How Safe Is Fort Lauderdale for Travel?

Fort Lauderdale, United States
Safety Index:
64

Smack dab in the center of the Gold Coast of Florida sits Fort Lauderdale.

While it faces the Atlantic Ocean, it’s also filled with 165 miles of inland waterways that weave through the city, similar to Venice, Italy.

In fact, Fort Lauderdale is known as the Venice of America.

(No offense or connection to the actual city of Venice, Florida.)

The city was once known as a ruthless spring break town with legendary parties and a few stories I can’t write in this space without blushing, but there’s now a more scaled-back version of a party town, complete with sophistication, charm, and family-friendly amenities.

You can bet your boat you’ll see some of the finest watercraft here, and it’s home to major boat manufacturers and the world’s largest boat show.

That boat will come in handy because from Fort Lauderdale, you have Miami to the south, Boca Raton, and West Palm Beach to the north, with a dozen oceanfront communities in between.

During the winter, snowbirds (retired people who don’t want to deal with northern U.S. winters) flock to Florida, and Fort Lauderdale is a popular snowbird town.

This is why you might find higher rates in the winter or why you’ll see summer rentals abound.

The sun heats up in the daytime, and the nightlife is even hotter, with clubs, bars, and lounges around every turn.

One of the hallmarks of this city is Los Olas Boulevard, packed with plenty to do day and night.

Whether you want outdoor fun, indoor dancing, elite shopping, or just sand on your toes – Fort Lauderdale has it all.

Warnings & Dangers in Fort Lauderdale

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK : LOW

You might see articles that rank Fort Lauderdale as the "Least Safe City" in America. That information came from a consumer website during the COVID pandemic, and it is not at all reflective of the dangers a tourist will face in 2022 and beyond. The city is actually a low risk as long as you realize it's part of a massive stretch of coastline with millions of people living there and even more tourists visiting every year. You also have to look at the perspective of what "low" means in this region. This isn't comparing Fort Lauderdale to Des Moines, Iowa. It's looking at the risk between all the cities along the Gold Coast. This city is among the safer and more popular places to stay.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW

You have several options here. There's Broward County Transit (BCT) that takes you around the region. LauderGO is a free shuttle to some of the top stops in Fort Lauderdale that aren't served by BCT. Then there's Tri-Rail that runs from West Palm Beach on the north end to Miami's airport on the south end. Water taxis are available, and regular taxis and rideshares will be easy to get. Rental cars are available at the nearby airport and throughout the city too.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW

Four percent of the thefts in Fort Lauderdale are pickpockets as of 2020. It's important to secure your belongings here because thieves generally look for an easy steal and a crime of opportunities. The average loss from a pickpocket was between $500 - $600, so don't carry a lot of cash or valuables with you.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

Hurricane season runs from June through October, but most major storms will hit during or after August. During the summer, thunderstorms occur almost daily, creating a lightning risk. The oddity of Florida is that it can be sunny all day when a severe storm pops up, dissipating for a clear evening. It can also be pouring down rain on one side of the street and dry on the other. Winters are mild, even hot some days, but there can be cold spells. You might even be there for a "Falling Iguana Advisory." (Yes, that's a real thing.) All this adds up to medium risk, but just stay weather aware.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK : LOW

Robberies are actually down 57% since 2014, no easy feat in a tourist corridor. Half of the 180 robberies from 2021 did happen in public, so while it's not a high risk, it's still a possible risk.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM

There's a medium risk because of the large population along this coast and the associated military bases and ports. This also means there's a strong security presence. Homeland Security encourages all visitors to stay vigilant and follow the "See Something, Say Something" motto.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK : LOW

The Fort Lauderdale Police Force has a Scam Hotline, which is (954)828-SCAM (7226). Without going through the list of possible scams, be wary of anyone who is pressuring you to purchase an item, doesn't have a vendor's license for activities like boat tours, and never book a rental home or condo from a third-party website like Craigslist. You should also never have to wire money ahead of a rental vacation. Elderly people are more likely to be targets of scams here, so educate yourself on the most common scams happening right before your visit. The Better Business Bureau always has an updated list.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW

Sexual assaults are rising here, up 60% since 2014 and 47% from 2020 to 2021. Always travel with a buddy or in a tour group, and use extra caution when you're enjoying the party scene. If you are being harassed by someone, go to the bartender and order an Angel Shot. This is a sign that you need help.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK : LOW

No violations were reported in the required Annual Water Quality Report from 2021. All water met or exceeded standards. You can check the latest water quality status before your visit by calling the city's 24-hour hotline at (954)828-8000.

Safest Places to Visit in Fort Lauderdale

The official website for tourism in Fort Lauderdale is VisitLauderdale.com.

The city is sometimes referred to as simply “Lauderdale,” so I wanted to make sure that website isn’t confusing for anyone not familiar with Florida.

Los Olas Oceanside Park (LOOP) is one of the top places to visit in Fort Lauderdale

It’s known as “The Loop” around town.

There’s a shopping, dining, and entertainment district here, but it also includes several greenspaces for fitness, local markets along the beach walk, and many hotels to keep you at the center of the action.

Water taxis are more than just a way to get around – there are boating tours of the waterways in Fort Lauderdale.

There’s also a boat trip to the Hollywood Boardwalk if you want to do a little more exploring without being stuck in South Florida traffic.

(That’s Hollywood, Florida, not Hollywood, California.)

You can get unlimited daily water taxi rides for $35.

The Bonnet House Museum & Gardens is an architectural and natural wonder.

You’ll walk through the outside and inside of a beachfront mansion and learn the history of the families who lived here.

There is a self-guided tour and a guided tour, but if you speak a language other than English, you should choose the guided tour.

Flamingo Gardens is like a nature preserve, zoo, and birding wonderland all wrapped into one great family-friendly location.

Be sure to look for the biggest tree in the state of Florida.

The Wray Home Museum also takes you back to Florida’s lifestyle in the 1930s.

Jungle Queen Riverboats offers different tour options, from a 90-minute sightseeing tour to a trip to a secluded island with a feast and fun variety show performances.

The cruises run during any kind of weather, barring a hurricane.

The Museum of Discovery & Science explores so many mind-blowing exhibits it’s hard to explain them all in this space.

There is a mobile app for the museum so you can see the current exhibits and purchase tickets to the IMAX movie showing during your visit.

You’ll be able to take a mini-tour to see the different areas of the floor plan so you can make the best use of your time there.

There will be rental spots throughout Fort Lauderdale where you can hop on a jet ski, explore in a kayak, or rest weary feet riding a Segway around town.

Fun City Fort Lauderdale and Aloha Watersports are two of the rental locations the tourism bureau recommends.

For a different view of the water, head to Beach Ventures, where you can rent a SEABOB ( an underwater handheld jet ski-type contraption.)

Guided snorkel tours are also available.

Whether you want to ride a pirate ship to entertain the kids or spend some cash reserving a yacht for deep sea fishing or a private party, there are endless possibilities to enjoy the water.

A Florida fishing license is required for anyone who plans to catch fish during the visit.

You can also take surfing lessons right at the beach.

The International Swimming Hall of Fame is also in Fort Lauderdale.

There are different sections of the museum dedicated to different swimmers throughout the years and an exhibit on 100 Years of Women in Swimming.

You can even learn about the 1980 boycott of the Summer Olympics.

Places to Avoid in Fort Lauderdale

The northwest side of the city has the highest crime rates, but it also has the least amount of interest from tourists.

It’s primarily residential and near the interstate.

Starting north of Broward and west of Andrews is where the crime rates start to go up.

There are lower crime rates along the beachfront, but don’t let that give you a false sense of safety.

You still need to guard your belongings and try to avoid being one of those people bringing five bags, a wagon, and a cooler through the area.

It’s hard to keep track of everything.

If you do want to stock up on all your stuff, find a parking spot early and stake your claim on the beach.

The city also has a large mix of drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

Always use caution, no matter how you choose to get around.

You can’t trust that just because you are safe that means others will be as well

Before crossing a street, make sure the cars see you.

Before you go through a green light, ensure no pedestrians or cyclists are trying to get through.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Fort Lauderdale

  1. You can review crime statistics going back to 2014 on the police department’s website. The data is broken down into individual districts as well. Click on the Community Crime link, and there’s an interactive map where you can search for specific crimes during your selected timeframe or location.
  2. For those enjoying the nightlife but worried about personal safety, check out the Bar Watch section of the police department’s website. You can see a list of bars that use certain coasters allowing you to test your drink for any presence of so-called “date rape drugs.” Should you or someone you know become a victim of sexual assault, please call the hotline at (954)761-RAPE (7273).
  3. If you are enjoying the beach or waterways, only do so on public property or business. Don’t cut through yards or walk through people’s yards. The city cracks down on trespassing, even if residents aren’t home.
  4. The LGBTQ+ community is one of the largest nationwide, and the police department has an officer dedicated to helping people with questions or concerns in this area. The contact information is Officer Jacqueline Sanchez at 954-828-5700 or jsanchez2@fortlauderdale.gov.
  5. Broward County Crime Stoppers offers a way for people to report crime information anonymously and with the potential of getting a reward. That number is (954)493-8477. You can also fill out a form through the Fort Lauderdale Police website.
  6. Sign up for emergency notifications through AlertFTL. It’s critical you know about weather risks, major road closures, or civil emergencies during your visit. It’s a free system, and you can unsubscribe when you leave, so you won’t get ongoing messages.
  7. With rising sea levels and the number of waterways in Fort Lauderdale, you need to know the tide schedule, including when the King Tides are happening (those are the highest of the high tides). The city has a list of the King Tide dates on the website. One of the biggest risks would be if a hurricane happened during a King Tide.
  8. When you’re at the beach, you’ll see flags daily that tell you something about the sea. A green flag means it’s safe to swim, while a purple flag means dangerous sea creatures are present (like jellyfish, not like a Kraken.) Review the beach color flag system, so you know what it means. The information is also available on the city’s website.
  9. Check theswimguide.org daily if you want to go into the canals throughout the city. You’ll get water quality information, and it’s updated as soon as test results come in each day. For example, as I write this, there are three waterways not safe enough for swimming right now.
  10. Fort Lauderdale has a lot of construction going on, and it might impact your GPS directions or cause confusion when trying to navigate the roads. Even though Florida drivers are known for being aggressive, take your time and pull safely to the side of the road if you are unsure about your next turn. You can review the city’s parking locator map or download the PayByPhone app to “feed the meter” right from your mobile device after you find a spot.

So... How Safe Is Fort Lauderdale Really?

As with many American cities, Fort Lauderdale is facing a violent crime increase, gang problems, and drug crimes.

While this city isn’t the hardest hit, the entire region of South Florida is filled with gun and drug activity.

Sometimes, safety is really the difference between a few blocks in either direction.

Fort Lauderdale added a new system called ShotSpotter, which will detect any kind of gunshot in the city before anyone even calls 911.

This will allow officers to track shooting locations, get to crime scenes faster, and recover more evidence.

Through “bullet fingerprinting,” investigators can take bullet casings, enter them into a database, and connect them to other crimes or criminals.

Here’s how crime has changed since 2014 in Fort Lauderdale:

  • Murder: Up 27% (down 26% from 2020)
  • Forcible Sex Offense: Up 60% (up 47% from 2020)
  • Robbery: Down 57% (down 17% from 2020)
  • Theft: Up 34% (down 1% from 2020)

The biggest risk a tourist is likely to face here is a car break-in (37% of all thefts) or a petty theft like a stolen bag.

There’s also a risk of car accidents, scams, and environment-related incidents (sunburn, jellyfish, etc.)

However, those risks require patience, common sense, and research to help you avoid being a victim.

Staying in tourist areas will also give you a good sense of safety on the beach, on the streets, and in local businesses that have their own security.

This is one of the best parts of Florida – enjoy!

Just make sure you put personal safety first.

How Does Fort Lauderdale Compare?

CitySafety Index
Fort Lauderdale64
Baltimore56
Boston67
Washington DC56
New York City67
Calgary (Canada)82
Buenos Aires (Argentina)60
Vancouver (Canada)82

Useful Information

  • Visas - You'll need a U.S. Visa to visit here, and it could take several months to work through all the steps of the process. Be sure to bring your passport and visa to the airport, as you can't get through Customs without both items.
  • Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here. Look for deals on the tourism website where you can purchase tickets to several attractions for one low price. Since you're paying online, you won't have to repeatedly pull out your wallet.
  • Weather - There's a reason snowbirds go home for the summer - it's really hot and humid here. Even wearing just a swimsuit isn't going to keep you from the risk of overheating. Bring plenty of clothing changes so you don't sit around in wet clothes because they won't air-dry well here. Winters can be beautiful with sunny skies and lower humidity, but it's smart to pack a hoodie and jeans for a potential cold spell or cold night. Bring good walking shoes, since it's such a walkable city and flip-flops can easily leave your feet sore and blistered.
  • Airports - The Fort Lauderdale Hollywood Airport is on the south side of the city, so that is the closest and best choice. The Miami airport is about an hour south but plan for 90 minutes due to traffic. The West Palm Beach airport is about an hour north.
  • Travel Insurance - Make sure you know the rules regarding hurricane coverage on your airfare and hotel reservations. Travel insurance can help protect against these disasters causing you a financial disaster.
Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Fort Lauderdale Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 20° C
Feb 22° C
Mar 23° C
Apr 24° C
May 26° C
Jun 28° C
Jul 29° C
Aug 29° C
Sep 29° C
Oct 27° C
Nov 24° C
Dec 22° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
242627283031323232302726
Low
°C
151718202224252525232018
High
°F
757981828688909090868179
Low
°F
596364687275777777736864

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