Las Olas neighborhood with its galleries and museums. Fort Lauderdale has far more to offer than just sun and sand, offering a surprising amount of history and a unique ecology as part of the Everglades. Attractions:

1. Fort Lauderdale Beach

Lies at the heart of the tourist area in Fort Lauderdale. Once known for spring break madness, when thousands of college students descended on the beach, the Fort Lauderdale beach area is now more placid, but still an entertaining stretch of sand. The beach has a pedestrian walk, numerous hotels, restaurants and shops, which line the street running alongside the beach. In the streets that lead away from the beach visitors can still find smaller hotels and motels. As spring approaches the beach gradually becomes busier and more lively as sun seekers hit the sand.

2. Las Olas Boulevard

Stretches from downtown Fort Lauderdale along New River to Las Olas Beach, overlooking the mansions and yachts of the Intercoastal Waterway. There are plenty of tourist attractions and things to do along the boulevard, from touring museums and art galleries to shopping at more than 100 specialty boutiques. This is a popular spot for dining as well, filled with waterside cafes and bistros. Another great way to explore the area is by boat, from a simple gondola tour or by chartering your own yacht for the day. Las Olas Beach is a quieter alternative to the main beach, and parking tends to be easier to find in this area.

3. Bonnet House Museum & Gardens

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a Fort Lauderdale landmark, Bonnet House Museum & Gardens is a mix of art, architecture, history, and ecology. The historic house was designed by Frederic Clay Bartlett and built in 1920. On display are collections of art and personal treasures. The estate covers 36 acres and was once the winter retreat of the Birch/Bartlett family. The surrounding grounds of the estate remain a virtual oasis of coastal wilderness, nestled amid the commercial development of the Fort Lauderdale beachfront. Containing five ecosystems, the grounds serve as a barrier island habitat that includes a beach, dunes, a maritime forest, freshwater slough, and delicate mangrove wetlands. The formal gardens include a hibiscus garden, desert garden, and the Orchid Display House.

4. Historic Stranahan House Museum

Ohio businessman and trader Frank Stranahan built this pine pioneer's home in 1901, at the site where he operated his barge ferry business. It was expanded several times over the years and now features wide verandas, bay windows, a Victorian parlor, and tropical gardens. Period Victorian furniture and decorative pieces are on display throughout the house. Built to serve as a trading post, Stranahan House also served as the post office, community center, and town hall. The building has been used at different times as a restaurant and boarding house. The museum's gift shop features handmade items crafted by local artists.

5.Antique Car Museum

The Antique Car Museum in Fort Lauderdale focuses on the history of the Packard Motor Company. The collection, which is laid out in a replicated Packard showroom, includes nearly two dozen pre-war Packard automobiles, like the 1909 Packard Model 18 Speedster, 1916 Packard Model 1-35 Twin-Six Town Car Limo, and the 1930 Packard Model 640 Fire Engine. There are also other memorabilia, such as a gallery dedicated to the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Individual car pieces, such as hood ornaments and gear shifters, provide a unique look at trends, changes, and advancements. 

6. Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

This state park was a gift from Hugh Taylor Birch to residents of Florida. His former estate is a 180-acre park that sits between the Intra-coastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean. Visitors will find this green space a welcome oasis, perfect for a quiet walk on the trails or an afternoon picnic. Canoes are available for rent to take out onto the freshwater lagoon to view the wildlife or even do some fishing. There is also beach access, as well as paved trails for cycling and rollerblading. Guests should not miss the Birch House Museum, where you can learn about the history of the park and its benefactor, as well as the ecological significance of its position as a barrier island.

7. Everglades

Everglades Holiday Park has gained fame in recent years as the frequent set of Animal Planet's "Gator Boys," and now features daily live gator shows hosted by cast members. The shows are not only entertaining, staff members introduce visitors to the world of the Everglades' most notorious residents and educate the audience about the habitat and lives of the alligators. The park also runs airboat tours of the surrounding wetlands, where you will learn about the ecosystem's plants and animals that are unique to the Everglades.

8. Riverfront Cruises Venice of America Tour 

Hop aboard a boat and see the sights of Fort Lauderdale on this cruise. Find out from your guide about the famous marinas and piers as you relax on the boat’s upper level observation deck or inside the comfortable cabin, and learn why Fort Lauderdale is called the “Venice of America.” Plus sail by the high-end homes and yachts on Millionaire’s Row.

Learn about the city from onboard commentary. Take in beautiful views while enjoying beverages which are available for purchase on board.

Departure Point: 301 SW 3rd Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312, USA

Duration 1h 30m

Returns to original departure point

Fort Lauderdale Beach
Las Olas Boulevard
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
Historic Stranahan House Museum
Bonnet House Museum & Gardens
Fort Lauderdale waterways
Riverfront Cruises
Millionaire's Row
Everglades Holiday Park
Everglades Holiday Park
Everglades - airboat tours
Everglades Holiday Park

No trip to Fort Lauderdale is complete without a quick road trip to Key West

Florida’s Calusa Indian tribe was forced to migrate south to Key West where they fought to keep the southernmost lands as the New World was settled. In the process many Indians were killed and the Key West beaches were used as burial grounds. According to Key West lore, Spanish settlers found bones of the dead Indians strewn on the beach and called the island Cayo Hueso, meaning Island of Bones. Later English settlers called the island Key West, thinking that Cayo meant Key and Hueso West.

Over the years, ownership of the island has changed hands several times between the Spanish and the English. In 1815 the island was given by Spain to Juan Pablo Salas. American businessman, John Simonton, purchased the island from Salas in the early 1820’s, later selling portions of Key West to fellow businessmen Greene, Whitehead, and Fleming, all of whom have Key West streets named after them today. The three men began to develop Key West, and are even responsible for bringing the United Stated Navy down to build a base, which eventually put a stop to pirating in the area. However, settlers still had to combat illness, mosquitoes, and harsh seas.

Key West became a major shipping area, but the coral reefs caused several shipwrecks. So, salvaging became the major area industry, making the island the richest area per capita in the good old USA back then. Fishing, turtling, sponging, cigar making, and salt manufacturing were the other major industries of the island.

When Henry Flagler provided Key West access from the mainland by building the Overseas Railroad which was completed in 1912, the island grew wealthier, however, Key West ended up in bankruptcy anyway thanks to the Great Depression and the hurricane of 1935 which destroyed the railway. Still, bankruptcy could not detract from the lure of Key West. Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and several other notable people visited or resided here which in turn attracted others to the island as well.

In 1938 the Overseas Highway replaced the Railway making the island more accessible once more. In 1982 a group of Key Westers withdrew from the Union of the USA and formed the Conch Republic, a micronation declared as a tongue-in-cheek secession of the city. The mainland barricaded the entrance to Key Largo in response so that tourists and supplies could not get through. Unable to replenish supplies, especially rum, the seceders surrendered. Still, visitors can see the flag proudly hanging up in several places around the island such as the Conch Republic Seafood Company.

Hire a rental car and drive to the Everglades Holiday Park. Take a 1 hour Air Boat tour of the Everglades and watch the gator show afterwards.

Then drive to Key West on U.S. Route 1. The drive takes you approximately 4 hours from Fort Lauderdale to Key West. (643 km / 400 miles round trip) Drive along the Florida Keys. Overnight at a hotel and drive back afterwards. 

Florida Keys to Key West
Florida Keys to Key West
Overseas Highway
Southmost Point
Key West


1. Duval Street 

Not your average street, Duval Street is one of the few places in the world that touches two bodies of water. At its northern end, which is frequented by tourists and cruise ship passengers, Duval Street meets the warm Gulf of Mexico. At the south end, near the Southernmost Point in the Continental United States, marked by an oversized buoy that attracts photos around the clock, Duval Street spills into the bright blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

This street is home to a vibrant collection of hole-in-the-wall bars, historic haunts, funky shops, art galleries, outdoor cafés, restaurants and plenty of places to people watch.

2. Southmost Point 

The Southernmost Point in the Continental United States! The massive, brightly painted buoy that marks the Southernmost Point sits on land and is visited and photographed more than most buoys. It has the ability to attract people from around the world around the clock. Just watch. Even if you are thousands of miles away, you can experience being here with us. The Southernmost Webcam brings you the sunrises, sunsets, sunshine and storms. See the revelers, the trolleys, and the occasional rooster making a cameo.

From this point at the corner of South and Whitehead Streets, there are a mere 145 kms (90 miles) to Cuba. Erected in 1983 by the City of Key West, the Southernmost Point buoy is a landmark and a must see for any traveler to Key West. 

3. Ernest Hemmingway Home & Museum

One of the attractions, this is a beautiful Spanish Colonial style mansion built in 1851. Ernest Hemingway and his wife Pauline first moved here in 1931 when Pauline’s rich uncle Gus bought the house for them. The house still features the Hemingways’ personal effects and unique European antiques they collected during their many trips. Hemingway brought the animal trophies and skins scattered around the house from his African safaris and hunting expeditions. Visiting the studio where Hemingway produced so many of his wonderful books is particularly exciting. It was in this studio that he wrote his novel about the Key West in the Great Depression "To Have and Have Not." Interestingly, the museum serves as a home to the numerous descendants of Hemingway’s six-toed cat.

4. Mallory Square

Located on Wall Street in Key West’s historic Old Town, Mallory Square is a waterfront plaza just west of Duval Street. The square faces west towards the Gulf of Mexico, and because of this convenient location, watching the Sun setting is one of the most popular things to see and do in Key West.

Every evening about two hours before the sun begins to set, hundreds of tourists gather here to watch the beautiful sunset and to enjoy exhibits of arts and crafts, taste what the food vendors have to offer, and see street performers like clowns, jugglers, magicians, and local musicians. This tradition began in the 1960s, and the fun parties for which the area is famous still take place every day.

5. Dry Tortugas National Park 

For history buffs, a visit to Dry Tortugas National Park with its spectacular 19th Century Fort Jefferson is a must. The park, which consists mostly of water and seven small islands, is located about 70 miles from Key West. It lies in magnificent blue waters surrounded by a variety of healthy coral reefs and diverse marine life. There is also a large colony of migratory and tropical birds.

You can get to the park using a chartered boat, a seaplane, or the ferry. Enjoy the 45-minutes guided tour of the Fort to learn about its history or take a walk along the moat for a spectacular view of the surrounding reefs and sea life. Snorkeling and swimming, available in designated areas, are thrilling activities in which you can participate. 

6. Harry S Truman Little White House 

This house started its life in 1890 as the headquarters of the command of the naval station during the Spanish-American War. It served the same function during both world wars. In 1946, the building became President Harry S. Truman’s winter White House. Later presidents used it as a place to rest and unwind, particularly during tense situations like the Cold War. While the house is still used by the country’s leaders as a retreat and a business venue, it is also a museum open to the public.

The museum’s official trip logs are interesting documents to investigate, as they mention such details as the dates of President Truman’s visits, the individuals he met, and other interesting information related to the 11 trips he took to Key West. Guided tours provide more information about the presidency of Harry S. Truman, the Cold War era, and the Key West Naval History.

7. Oldest House 

The Oldest House in South Florida, built in 1829, is located at 322 Duval Street in Key West. The house and garden admission is $5.00 per person, children under 12 are free. Open to the public from 10 am to 4 pm every day except Sunday and Wednesday. Staff and docents are available to provide historical information about the house and family, and to answer questions. The house features family portraits and original furnishings, as well as other period pieces, ship models, and documents telling the story of old Key West. In the rear of the house is a spacious, peaceful garden, where benches invite you to sit and reflect. There, you will see the only surviving Cook House in South Florida.

8. Key West Aquarium

Located on Whitehead Street adjacent to popular Mallory Square, the Key West Aquarium was built between 1932 and 1934. Originally built as an open air aquarium, it is the only public aquarium in Key West and is one of the oldest aquariums in Florida. Some of the aquarium’s exhibits include the American Alligator Exhibit, the Atlantic Shores Exhibit, and the Jellyfish Exhibit.

The aquarium offers several educational programs such as Touch Tank/Aquarium History, Sea Turtles Conservation Tour, and Shark and Stingray Interactive Feedings. The aquarium offers regularly scheduled tours as well as group tours.

9. Conch Tour Train

See the best on the train tour that has been entertaining visitors to the island city of Key West, Florida since 1958. The Conch Train is one of Florida's most popular attractions. The tour of Key West will give you a conch's eye view of all the wonderful Key West attractions

10. Shipwreck Treasure Museum

At the Key West Shipwreck Museum you will step back into time as you discover Key West’s unique maritime heritage and how it became the richest city in the United States. The museum combines actors, films and the actual artifacts from the 1985 rediscovery of the wrecked vessel Isaac Allerton, which sank in 1856 on the treacherous Florida Keys reef.

Join master wrecker Asa Tift and his wrecking crew as he tells you the story of how this unusual industry provided for the livelihoods of the early pioneers of Key West. You will also be invited to climb the 20 meter (65 foot) lookout tower.

11. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

Located on Truman Annex near the southern tip of Key West, Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park is a popular park and beach that offers many activities. Also known as Fort Taylor or Fort Zach to the locals, it is a Florida State Park that is listed as a U.S. National Historic Landmark because of its Civil War-era fort. There are several special events that take place in the park, including Civil War reenactments that last for a week. Considered to be one of the best beaches in Key West, the park also offers beach equipment like chairs and water sports equipment such as snorkel gear and floats. There are several places to eat throughout the park.

12. Historic Seaport at Key West Bight

The Key West Historic Seaport and Harbor Walk is a popular tourist destination located on Key West Bight Marina. It is home to many activities, attractions, restaurants, and shops. The historic seaport, also known as the Inner Harbor or as Key West Bight, has been the thriving center of Key West’s cultural and economic life for nearly 200 years. Fishing boats and coastal shipping boats used the seaport until the early 1990s.

Today, visitors can walk along Harbor Walk where there are several waterfront restaurants serving fresh seafood. They can also enjoy dolphin watching, snorkeling, and scuba diving trips on catamarans, sailboats, and yachts. Jet skiing, kayaking, and parasailing are also quite popular.

Duval street
Ernest Hemmingway Home & Museum
Mallory Square
Dry Tortugas National Park
Harry S Truman Little White House
Key West's Oldest House
Key West Aquarium
Shipwreck Treasure Museum
Fort Zachary Talor Historic State Park
Key West's historic sea port
Counch Tour Train
Conch Shell

24 Degrees North

(USD 220 per room / night)


(Duval Street)

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