Winter Fun in Florida Sun

Your Ft. Lauderdale/Wilton Manors Holiday

By Bill Malcolm*
Photos courtesy of Bill Malcolm, Visit Lauderdale, Wilton River Suites

Consider a winter getaway to Fort Lauderdale and Wilton Manors (The Island City, which Fort Lauderdale, Florida, surrounds). The weather is usually perfect: highs in the low 80s and rain-free. There is so much to do; if you stay in Wilton Manors, you will not need a car.

WHAT TO DO

Besides hanging out at Sebastian Beach, there is much other stuff to do.

Hike the boardwalk and enjoy the red mangrove swamp in Colohatchee Park Wilton Manors. I took the electric shuttle there for just $2, known as the Circuit Rideshare service. Download the app and book your ride. It’s like a UBER, but you share a ride using a cute multi-passenger vehicle. The drivers work for tips, so be sure to give them one—details at ridecircuit.com/fortlauderdale.

Join the Frontrunners for a walk or run. They meet on Sundays at 5 p.m. at the Pride Center in Equality Park in Wilton Manors (and also on Wednesdays in Holiday Park and Saturday mornings)—details at FRWFL.org.

Pick up some sexy underwear at the Pride Factory clothing store (2282 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors).

See the shark exhibit at the Frost Science Museum. Walk along the Riverwalk in downtown Ft. Lauderdale.

The new Seminole Hardrock Hotel and Casino in nearby Hollywood features live sports betting and games such as craps and roulette. It features restaurants and a guitar-shaped hotel.

The Wilton Manors Library has shared computers and is perfect for teleworkers working out of their Wilton Manors office.

Download the Seek App and get to know the flora and fauna. Green iguanas, as are the colorful ducks that walk around the neighborhoods, are a startling sight. The various kinds of palms are attractive. With a subtropical climate, you will find flowers not seen elsewhere in the U.S.

Take the Brightline Train to Miami. The super-fast first gets you there in just 30 minutes. You can even buy a snack on board. The train also goes north to Orlando Airport. There is nothing else like it in the U.S.

NIGHTLIFE

Most bars are close to each other on Wilton Drive in Wilton Manors. Hunters is my first stop. There is something going on every night. (Yes, the same owner as the one in Palm Springs.)

The LIT was just voted the best bar for lesbians. You will find them at 2440 Wilton Drive. You will find the leather crowd at the Eagle in Wilton Manors. Georgie’s’ Alibi and the Monkey Bar (of Ptown fame) at 2232 is a lot of fun. Johnson’s has dancers and a happy hour from 5 – 8 p.m. The new NoManors Bar is a lot of fun.

There must be fifteen bars within steps of each other on both sides of Wilton Manors Drive. Check them out while in town.

WHERE AND WHAT TO EAT

Enjoy a burger at Rosie’s Bar and Grill (2449 Wilton Drive) on Wilton Drive. The popular hangout is necessary. Pub on the Drive also has excellent food and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. You will find them at 2271 Wilton Manor Drive.

Since I travel alone, I prefer getting food at grocery stores. The Publix Market (Florida’s iconic grocery store) can be found at 2633 N. Dixie Highway. Try the hot food bar, which features Southern classics. Pick up some Jaymar brand super sweet Florida strawberries for breakfast or a snack. Get cash at their Presto! ATM, which features no surcharge for many users with accounts at a credit union.

The new Sprouts Market is another option. They, too, have made-to-order sandwiches and other items.

WHERE TO STAY

The new Wilton River Suites is right on the river and walkable to the bars in Wilton Manors. Check out a bike or kayak during your stay. You get your own apartment, some of which have two bathrooms. They also feature an onsite gym and pool. Book your room at wiltonsuites.com.

Men will like the even closer Calypso Inn, which features a small pool. The tropical outdoor gardens are impressive and are just two blocks from the bars in Wilton Manors. Tell the owner Wes, I sent you.

I have also stayed at the Home2Suites in the Flagler Arts Village District. The newer hotel is handy to the Riverwalk and downtown.

GETTING THERE

I took Southwest without incident to and from FLL. Then you can UBER your way to the hotel or take the #1 Bus to the #50 Bus to get to Wilton Manors. Details at Broward County Transit. The Tri Rail also runs from the airport to the city. Tri Rail also runs from Miami International as well. Skip the traffic and parking headaches and UBER, or take transit. And if you stay in Wilton Manors, you can walk everywhere.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

OUT SFL carries my column, which is a newspaper and a magazine. Please pick up a copy of either or find them at OUTSFL.com.

HOTSpots! Florida is another gay tabloid and also a reliable source of current goings on. You can read them online at HOTSpotsMagazine.com.

The monthly OutClique Magazine also has many ideas of what to do while in town.

Special recognition goes to Richard Gray for his travel tips. Richard is the Senior Vice President of Inclusion and Accessibility for Visit Lauderdale, who single-handedly transformed Fort Lauderdale into the most welcoming LGBTQ+ city on the planet.

 “Everyone Under the Sun” is their motto. Fort Lauderdale wrote the book on how to promote your city.

You owe yourself a visit.

*LGBTQ publications throughout North America carry Bill Malcolm’s syndicated LGBTQ travel country.

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