I lived in Fort Lauderdale from 2003 to 2005. I went back for a visit last month, and not much has changed. As far as culture and history, Ft. Lauderdale doesn’t have too much. I’m assuming you’re going to stay in one of the hotels on the main drag along A1A (where the beach is), so I’ll recommend things that are accessible from there.
The Stranahan House-one of the most historic home in Ft. Lauderdale
Taylor Birch State Park
The Swap Shop is OK, but its not in the most desirable neighborhoods. If you were going to go there for some reason, I’d make it a point to do it late in the afternoon so you can check out the drive-in movie theater there.
Bonnet House Museum and Gardens-I never went, but it seems to do a popular thing to do.
International Swimming Hall of Fame-if you’re into that sorta thing.
Something else you might be tempted to do is take a boat ride. There are tons of places up and down the beach advertising rides and I’m sure your hotel can recommend some as well. If you were going to do one, I’d go with the Jungle Queen which is a popular choice with tourists. Another, much cheaper option, is to take a water taxi for a ride on the intercoastal waterway. They offer an inexpensive all day hop-on and off deal. Good if you want to go downtown one night to drink.
OK, onto food, drink, and entertainment:
You can grab a nice lunch at Beach Place (open air mall) on A1A or on the strip at Las Olas Boulevard. Las Olas is good for cafes, galleries, and specialty shops. On the weekends, and some weekday nights, Beach Place becomes a good option for grabbing drinks because there are several restaurants/bars in the complex. Another option for a night out is Las Olas Riverfront. Again, loads of restaurants, bars, and shopping during the day. The crowd spills out onto Las Olas Blvd. in downtown Ft. Lauderdale. This is a popular choice for a night out because you’re allowed to bring your drink out of the bar to drink on the street. There are tons of bars there, but the crowd tends to be on the youngish side.
Oh, and I forgot to check where you’re from, but if you want some good bbq, there is an amazing place called Tom Jenkins BBQ. Its not too far from the beach, but you would need a car to get there. I only mention it because its amazing and I’m damning myself for not going there on my last visit.