Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Sunrise, FL

  • Published 2022/10/03

Sunrise is a city in central-western Broward County, serving as the principal city for the Miami metropolitan area.

In 1960, Norman Johnson bought 2,650 acres of land to develop for retirees from the Northeastern US.

The community was named “Sunrise Golf Village,” and to promote it, Johnson and his partners built an upside-down house.

The gimmick proved successful, and Johnson was appointed its first mayor the following year.

It became a chartered city in 1967 with a land area of just 1.75 square miles, and in 1971 changed its name to Sunrise.

The city had significant growth in the following years and annexed more and more land, measuring 18 square miles at present.

Today, it’s a major city in South Florida with thriving businesses, a strong tourism sector, and a booming entertainment scene.

Here are the best things to do in Sunrise, Florida:

Spend the Afternoon at Markham Park

The waters of Markham Park

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Everyone in your crew will have something to do when you visit Markham Park.

The 669-acre park on West State Road is situated at the edge of the Everglades—a network of wetlands and forests on the southern tip of Florida.

Bring your bikes and try the park’s 14-mile trail that’ll surely challenge you with its varying degree of difficulty.

Practice your shooting skills at the Shooting Range and Skeet and Trap Fields, or fly R/C planes and helicopters at the park’s R/C Airfield.

A person riding a bicycle at Markham Park

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At night, you can join a night hike led by a Parks Naturalist—just be sure to wear closed-toe shoes and pack some drinking water and insect repellent.

For a more relaxing time, check out Silent Wings—a butterfly garden where you can walk around and see different species of flowers and the butterflies and insects that pollinate them.

Spend your day at Markham Park, and you’ll surely never run out of activities to do.

Pavilion at Markham Park

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See Rare Cadillacs at the Dauer Museum of Classic Cars

Fell the nostalgia at the Dauer Museum of Classic Cars with over 50 vintage cars that’ll take you back in time.

Located on Northwest 50th Street, the museum opened its doors in 2001, featuring the car collection of Joanne and Eddie Dauer.

Eddie’s fascination with vintage cars started in college, first owning a 1941 Cadillac sedan—the same car he used to take out Joanne on their first date.

The couple sold it and bought a 1941 Cadillac limousine, and the rest, as they say, is history.

As their collection grew, the Dauers decided to open a museum for their fellow enthusiasts and tourists.

The museum has over 55 beautifully restored cars from the 1930s to the 1970s, a fully functional vintage ambulance, and a replica of a circa 1934 Texaco gasoline station complete with an authentic gasoline truck and pumps.

Also inside are vintage black and white and color video cameras and a classic register.

See rare vintage cars and be transported back to the 1930s at the Dauer Museum of Classic Cars.

Play with the Kids at Cypress Preserve Park’s Splash Pad

The Cypress Preserve Park is an eight-acre natural preserve developed to preserve Cypress Stand, live oak trees, and other natural resources while providing a recreational area for the residents.

Inside the park is a jogging/walking trail made of sustainable materials, a recycled glass river, and a nine-hole disc golf course.

The “Cypress Marsh” is a splash pad where kids can play on a sunny afternoon.

There are plenty of native South Florida plants in the park that you can observe while walking the feet-friendly trails.

Drop by the Cypress Preserve Park for the kids’ playtime.

Go Planet-Gazing at the Fox Astronomical Observatory

Are you interested in astronomy?

There’s an observatory right inside Markham Park that’s open to everyone!

The Fox Astronomical Observatory was named after Dr. Joseph Dennison Fox, a professor of Astronomy and History who donated the observatory’s first refractor.

When Fox completed his tenure at the University of Puerto Rico in the late 1960s, he decided to retire in Miami and eventually joined the South Florida Amateur Astronomers Association Inc.

He donated a six-inch f/15 Brandon refractor to the association that opened the doors for establishing an observatory.

Today, the Fox Observatory has added to its arsenal a 14-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain F/10 and several Dobsonian reflecting telescopes.

Taste Traditional Israeli Street Food at Sunrise Pita & Grill

Sunrise Pita & Grill was established in 1998 by an Israeli-born chef who wanted to promote traditional Israeli street food to South Floridians.

The restaurant is located on North University Drive.

It specializes in turkey and lamb shawarma, falafel, and a variety of grilled meat seasoned with spices for an authentic taste.

Make sure to try the chicken and beef shish kabab, ground beef kabob, and homemade hummus with warm pita bread.

Sunrise Pita & Grill is Glatt Kosher, meaning they follow strict Jewish dietary laws and only serve clean and premium cuts of meats.

Vegan and vegetarian options are also available.

Watch a Hockey Game at FLA Live Arena

A hockey game at FLA Live Arena

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Home to the Florida Panthers, FLA Live Arena hosts National Hockey League games and concerts for big music acts.

The 17,000-square-foot indoor arena on Panther Parkway was completed in 1998 and has a seating capacity ranging from 15,000 to 25,000, depending on the event.

FLA has undergone several name changes, from National Car Rental Center, Office Depot Center, and BankAtlantic Center to BB&T Center.

Hockey players in FLA Live Arena

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Aside from the Panthers’ home games, the arena had also been the venue of several NHL All-Star Games, WWE matches, and MMA fights.

Singers like Celine Dion, Madonna, and Beyoncé have done major concerts here.

Catch one of the Panthers’ home games at FLA Live Arena!

Goalkeeper at FLA Live Arena

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Grab Breakfast at About Time Cafe

Located on West Oakland Park Boulevard, About Time Cafe is a family-run restaurant that serves breakfast classics such as omelets, pancakes, and waffles.

The cafe’s breakfast sandwiches are a hit among regulars.

Try the Breakfast BLT or the Country Freid Steak Sandwich, both served with a side of crispy-fried tots, or the Waffle Sandwich if you’re looking for a blend of sweet and savory.

Choose an omelet from their regular menu, or try building your own with three eggs and your choice of up to three ingredients.

Small plates, salads, wraps, burgers, and sandwiches are available during lunch, but the real crowd-pleaser is the fried grits with pork sausage.

Get a slice of Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake at About Time Cafe to top off your meal.

Have Dinner with Live Music at All That Jazz Café

Conveniently located on Hiatus Road, All That Jazz Café offers good food and good music.

The cafe has been serving homestyle cooking since 1994, with recipes handed down from generation to generation.

Listen to live jazz music while munching on Grandma Ida’s Shrimp Oreganato or the Flame-Grilled Porkchops made from organic pork.

Other favorites include the family’s version of Chicken Parmigiana, Spaghetti and Meatballs, and Salmon Fillet that can be prepared Oreganato, Florentine, Cajun, Livornese, Terikayi, or Caribbean style.

Cap off the night with a slice of Michael’s Original Dark Chocolate Cheesecake.

Satisfy your cravings for good food and good music at All That Jazz Restaurant.

Try Authentic Cuban Cuisine at Don Carlin Cuban Restaurant

Don Carlin Cuban Restaurant is a family-run restaurant on West Oakland Park Boulevard that serves authentic and traditional Cuban and South American cuisine.

One of the bestsellers is the Friday lunch special: fall-off-the-bone oxtail simmered and a rich sauce with olives and spices.

The Ropa Vieja or shredded beef paired with fried plantains is also a must-try, along with Pargo Entero or Snapper, which can either be fried or broiled, and Lechon Asado or roast pork.

All main courses are served with rice, black beans, and fried sweet plantains.

Visit Don Carlin Cuban Restaurant for a true Cuban dining experience.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Soak up the Sun at the Lauderdale Beaches

Aerial view of Fort Lauderdale Beach

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You haven’t been to Florida if you haven’t been to the beach!

A 20-minute drive from downtown Sunrise will take you to a collection of wind sand beaches in Fort Lauderdale.

People enjoying the sun at Fort Lauderdale Beach

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Fort Lauderdale Beach boasts a four-mile beachfront lined with palm trees that’ll give you tropical vibes.

Another one is Las Olas Beach, where you can rent chairs and umbrellas on the sandy beach while enjoying a view of its blue waters.

Beautiful sunset at Fort Lauderdale Beach

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Pompano Beach is known for its offshore coral reef, dive sites, and wrecks that you can explore.

With miles of beautiful shorelines and sun all year round, it’s hard to miss visiting the beaches of Lauderdale.

Empty beach chairs at Fort Lauderdale Beach

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See Different Species of Fern at Fern Forest Nature Center

Moss tree at Fern Forest Nature Center

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Fern Forest Nature Center is a 247.1-acre nature preserve in Coconut Creek, just 14 minutes from Sunrise.

The preserve is home to more than 200 plants, including more than 30 species of fern.

It was established in 1975 to protect Florida’s fern forests that mostly vanished after canals were dredged to drain the Everglades in 1905.

There are 34 species of fern in the forest, including the endangered whisk fern that can only be found in deep forests.

A swamp at Fern Forest Nature Center

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A boardwalk from the parking lot will take you to a wetlands canal where giant leather ferns grow up to a few feet high.

Follow the trail and see an abundance of wild tamarind, laurel oaks, and wild coffee.

Take the Cypress Boardwalk that starts behind the visitor center and walk parallel to the old channel of Cypress Creek.

Visit Fern Forest Nature Center and see rare wild plants in their natural habitat.

Admire the Architecture of the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens

Exterior of Bonnet House Museum and Gardens

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Located on North Birch Road in Fort Lauderdale, the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens is a 35.4-acre estate with a plantation-style house and a garden with five distinct ecosystems.

Artist Frederic Clay Bartlett designed the house in 1925 based on his interpretation of Caribbean plantation-style architecture.

Trees and plants at Bonnet House Museum and Gardens

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Aside from the main house, the estate comprises an art studio, a music studio, and a guest house.

On its grounds is a Desert Garden with a hibiscus garden, arid plantings, and the main courtyard with tropical vegetation.

Various species of orchids and other flowering plants also grow in the gardens.

Water fountain at Bonnet House Museum and Gardens

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With its perfect location, migratory birds and birds indigenous to Florida wetland flock to the estate.

The Bonnet House Museum and Gardens is not only a place to learn history but also a testament to Florida’s rich biodiversity.

A bright wall at Bonnet House Museum and Gardens

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Take Your Kids on a Simulated Ride to Mars at the Museum of Discovery and Science

Exterior of the Museum of Discovery and Science

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The Museum of Discovery and Science is located on Southwest Second Street in Fort Lauderdale and is a 20-minute drive from Sunrise.

Opened in 1977, it features the Florida environment through exhibits like Prehistoric Florida, Everglades Airboat Adventure, and the Storm Center.

The museum has a zoo where you can take a closer look at the life of otters, alligators, turtles, sharks, and animals only found in Florida.

Entrance to the Museum of Discovery and Science

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Permanent exhibits include the Florida Ecoscapes, where children can meet the native plants and animals in Florida, the Keller Science Theater, where they can watch live animal shows and science demonstrations, and the To Fly, which has three replica cockpits and a 7D capsule theater.

The whole family can also watch movies about science and the environment in 3D at the museum’s IMAX theater.

Help your kids discover their love for science and the environment at the Museum of Discovery and Science.

Gravity clock in the Museum of Discovery and Science

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Final Thoughts

Sunrise has come far from its humble beginnings as a small community.

However, it still maintains the urban/suburban feel with its nature parks, family-run businesses, and tourist-friendly entertainment spots.

The city is a melting pot of traditions that’ll make any visitor feel at home.

When you plan your next getaway, consider the best things to do in Sunrise, Florida.

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