Here, we spotlight some of the best tours visitors can take to explore the waterways of Fort Lauderdale, nicknamed the “Venice of America.”
Fort Lauderdale’s official nickname isn’t the “Venice of America” for nothing. More than 300 miles of canals weave through the greater area, with 165 miles of those running through Fort Lauderdale itself. Here, we highlight the best tours and water taxis to take to bring you to the city’s most notable points of interest.
Las Olas Gondola
This is likely the closest you’ll get to Venice’s gondolas in Fort Lauderdale: On Las Olas Gondola, you and up to five others are in your own cabin in the middle of the craft, while the gondolier navigates from the back. Over the course of the 75-minute ride, enjoy the music, have a drink and a snack (ice, glasses, and plates provided – bring your own drinks and finger foods), and relax, as the best homes and gardens in the city slowly pass by as you observe from the cozy confines of your craft.
Carrie B. Cruises
This is like the water version of Hollywood California’s celebrity star tours. The paddlewheel-propelled Carrie B. takes up to 300 passengers on a 90-minute, fully narrated tour past Fort Lauderdale’s mansions and yachts of the rich and famous. The two-level boat features a bar with food and drink and has a sun deck on top and an air-conditioned main cabin below. Highlights include Millionaires Row, Port Everglades (the world’s busiest cruise ship port), and the Bahia Mar Marina (home to an array of eye-poppingly massive yachts).
Gondolas West quietly shuttles up to six passengers through the canals and waterways in ēCHO, a canopied, 22-foot electric boat, and shows people the nooks of the city that the larger tour boats can’t. There’s also a different focus: While some other tours exist to show off the lives of luxury, Gondolas West spotlights Fort Lauderdale’s beautiful natural scenery.
Fort Lauderdale’s Water Taxi is a flexible, fun way to explore the city. The boats, which have that yellow paint familiar to anyone who’s lived in a big city, have 12 pickup stops dotting Fort Lauderdale’s waterways and three in the nearby city of Hollywood. You’re free to relax on the comfortable cruise for as long as you’d like, or hop off to explore the shops, restaurants, and other scenery that catch your eye.
Bluefoot Pirate Adventures
Families looking for some swashbuckling fun on the water in Fort Lauderdale should set their sights on Bluefoot Pirate Adventures. Starting with a message in a bottle, your soon-to-be pirates will seek a key to a hidden treasure and even face a water battle with “Barnacle Bill” aboard an enemy ship. The 90-minute trip takes passengers – and pirates – up and down the Intracoastal Waterway and concludes with junior pirates receiving a bag of booty for their brave service.