Now is the perfect time to plan a visit to Fort Lauderdale (and the Island City of Wilton Manors which is the gayborhood). I spent two weeks there recently and had a COVID safe vacation by doing most stuff outside or on the beach. With temperatures in the high 70s to 80s, it is the perfect escape from the dreary winter weather in many parts of the country.


Take the new Brightline Train to down to Miami. Once in Miami check out the Wynwood Arts District as well as the Design District. Or take the express bus to South Beach and visit the free Botanical Gardens as well as the Holocaust Memorial on your way to the beach. Walk around FAT Village and take in a Saturday evening art walk. In Ft. Lauderdale. Walk along the Riverwalk in downtown Ft. Lauderdale. Run or walk with the Fort Lauderdale Frontrunners which meets three times a week. Hang out on the beach at the Sebastian Road Beach. Enjoy the Sunday farmer’s market in the MASS Arts District sponsored by the Sunnyside Up Market.


Wilton Manors is up the road from downtown Fort Lauderdale. The “Island City” is Palm Springs east. Lots of bars and restaurants in the LGBTQ village along Wilton Drive. There are no chains –just independent boutiques. Try the salmon at Rosie’s Bar and Grill and enjoy the outdoor seating. Hamburger Mary’s across the street which has the Sunday drag brunch. Sit outside and enjoy a cocktail at Hunters. Happy Hour runs from 6-8pm at Johnsons and I hear they have dancers. The Pub is a lot of fun as is Georgie’s Alibi/Monkey Bar. The Gym Sports Bar also is another option. Most of the bars and restaurants have outdoor seating. Keep in shape by working out at the Powerhouse Gym at the Galleria Mall.


Getting around is a breeze on Broward Country Transit. Skip the rental car and parking hassles (and the traffic). Or take Uber or Lyft. The new Brightline high speed passenger rail serves Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm and is also a great option.


I stayed in the new Home2Suites by Hilton just north of downtown (315 NW 1st) in the Flagler Arts and Technology District (FAT Village). You get a full furnished apartment. Across the hall are the more affordable TRU by Hilton rooms. Either way you’ll enjoy the outdoor bar/pool/laundry room/gym on the 5th floor. Two food trucks are right outside if you get hungry and they also sell food and drinks at the check in area. You are steps from the Art Village, the Sistrunk Market Place and Distillery (a food hall) , the C&I Next Door Brew Coffee House, and Henry’s (a sandwich shop with great cookies). Just down the street is the Broward County Transit Center where you can take the #50 bus to Wilton Manors or catch another bus to Sebastian Road Beach. A short walk away is the GreenWise Market which has a great salad and hot food bar plus you can pick up some super sweet Florida strawberries.


HOTspots! Magazine (which has run my column) has the latest on bar specials, upcoming events, restaurant reviews and more. Read it online at OutClique and South Florida Gay News are two other local publications.

About the Author

Bill Malcolm is the nation’s only LGBTQ+ syndicated value travel columnist. Residing in Indianapolis, he travels with a focus on the local and value orientation.