Located in South Florida’s Broward County, Wilton Manors is a small town of about 12,000 residents that’s bordered by Pompano Beach to the north and Fort Lauderdale to the south.
Just a short walk from the Atlantic Ocean, it is conveniently close to Interstate 95, which is the state’s largest north-south running highway.
Though they both require a bit of windshield time to reach, Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park are each doable in day-trips, and some of the state’s most impressive beaches, and historical and cultural attractions are close by as well.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Wilton Manors, Florida.
1. Richardson Historic Park and Nature Preserve
Located on Wilton Drive in Wilton Manors, Richardson Historic Park is a convenient and inexpensive activity option for travelers interested in history and culture.
The park’s grounds are comprised of more than five acres, and its many waterways are popular to explore via kayak and canoe.
The park is home to a variety of wildlife, and it’s not uncommon to see birds, gators, fish, and even manatees basking in the relatively warm, shallow waters.
The historic manor and carriage houses are the park’s centerpieces, and each gives visitors a unique insight into the area’s past before it was developed.
2. World AIDS Museum
Wilton Manors is home to the World AIDS Museum and has been open to the public since 2014.
The museum is one of only a few of its kind in the world. It’s dedicated to both preservation and education and includes a wide variety of exhibits and displays; many of them are particularly poignant.
With its large gay population, South Florida – and Miami in particular – were in many ways the epicenter of the epidemic decades ago. Most guests agree that of all the things they experienced on their trip, the museum was one of the most educational and memorable.
3. Stork’s Bakery & Coffee House
From cakes, wraps, and empanadas to coffee, cookies, and pastries, Stork’s Bakery and Coffee House is the perfect destination for sugar and caffeine junkies staying in the Wilton Manors area.
Stork’s is located on NE 15th Avenue and is open every day.
The bakery and coffee house has been open since 1997 and now has two area locations that are open until midnight every night of the week.
They also open earlier than most of their competitors, so for those beginning a day trip before most vacationers are out of bed, it’s a perfect place to stop for fortification before heading out.
4. Jungle Queen Riverboats
With such an abundance of rivers and inland waterways, the area around Fort Lauderdale and Wilton Manors just begs to be seen from the water, and Jungle Queen Riverboats is one of the area’s most popular tour providers.
Fort Lauderdale is often referred to as ‘America’s Venice,’ and Jungle Queen offers visitors glimpses into the natural world, as well as the lifestyles of some of the area’s most well-heeled residents.
Animals are commonly seen too, including crocs and gators, monkeys, birds, and even the occasional manatee.
A variety of food and drink options are served onboard, so showing-up hungry won’t be a problem.
5. Florida Swap Shop
The Florida Swap Shop on West Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale is a unique area attraction that’s part drive-in theater, part flea market, and part live entertainment venue; it can really draw crowds when things are in full swing.
The drive-in portion of the facility includes 14 theaters, and the flea market is one of the state’s largest. For those with particularly short attention spans, there’s also an antique car museum and farmer’s market.
The Swap Shop is generally one of those places that guests end up staying longer than expected, especially when big-name headliners like Willie Nelson are on stage.
6. Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park
For gamblers and lovers of Vegas-style glitz and action, there’s no better place to spend a few hours than Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park.
With more than 1,500 slot machines and dozens of poker tables, it’s about as close to Sin City as Sunshine State visitors are going to get, and like Vegas, they’re known for their tasty food and live entertainment.
There are six restaurants in all, and live events include music, comedy, and cabaret productions.
The park’s on-site greyhound track is a hot area too; with so much to see and do, it’s wise to plan on spending more than just an hour or two.
7. Pompano Beach Amphitheater
Pompano Beach’s amphitheater is an open-air live entertainment venue that can pack-in more than 3,000 spectators on concert nights.
Throughout the year, the amphitheater hosts a variety of performances; in the past, many have featured nationally-known bands and artists like the Gin Blossoms and The Pure Prairie League.
Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are served on-site, and there’s ample and inexpensive parking nearby as well.
Many concert-goers bring their own blankets, folding chairs, food and drink to set up shop on the ground around the amphitheater.
Check the calendar of events section on their website for a complete list of upcoming performances.
8. The Yard
The Yard in Wilton Manors is located in a relatively off-the-beaten-path area that may not seem like a prime relaxation destination, but once inside, visitors tend to consider it a hidden oasis of sorts.
Featuring an idyllic garden setting with tons of covered, outdoor seating, The Yard is part coffee shop, part bistro, and part bakery; it’s the perfect place to while away an afternoon out of the sun.
They’re particularly well-known for their cold brew coffee and fresh-baked cakes and pastries, and each shop offers something unique, like organic smoothies, crepes, health and body products, and even fresh flowers.
9. Central Broward Regional Park and Stadium
Central Broward Regional Park and Stadium is located on NW 11th Place in nearby Lauderhill. With its wide-open spaces and abundant sports facilities, it’s a popular place for fit and energetic locals and visitors.
From cricket, basketball, and soccer to tennis, paddle boats, and a number of annual fairs and festivals, there’s always something worth checking out. Previous guests have noted that even after spending a day in the park, they still hadn’t done and seen everything.
Even for those who aren’t particularly athletic, the park offers ample picnic and walking areas, and it’s a popular geocaching site as well.
10. Hillsboro Antique Mall and Cafe
Antique malls are great places to pick-up unique knick-knacks and keepsakes. When the sun’s too intense or thunderstorms are rolling in from the Atlantic, spending a few hours at the Hillsboro Antique Mall and Café would be a wise choice.
The mall is located in Pompano Beach and is comprised of more than 200 individual vendors selling everything from vintage clothing and costume jewelry to furniture and arts and crafts.
Of course, there’s always the chance of discovering a rare gem too, especially for those with the time and patience to peruse carefully. There are a variety of food and drink options also, most of which are reasonably priced.
11. Betty’s Soul Food Restaurant
Featuring more Obama paraphernalia than his ex-campaign manager’s storage unit, and some of the best soul food in the region, Betty’s Soul Food Restaurant is a unique food and cultural attraction that’s worth a visit for food and political-minded travelers.
Some of the perennial favorite menu items include homemade mac ‘n cheese, cornbread, collard greens, and fried chicken. During the last few election cycles, the restaurant was often visited by savvy politicians courting the Sunshine State’s African American vote.
Don’t be surprised if there’s a wait for a table, but with hefty portion sizes and reasonable prices, it’ll be well worth it.
12. Historic Stranahan House
The Stranahan House is Fort Lauderdale’s oldest historic home, and in many ways, visiting is like taking a giant step back in time to when the area was mostly undeveloped.
In addition to being a pioneer-era home, the house was once a trading post, and construction was completed in 1901.
The only way to take it all in is by guided tour; they’re offered most days of the week in the afternoon.
Previous guests agree that the tours were much more interesting and thorough than they expected, making it a great deal for value-minded visitors traveling on a budget.
13. Secret Woods Nature Center
Featuring a stunning butterfly garden and a few trails that lead through its nearly 60 acres, Secret Woods Nature Center is a natural attraction that makes many guests feel like they’re farther away from civilization than they really area.
It’s common to see a variety of animals as you explore, including turtles, snakes, foxes, and even gators.
Parking and admission are both free. With its abundance of wide-open spaces perfect for stretching young legs, it’s a great destination for families traveling with little ones.
Consider bringing water, a hat, and sun and bug spray if you’ll be staying a while.
14. 925 Nuevo’s Cubano’s
South Florida is full of Cuban immigrants, and not surprisingly, it’s the state’s epicenter for Cuban food, art, and culture.
925 Nuevo’s Cubano’s claim to fame is its authentic Cuban sandwiches, and there’s no better place to relax and enjoy one than the restaurant’s quaint, artsy, and quirky setting.
It’s an outdoor-only seating facility, so don’t expect air conditioning, but there’s ample shade and the seats are comfortable, so you probably won’t even notice the heat.
During peak hours, the restaurant often sells out of sandwiches; to avoid that heartbreaking situation, consider arriving early before the majority of the lunch crowd.
15. Big Apple Books
Especially for those who plan on spending much of their vacation on the beach, books may be an important element.
Featuring an eclectic mix of classics and contemporary books – from crime and sci-fi to noir and chick-lit – Big Apple Books has been likened to a thrift-shop, flea-market, and hipster’s paradise.
Books are generally four bucks or less, and they sell records, DVDs, and CDs too.
Once or twice a month, they offer deep-discount days to turn over their inventory, so if you’re looking to make out like a bandit, consider checking their website for sales days so you don’t miss anything.