Fort Lauderdale vs Miami

Vacation in Fort Lauderdale vs Miami

Both Fort Lauderdale and Miami offer beautiful beaches, warm weather, and plenty of attractions, but there are some key differences to consider.

Fort Lauderdale is known for its laid-back vibe and family-friendly atmosphere. The city is home to over 23 miles of beaches, making it a popular destination for water sports and sunbathing. In addition to the beach, Fort Lauderdale is also known for its shopping, dining, and cultural attractions. The city boasts a thriving arts scene, with numerous galleries and museums to explore. If you’re looking for a more relaxed vacation with plenty of opportunities to unwind, Fort Lauderdale might be the perfect choice for you.

On the other hand, Miami is a bustling city with a vibrant nightlife and a diverse population. The city is famous for its Art Deco architecture, which can be seen in the colorful buildings along South Beach. Miami is also a foodie’s paradise, with a wide range of cuisines to choose from. If you’re looking for excitement and adventure, Miami might be the better choice for you. The city is home to numerous nightclubs, bars, and music venues, as well as outdoor activities like kayaking, paddleboarding, and jet skiing.

Which One Is Better for Families

When it comes to choosing between Fort Lauderdale and Miami for a family vacation, both destinations have their pros and cons. Fort Lauderdale is often considered the more family-friendly option, with its quieter beaches and laid-back atmosphere. On the other hand, Miami Beach is known for its vibrant nightlife and party scene, which may be less suitable for families with young children.

Families looking for outdoor activities will find plenty to do in both Fort Lauderdale and Miami. In Fort Lauderdale, you can visit Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, which offers hiking trails, picnic areas, and water sports. Miami has Zoo Miami, which is one of the largest and oldest zoos in the country, as well as several other parks and nature preserves.

Fort Lauderdale has the Museum of Discovery and Science, which features interactive exhibits on science and technology, as well as the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Miami has the Miami Children’s Museum, which is a great option for younger children, as well as the Perez Art Museum Miami, which features contemporary art from around the world.

Which One Has More Things to Do

Miami is known for its exciting events, entertainment, and beaches, including the famous South Beach, Miami Beach, Haulover Beach, and Bal Harbour Beach. Fort Lauderdale also has its fair share of beautiful beaches, such as Hollywood Beach and Las Olas Beach, but it’s also known for its culture and arts scene, with museums and galleries like the NSU Art Museum and plenty of Art Deco architecture to explore.

Miami’s Top Attractions:

  1. South Beach and Ocean Drive:
    • Relax on the famous South Beach, known for its white sand and vibrant atmosphere. Take a stroll along Ocean Drive, lined with iconic pastel-colored Art Deco buildings, trendy cafes, and restaurants.
  2. Art Deco Historic District:
    • Explore the Art Deco Historic District in Miami Beach, characterized by its unique architecture. Take a guided walking tour to learn about the history and design of these iconic buildings.
  3. Wynwood Walls:
    • Visit the Wynwood Arts District, known for its colorful street art and murals. The Wynwood Walls showcase an ever-changing display of urban art by local and international artists.
  4. Little Havana:
    • Immerse yourself in the Cuban culture of Little Havana. Enjoy live music, dance, and authentic Cuban cuisine. Don’t miss a visit to Domino Park, where locals play dominoes.
  5. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens:
    • Explore the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a historic villa with beautiful gardens inspired by European estates. The mansion features art and furnishings from the Italian Renaissance.
  6. Miami Seaquarium:
    • Visit the Miami Seaquarium, a popular marine park that showcases marine life, including dolphins, sea lions, and colorful tropical fish. Attend entertaining shows and exhibits.
  7. Jungle Island:
    • Discover Jungle Island, an interactive zoological park featuring exotic animals, bird shows, and the opportunity to interact with animals like lemurs and kangaroos.
  8. Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM):
    • Explore contemporary and modern art at PAMM, located in Museum Park. The museum features works by international and local artists and offers stunning views of Biscayne Bay.
  9. Everglades National Park:
    • Take a day trip to Everglades National Park, just a short drive from Miami. Experience a unique ecosystem with airboat tours, wildlife viewing, and the chance to see alligators in their natural habitat.
  10. Miami Design District:
    • Shop and dine in the Miami Design District, known for its high-end fashion boutiques, art galleries, and trendy restaurants. The area combines art, design, and luxury shopping experiences.

Fort Lauderdale Top Attractions:

  1. Fort Lauderdale Beach:
    • Relax on the sandy shores of Fort Lauderdale Beach, known for its pristine white sand, clear blue waters, and vibrant beachfront atmosphere.
  2. Las Olas Boulevard:
    • Stroll along Las Olas Boulevard, a trendy street lined with shops, boutiques, art galleries, and a variety of dining options.
  3. Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show:
    • If visiting in late October or early November, don’t miss the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, one of the largest boat shows in the world.
  4. Bonnet House Museum and Gardens:
    • Explore the historic Bonnet House, a 1920s estate with lush gardens, art collections, and a glimpse into Fort Lauderdale’s past.
  5. Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale:
    • Walk along Riverwalk, a scenic park along the New River, featuring landscaped pathways, public art installations, and views of the city’s skyline.
  6. Hugh Taylor Birch State Park:
    • Enjoy outdoor activities at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, offering hiking trails, picnic areas, and opportunities for canoeing and wildlife viewing.
  7. Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop:
    • Visit the Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop, one of the largest indoor/outdoor flea markets in the world, offering shopping, a drive-in theater, and entertainment.
  8. Museum of Discovery and Science:
    • Explore the Museum of Discovery and Science, a family-friendly attraction with interactive exhibits, an IMAX theater, and a variety of educational programs.
  9. Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum:
    • Car enthusiasts can visit the Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum, featuring a collection of Packard automobiles from the early to mid-20th century.
  10. Stranahan House Museum:
    • Discover the Stranahan House Museum, the oldest surviving structure in Fort Lauderdale, offering guided tours that provide insight into the city’s history.

Which Has Better Beaches?

Miami is known for its iconic South Beach, which is always bustling with activity. The beach is lined with palm trees and the water is crystal clear. It’s a great spot for people watching and soaking up the sun. However, it can get quite crowded and finding a spot to lay your towel can be a challenge.

On the other hand, Fort Lauderdale has a more relaxed vibe. The beaches are wider and less crowded, making it a great spot for families and those looking for a quieter experience. Las Olas Beach is a popular spot, with soft white sand and plenty of space to spread out. If you’re looking for a more secluded beach experience, head to Hollywood Beach. It’s a bit further from the city but offers a more peaceful atmosphere.

If you’re into water sports, both Miami and Fort Lauderdale have plenty to offer. Haulover Beach in Miami is known for its great surfing and kiteboarding conditions, while Fort Lauderdale’s beaches are great for paddleboarding and kayaking.

Cultural and Arts Scene

Miami is known for its vibrant art deco architecture, which can be seen in neighborhoods like South Beach. Fort Lauderdale, on the other hand, has a more laid-back vibe and a burgeoning arts district.

In Miami, the Perez Art Museum Miami and the Museum of Contemporary Art are two must-visit destinations for art lovers. In Fort Lauderdale, the NSU Art Museum is a great place to explore contemporary art and design.

If you’re looking for galleries, Miami’s Wynwood Arts District is a must-visit destination. This neighborhood is home to over 70 galleries and museums, as well as a number of street art murals. In Fort Lauderdale, the FATVillage Arts District is a great place to explore local art and culture.

For those interested in the performing arts scene, in Miami, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts is a world-class venue that hosts everything from Broadway shows to ballet performances. In Fort Lauderdale, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts is a popular destination for theater-goers.


Miami is known for its flashy nightclubs and celebrity sightings, while Fort Lauderdale offers a more laid-back atmosphere with a variety of bars and live music venues.

In Miami, you will find some of the world’s most famous nightclubs, like LIV and Story, where you can dance the night away to the beats of world-renowned DJs. The city also has a thriving music scene, with live music venues like the Fillmore Miami Beach and the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts hosting concerts and shows throughout the year.

Fort Lauderdale, on the other hand, offers a more relaxed nightlife experience. The city’s Las Olas Boulevard is home to a variety of bars and restaurants, many of which offer live music and entertainment. If you’re looking for a night out on the town, head to the Himmarshee Village area, where you’ll find a mix of bars and nightclubs.

Outdoor and Nature Activities

Nature Trails

If you’re looking to explore the natural beauty of Southern Florida, there are plenty of nature trails to choose from. One of the most popular is the Anne Kolb Nature Center in Hollywood, which features a boardwalk trail through mangroves, a fishing pier, and an observation tower. The Hugh Taylor Birch State Park in Fort Lauderdale is another great option, with over 200 acres of natural beauty and a variety of trails to choose from.

Everglades National Park

If you’re looking for a truly unique outdoor experience, head to Everglades National Park. Just a short drive from both Fort Lauderdale and Miami, the park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including alligators, panthers, and manatees. You can explore the park by foot, bike, or even airboat.

Kayaking and Fishing

For those who love to be on the water, both Fort Lauderdale and Miami offer plenty of opportunities for kayaking and fishing. You can rent a kayak and explore the canals and waterways of Fort Lauderdale, or head out on a deep-sea fishing charter from Miami. Both cities are also home to plenty of fishing piers and marinas.


Fort Lauderdale is known as the “Venice of America” for its extensive network of canals and waterways, which are home to a variety of shipwrecks and artificial reefs. Miami is home to the world-famous Neptune Memorial Reef, an underwater memorial and artificial reef that is home to a variety of marine life.

Dining and Culinary Scene

Fort Lauderdale is known for its seafood and waterfront dining. Some of the popular seafood restaurants in the area include Blue Moon Fish Co., Coconuts, and Kelly’s Landing. These restaurants offer a variety of fresh seafood dishes, from lobster and crab to shrimp and fish.

Miami, on the other hand, is known for its diverse culinary scene. You can find everything from Cuban and Latin American cuisine to Italian and Asian fusion. Some of the popular restaurants in the area include Joe’s Stone Crab, Versailles, and Yardbird Southern Table & Bar. These restaurants offer a unique dining experience, with a mix of traditional and modern cuisine.

If you’re looking for a fine dining experience, both Fort Lauderdale and Miami have plenty of options. In Fort Lauderdale, you can visit Casa D’Angelo, a classic Italian restaurant, or Valentino Cucina Italiana, which offers a modern twist on Italian cuisine. In Miami, you can visit Zuma, a Japanese restaurant known for its sushi and robata grill, or The Bazaar by Jose Andres, which offers a mix of Spanish and Latin American cuisine.

Looking for Dog Friendly Location?

Fort Lauderdale has several dog parks where you can take your furry friend for a run or a game of fetch. For example, the Snyder Park Dog Park is a popular spot for dog owners, with separate areas for small and large dogs, as well as plenty of shade and water fountains. Another great option is the Happy Tails Dog Park, which is located in the Holiday Park and features a large grassy area, water fountains, and benches for owners.

Miami also has a few dog parks, such as the Amelia Earhart Park, which has a large off-leash area, agility equipment, and a lake for dogs to swim in. However, there are fewer dog parks in Miami compared to Fort Lauderdale.


In Fort Lauderdale, Las Olas Boulevard is a popular destination for shopping. The street is lined with boutiques, galleries, and specialty stores, offering a unique shopping experience. You can find everything from clothing and jewelry to home decor and art.

Miami, on the other hand, is known for its high-end shopping options. Bayside Marketplace is a popular outdoor shopping mall that offers a mix of local and international brands. You can find everything from designer clothing to electronics and souvenirs. The mall also has a variety of restaurants and bars, making it a great place to spend the day.

If you’re looking for a more upscale shopping experience, head to the Design District in Miami. This neighborhood is home to luxury brands like Gucci, Prada, and Louis Vuitton, as well as art galleries and furniture showrooms.

Which One Is Cheaper

One of the biggest expenses during a vacation is accommodation. If you’re looking for cheaper options, Fort Lauderdale has a range of hotels and resorts that are more affordable than those in Miami. You can find several budget-friendly hotels in Fort Lauderdale that offer comfortable accommodation at reasonable prices. For example, the Red Carpet Inn Airport/Cruiseport is a budget hotel that offers clean and comfortable rooms at an affordable price.

Another way to save money during your vacation is to choose cheaper dining options. Fort Lauderdale has a range of restaurants and cafes that offer affordable meals. You can find many local eateries that offer delicious food at reasonable prices. In comparison, Miami has a reputation for being more expensive when it comes to dining out.

If you’re looking for a more luxurious vacation, Miami has a range of high-end hotels and resorts that offer four or five-star accommodation. However, keep in mind that these hotels can be quite expensive, with prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars per night. In comparison, Fort Lauderdale has fewer high-end hotels, but you can still find some luxury resorts that offer top-notch amenities and services.

Overall, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly vacation, Fort Lauderdale is a great choice. However, if you’re willing to spend more money for a luxurious vacation, Miami has a range of high-end options to choose from.