If you are looking for a fun way to start your cruise vacation early when leaving a port in Fort Lauderdale or Miami, with just 2 days you can have a mini-vacation to start the fun!
Our family (2 adults and 4 kids) went on our second cruise ever. The kids were 8, 7, 4, and 2 at the time of our vacation. We decided to spent two days before the cruise to explore Fort Lauderdale.
Generally, I’m an A-type personality that has to have everything planned out to the minute for our vacations so that there was no second guessing. However, for this small portion of our vacation, I decided to throw all of my pre-planning out the window just to see what it would be like.
If you have younger aged kids under ten, here are some of the things that are family would recommend doing that also has a blend of things adults would want to do as well.
2 Day Sample Itinerary for Fort Lauderdale Before a Cruise
This two day sample Fort Lauderdale family with kids itinerary includes the arrival day. With little kids, trust me when I say I know how hard it is to include a ton of baked planned activities for your kids during the actual travel day.
I’ll go into detail in my recommendations below as well as where to stay.
Day 1 – Travel Day
Lauderdale by the Sea
It’s a small little area “like” a boardwalk (although it doesn’t have a boardwalk) with access to the beach, restaurants, and shopping. There is also a fishing pier that they can walk along with gorgeous views and amazing photo ops.
Check out the beach and the pier while you are at it!
Eat Dinner or Lunch at a Lauderdale by the Sea Restaurant
There are some amazing reviews of Aruba Beach Cafe, Mulligan’s Beach House, Blue Moon Fish Co, and BurgerFI. The ones with the best views of the beach would be Aruba Beach Cafe.
We went to Aruba Beach Cafe on a whim, and it did not disappoint. They had delicious penne pasta that my kids devoured. They had a large array of kids meals, so everyone found something.
Day 2 – Activity Day
Eat Brunch at Lester’s
Lester’s has rave reviews on Google, and again, it did not disappoint with a dizzying array of breakfast options!
Visit and Take Photos of Lighthouse Point
I’ll talk more about this below, but if your kids have never seen a lighthouse, this would be amazing.
You can also eat lunch at Nauti Dawg, a local favorite for casual food.
Check Out Museum Discovery and Science
If you needed a break from the heat or swimming, this is a 85,000 square foot museum that your kids will absolutely love. It’s a bit pricey for a family with multiple kids over two years of age.
Frolic On Another Beach
This post list some of the best beaches in Fort Lauderdale. Since you have already visited Lauderdale by the Sea, you can mark that off your list!
With kids, I would recommend Central Beach because of the water play area for the kids.
Where to Stay in Fort Lauderdale (even if you are sailing out of Port Miami)
If you are planning on sailing out of Port of Miami, consider staying in Fort Lauderdale because there are so many things to do with kids. In addition, the prices for hotels and vacation rental homes are a lot less expensive than those of Miami.
Choose a Vacation Rental Over a Hotel
Renting a vacation home often works out a lot less expensive than staying in a hotel and provides you a lot more privacy. You’ll also choose homes that are in neighborhoods where locals live, so it helps you experience more of the city like a local.
However, hotels often provide a consistent experience for an overnight stay so you can know what to expect.
For our family’s rental, we often have a ton of luck using VRBO. I’ve tried looking at AirBnB and I often get confused and stuck on whether I’m booking a “room” versus an entire “home” for the stay. VRBO generally has a home that is for rent that you aren’t sharing with anyone else. I’ve used it for all of our family’s stays since 2009, when we got married and rented a villa for our family.
Our Vacation Rental Experience and Review in Fort Lauderdale (a House with an Amazing Private Pool)
After searching for only a few minutes on VRBO, I happened to luck out and find a 2 day rental for a vacation home that has a heated swimming pool.
To give you an idea on what it cost for a stay for 2 adults and 4 kids, here’s the breakdown of what it cost for us to stay in February:
- $225 per night
- $100 Cleaning Fee
- $67 Service Fee
- $71.50 Tax
- $200 Refundable Damage Deposit
That works out to be about $230 a night for a house with our own swimming pool!
This is the Fort Lauderdale vacation rental home in the images below.
It was a cottage style beach home that was less than 2 miles from Fort Lauderdale by the Sea. The are seemed like an up-and-coming locals neighborhood, and we loved that there were a ton of stores that we were familiar with close by (like Publix and Walgreens) for quick runs to grab something.
At the time of our writing, the reviews were five stars and there were 27 of them. Often, I’m weary of reading vacation home reviews that have less than 3 positive ones because I have no idea whether the owners may have paid a friend or relative to write the review just to get their properties listed on the site on a positive note.
When we got to the home, we were absolutely floored by how amazing it was. While it was small and nothing to write about for the front yard from curb side appearance, it was beautifully decorated inside.
I mean, look at these beds!