Part of living in such a diverse state (believe it or not!) is taking weekend trips to places that are similar, but different enough to be thrilling. Orlando is about an hour away, St. Augustine is three, and Fort Lauderdale is a four hour drive from Tampa. Miami is five, although two of those are in traffic just outside…
Growing up I never spent any time in South Florida, only visiting my aunt in Davie as a toddler and Miami Beach on vacation in the 90s. Needless to say, any travel is different once you’re 21+. Most of my friends have connections in the area, so since 2009 I’ve been down to the Gold Coast a handful of times.
For Memorial Day this year, Mark and I visited the boys of Broward County for a weekend of boating, beaching, and of course…drinking. It has a reputation to uphold, after all. Our friend B lives in Wilton Manors, and it is a cheerful place to be. As the unofficial gayborhood, it’s all authentic and all local. Fun, unpretentious shops. Pleasant restaurants, and numerous places to inebriate. The (drag) queen of them all, The Manor, is a rambling mansion of dance and people-watch heaven.
On Saturday we took in the crystalline Atlantic waters in B’s friend D’s boat. For as much as I find open water frightening, I do love being on it within earshot of land. Who doesn’t like getting tan while sipping a Corona Light and pretending to be fabulous?
Our last day we hit the Fort Lauderdale gay beach (at Sebastian Street). The sand gets much hotter on the Atlantic coast, I think because it is a light brown instead of powder white on the Gulf. Again, the people-watching did not disappoint.
Eating was good all around too – seafood at Coconuts, and brunch at Rosie’s. The difference I sense between here and there is a matter of critical mass, and money. If you have the crowd, and the cash, then every event is a classy, indulgent, kick-off-your-Pradas-fun experience. Miami has new money, so it’s all flash. Palm Beach has old money, so you have to follow rules carefully. Fort Lauderdale is a charming mix of both. It is a popular spot for gay retirees, and yet many in the crowd you meet at parties are young and professional.
It was a refreshing weekend for Mark and I both – and I hope to return very soon. Check the map I made to see where all we went during our 48-hours in the 954 area code.