Determined to overcome the clinical two-page featurettes in mainstream travel guides, and the short thrift of shady suggestions in current gay ones, Florida native, Let's Go author, and unabashed vagabond Paul Rubio set out to give the Sunshine State its proper pink due and recently won an award for his efforts. Named runner-up as Best Travel Guide of 2009 by the North American Travel Journalist Association, a huge honor given the category covers all guidebooks on the market, The Out Traveler: South Florida excels with its blend of LGBT history and politics balanced against well-curated and candid guidebook staples.
“It’s 300 kick-ass pages about everything and anything cool that will inspire people to discover the nature, the gay history, the food, the shopping, the spas, the lifestyle, the culture (yes, culture) of Florida!” says Rubio, who's currently researching his next guide, a gay-friendly globe-spanning paen in the vein of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. “Unfortunately, even local Floridians know little about their own state and the treasures that lie within.”
So what's Rubio's “South Florida Seven” for 2010?
• Uncover the hidden treasure of the Treasure coast: Vero Beach Hotel & Spa. The oceanfront gem is pristine and serene, a luxurious and exceptionally affordable oasis away from the tumult of south and central Florida. Joining their Facebook page gives you access to jaw-dropping cheap rates!
• Escape to Bora Bora right off Little Torch Key at Little Palm Island. Its exclusive seclusion makes you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere.
• Visit the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg on the west coast for the most comprehensive collection of Salvatore Dalí’s work in the entire world (yes—more than Spain. This museum is Florida’s best-kept cultural secret.
• Get up close and personal with wild alligators and curious birds at Shark Valley in Everglades National Park. Rent a bike to traverse the 12-mile trail, but be careful not to run over any gator tails!
• Take the public water taxi through the “Venice of America,” better known as Fort Lauderdale. A day pass will take you through South Florida’s most lavish and pimped-out waterways, with ample stops for shopping, eating, and tanning. Upgrade your stay with a night at the new Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale and the W Fort Lauderdale, both boasting breath-taking views of the ocean and intracoastal.
• Tan your privates at Haulover Beach. A quick 20-minute trip from either Miami or Fort Lauderdale, South Florida’s only nude beach is a rewarding experience for all your Lever 2000 parts.