Travel Thursday: Staycation or A Little Getaway – Thanksgiving in Greater Fort Lauderdale

Less Traditional, Just as Memorable – Thanksgiving in Greater Fort Lauderdale


Thanksgiving is a time to come together with family and friends to reminisce about the past and to make new memories that will last a lifetime.

I've been living in Fort Lauderdale for just over five years now and it looks like I will be staying in Florida for this November's turkey day, just like my first and second year here. In 2013, the whole fam-damily came to me and we went to Key West to celebrate.  But the next year found me enjoying the First day at Gay Days – Fort Lauderdale. Showing Me Another Part of the City.  Staying at the W Hotel on Fort Lauderdale Beach with a multitude of gay men wasn't a bad thing at all. 

Gay Days has not returned to FTL/FLL since, but the Greater Fort Lauderdale Area still has many things to do this Thanksgiving Weekend. If you're local, stay put and enjoy, but if you're not local or not from Florida, here are some things that may entice you to come down for this long holiday weekend. 

Here are some of the best Thanksgiving weekend activities to create a new spin on old traditions.


RECREATION – Thursday, 11/22

Fort Lauderdale Turkey Trot

If you're one of those athletic LGBTers, you know the tradition of having a quick 5k on Turkey Day in prep for the tryptophan trauma later on in th day


Fort Lauderdale has you covered.  You can run, walk, or jog in the Holy Cross Hospital Fort Lauderdale Turkey Trot 5k race along the beautiful A1A to benefit two local leadership foundations, Leadership Broward Foundation, Inc. and the Helena Ramsay Soaring Leader Scholarship.


When it comes to dining, my first staycation found me eating a great meal at the H2O Cafe right along A1A (the road separating the beach from the businesses along the Atlantic Coast in Fort Lauderdale). But there are other places I may branch out to this upcoming holiday weekend.

Thanksgiving Dinner Luau at Mai Kai


I've heard a great deal about Mai Kai and have not been there yet. What we learn from the their website is that … Like Polynesia, the Mai-Kai Dinner Attraction is a feast for all senses, and offers a perfect mix of authentic South Seas entertainment and exquisite gourmet selections. The Mai-Kai resembles a Polynesian village with palm thatched roofs, flaming torches, waterfalls, lagoons, and orchid collections. The Mai-Kai features an international cuisine with oriental specialties, and over 50 unique tropical drinks. Beautiful maidens and agile warriors perform native songs and dances during the nationally renowned Mai-Kai Islander Revue.

2018 Thanksgiving Buffet at Hollywood Beach Resort

More than 40 of my Thanksgivings have been in Maine.  Every turkey holiday we would wonder, will it snow, heat wave, freezing rain? What I loved about my 2014 year here was while I was ingesting food, I was watching men walk along the beach, tourists riding bikes, the sun gently caressing me and wishing me thanks.  Boy that got corny quick.  But seriously, taking the weather component out of the equation for the fall and winter months is an amazing stress reliever.  And when you can be thankful and eat your turkey and trimmings in a venue line this one pictured here, overlooking the ocean and the boardwalk, it's so worth it. 

Thanksgiving Brunch at ETARU Hallandale/Las Olas

I'm just going to keep telling you how amazing it is to just have so many less cares in the world while you give thanks for your past year as you listen to the waves crash on the Atlantic shoreline and watch the beautiful Florida bodies make you realize that it's also good to be at a restaurant where they usually only serve one dessert to you. This chain's venues may be getting my vote as some of the more inspirational and unique for Thanksgiving, along with their fireside cooking featuring a turkey carving station and bottomless specialty wines. And we are liking the BRUNCH idea so maybe we could have two Thanksgiving meals that day.


Council Oak Steaks & Seafood Thanksgiving Specials

There's nothing wrong with mixing a little gambling with gluttony. And if you win big, well, there's more to be thankful for. Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino will provide a 3 course meal and some fun, for a nominal fee.  Most of the restaurants in the area are providing specials between $40 and $50 with some lesser options available. Maybe this will be the place to fill my second stomach.

Friday 11/23

Black Friday Shopping – If you need to, there are several options.


Retail Therapy: Discover the convenience and the value of shopping in everything from boutiques to department stores in Greater Fort Lauderdale. There are special shopping tours for groups and local shuttle buses from the beach. And, most hotels provide easy access to major shopping centers for car-less travelers. You can even shop at The Galleria by Water Taxi. Sawgrass Mills, the world's largest discount and entertainment mall, the Swap Shop, South's largest flea market, Festival Marketplace, a quarter-mile long shopper's paradise, and Westfield Broward, a one level, 1,000,000 sq ft shopping mall in Plantation, are just a few of the venues to begin your retail therapy. Translated "the waves" in Spanish, Las Olas Blvd is known as Greater Fort Lauderdale's "style mile," lined with independently owned boutiques, a restaurant row with acclaimed chefs, and lively lounges and cafés with sidewalk seating. Las Olas also a major stop along Greater Fort Lauderdale's Water Taxi system. –

Full Moon Kayaking

When I moved from Maine to Fort Lauderdale, I did not leave my love of canoeing and kayaking behind.  Good for me, Fort Lauderdale is known as the Venice of America. There are several canals around the area, but one of the better ones is the one that circles around Wilton Manors and actually creates the island where so many gays live, love, and party. I have my own kayak, but most travelers don't pack one for their journeys.  Lucky for all of us, there are several companies around that rent kayaks right on the water's edge. 


One of the adventures I have not done before is to kayak at night. And look!  The full moon is a beaver moon this time. 

Las Olas Food Tours

If physical activities is not for you, maybe eating more is! There are a handful of food tours in the area.  I went on a great one in West Palm Beach recently, but have not dabbled in the ones closer to home. There are different levels and depths of food tours offered, so we would recommend visiting their website at and picking your poison. Las Olas, translated to "the waves", is a small walkabe street in downtown Fort Lauderdale that has a variety of moderately priced options mixed in with a little higher end venues, art galleries, and so on. 


Saturday 11/24

Take Saturday and recuperate the body while filling the mind with culture and art.  Las Olas has some great art galleries, but there's also other events occurring Thanksgiving weekend you may want to enjoy.


ELTON JOHN: Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour

I've had the pleasure of seeing Elton John twice in my life. Both times were in Portland, Maine.  Once was sitting in the nosebleed section, and the other was from the front row as he said, "This next song is for my wonderful six Tiny Dancers in the front row." I of course still have that ticket.  Any chance to see Sir Elton play, one must take it. He does look amazing in that pic.  We should see how he looks in person. 

After more than half a century, Elton will be having one final tour stopping in Fort Lauderdale.

FATVillage Artwalk  


An emerging arts community filled with great art, food, and music. Flagler + Arts + Technology makes Fat Village what it is today.

FATVillage is relatively small only in geography, but this unsuspecting district has been noted, and is coming under further notice nationwide. It’s a differentiated experience when explored below its surface, and that is part of the FATVillage appeal.


I've been to two different last Fridays of the month art walks.  When I'm in town and they are happening, I will be there.  And if you can get into Henry's Sandwich Station, they have poutine, an amazing fried chicken sandwich, and many other great things on the menu.

6th Annual Yarn Bombing on Andrews Avenue  

If you actually want to create some art, check out the 6th Annual Yarn Bombing on Andrews Avenue.  I just learned about this recently and 


 This year’s holiday streetscape will bring the story of The Nutcracker to the 10 street trees on the 400 block of N. Andrews Avenue. Join your friends and neighbors and come spread holiday cheer Thanksgiving weekend!

Even if I am not a part of this, I will remember the address and make sure to drive by shortly after the event. 

Sunday 11/25

You need to try Rebel House in neighboring Boca.  When I have the time for the quick drive north and want quality food and an amazing time, You will find me at the Rebel House at the bar enjoying it all. Every time I return, the menu has changed.  At first I am sad some ot the tantalizing offerings are gone, but I quickly find a new love for my eyes and mouth to enjoy.  Here's a local production "Check Please" that helps many of us find new and exciting places to eat. 




Rosie's Bar & Grill

If you want to remain in Fort Lauderdale and gay it up, start, celebrate, and end your Sunday Funday at Rosie's Bar & Grill.  Yes, every gay seems to go here so it's packed, yet fun, and the peach vodka drink with the side car of infused peaches will need to be followed by another since they are that amazing, and I don't like peaches. 


Flip FlopsShooters Waterfront

You can check out our story 'Boys With Boats' Offers A New Way To Meet Men With Similar Interests, Away From The Bars. to learn a little bit about Flip Flops.  We recommend the mile high nachos as they are a mile high. Everything is good here and the service is quality.  Nope, it's not a fancy place, but you're right on the Intracoastal Waterway where you can see all the boats and boys going by and we've seen dolphins and manatee, too. 

Shooters has been called " the most popular waterfront dining destination in the city with a completely new look and scenic inspired menu."  I like the laid back feel of Flip Flops, but if you want a little more shine on your silver, then just go next door to Shooters. Both are great bargains, waterfront dining, and just very relaxing. 

I love living in Fort Lauderdale because there is always something to do.  You just need to look for it, find it, and have the time to do it.  Life here is not fast paced at all.  If you want that, go to Miami.

You can find a list of events during Thanksgiving weekend in Fort Lauderdale at and definitely check out that site as there are savings on many items listed above.

1 thought on “Travel Thursday: Staycation or A Little Getaway – Thanksgiving in Greater Fort Lauderdale”

  1. Thanks for sharing bout our

    Thanks for sharing bout our holiday yarn bombing event! The more the merrier and it's open house style so please feel free to come and go and participate as much or as little as you like – then walk over to artwalk in FATVillage!


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