13 Things to Do Outdoors in the Fort Lauderdale Area (Therapist Approved)
By Danielle Carney, LMHC, CEDS
Schools are letting out, and summer is upon us!
South Florida can be hot, hot, hot in the summer, and with some of our schedules and priorities potentially shifting as we enter this season, I figured it could be a good time to talk about some ideas and activities to help support your mental health.
Anxiety, depression, and other mental health struggles often bring us out of touch with what we actually like to do. It can feel like a stuck place when you want to start taking care of yourself, get out of the house, and do something fun or different for yourself, but you draw a blank on what to do. Many people entering therapy can feel like they don’t know where to start in choosing activities to assist them in their mental health journeys.
Well – you’re in luck! I’m here to share some ideas of things to do outdoors to support your mental health for locals in South Florida and Fort Lauderdale.
I’ve been living in the Fort Lauderdale area for almost 11 years now (it is *wild* it has been that long). While it took me some time to find my footing down here after moving from up north, through being open to exploring the area and trying new things, I’ve really been lucky to have found some gems in the years since I’ve been here.
Benefits of Being Outdoors on Mental Health
We are so fortunate to live in a place that we can be outdoors year-round. Being outdoors is SO freaking good for our mental health. Getting sunlight (and sunlight is almost never short of supply in sunny South Florida) can help ease symptoms of depression like low mood and fatigue.
Being in nature can help us to feel connected, alleviate stress, feel a part of the community, and improve our physical health. It is also a great opportunity to practice mindfulness and be present with ourselves.
Where To Go In The Fort Lauderdale Area
Here are some of my favorite things to do outdoors to support your mental health (and support our local businesses and parks!) in and around Fort Lauderdale and throughout South Florida:
Looking to reconnect to nature in the midst of the city? Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is a perfect option for you! For a small fee of $6 per vehicle, you could spend all day here exploring. Choose to walk, skate, or bike the trails, read a book in the shade by the Intracoastal, meet friends for a picnic, use the pedestrian tunnel to cross under A1A to spend some time at the beach, and feel free to bring the dog! You can even grab lunch at Park & Ocean and have the option to rent paddle boards, canoes, or kayaks to adventure away. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the gopher tortoises that inhabit the area.
Imagine a 2.2-mile paved path beachside to take in all the beauty that Hollywood Beach has to offer with plenty of shops and restaurants to keep you busy – the Hollywood Broadwalk offers it all! Grab a meal at a favorite local spot, hang out at Margaritaville, or go for a swim at the beach. If you find street parking to be a hassle, there are several garages in the area that offer ample parking.
One of my favorite nature walks in the area is Fern Forest Nature Center. It’s a beautiful oasis to escape from city life and reconnect to nature. With well-maintained walking paths and a nature center, it’s definitely worth a stop. Green, lush landscapes, sun, and butterflies surround you, creating a peaceful environment you’ll look forward to coming back to.
Really want to disconnect for a bit? Follow Atlantic Blvd west as far as it goes. Once you park the car, you’ll feel transported miles from civilization in the peaceful quiet of the Everglades. With paths that span miles and miles, it’s the ideal destination to spend some time connecting with yourself and with Mother Nature. Walk, bike, fish, or bring the dog and kids. This area offers plenty of opportunities to observe the wildlife of the Everglades. You might even catch a glimpse of some gators swimming around. Pro tip is to go a little before sunset for a walk complete with the most breathtaking views. A true nature’s lover sanctuary!
This is your spot for all things watersports in Fort Lauderdale! With plenty of rental and tour options to choose from, you’re sure to find something for you if adventure and fun are what you’re seeking.
Other Places to Visit in South Florida
If you’re in the Fort Lauderdale area and you’re up for a bit of a drive, here are some other worthwhile options to check out:
Jupiter Off-Leash Dog Beach, Jupiter, FL
Peanut Island Park, Riviera Beach, FL
Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Hobe Sound, FL
Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Boynton Beach, FL
Shark Valley Bike Path and Tram Tours, Miami, FL
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo, FL
Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, Delray Beach, FL
Looking for an Online Therapist in Fort Lauderdale?
I get how hard finding the right therapist can be. If you’re struggling with your mental health and looking for an online therapist in Fort Lauderdale, you can reach out to me here. I’d love to help you get started on a better path!