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The Yard in Wilton Manors Is a True Retro Urban Oasis

The funky urban oasis the Yard is one of Fort Lauderdale's hidden gems.
The funky urban oasis the Yard is one of Fort Lauderdale's hidden gems.
Photo by William Flood

Visitors stumble upon this hidden enclave while hunting down the Alchemist, one of the area’s most popular coffee shops. Just finding it, tucked away on NE 13th Avenue in Wilton Manors, feels bizarre. Driving on a residential street past '60s-era ranch houses, you're convinced your GPS has led you astray, and then a gate appears, hinting at something special past it.

There’s no website, and you’ll find little about it on social media. Even many of the vendors there don’t know the name of the place. Many locals refer to it as Eucalyptus Gardens, a name that memorializes the eucalyptus trees remaining from a plant nursery that once called the grounds here home. Its current moniker — the Yard — pays homage to the adjacent former lumber yard that is now part of the complex.

The Yard's patio offers views of several charming eateries.
The Yard's patio offers views of several charming eateries.
Photo by William Flood

It’s bohemian and eclectic, tropical and unmanicured in a New Orleans or Key West kind of way. Entering the grounds, you’re greeted by three charming eateries. First is the Alchemist, famous for iced coffee and open-face sandwiches called slicers. Next door is Voo La Voo Cafe, owned by French native Silvie Le Nouail, whose culinary journey included the Caribbean and Key West. Her charming café serves a rotating array of sweet and savory crepes. Next is La Mexicana Tapas & Taqueria, offering traditional Mexican fare along with specialty items such as arepas and ceviche. The spot's budget-friendly Taco Tuesdays offers street tacos and margaritas for $2 each.

They nearly share a patio, and it takes only a turn of the head to see each menu board. So it’s a pleasant dilemma deciding which is most appealing. Ultimately, mood will dictate. The eateries are pet-friendly — there’s a dog station at the Alchemist, and a resident cat keeps visitors company.

A Jetsons-era Airstream trailer occupied by the Wander Shop welcomes visitors to the Yard in Wilton Manors.
A Jetsons-era Airstream trailer occupied by the Wander Shop welcomes visitors to the Yard in Wilton Manors.
Photo by William Flood

While you're dining, your natural curiosity will be aroused by the gleaming 1963 Airstream trailer across the sidewalk. It’s home to the Wander Shop, a mobile boutique selling apparel and accessories semipermanently berthed at the Yard. Your wanders begin there, taking you along painted sidewalks, past painted trees, and through enough "antiques" strewn about to make Fred Sanford blush. Along the way, you can shop specialty vendors such as Zen Orchids & Tropicals. Depending upon the day, you might be treated to an outdoor yoga class, a farmers' market, pop-up artists, or even a palm reader. And if one vintage trailer isn’t enough, you’ll find two others, forlorn and tucked away, awaiting an artist or vendor to bring them back to life.

The tiny, tucked-away Yard in Wilton Manors has an artsy, bohemian vibe.
The tiny, tucked-away Yard in Wilton Manors has an artsy, bohemian vibe.
Photo by William Flood

The winding path ends at the remnants of a building, now embellished with murals reminiscent of Fort Lauderdale's Flagler Village or Miami's Wynwood Walls. Next to it is Lola’s Market, something of a warehouse–turned–flea market. Under roof are a handful of specialty vendors and working artists such as Heather Neiman, an abstract painter who hails from Ohio. There’s Robin’s House of Tea, spearheaded by Robin Durfee, South Florida’s first tea sommelier; and also Vinylocoz, offering new and used vinyl records. Alongside, there's everything from handmade jewelry to African shea butter and vintage clothing.

The Yard (which is unrelated to the erstwhile Wynwood Yard in Miami) is a popular spot, and parking can be difficult. Only a few spaces are available out front, although parking can also be found in the former lumber yard. Weekends are particularly busy; fortunately, during peak weekend hours, there’s help with parking.

The Yard. 2430 NE 13th Ave., Wilton Manors.

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