Ft. Lauderdale, Florida is known for it’s beautiful beaches, and beach-side and water activities. While a day at the beach is guaranteed to please the whole family, there is so much more you can do in the South Florida city – no matter who you are traveling with.
We go to Ft Lauderdale roughly once a year, and as much as I appreciate the beach, I also like to mix it up with a sprinkle of culture—or at least adventure. This visit we put a little more thought into how we would spend time when we weren’t beachside. We managed to find some fun things to do in Ft. Lauderdale with kids (and without).
Our planning paid off: We got to explore an incredible interactive artscape, a renaissance fair complete with knights and damsels and wee vagabonds. As an added bonus, we got to have a mini spa day minus the kids (thanks Grammy Sue).
It was so nice to have someone else taking care of us all, and being nurtured as parents, that we got to thinking of it as a grandmother moon. A grandmother moon is similar to a babymoon—a trip parents take to pamper themselves before the impending birth of their child. As Grandma lavished her love on both her kids and grand kids, we parents got to make a quick escape here and there: a night out, a chance to sleep-in, an afternoon at the spa.
Such humble luxuries might seem like small change, but all parents know that sleeping in is not part of the job description of parenthood—and thus incredibly precious. So if you can, try to glean some couple time or “me” time on your next holiday, even if it means tag teaming with your partner or being resourceful about childcare.
Ready for some respite? There are plenty of free things to do in Ft. Lauderdale and there are many others worth paying for. Here are two wonderful things to do with kids, plus one special treat for you should the chance arise.
Young at Art Museum in Ft. Lauderdale
The brainchild of artist and Young At Art Museum Executive Director Mindy Shrago, Young At Art started in 1986 as a museum without walls.
It has a fascinating history. It got its first location in a donated, 3,200 square-foot storefront in 1989. At a time when school arts programs were being scaled back, Shrago’s goal was to make a difference in art education for children and their families in South Florida.
The museum’s exhibitions and programs quickly outgrew the space and Young At Art moved to a new expanded location in Davie in 1998 and then most recently settled into its new 55,000-square-foot, Gold LEED-certified Young At Art Museum and Broward County Library in 2012.
The museum features tons of activities designed to speak to everyone’s inner child. We loved the room covered in pots and pans, buckets and colanders meant to be drummed upon, the art project that encouraged designing your own currency, and the abundance of wacky, interactive exhibits.
Casualness is the museum’s M.O., with kids given pretty much free reign to conquer and create.
Florida Renaissance Festival
If you’ve never been to a renaissance faire, don your armor or corset and get thee some tickets. With entertainment geared for all ages, and plenty of old-fashioned amusement for the children, there’s something for everyone.
From glass harps to archery to Irish dancers to flea circuses, a day at the Florida Renaissance Festival is a day to remember. Pack plenty of water, anoint your near and dear with sunscreen, and get your joust on. Huzzah! Revelry awaits.
Ft. Lauderdale Without Kids
The stylish, modern Atlantic Hotel exudes a hedonistic buzz. From the breathtaking views of its pool terrace to its built-for-indulgence spa, my husband and I immediately acclimated ourselves to our lush environs.
Our couples massage was a great way to be together but apart, each lost in our private world of tender release. The couple’s massage gave us the boon of double happiness, as we got to not only enjoy our own treatment but one another’s—especially the involuntary groans of delight—by proxy.
Relaxing in the hot tub afterwards, letting our eyes wander in the waves and along the ribbon of golden sand that hemmed the ocean, with no needs to tend but our own, made for an afternoon marked by bliss.
Don’t feel guilty about leaving the kids either—sometimes the life you pamper needs to be your own.
Elizabeth Marglin, mother of Jordan and Oriah, is a professional writer who has been on a spiritual path since 1990. She lived in India studying meditation, yoga, and spirituality for eight years, steeping herself in the twin practices of awareness and devotion. Ambivalent about motherhood until the ripe age of thirty-five, it turns out that being a mother has become her most heart-opening practice. For the last decade, Elizabeth has been writing about natural health, travel, and conscious parenting for national magazines. She is the coauthor of The Mother’s Wisdom Deck (Sterling), a full-color guidebook plus a deck of 52 cards illuminating universal symbols of empowered motherhood. Elizabeth offers writing workshops devoted to expressing the rich inner life of motherhood.