A Travel Price Comparison for Florida Fort Lauderdale vs. Gainesville for Couples, Nightlife, Families, and Food

Should you visit Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as the prices of travel for Fort Lauderdale and Gainesville. We'll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale is a spirited, luxury, and high energy coastal city. This is also a very beautiful destination which attracts plenty of visitors. It's also known for shopping, nightlife, and food.

Gainesville

Gainesville is a active, vibrant, and high energy city. It's also known for shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Fort Lauderdale and Gainesville: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Impressive beauty
  • Home to the Local Beaches
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with couples


Is there more to do in Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Fort Lauderdale than Gainesville, as it is bigger with more sights, attractions, and activities for visitors. Fort Lauderdale is more popular for its resorts, scuba diving & snorkeling, beaches, and impressive beauty, while Gainesville is known for its museums. Fort Lauderdale is more touristy than Gainesville and is known for its canals, beaches, walkable waterfront, and luxury resorts. It is also home to The Local Beaches. Gainesville is popular for being the home of the University of Florida

How is Fort Lauderdale different from Gainesville?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Gainesville and Fort Lauderdale. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville?

Fort Lauderdale
Gainesville

Gainesville is a great destination for its museums and landmarks. However, Fort Lauderdale does not have museums and landmarks.

Visitors can fill many days exploring the museums and attractions around Gainesville. There's a surprising number of museums around town such as the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, and the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention. Also fascinating is the Historic Haile Homestead, the Butterfly Rainforest, and the city's planetarium.

Fort Lauderdale does not have museums and landmarks.


Is the Food Better in Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Fort Lauderdale
Gainesville

Both Fort Lauderdale and Gainesville offer a number of good restaurants to choose from.

Fort Lauderdale offers number of good local restaurants to choose from. Seafood is the obvious option with popular dishes being fish tacos, sea bass, and scallop risotto. There are many waterfront restaurants or you could head to Las Olas Boulevard, which has many bistros, cafes, and restaurants.

Gainesville has a delicious restaurant scene that relies on local flavors. Casual eateries are popular around town, particularly with the student population. There are grills, diners, and bistros that serve local dishes at affordable prices.

Is Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville Better for Nightlife?

Fort Lauderdale
Gainesville

It's hard to distinguish whether Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville has a better nightlife scene.

The people in Fort Lauderdale know how to have a good time. Trendy and upscale partying is the name of the game in this Florida city. Most people head to the beach, Las Olas Blvd, River Front and The New Hard Rock Seminole Hotel Complex for the best bars and clubs. You'll find the most activity around the weekends, but there really is something going on any night of the week.

The nightlife in Gainesville has something for everybody. The nightlife centers around the student population. The two main party areas are Midtown and Downtown. Midtown is between Northwest 17th Street and Northwest 18th Street and it's convenient for students who live on campus. The area has a great stretch of bars and clubs. The Downtown area has many of the city's top clubs, and it's popular with upperclassmen and students who live off campus.

Is Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville Better for Resorts?

Fort Lauderdale
Gainesville

Fort Lauderdale is very popular for its resorts. However, Gainesville is not a resort destination.

Fort Lauderdale offers an unforgettable resort vacation. Luxury beachfront resorts are plentiful in the area. Several of the most impressive include the Ritz-Carlton, W Fort Lauderdale, and the Dalmar. Most resorts have a beachfront pool, hot tubs, and depending on the resort, a kid's club.

Gainesville is not a resort destination.


Is Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Fort Lauderdale
Gainesville

Fort Lauderdale is a nice place to visit for the nearby scuba diving and snorkeling. However, Gainesville is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Fort Lauderdale has a few areas where visitors often go scuba diving or snorkeling. Although the snorkeling doesn't compare to what you'll find further south around the Florida Keys, there are some great places to pull your mask and fins out in the area. Popular snorkeling spots nearby include the Vista Park Reef, Pompano Beach, and Hollywood North Beach Park.

Gainesville is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville Better for Beaches?

Fort Lauderdale
Gainesville

Fort Lauderdale is very popular for its beaches. However, Gainesville is not a beach destination.

The beaches in Fort Lauderdale are among the best in the world. With seven miles of beautiful sandy beaches, a fun boardwalk, and impressive views, the beaches here are among the best in the area. They are surprisingly walkable and, while there can be crowds, there's still a laid-back and relaxing atmosphere.

Gainesville is not a beach destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville?

Fort Lauderdale
Gainesville

Shopping is a popular activity in both Gainesville and Fort Lauderdale.

Fort Lauderdale is a great destination for shopping. For interesting local boutiques head to Las Olas Boulevard and for name brand stores you'll want to visit Sawgrass Mills Mall.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Gainesville. You'll find all of the standard shopping options around town such as malls, shopping centers, and retail outlets. Two popular areas are the Neighborhoods at Butler and Celebration Pointe.


Is Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville Better for Families?

Fort Lauderdale
Gainesville

Fort Lauderdale is notable for its family-friendly activities. Also, Gainesville is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its kid-friendly activities.

Fort Lauderdale is a very family-friendly place to visit. With seven miles of beautiful sandy beaches and a number of kid-oriented activities, the kids will love it here. Fun activities include Bluefoot Pirate Adventures, Butterfly World, and Funderdome. On sunny days there are many outdoor recreation areas and when the weather isn't cooperating, there are hands-on museums.

Gainesville is a family-friendly coastal city. You'll find outdoor activities, nature parks, and a couple of museums that will appeal to all ages. Highlights for families include A. Quinn Jones Museum and Cultural Center, the Adventure Outpost, and Alfred A. Ring Park.

Is Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville Better for Couples?

Fort Lauderdale
Gainesville

Fort Lauderdale is very popular for romance. Also, Gainesville is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its romantic activities.

Fort Lauderdale has so much to offer for a romantic couple's vacation. Fine dining, beautiful beaches, and great shopping make for a great romantic getaway. Couples and honeymooners love relaxing at the beaches in Fort Lauderdale. A sunset walk on the beach and a stay at a romantic resort will make for an unforgettable trip.

Gainesville makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Couples can enjoy wine tasting and fine dining or enjoying the city's many outdoor activities. Go on a picnic or explore one of the museums in Downtown Gainesville.

Is Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville Better for Students?

Fort Lauderdale
Gainesville

Gainesville is a great destination for students. However, Fort Lauderdale is not popular with students.

Many students visit Gainesville. As the location of the University of Florida, you'll find many students around town. This keeps the energy high with plenty of evening activities and affordable entertainment options.

Fort Lauderdale is not popular with students.


Is Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Fort Lauderdale
Gainesville

Gainesville is a good destination for its public transit. However, Fort Lauderdale is a coastal city with minimal options for times when you don't have a car.

You'll find some public transit in Gainesville, but it may not be enough to take you everywhere. There's a decent bus system that's free to students and employees of the university.

Public transit is mostly limited in Fort Lauderdale. Transportation options include a water taxi and the Sun Trolley Hop-on Bus.

Is Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville a more walkable city?

Fort Lauderdale
Gainesville

Fort Lauderdale is notable for its walkability. Also, Gainesville is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its high level of walkability.

Fort Lauderdale is very walkable. It is one of the most walkable Florida communities with a boardwalk and several pedestrian areas that are fun to wander around.

Gainesville is a somewhat walkable place. Biking is actually a popular way to get around town and some areas are pedestrian-friendly.

For even more information, also check out Is Fort Lauderdale Worth Visiting? and Is Gainesville Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Gainesville or Fort Lauderdale?

How long in Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville?

You'll be able to find lots of things to do in Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville to fill your time. Many travelers usually spend more of their time in Fort Lauderdale than Gainesville because of the number of activities and things to do in the area. Usually, 3-7 days is a good amount of time for Fort Lauderdale, and 1-2 days is enough time in Gainesville.

Families should spend more time in Fort Lauderdale than Gainesville. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Fort Lauderdale, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Fort Lauderdale than Gainesville. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Fort Lauderdale that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Gainesville than Fort Lauderdale if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Gainesville.


  • How many days in Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville? Ideal Length of Stay
    Fort Lauderdale 3-7 
    Gainesville 1-2

One day in Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville?

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the scenic coastal city of Fort Lauderdale. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. Most people visit for the beaches. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

The vibrant destination of Gainesville offers nightlife and food. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. One day is usually enough time to experience most activities.


A weekend in Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville?

Visitors enjoy the food and scuba diving and snorkeling when visiting the luxury destination of Fort Lauderdale. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. This coastal city offers something for everyone. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.

The city of Gainesville offers food and shopping. A weekend here is typical. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything. A weekend is often enough time to do most activities.

Five days in Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville?

Visitors enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping when visiting the high energy coastal city of Fort Lauderdale. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. Many people spend five days here.If you enjoy all that's offered here, then five days is just the right amount of time to spend here. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

Gainesville is a great place to explore. This city offers something for everyone. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything.

A week in Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville?

Visitors enjoy the shopping and nightlife when visiting the destination of Fort Lauderdale. Anyone can find something fun to do here. This is a popular place to visit for one week. Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. Most people visit for the beaches. In one week, you should have a good grasp of this coastal city.

Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Gainesville. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Coach Bus Tours in United States of America, The Best Adventure Tours to United States of America, The Best Train & Rail Tours in United States of America, and The Best Sightseeing Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Gainesville or Fort Lauderdale?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Fort Lauderdale is $182, while the average daily cost in Gainesville is $221. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Fort Lauderdale and Gainesville in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Fort Lauderdale $96
    Gainesville $119
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Fort Lauderdale $192
    Gainesville $238
Compare Hotels in Fort Lauderdale and Gainesville

Looking for a hotel in Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Fort Lauderdale


Hotels in Gainesville


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Fort Lauderdale Hotel Prices and Gainesville Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Fort Lauderdale $51
    Gainesville $40

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Fort Lauderdale

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Fort Lauderdale:

  • Transfer Private Vehicle from City -Fort Lauderdale Airport (FLL): $40
  • Port Everglades to Fort Lauderdale Airport FLL-Departure Transfer: $40
  • Fort Lauderdale Airport (FLL) to Port Everglades-Arrival Transfer: $40
  • Fort Lauderdale to Fort Lauderdale Airport (FLL) - Departure Private Transfer: $40
  • Fort Lauderdale Airport (FLL) to Port Everglades - Arrival Private Transfer: $40
  • Fort Lauderdale to Miami Airport (MIA) - Departure Private Transfer: $46
  • Fort Lauderdale Airport (FLL) to Coral Gables - Arrival Private Transfer: $48
  • Fort Lauderdale Airport (FLL) to Doral hotel/address - Arrival Private Transfer: $50
  • Fort Lauderdale Airport (FLL) to Boca Raton - Arrival Private Transfer: $52
  • Port Everglades Private Transfer from Weston: $58
  • Hard Rock Guitar Hotel Private Transfer (UP TO 14 PASSENGERS): $60
  • Fort Lauderdale Airport Private Transfer (Up To 14 Passengers): $60

Is it cheaper to fly into Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville?

Prices for flights to both Gainesville and Fort Lauderdale change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Fort Lauderdale $49
    Gainesville $70
Typical Food Prices in Fort Lauderdale

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for food and meal costs in Fort Lauderdale:


  • Quick Lunch
    $12

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Fort Lauderdale

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Fort Lauderdale.

  • Food Tour in Lauderdale By The Sea: $60
  • Hollywood Florida Walking Food Tour : $99
  • Downtown Fort Lauderdale Dinner & Drinks Tour: $109
  • Fort Lauderdale Beach Food Tour: $114

Typical Food Prices in Gainesville

Some typical examples of dining costs in Gainesville are as follows:


  • Diner Breakfast for Two
    $17
  • Lunch at Chop Stix (for 2)
    $24

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Fort Lauderdale $15
    Gainesville $44

Tours and Activities in Fort Lauderdale

Here are a few actual costs in Fort Lauderdale for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • Audio Walking Tour of Las Olas Riverwalk: $7.27
  • Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk Self-guided Audio Walking Tour: $7.99
  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Pembroke Pines by Wacky Walks: $10
  • Skip the Line: Flamingo Gardens Admission Ticket in Fort Lauderdale: $24
  • 1-Hour Interactive Pirate Cruise in Ft. Lauderdale (arrive 30 minutes early): $25
  • Water Taxi Evening Pass Sunset Cruise (up to 5 hours!): $25
  • Private BLU3 Nomad Scuba Demo Experience in Deerfield: $25
  • Ghosts and Ghouls Haunted Walking Tour: $26
  • Florida Everglades Airboat Adventure and Wildlife Encounter: $29
  • Fort Lauderdale Ghost Tour: $30
  • Jungle Queen Riverboat 90-Minute Narrated Sightseeing Cruise in Fort Lauderdale: $31
  • Carrie B Cruises! Beautiful and Fun THE VENICE OF AMERICA TOUR!!!: $32

Typical Entertainment Prices in Gainesville

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Gainesville are as follows:


  • Manatee Tour for Two
    $98
  • Tour Guide Tip
    $5.00

Tours and Activities in Gainesville

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Gainesville are as follows:

  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Gainesville by Operation City Quest: $10
  • Butterfly Rainforest at Florida Museum of Natural History Ticket: $15
  • Private Snorkeling Tour in Florida Springs: $250

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Fort Lauderdale $33
    Gainesville $49
Typical Alcohol Prices in Fort Lauderdale

Some typical examples of the costs for nightlife and alcohol in Fort Lauderdale are as follows:


  • Beer
    $7.30

Sample the Local Flavors in Fort Lauderdale

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Fort Lauderdale:

  • Ft Lauderdale Ghosts Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl: $37
  • Guided Happy Hour Bar Crawl by Beer Bike: $64
  • Pedibus Pub Crawl in Fort Lauderdale: $74
  • Party Bike Bar Crawl: $74


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Fort Lauderdale and Gainesville, we can see that Gainesville is more expensive. And not only is Fort Lauderdale much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Fort Lauderdale would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Fort Lauderdale and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Gainesville would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Gainesville than you might in Fort Lauderdale.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Fort Lauderdale Expensive? and Is Gainesville Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville?

Fort Lauderdale has a larger population, and is about 36% larger than the population of Gainesville. When comparing the sizes of Fort Lauderdale and Gainesville, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.


When is the best time to visit Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville in the Summer?

The summer attracts plenty of travelers to both Fort Lauderdale and Gainesville. Many visitors come to Fort Lauderdale in the summer for the beaches, snorkeling, and the family-friendly experiences. Furthermore, most visitors come to Gainesville for the family-friendly experiences during these months.

Fort Lauderdale is around the same temperature as Gainesville in the summer. The daily temperature in Fort Lauderdale averages around 83°F (28°C) in July, and Gainesville fluctuates around 81°F (27°C).

Gainesville receives a lot of rain in the summer. Fort Lauderdale gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In July, Fort Lauderdale usually receives less rain than Gainesville. Fort Lauderdale gets 5.9 inches (149 mm) of rain, while Gainesville receives 6.8 inches (174 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Fort Lauderdale 83°F (28°C) 
    Gainesville 81°F (27°C)

Should I visit Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville in the Autumn?

The autumn brings many poeple to Fort Lauderdale as well as Gainesville. Most visitors come to Fort Lauderdale for the shopping scene and the natural beauty of the area during these months. Additionally, the autumn months attract visitors to Gainesville because of the shopping scene.

In the autumn, Fort Lauderdale is a little warmer than Gainesville. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Fort Lauderdale in October average around 78°F (26°C), and Gainesville averages at about 71°F (22°C).

Fort Lauderdale receives a lot of rain in the autumn. Fort Lauderdale usually gets more rain in October than Gainesville. Fort Lauderdale gets 5.6 inches (143 mm) of rain, while Gainesville receives 2 inches (51 mm) of rain this time of the year. Also, the hurricane season in Gainesville is June to November.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Fort Lauderdale 78°F (26°C) 
    Gainesville 71°F (22°C)

Should I visit Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville in the Winter?

Both Gainesville and Fort Lauderdale are popular destinations to visit in the winter with plenty of activities. The winter months attract visitors to Fort Lauderdale because of the shopping scene and the cuisine. Also, the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Gainesville this time of year.

In January, Fort Lauderdale is generally much warmer than Gainesville. Daily temperatures in Fort Lauderdale average around 67°F (20°C), and Gainesville fluctuates around 54°F (12°C).

In January, Fort Lauderdale usually receives less rain than Gainesville. Fort Lauderdale gets 2.2 inches (55 mm) of rain, while Gainesville receives 2.9 inches (75 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Fort Lauderdale 67°F (20°C) 
    Gainesville 54°F (12°C)

Should I visit Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville in the Spring?

Both Gainesville and Fort Lauderdale during the spring are popular places to visit. The beaches and the natural beauty are the main draw to Fort Lauderdale this time of year.

Fort Lauderdale is a little warmer than Gainesville in the spring. The daily temperature in Fort Lauderdale averages around 75°F (24°C) in April, and Gainesville fluctuates around 69°F (20°C).

Fort Lauderdale usually gets more rain in April than Gainesville. Fort Lauderdale gets 3.1 inches (78 mm) of rain, while Gainesville receives 2 inches (50 mm) of rain this time of the year. Keep in mind that June to November is the hurricane season in Gainesville.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Fort Lauderdale 75°F (24°C) 
    Gainesville 69°F (20°C)

Typical Weather for Gainesville and Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale Gainesville
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 67°F (20°C) 2.2 inches (55 mm) 54°F (12°C) 2.9 inches (75 mm)
Feb 68°F (20°C) 2.1 inches (53 mm) 57°F (14°C) 4.5 inches (115 mm)
Mar 72°F (22°C) 2.4 inches (61 mm) 63°F (17°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm)
Apr 75°F (24°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm) 69°F (20°C) 2 inches (50 mm)
May 79°F (26°C) 6.4 inches (162 mm) 75°F (24°C) 3.1 inches (79 mm)
Jun 81°F (27°C) 9.4 inches (238 mm) 80°F (26°C) 6.8 inches (174 mm)
Jul 83°F (28°C) 5.9 inches (149 mm) 81°F (27°C) 6.8 inches (174 mm)
Aug 83°F (28°C) 7.5 inches (191 mm) 81°F (27°C) 8.3 inches (211 mm)
Sep 82°F (28°C) 7.6 inches (194 mm) 78°F (26°C) 5.5 inches (139 mm)
Oct 78°F (26°C) 5.6 inches (143 mm) 71°F (22°C) 2 inches (51 mm)
Nov 73°F (23°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm) 63°F (17°C) 2.4 inches (61 mm)
Dec 69°F (21°C) 1.9 inches (48 mm) 56°F (14°C) 2.9 inches (74 mm)