Welcome to Fort Lauderdale, Florida's own hidden gem beach destination full of fun things to do, see, and eat!
Within the city, you will undoubtedly find tons of great beaches, restaurants, and attractions that are well-known to tourists, but you will also find throngs of hidden gem destinations ranging from local seafood shacks to woodsy hideaways. Enjoy the quieter side of things by hanging out at all the lesser known areas and get to know the city in a more intimate manner!
Check out our top 10 choices for secret spots to see in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area!
- Tarks of Dania Beach
Grab some legendary seafood at Tarks of Dania Beach, one of the most delicious hidden gems in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area. This local clam stand has been around since 1966, touting the motto 'Eat clams...live longer. Eat oysters...live longer' and serving up some of the finest and freshest of them both. You can also try gator tail, conch fritters, Mahi sandwiches, and grouper here, or simply choose to stick with the classics like topnecks, littlenecks, and oysters.
- WonderMunch Food and History Tours
On Las Olas Boulevard you will find plenty of hidden gem boutiques and eateries, but our favorite hidden offering here is the WonderMuch Food and History Tour. With this 3 hour tour, your group will get to see city landmarks and sample fares from the 4 best locally owned restaurants. You will get 4 portions of food during your tour, including espresso, 2 main courses, and an ice cream or gelato dessert. Aside from the delicious food, the tour also provides information and history on various museums, waterways, parks, shopping, and landmarks. The tour guides will tell you the 'not so typical story of Fort Lauderdale', a truly fun way to get to know the city.
- NSU Museum of Art
First founded in 1958, the NSU Museum of art is certainly not the most well-known attraction in Fort Lauderdale, but it is one of the coolest! Located on Las Olas Boulevard, just steps away from the riverwalk waterfront promenade, this museum holds an impressive permanent collection of over 6,000 works. The entire collection provides 'exceptional access to the highest level of artistic expression'. The permanent collection features 19th and early 20th century paintings and drawings by realist William Glacoons, the most extensive collection of US works by post-WWII, avant-garde CoBrA artists, and a large holding of Latin American artists.
- Nyberg-Swanson House
The Nyberg-Swanson House is another hidden gem located in Dania Beach, this historic home first built in 1912. This classic colonial revival home is a member of the National Register of Historic Places list and one of the last examples of 20th century rusticated cast block work. It is well known as one of the cities oldest remaining structures. The home is 1.5 stories with 5 bedrooms. Your group will see several different colonial architectural features throughout the place, such as the full veranda with classic columns, the portico, serliana, spindle balusters, and hipped dormers. The house as a whole paints a pretty detailed picture of what life was like here, and all throughout Southern Florida, over the past 100 years.
- Coral Springs Aquatic Complex
This Coral Springs facility is held in such high regards that Olympic divers and swimmers from all over the world come to train at this facility! The Aquatic Complex provides guests with a 50-meter competition pool, 25-meter FINA pool, a diving well, springboards, a teaching pool for children, and a full-service onsite swim shop. Guests can take advantage of each pool plus take part in any classes that may be happening, such as synchronized swimming, water polo, diving, and aerobics. For the younger crowd, we suggest heading over to Cypress Water Park, the local outdoor pool with a unique clover shape that is open on the weekends only. Here you can set up a group pool party and enjoy a large main pool as well as two special water features for children and toddlers.
- Barefoot Mailman Statue
If you are looking for more of an educational stop here in Fort Lauderdale then head to the Barefoot Mailman Statue near the popular Hillsboro Inlet, this local history hotspot providing quite the interesting, and not too well known, story of local Fort Lauderdale heroes, barefoot mailmen! In the past mailmen would walk barefoot 40 miles each day in the sand to deliver their mail, and sometimes the dangers of the sea caused disappearances. The Barefoot Mailman Statue pays homage to one mailman in particular who is believed to have been eaten by an alligator during his daily trek along the beach.
- Car Museum Swap Shop
This attraction is, in our opinion, the most unique in all of Fort Lauderdale. The Car Museum Swap Shop doubles as the largest drive-in theater and largest daily flea market in the world, this huge hidden gem open since 1963. What started as a 1 screen drive-in operation has turned into a 14 screen nightly movie plex that sits on the same ground as a flea market hosting over 2,000 vendors and services, a farmers market, and a fun arcade and rides. There is also a free Ferrari Museum inside in which you can see cars such as the 2016 U88 GTB or 03 Enzo.
- Jai-Alai Clubhouse
This hidden gem is a double-whammy, providing both a hidden gem activity for the area and a hidden gem sport in general! Jai-Alai is sort of like a fast-paced Spanish baseball game, only instead of bats Cesta's are used, which are curved baskets. Your group can watch a thrilling game of Jai-Alai live at The Casino at Dania Beach, which also provides 750 slot machines and 24 card tables, not to mention live entertainment and onsite dining and drinking options. Simply watch the fastest sport in the world or place your bets as you sit alongside the 175-foot long court!
- Secret Woods Nature Center
As if the name didn't say it all, Secret Woods Nature Center is certainly one of the best hidden gems in Fort Lauderdale, this 57-acre wooded haven sitting right along New River. Here you can escape the urban jungle and head into a jungle of mangroves as you stroll along the nature trails and observe local flora and fauna. Pack a picnic lunch, check out the exhibit hall, or visit the onsite butterfly garden during your visit!
- Dania Beach
Dania Beach itself is home to some of the most scenic and least crowded sandy spots in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area, making it our true favorite 'Hidden Gem'! This award-winning 'blue wave beach' host thousands of visitors annually, each interested in either soaking up some sun on the sand or finally getting that 'big catch' over on the fishing pier.
- Tarks of Dania Beach
For more details on all the incredible Fort Lauderdale attractions your group can visit, check out our main Fort Lauderdale page.
Be sure to check out our other amazing Top 10 Hidden Gems blogs as well!