Thinking about visiting South Florida for your next vacation? The state of Florida attracted over 131 million tourists in 2019 and many of them chose the gorgeous oceanside city of Fort Lauderdale as their getaway destination.

When visiting Fort Lauderdale, you’ll find that there is no shortage of activities, attractions, restaurants, and shops to enjoy. Of course, careful planning is required if you wish to get the most out of your trip.

Here are six essential tips to keep in mind when fleshing out the details of your next Fort Lauderdale vacation.

1. Don’t fear the summer months

You might assume that most families plan their Fort Lauderdale getaways for the summer. After all, conditions are at their warmest in the summertime and children are typically enjoying their annual school breaks.

To your surprise, perhaps, the majority of people plan their trips for the months between December and April—largely to escape the North’s frigid conditions and dreaded snowy weather.

For this reason, Fort Lauderdale prices are often more expensive during the winter, and it’s when you’re likely to encounter the most tourists.

While you might also be looking to get away during the winter, don’t ignore the summer months for fear of Fort Lauderdale being overcrowded. As long as you’re able to withstand the Florida heat, the summer can be the perfect time to enjoy a Fort Lauderdale vacation.

2. Watch out for reckless drivers

If you plan on driving your own car to Fort Lauderdale or picking up a rental car after arriving at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, you should keep an eye out for Fort Lauderdale’s reckless drivers.

Using data compiled from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), CNBC once named Fort Lauderdale the most dangerous U.S. city for driving.

To avoid having your vacation derailed by an unfortunate accident, be sure to employ defensive driving habits whenever you venture out onto the road.

3. Pick your beach spots wisely

Many people who visit Fort Lauderdale do so with only one thing on their minds—the beach and stunning ocean views. You, too, may have your heart set on spending time out in the sun with a towel over your back and your toes in the sand.

Given the sheer number of beaches the area has to offer, it’s important that you prioritize the most highly rated, postcard-worthy spots. Consider adding Fort Lauderdale, Hillsboro Beach, Deerfield Beach, John U. Lloyd Beach State Park, and Pompano Beach to your shortlist of options!

4. Make sure you lather up frequently

As the southernmost continental state, Florida is largely known for its warm, tropical climate.

While coastal Fort Lauderdale may benefit from cool breezes that sweep through, it’s critical that you protect your body from the sun’s strongest UV rays—particularly if you’re visiting during the hot summer months.

Be sure to pick up plenty of sunscreen at your local convenience store and stay lathered up whenever you plan to spend time in the South Florida sun. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends that you apply a water-resistant sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher every two hours.

5. There’s more to the outdoors than beaches

Because Fort Lauderdale is home to over 24 miles of sandy shores, its other outdoor attractions tend to get overlooked.

Greater Fort Lauderdale is positioned on the edge of the Everglades, Florida’s own subtropical wetland system. Visit the Everglades National Park to enjoy hiking, kayaking, fishing, and all sorts of other fun activities. You might even spot a few leatherback turtles, panthers, and alligators!

If you’d prefer an activity that allows you to kick your feet up and simply enjoy a stunning view, consider taking a Las Olas gondola tour for a 75-minute journey over the “Venice of America” or a relaxing boat ride from Intimate Waterways.

6. Shop and eat like there’s no tomorrow

Fort Lauderdale is the ideal vacation destination for shopaholics and foodies alike.

At Sawgrass Mills, the largest outlet shopping mall in the country, you’ll be able to browse at over 400 different stores from some of your favorite brands. When you need a break from shopping, have a delicious meal at any one of over 30 different restaurants and eateries scattered throughout the mall.

You might also choose to visit Las Olas Boulevard, an eclectic assortment of shops and restaurants that lies right in the heart of Fort Lauderdale. Check out one of the plaza’s various art galleries, sift through clothing at a fashion boutique, or stop by one of multiple sidewalk cafés for a cup of coffee!