Fort Lauderdale vs. Miami: Where Should You Go for Your Next Trip?

Picking a destination is one of the most important steps when planning a trip. Your destination influences the cost of your trip, the type of clothes you need to bring, and the itinerary you’re going to make. How can you plan for any of these things if you don’t know which destination you are going to visit?

Fort Lauderdale and Miami are probably two of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Both cities have a lot to offer, perfect for individuals who want to try different activities during their vacation. Families, kids, couples, and solo travelers will never run out of options when they travel to Fort Lauderdale or Miami!

Still can’t decide which city in South Florida to visit first, this article will surely help. Here, I’ve compiled all the information you need to know about Fort Lauderdale and Miami to help you choose one!

Fort Lauderdale vs. Miami: The Best Beaches

Whenever you think of Miami beaches, what comes to mind? You’ll likely picture a white-sand beach filled with spring breakers, colorful parties, and a nightlight overflowing with locals and tourists. And you’re right. A typical Miami beach has all of these things, and more.

Miami beaches are a haven for partygoers. Here, locals and tourists can party, surf, swim, and have fun all night long on one of the city’s many stunning beaches. If you want to meet new friends while traveling, visiting Miami Beach should be on top of your itinerary. Expect that the beaches in this city are more crowded, but the recreational activities are definitely lively and fun, especially in places like Miami Beach.

Another popular beach in Miami is South Beach. Locals usually call this place “SoBe,” and the area is known for its Art Deco architecture and nightlife. Trailers can be parked around the beach, so people can spend time at the beach with a little more privacy. This is one of the reasons why South Beach is the perfect destination for spouses, couples, and partygoers.

But this doesn’t mean that the beaches in Fort Lauderdale offer less. In fact, Fort Lauderdale’s beaches are excellent options for family getaways because lifeguards are visible almost everywhere. The beaches in Fort Lauderdale also have a laid-back vibe and have flags indicating the water’s suitability for swimming. This is the reason why you’ll encounter countless families on the beaches of Fort Lauderdale than in Miami Beach.

Fort Lauderdale beaches aren’t just a place for tanning; it’s also a perfect spot for individuals who want to enjoy diving, swimming, surfing, beach volleyball, and sports fishing. If you’re looking for a more exciting activity, visit the Lauderdale-By-The Sea and take on an underwater sightseeing adventure of the sunken SS Copenhagen, a Brtish Cargo steamer that sunk in Fort Lauderdale in the 1900s.

The Fort Lauderdale Beach is a must-visit because it’s a wonderful spot to relax and watch as boats pass. It’s one of the best places to swim in South Florida due to its exceptional water quality, shy marine life inhabiting the nearby coral reefs, and calm sea conditions.

The Verdict

Both Fort Lauderdale and Miami offer breathtaking and fun beaches. But if you’re looking for one with fewer crowds and allows you to relax with your family and kids, you should visit Fort Lauderdale. But if you want more excitement and to expand your social circle on your next vacation, I would recommend Miami.

Fort Lauderdale vs. Miami: The Best Eats

Your South Florida getaway will never be complete without trying out some of the city’s best restaurants. Aside from satisfying your taste buds, trying our local cuisine is one of the best ways to know more about your destination and meet the locals.

Fortunately, Fort Lauderdale and Miami house countless restaurants serving American, Cuban, Chinese, Haitian, Italian, and even Mexican dishes. The versatility of restaurants found in these two cities is the reason why they’re excellent travel destinations for foodies!

One of the most popular restaurants you can find in Fort Lauderdale is the Sea Watch on the Ocean. As the name suggests, this restaurant serves the best seafood dishes, namely smoked salmon tartine, crispy calamari, baked oysters, and char-grilled swordfish. The restaurant has also become a tourist favorite for more than 40 years because of its extensive selection of wines. Book a reservation in this restaurant and enjoy your favorite seafood dishes as you enjoy the beach view.

Miami has more restaurants than Fort Lauderdale, which means you can always find something that’ll satisfy your palate – no matter how unique it is.

If you want to enjoy traditional Greek dishes when in Miami, head to the Mandolin Aegean Bistro first. It’s a modern-styled outdoor eatery located in Buena Vista. Some of its best-sellers are beef souvlaki, stuffed tomato and pepper, chicken kebab, and lamp chops over orzo pilaf. They also different salads, sandwiches, and wines.

But if you’re looking for cultural food selections, I highly recommend Mamey Miami. It’s located in Coral Gables and offers a menu that combines Asian, Caribbean, and French Polynesia dishes. When dining here, don’t forget to order their jerk spiced pork belly, Mishima ranch churrasco, and mojo roasted chicken. They also have Happy Hour every 3 PM to 6 PM, so plan your trip accordingly.

The Verdict

The food scene in Fort Lauderdale and Miami never disappoints. You can basically find any dish in both of these cities. But because Miami offers a wider variety of restaurants than Fort Lauderdale, Miami wins this category.

Fort Lauderdale vs. Miami: The Best Activities To Do

Visiting a destination without knowing what activities are available will make your trip boring and a waste of money. How are you going to enjoy South Florida if you don’t have any idea what Fort Lauderdale and Miami have to offer? Do you think you can enjoy your trip if this is the case?

Fort Lauderdale has a laid-back atmosphere and offers more aesthetically pleasing sceneries than Miami. Here, you’ll find more tropical landscapes overflowing with palm trees and other natural wonders. If you want to explore Fort Lauderdale more, I recommend you visit The Mockingbird Trail. This walking art trail highlights some of the city’s most iconic and historic urban artwork that blends seamlessly with the natural environment. The spot also has bike lanes, so you can rent a bike and explore the area as you pedal along.

Fort Lauderdale also boasts of several museums. Visit the Antique Car Museum located in downtown Fort Lauderdale to see century-old vehicles dating back from the early 20th century. All of the vehicles on display are in full working order. The museum also features a gallery dedicated to Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Speaking of museums in Fort Lauderdale, the NSU Art Museum is also a must-visit. It showcases more than 7,000 art pieces from multicultural artists from Latin America, Cuba, and Africa. The museum also has an academy, bookstore, and cafe. If your upcoming visit to Fort Lauderdale is a family trip, I suggest checking the museum’s website, as they hold events for kids and the entire family!

If you want to enjoy the city’s scenery in a unique way, take a water taxi. Water taxis provide private or public transportation around Fort Lauderdale. There are plenty of water taxis in the city, some making multiple stops, like an actual bus, or to on-demand locations, like what a taxi would normally do. Most private water taxi rides usually last around three hours.

And while you might think that Fort Lauderdale already offers many activities for travelers, Miami has more. This city is home to countless museums, such as the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), the Museum of Art and Design (MOAD) at Miami Dade College, and the Coral Gables Museum. But Miami isn’t just about art galleries and museums – the city also offers many other attractions.

If you’re going on a vacation with your kids or personally enjoy watching animals up close, visit the Zoo Miami. It features more than 3,000 wild animals and around 40 endangered species. The museum also has different attractions for kids and kids at heart, such as animal feeding (where you can feed parrots and giraffes), rides, and character meet and greets.

Another great attraction for animal lovers in Miami is Jungle Island. Formerly known as Parrot Jungle, Jungle Island is an eco-adventure park located on Watson Island, an 11-minute car ride from the Miami International Airport. This local attraction features a wildlife habitat, bird sanctuary, and botanical garden.

If shopping is always part of your itinerary, visit the Bayside Marketplace in Miami, as it’s one of the largest outdoor malls in the city. It’s home to more than 150 specialty shops, cafes, and restaurants. You can also catch some local performers and live entertainers in the areas, which means that you can shop and be entertained simultaneously! You can find different boutiques and shops here that carry local and international brands.

The Verdict

There isn’t a clear winner for this category; it depends on what you’re planning to do on your next trip. If you want to expose yourself to historical and cultural attractions, Fort Lauderdale is the best place to be. But if you’re looking for more diversity as you want to try out as many activities as you can, then visit Miami.

Fort Lauderdale Vs. Miami: The Cheaper Option

Budget is essential when traveling. Yes, you’ll be spending money when you travel but spending all of your savings just to have one can cause plenty of problems. You don’t want to be in debt just because you want to travel, right?

Both Fort Lauderdale and Miami are expensive cities. You’ll spend a few hundred dollars every day when you travel to any of these cities, especially if you stay in five-star accommodation and frequently dine at fancy restaurants. However, if you plan to rent an apartment for a week or month, Fort Lauderdale is slightly cheaper than Miami.

The average cost per person per day in Fort Lauderdale is $146, while it’s $165 in Miami. The costs cover accommodation (assuming double occupancy), entertainment, food, and transportation. Out of all the cities in South Florida, Fort Lauderdale also offers the cheapest car rental prices – you can rent a car for an entire day for $10!

The Verdict

With all the reasons being laid out, it’s clear to see that Fort Lauderdale is a cheaper option than Miami. So if you have a limited budget for your next trip, visiting Fort Lauderdale might be a better option.

Fort Lauderdale Vs. Miami: The Best Hotels

After creating an itinerary for your trip, you’ll now have to decide where to stay. Your accommodation can significantly affect your trip because it influences your comfort and security. It’ll be challenging to fully enjoy your trip if you end up sleeping in a hotel that doesn’t offer comfortable beds or one without any security features.

Fort Lauderdale and Miami have different accommodations: from five-star hotels to simpler ins with a laid-back vibe. These cities also offer plenty of accommodation, regardless if you’re traveling alone, with your significant other, friends, or the entire family.

If you want to enjoy the beach 24/7 when you’re in Fort Lauderdale, stay at the Royal Blues Hotel. It’s an art-driven hotel located in front of the ocean. Each room in this hotel has built-in modern amenities, such as digital blackout curtains, digital temperature-controlled showers, and Japanese-style bidets.

For a more affordable option, consider staying at the HomeTowne Studios by Red Roof Fort Lauderdale. This accommodation has all the essentials of a home, meaning you can experience the comforts of your own home when you stay here. All of its modern rooms have kitchenettes with a full-sized refrigerator, stovetop, microwave, and kitchen table and chairs. With these features, you can cook meals from scratch, resulting in more savings during your trip!

Since it’s a bigger city, expect Miami to offer more accommodation. There’s Faena Hotel Miami Beach, known for its Alice in Wonderland vibe. It’s a beach resort situated on 100,000 square feet of land with an Argentinean chef preparing delectable foods and drinks. Other popular beach resorts in Miami are The Ritz-Carlton, Fisher Island Club, and The Betsy.

If you’re traveling to Miami with a limited budget, stay at the citizenM Miami Brickell Hotel. This is one of the top-rated, most affordable hotels in Miami that’s covered in different pieces and types of art. All of its rooms have a superfast Wi-Fi connection, mood lights, blackout blinds, and XL king-sized beds. The hotel also offers a designer living room and a rooftop pool to all of its guests.

The Verdict

The winner in this category depends on the budget you plan on spending during your trip. If you have a limited budget, it’s best if you book accommodation in Fort Lauderdale, as the hotels here are generally cheaper than in Miami. But if you want to splurge on your next trip, go ahead and place a reservation in one of Miami’s premiere hotels or beach resorts.

Choose Carefully

Deciding between Fort Lauderdale and Miami depends on several factors, namely your budget and the activities you want to do. So, consider these factors and use them to make a decision. But regardless of which city you’re going to pick, I can assure you – you’ll surely have a good time in Fort Lauderdale or Miami!

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