Car Rental Fort Lauderdale
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Why rent a car in Fort Lauderdale?
With millions of travelers flocking to its beaches every year, Ft. Lauderdale is a tourist haven in the best way possible. From grand resorts to fine dining, the city perfectly caters to the luxury market. But other travelers aren’t left wanting either, with restaurants, entertainment, and accommodation for every budget.
With a combination of a woeful public transportation system, metropolitan sprawl, the expense of taxis and ride-hailing apps, and the competitive prices of rental cars, it is no wonder most tourists will choose to have their own car for their stay. It also serves travelers well when it comes to being able to get to some of the area’s surrounding attractions.
Come for the beach and stay for the.. well, just stay for the beach!
Top ways to enter Fort Lauderdale
Located south of the city, Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport serves less international routes and hosts more low-cost carrier. Perhaps less crowded than Miami’s, the airport has a similar car rental center and is within a convenient drive of Miami, itself. However, some rental agencies may be located off-airport, in which you will need to call them to have a shuttle bus sent.
Located just an hour’s drive south of Ft. Lauderdale, Miami International Airport is a large hub for air traffic for North America, Latin America, and Europe. From all three terminals, you can take the free MIA Mover tram to the Car Rental Center, where rental desks from all suppliers are in one place.
Travelers at the start or end of cruises to the Carribean or Mexico will arrive at either Port Everglades or Port Miami, both of which has the possibility for rental car pick-ups and drop-offs.
Ft. Lauderdale is also easily accessible by road from Tampa, Cape Coral, Orlando, and other Florida cities by way of Interstates 75 and 95 and Florida’s Turnpike. It would not be a problem to bring a rental car from any of these cities to Miami and back, given that your given milage is sufficient.
Useful city facts
Dubbed the Venice of America by many, Ft. Lauderdale has an extensive canal system. It is possible to not just walk along these canals, but sail or ride through them. Gondolas styled after those in Venice make for a romantic experience doing such.
Ft. Lauderdale is located far enough south that it has no real winter and summer seasons. During what would be winter months in locations further north, the city sees temperatures drop only slightly. The main seasons in South Florida are rainy and dry. During the typical summer months, the city sees much more rain and the likelihood of thunderstorms. The other half of the year is drier.
Hurricane season starts in June and runs through November, with mid-August through September having the highest likelihood of one making landfall. In the unlikely event you are visiting while a hurricane is threatening the city, heed all local evacuation orders.
After a day of exploring the area, travelers may want to leave their rental car parked and venture out for evening dining of drinks. A great way to do this is to take the Water Taxi. The Water Taxi serves the beaches via the Intercoastal Waterway and attractions along the New River. An Express Route also takes riders to Hollywood Beach. Service is from 10AM-10PM. In addition to all-day tickets, the Water Taxi also offers evening tickets valid from 5 PM.
Top destinations and activities
- The Beach - The primary reason travelers visit Ft. Lauderdale is, of course, to hit the beach. With warm weather year-round, there is no season that isn’t beach season here. With sections of the beach designated as dog-friendly and family-friendly, the area caters to all visitors. Many activities usually associated with beaches can be found here, from boating to snorkeling and diving.
- Nightlife - Fort Lauderdale's predominant scene has changed in recent years, going from a premier destination for college students on spring break to catering to luxury travelers. While the typical woo-hoo party atmosphere can still be found in some bars, chic lounges and clubs are becoming more and more popular.
- Riverwalk - Both a park along the New River and a neighborhood of Ft. Lauderdale, the Riverwalk is certainly worth a stroll. Mosey down the paths surrounded by green on your way to the Arts and Entertainment District catching glimpses of historic Ft. Lauderdale on the way.
- Swap Shop and Drive-In Movie Theater - Make the drive just west of downtown during the day to browse the world’s largest daily flea market. Visitors may find that the selection is better if arriving earlier or that Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays are better days to visit. Come back at night time for one of the largest drive-in movie theaters; it has 13 screens. Movie lovers can find various newly released movies playing nightly with midnight shows on Friday and Saturday.
- Flamingo Gardens - Venture to the neighboring town of Davie, just west of the city proper, for a visit to this nonprofit wildlife sanctuary. The Gardens takes in rescued animals and provides them the best environment possible (no cages here!). Visitors will have a chance to see the namesake flamingos, a rescued black bear named Josh, panthers, bobcats, raptors, river otters, and more.
- Savor Cinema- Just south of downtown across the river lies this gem. Housed in a former church, it shows arthouse and international films in a quaint theater. The cinema is also the organizer and one of the venues for the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival held annually in November.
Traffic and parking tips
Most large hotels on the beach and downtown only offer valet parking with an associated nightly fee. Overnight parking is not possible in city-owned parking lots or on the street. It may be possible to find a private parking garage nearby that allows overnight parking. Be sure to check your hotel’s parking policies ahead of time to avoid any shock when you check-in.
If staying away from the beach, be aware that you will have to pay to park when you drive to it. It is possible to pay for parking in on-street metered spaces and lots operated by the City of Fort Lauderdale with either cash, credit card, or the paybyhone app. There are also privately run parking lots available, too, generally having higher prices. Be sure not park in any business’ lot if not patronizing it, as your rental car will be towed. Parking enforcement is very strict.
One should expect parking rates to significantly increase on days when special events are being held.
Getting around Ft. Lauderdale by car is more or less the same as it would be in any other American city of its size. The road network is more than sufficient. However, expect major roads and expressways to be busy at most times to outright crowded during rush hour. The area is a haven for retirees from northern cities. Drivers should be aware of, and courteous to, the senior drivers.
Florida’s Turnpike is the longest toll road in the Ft. Lauderdale area connecting Homestead south of Miami with Orlando and I-75 to the north. There are also express lanes on I-95 and I-595 which are usable only with a SunPass transponder (avoid these lanes if your rental does not have one, otherwise you will be charged $25 dollar fee along with other likely fees from the car supplier). The Sawgrass Expressway is another toll road in the area and travelers might use it to connect to I-75 from north of Ft. Lauderdale.
Most of the toll roads in the Ft. Lauderdale area do not have toll booths but instead, rely on a cashless system. Payment in these cases takes place either by a SunPass transponder or toll-by-plate, a system which captures your license plate number and sends you an invoice in the mail. In some cases, your rental car will have a SunPass transponder. In other cases, there will be a way of using pay-by-plate through your rental contract. Either of these will also incur a fee from the rental car provider. The only alternative is if you have your own SunPass transponder and add the rental vehicle to your account. This is only possible with some rental companies.
Important: If renting from Green Motion, Ace, Clubs, Easirent, Horsepower, Right Cars, Economy, or Routes, keep in mind that they may use a type of transponder that is neither removable nor able to be switched off. This means you will be left with the choice between accepting their toll package or avoiding toll roads altogether. You will not be able to use your own SunPass account. If you decline their toll package and pass through a toll gate, you will be charged exorbitant fees by the rental company.
One can best avoid these fees and the toll charges by avoiding the toll roads altogether. The best way to avoid toll roads is by using Google Maps or another online map or GPS device with an option for avoiding toll roads. Of course, you should definitely seek to avoid rush hour traffic in this case.
There are two different types of toll packages that rental companies offer. One is a daily fee (that may or may not be capped for the rental period) for the use of the transponder with the total for the tolls incurred billed to the renter after the rental period concludes. The other is a daily fee that includes unlimited tolls. Unless you plan to use toll roads often, the latter of these types of toll packages will be much more expensive.
If you plan to use the toll package of a rental company, be sure to include that in the final cost when comparing offers. Examples of the daily fees for these packages for specific rental companies are as follows (as of August 2019):
- Green Motion - $12.99 per day plus all tolls incurred
- Ace - $6 plus tolls incurred or $10.99 for unlimited tolls
- Alamo - $3.95 (capped at $19.75 for the rental period) plus tolls incurred
- Clubs - $7.50 plus tolls incurred or $10.99 for unlimited tolls
- Dollar - $10.49 for unlimited tolls
- Easirent - $15 for unlimited tolls
- Economy - $9.95 for unlimited tolls
- Horsepower - $5.95 plus tolls incurred or $15.95 for unlimited tolls
- National - $3.95 plus tolls incurred
- Routes - $11.99 for unlimited tolls
- Right Cars- $13.95 plus tolls incurred
- Sixt - $4.45 plus tolls incurred
- Thrifty - $10.49 for unlimited tolls
Ideas for a day-trip
Miami- Depending on traffic, it only takes 30 minutes to an hour to drive from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami, the Latin American capital of the world. Here you can head to the South Beach area of Miami Beach to see and be seen or to Little Havanna for Cuban-American culture and cuisine. Miami offers travelers numerous opportunities for a welcome break from the Ft. Lauderdale’s lovely beaches.
Biscayne National Park - Located south of Miami, the park’s visitor center of the Biscayne National Park is at Convoy Point. While most visit the part of the park that is mostly water with their own boat, there is plenty to see and do without renting one. The Biscayne National Park Institute offers numerous guided tours which include some equipment, such as stand up boards or kayaks, while other equipment can be rented from the park store (e.g., snorkeling gear).
Everglades - The heart of the Everglades from a traveler’s point of view is Everglades National Park. Venture southeast from Ft. Lauderdale to Homestead and then take the Ingraham Highway to reach the park. Most of the park is only accessible via boat, but guided tours are available. The park also hosts various trains for hiking or cycling. There only lodging in the park comes in the form of campsites. Note that the park’s operations are heavily curtailed during South Florida’s wet season.
Palm Beach - Located an hour or so north of Ft. Lauderdale, the Palm Beach area has more gorgeous beaches. Visitors often flock to the city to see the houses, most of which are worth millions of dollars. The beaches here also make for a good location to watch rockets launched from Cape Canaveral. One should be careful not to park illegally on the city’s streets, as police often tow vehicles.
Jonathan Dickinson State Park - It takes about an hour and a half to drive to this unique state park from Fort Lauderdale. Teeming with wildlife, the park offers opportunities for hiking on various trails, paddling down the National Wild and Scenic Loxahatchee River, camping, fishing, and more.
The Bahamas - Drive to the port Ft. Lauderdale to catch a ferry to Freeport on the island of Grand Bahama. The ferry runs six days a week and is best booked ahead. With it taking just two and a half hours to make the journey, it is completely possible to make an intercountry day trip. Enjoy a grand beach of the Bahamas. Please be aware of the visa requirements, if necessary, for your nationality and note that even for American citizens, a passport is necessary.
If you plan to begin a longer road trip in Florida, be sure to choose a rental company that allows their vehicles to be taken to other states. Most low-cost rental companies do not allow their cars to be taken outside of the state of Florida. Ace Rent a Car, Clubs, Economy, Green Motion, Easirent, Right Cars, and Routes only allow their cars to be driven in the state of Florida. Sixt allows renters to travel to Georgia and/or Alabama in addition to Florida. Finally, National, Dollar, Thrifty, and Alamo allow their vehicles to travel to any state.
- Tampa - Head down I-75 from Ft. Lauderdale to reach the bay area of Tampa with the largest port in Florida. Here a trip to Busch Gardens may be in order. If theme parks aren’t your interest, then exploring the famous neighborhood of Ybor City bordering downtown will keep you occupied both day and evening.
- Orlando - The theme park capital of the world, Orlando hosts over 70 million visitors every year. Just a few hours drive north of Ft. Lauderdale along Florida’s Turnpike, here you can visit the world-famous Disney World, Universal Florida, and SeaWorld theme parks with your family. If alternatively, you are adults traveling alone, you can have a great time at CityWalk, Downtown Disney or Downtown Orlando. Be careful that your mileage allowance is sufficient to make the trip.
- Bahamas - Located close to South Florida’s Atlantic coast, the Bahamas are a chain of Atlantic islands and a famous exotic destination. Take a ferry to the town of Freeport on Grand Bahama from Ft. Lauderdale as the quickest, and probably cheapest, way to arrive in the islands. Alternatively, the capital Nassau can be reached via a short flight from Miami. Note that the ferry does not carry vehicles. Therefore, you would have to rent another car if you would like to have one on the islands. Also, be sure to check the visa requirements if you are not an American citizen or carry your passport if you are.
- Cuba - If you’re not an American citizen, Cuba is wonderfully just a short flight from Miami. It is possible to rent a car in Cuba, though prices have risen dramatically in recent years, the road network may be found to be unsatisfactory outside of the main cities, and you will share the road with pedestrians, cyclists and salespeople. If you do intend to rent a vehicle in Cuba, be careful of scams and be prepared to make a deposit in cash.
- The Florida Keys - No trip to Florida can be complete without making the journey south to the Keys. An archipelago off the southern tip of Florida’s peninsula stretching into the straits of Florida, the Florida Keys is notorious for its beaches. The tourist high season is from December to April when mild temperatures combined with less rain to make it the perfect winter getaway. Therefore, later in spring towards the beginning of summer may be the more pocket-book-friendly time to experience the keys. June through November are hurricane season, and therefore can be risky.
Top 18 Cities near Fort Lauderdale
Orlando Car Rentals from $19.37 per day285.9 km / 177.7 miles away
Miami Car Rentals from $15.93 per day33.7 km / 21.0 miles away
Tampa Car Rentals from $72.62 per day316.8 km / 196.8 miles away
Fort Myers Car Rentals from $72.62 per day167.8 km / 104.3 miles away
West Palm Beach Car Rentals from $19.37 per day68.1 km / 42.3 miles away
Jacksonville Car Rentals from $19.37 per day514.1 km / 319.4 miles away
Sanford Car Rentals from $72.62 per day319.1 km / 198.3 miles away
Clearwater Car Rentals from $72.62 per day323.7 km / 201.2 miles away
Sarasota Car Rentals from $70.00 per day280.2 km / 174.1 miles away
Pensacola Car Rentals from $72.62 per day844.6 km / 524.8 miles away
Eglin Car Rentals from $72.62 per day793.5 km / 493.0 miles away
Punta Gorda Car Rentals from $72.62 per day205.7 km / 127.8 miles away
Tallahassee Car Rentals from $72.62 per day632.5 km / 393.0 miles away
Daytona Beach Car Rentals from $72.62 per day356.8 km / 221.7 miles away
Melbourne Car Rentals from $64.08 per day230.9 km / 143.5 miles away
Key West Car Rentals from $72.62 per day233.3 km / 144.9 miles away
Gainesville Car Rentals from $60.49 per day452.9 km / 281.4 miles away
Panama City Car Rentals from $71.89 per day710.7 km / 441.6 miles away
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