Is Fort Lauderdale safe to visit? A comprehensive safety guide
Fort Lauderdale is an idyllic city in Florida on the Atlantic coast, home to over 182,000 people. It is about twenty-five miles north of Miami, with kilometers of golden shoreline covering eight beach towns. Also nicknamed the “Yachting Capital of the World,” the city of Fort Lauderdale boasts over 50,000 registered yachts and a boating industry that employs hundreds of thousands of people, making it Greater Fort Lauderdale’s second-largest business sector following tourism.
There are countless reasons to visit Fort Lauderdale, from participating in water activities like sailing, swimming, and motorboating to shopping and enjoying its cultural offerings. If you’re looking for the perfect spot to bask in the sun, look no further than the famous Fort Lauderdale Beach Park. Besides its pristine shoreline, it offers an array of outdoor fun perfect for the family.
With endless entertainment opportunities, it’s no surprise that Fort Lauderdale receives around 10 million visitors each year. Its peak tourist season begins in early spring and ends in late summer, which brings the most spectacular beach days and warmest temperatures.
Visiting Fort Lauderdale is an exciting way to spend your summer vacation, but the last thing you want is to deal with lost items, which could easily ruin your trip. So be sure to store your bags safely in Fort Lauderdale while being aware of your surroundings as you discover this marvelous city.
Is Fort Lauderdale safe to visit right now?
Fort Lauderdale is a relatively safe city, as evidenced by the millions of people visiting the “Venice of America” every year. Although it’s been ranked as one of the United States’ least safe cities, it isn’t indicative of the dangers a tourist will experience in Lauderdale.
Travel Safe Abroad lists Lauderdale as a low-risk city with a Safety Index of 64. Much crime taking place in Fort Lauderdale is property crime instead of violent crime, including motor vehicle theft and burglary, which typically affects residents rather than tourists. A person’s chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime in the city is one in 159.
As with many cities in America, drug crimes and gang problems happen here. Although Fort Lauderdale isn’t the center of it, the entire South Florida region deals with drug problems. There are no travel restrictions, though you must be aware of the hurricane season, with major hurricanes most likely affecting the state of Florida in September and October.
Overall, visitors can explore Lauderdale and enjoy its pristine beaches and entertainment without worries. Of course, you should always take safety precautions and use this guide to help you prepare for any risk you might encounter during your trip.
Since it’s written for most savvy travelers, it’s important that you do your homework and research before your travel. A seasoned traveler or not, we recommend that you visit your government’s official travel guidelines for the country or city you plan to see as part of your travel preparations.
Top petty crimes and scams in Fort Lauderdale affecting tourists
Although Fort Lauderdale is safe for tourists, it doesn’t mean you should let your guard down as you stroll the beaches or enjoy the nightlife in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Petty crime exists everywhere, and this city in Florida is not an exception. Be a smart traveler and use common sense to avoid being a victim of fraudulent behaviors. Below are some common petty crimes in Lauderdale and safety tips to help protect yourself and your belongings.
Pickpockets have different ways of stealing from their victims. One method is called bump and grab, where they distract you with a bump and grab your valuables from your purse or pocket. Another trick is when victims are swarmed by a group of people while picking their pockets.
Be one step ahead of them by storing your precious items with Bounce luggage storage. You’ll still need your phone or wallet when sightseeing, but don’t put them in the back pocket of your jeans or bag. Instead, opt for a cross-body purse and place your bag in front of you. No matter where you go, always pay attention to those around you.
There’s a long list of scams targeting tourists in many touristy areas, and while there’s a low risk of scams in Fort Lauderdale, anyone can still be a victim. That’s why you should be wary of a ‘friendly local' trying to suggest a shop or a restaurant that will charge you an exorbitant amount for their food or services. Also, check the travel agency's credibility before booking online, whether it’s a cruise, a tour, or an activity. Read reviews by past guests to better understand their service or the kind of operation the company runs.
Unfortunately, Fort Lauderdale is a famous place for homeless drug addicts, especially in the south end. You might find them roaming Federal Highway to hustle drivers for money to support their addiction. Your chance of becoming a victim of any drug-related crime is higher in the southeast neighborhoods than in the city’s western part, so it’s best to stick to the safest and well-populated areas of Lauderdale.
Is Fort Lauderdale safe to travel alone
Solo travelers don’t experience greater safety threats than those traveling with a group in Lauderdale. Although 62% of women feel safe walking alone at night in the United States, based on the Bounce Women Travel Safety Index, you’ll still want to use extra caution when wandering through the city after dark, especially for solo female travelers.
Fort Lauderdale features world-class amenities in walkable areas and is easy to get around, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost. Fort Lauderdale Beach, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, and Las Olas are the main parts of the town and see very little crime. Although they have a low crime rate, you should still watch out for pickpockets, who tend to linger around crowded tourist areas.
Safest neighborhoods in Fort Lauderdale
While Fort Lauderdale is famous for its stunning views and appealing charm, some may be reluctant to stay here for its crime rate, which is relatively higher than in other cities in Florida. But if you know where to go and which areas to avoid, you can have a safe and trouble-free experience in this marvelous city.
Boulevard Park Isles
One family-friendly neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale is the Boulevard Park Isles. It’s a small community comprising only 721 residents, but it’s still lively. The area has several parks and playgrounds, perfect for families with kids. It’s great for picnics, outdoor workouts, and relaxing strolls. You can also find many shopping and dining options around the neighborhood.
Boulevard Park Isles has 384 crimes out of 100K, 116 for violent crimes and 238 for property crimes. Compared to other neighborhoods in Fort Lauderdale, it’s said to be among the safest.
Undoubtedly, Harbor Drive is unmatched regarding safety in Fort Lauderdale. The neighborhood only comprises eight residents from four households, complemented with high-level security. Crimes are essentially non-existent here, making it the city’s most peaceful and safest area. Harbor Drive is also the gateway to many beaches and parks that you must visit while in the neighborhood.
Another safe neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale is the Lauderdale Harbours, with 1,347 crimes per 100K. Compared to the national average crime rate, it’s 37% lower, allowing it to rank among the safest areas in the city. Security aside, Lauderdale Harbours is also ideal for visitors because of its accessibility. It’s a few minutes from Fort Lauderdale Airport, Las Olas Boulevard, and Miami Beach.
Although safety is unique to every person, staying away from sketchy neighborhoods can reduce your chance of falling prey to crimes. Therefore, skip the areas with high crime rates, like the North Golf Estates, Flagler Heights, and Beverly Heights.
Is Fort Lauderdale public transportation safe?
Public transportation in Fort Lauderdale isn’t the best in the state, but there are several options that will take you to your destination safely and sound. Broward County Transit will take you around the region, and there’s also a free shuttle to some of the major stops in Lauderdale that are not served by BCT.
You can take a water taxi, if necessary, but the recommended transportation is by taxi or car. If you’re traveling with a motorcycle, be extra cautious, for the city is infamous for motor vehicle theft. Beware of places like the Broward Transit bus stop at the corner of 17th street and Federal Highway, as it's been known to serve as a narcotics trading post for homeless drug addicts.
Important emergency numbers in Fort Lauderdale
You should learn the city’s emergency numbers before traveling to put you in touch with local authorities in case you find yourself in a dangerous situation. Also, make sure you’re aware of your embassy number and add it to your phone contacts for safekeeping.
- US Country code: +1
- Fort Lauderdale area code: 954
- Emergency number: 911
- Non-emergency hotline: 954-764-HELP (4357)
- Stalking: 764-HELP
- Beach Patrol (Emergency only): (954) 468-1595
Planning a safe trip to Fort Lauderdale
Although it is rated as one of America’s unsafe cities, Fort Lauderdale safety is not a big issue and makes this fabulous city a terrific one for travelers to see and explore. Like when visiting any city or country, you should stay vigilant in your efforts to protect yourself and your belongings by maintaining a low profile, avoiding high-risk situations, and being aware of your environment. If traveling alone, avoid walking on your own at night and establish boundaries.