Fort Lauderdale is a charming resort in the heart of Florida. Travelers often call it the “American Venice” due to the multiple water channels that run through the city. Also, it boasts green parks, wide beaches, and entertainment for every taste. However, the cultural and historical sights of the city deserve special attention.
Fort Lauderdale began its journey in early 1838 when the military built a fortification on the banks of the New River. A few months later the fort was destroyed and the area was uninhabited for a long time. Then, in 1911, the settlement itself was officially founded.
For more than 100 years, the city has experienced many ups and downs. As a result, numerous events from its history are forever imprinted in local attractions. So, want to take a journey through Fort Lauderdale’s rich past? Then pay attention to the following attractions on your next trip to the city!
As the main city’s east-west thoroughfare, Las Olas Boulevard stretches for 2.5 miles and takes you back to the origins of the city. It appeared in 1917 and at first looked like a dirt road connecting the upper and lower parts of the settlement. However, over the years, Las Olas Boulevard has evolved into a modern and shop-filled street where you will enjoy strolling.
If traveling with your family, we recommend that you rent a 12 seater car to travel freely around the area. You can pick up a 12 passenger van rental in Fort Lauderdale and thus guarantee a safe ride for the crowd. Moreover, Las Olas Boulevard offers a multitude of street and private parking spaces to leave your car rental.
The street itself looks fantastic because of the island with palm trees growing in a row. Also, an indispensable attribute of this area is the hundreds of boutiques and stores dotted along the roadway. And if you want to grab a bite to eat, head to the local atmospheric restaurants and cafes favored by travelers from all over the world.
By the way, the boulevard is an excellent intermediate point for visiting the Museum of Science and the Riverwalk located nearby. Therefore, you can diversify your shopping and dining tour with a great sightseeing experience.
Address: Las Olas Blvd
Working hours: 24/7
Exploring the local historical societies is an excellent way to look into a city’s past, and Bonnet House Museum & Gardens gives you that opportunity. The history of the house began in 1919 when a wealthy resident gave a 45-acre piece of land to his daughter Helen as a wedding gift. Two years later, she and her husband began construction, but in 1925 it was halted due to Helene’s death. Later, the house was completed by a new family who happily lived there until 1984. After that, the owners gave it to the Trust for Historic Preservation as a donation.
Now, Bonnet House is a museum with a garden that reveals the life of the 80s. We recommend that you visit this place to admire the elegance of its interior. Past lodgers were artists, and this has left a mark on the decoration of the walls, ceilings, furniture, and other parts of the building. Also, the garden around the house offers cozy shady alleys and benches where you can relax surrounded by greenery.
Address: 900 N Birch Rd
Working hours: Tuesday-Friday 11am-3pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am-4pm, Monday is closed
Admission: adults $25/person, kids 6-18 $8/person, kids under 6 free of charge
The history of the park began in the 19th century when the resident bought a piece of the barrier island. The Tequesta Indians were its first visitors, and then in 1839, the soldiers of the Second Seminole War lived there. By the way, the park witnessed the construction of a fort, which 63 years later gave the name to a new city called Fort Lauderdale.
At the beginning of its existence, the park had a sandy soil structure unsuitable for growing plants. However, it’s now full of vegetation, including palm trees, bushes, and green grassy areas. In addition, you will find a lake in the middle, offering extensive kayaking and boating opportunities.
Hugh Taylor Birch Park offers a refined open-air setting on the coast. Tourists visit it for fresh air, picnics, and leisurely walks along its scenic trails. The most famous of them is the Coastal Hammock Trail, which winds its way through the rainforest and leads to a beautiful pier. Also, you’ll be happy to explore its rich ecosystem with turtles, opossums, gray squirrels, and marsh rabbits.
One more popular local activity is bird watching. The park is home to over 180 species of wading birds, including ducks, and hawks. In general, a visit to this place gives you the opportunity to touch the history of the formation of the city and relax in the midst of nature. Many travelers consider it a hidden gem, and it really is.
Address: 3109 E Sunrise Blvd
Working hours: Monday-Sunday 8am-6.30pm
Admission: $6/car plus $4/person in a car, $1/pedestrian
Located in the southwestern part of the city, this historic downtown district consists of over 650 one-story buildings with Mission, Bungalow, and Mediterranean Revival details. It began to take shape at the beginning of the 20th century, and the finishing touches were put on in the 1950s.
The main highlights of this area are the West Side Fire Station, the Swing Bridge, and the West Side School, which captivate with their iconic appearance. Simple houses with elements of those years are also worth exploring. While walking through the Sailboat Bend Historic District, you may even feel like you are in the past. In general, this area is a prime example of what the first houses and communities in the city looked like.
Address: Sailboat Bend
Working hours: 24/7
Admission: free of charge
Want to see the very first residential building in Fort Lauderdale? Head to the Stranahan Historic Museum located a 10-minute walk from Las Olas Boulevard. It appeared on that site in 1901 as a community hall and trading post. Then, it was converted into an apartment building, where Frank Stranahan lived with his wife.
After the last of the spouses died in 1971, the house was given to the church, which then sold it to the Historical Society. From 1980 to 1985, it underwent renovation and was presented to the public in its current form.
Today, you can visit it as part of a guided tour to walk through the cozy rooms and admire the life of the old. During public holidays, Stranahan House is decorated in the style of Victorian Christmas and looks even more impressive.
Address: 335 SE 6th Ave
Working hours: depending on the tour
Admission: adults $12/person, students $7/person
So, are you ready to dive into the past of Fort Lauderdale? Then start planning your trip and take advantage of our informative guide. If desired, you will also find many other historical sites to visit in the area!