For years, Fort Lauderdale was the stereotypical spring break town: college coeds, beer bongs and wet T-shirt contests but thanks to ongoing marketing efforts and the fact that South Beach has become more straight-gentrified, gays are flocking to Lauderdale and in the process making it a premier gay destination. Out & About, the acclaimed gay and lesbian travel newsletter, awarded Fort Lauderdale "1999 Destination of the Year." And since that time, it has only gotten better and more gay-friendly.
Over 7 million travelers and tourists come to Fort Lauderdale "America's Riviera" every year. Fort Lauderdale offers canal-side dining and water taxi transportation that give it a cosmopolitan flavor similar to the cities of Europe. As part of an ongoing two billion dollar renovation and restoration project, the city has rebuilt its beachfront and also added a riverwalk along the New River near Las Olas Boulevard. Open-air fairs, festivals and art shows add spice and variety to the local charm that is intrinsic in Fort Lauderdale's allure.
Located in the center of South Florida's Gold Coast, midway between Palm Beach and Miami, Greater Fort Lauderdale stretches from Deerfield Beach and Pompano in the north to Hollywood and Hallandale Beach in the south. Sprawling across 1,200 square miles that include 505,600 acres of Everglades on the western edge, the region is home to 30 cities and 1.7 million residents.
Fort Lauderdale has over 100 gay owned businesses, including, hotels, inns, bars, night clubs, restaurants, shops, plus the second largest Metropolitan Community Congregation in the U.S.A. Over 30 of these businesses cater specifically to the gay & lesbian market. Boasting three gay beaches and another nude gay beach, Fort Lauderdale definitely epitomizes fun in the sun for the gay vacationer.
Gay and Gay Friendly Hotels in Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale is host to over 27 Gay resorts, ranging from the quaint gay-only resorts to the grand, gay-friendly, oceanfront hotels boasting deluxe spas and private beaches. Greater Fort Lauderdale provides a wealth of places to stay that fit within any budget from basic road-side motels to all-includsive resorts. And while historically considered a "party town," the climate is changing, bringing with it newer, upscale hotels that are lining the beaches.
Fort Lauderdale's assortment of accommodations will meet the needs of any discerning gay and lesbian traveler. Whether you are searching for large all-welcoming, gay friendly hotels or intimate gay guesthouses, gay Fort Lauderdale provides the perfect accommodations for all tastes. Leave your cares - and in some case your clothes - behind. Gorgeous gay only guesthouses and intimate inns provide an array of choices for the gay traveler seeking the ultimate in charm and privacy.
By some estimates, gays and lesbians account for more than one-fifth of the local population and - judging from the preponderance of rainbow flags and gay-themed bumper stickers - they live, work and socialize throughout the entire area. Victoria Park is the traditional gay neighborhood, home to older, more-established gays and lesbians.
Wilton Manors has become the most gay-popular town in the area, with a myriad of new gay and gay-friendly businesses, accompanied by ever-increasing home prices. Note that Wilton Manors, like West Hollywood and Palm Springs, has a gay majority on its city council.
Unlike South Beach or Miami, Fort Lauderdale is a kinder, gentler and less intimidating kind of gay destination, with comfortable gay spots spread throughout the area. So spread out in fact that driving is a virtual necessity here, and while you'll rarely spend more than 15 minutes getting anywhere, you'll find a strictly limited number of venues within walking distance of your lodging, no matter where you stay.
A car is advisable, but taxis are plentiful and relatively cheap (for those nights you just want to drink and bar-hop). There are also water and land buses. In short, Fort Lauderdale is more a sophisticated suburban town (that just happens to have a virtually complete gay infrastructure) than it is a party destination. And don't forget the 3,000 hours of annual sunshine, 300 miles of inland waterways and 23 miles of oceanfront beach that lure all sorts of boys and girls to town.
Fort Lauderdale Beaches
If you are headed to Fort Lauderdale, then most likely you are headed for the beaches! With 23-miles of white sand and crystal blue waters, a gay traveler might wonder "Where Are the Boys?" The more popular area for the gay community is the southern section of the beach, which stretches from Sunrise Boulevard south to the Las Olas Boulevard area where you'll want to visit the setting - or reenact the plot - of the movie "Where The Boys Are." You'll find most of the gays and lesbians hanging out in between Las Olas Blvd up to Sunrise Blvd. at Sebastian Street. With the expansion of gay guesthouses you'll find gays all along the stretch running north toward Vistamar. There is a city parking lot located just blocks from the beach, so park the car, rub on the sunscreen, and soak up the rays.
A second gay beach is down on N.E. 18th Street at the sand dunes, and a third gay-friendly beach - Haulover Beach - is located about half way between Ft. Lauderdale and Miami - just north of Bal Harbour, several miles outside of Fort Lauderdale, but certainly obtainable if you have a car. Haulover Beach is a clothing optional beach popular with gays and straights alike. The gay section of the beach is at the extreme northern end - so head to the left as you enter the beach. There is a parking lot at Haulover Park - just off the South bound lanes of A1A and parking is $5 per day.
What to Do? Where to Go?
If you're nursing a sunburn, you may want to take a day away from the sun to appreciate Fort Lauderdale's cultural offerings that are as vast as the ocean that surrounds the state. With a culture characterized by the Seminoles and Broadway shows, tasty jazz and art festivals, like the horizon, the possibilities are endless.
Just minutes from the beach is the Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District in downtown Fort Lauderdale, home to cultural attractions, shops, parks and restaurants. Along Riverwalk, the brick-lined meandering promenade, discover the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Museum of Discovery and Science with its Blockbuster 3D IMAX Theater, Florida Grand Opera, Old Fort Lauderdale, Stranahan House and the Museum of Art.
The Sawgrass Recreation Park Highway offers a narrated Everglade airboat tour, an 18th century Indian village, live alligator and reptile and birds of prey exhibit, camping, boat rentals and fishing among other activities.
You might get the urge to get in touch with nature at Butterfly World where thousands of live, rainbow-hued butterflies dwell in ten acres of waterfalls, orchids, roses and tropical gardens that are also home to fish, hummingbirds, lorikeet, insectarium, a butterfly farm and outdoor cafe. Or enjoy an unforgettable swim with the Dolphin Experiences. Dolphins are the most gentle and intelligent mammals next to humans (well, most humans) and even more so once you meet them!
If your interests are more active, Fort Lauderdale offers plenty of sports & recreational diversions. Greater Fort Lauderdale also offers a variety of parks with aggressive equipment for the adventurous skater as well as scenic trails for getting in shape or simply cruising around. Sun, sand, rollerblading and diving and much more! Bring your skates or rent a bicycle or scooter and take in the sites at your own pace as you glide along the 1.5 mile promenade of Fort Lauderdale Beach, voted among the top ten places to skate by Rollerblade, Inc.
Fort Lauderdale's underwater world is awash in spectacular sea life. Scuba dive and enjoy tropically-warm blue waters and Caribbean quality visibility. Experience coral reefs studded with sweeping soft coral sea fans and statuesque staghorns. Explore more than 75 coral-encrusted shipwrecks that shelter fish from barracuda to wrassel.
You might like to take a glass bottom boat adventure and see schools of fish and colorful coral reefs or rent a different form of transportation including jet skis, wave runners, catamarans, sailboats, kayaks, parasail, segways, motorboats or speedboats.
Even the most avid sunworshipper is invariably lured into one of Lauderdaleï¿½s vast array of outlet malls, department stores, and unique boutiques. Las Olas Boulevard, in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale, is lined with chic boutiques and fine dining spots. Shops and galleries along this beautifully landscaped, gas-lighted street purvey a range of goods from European antiques and original needlepoint to clothing and stained glass lighting.
Sawgrass Mills, the world's largest value and entertainment mall, offers over 270 brand-name and designer outlets including Saks Outlet, Neiman Marcus' Last Call, Barney's NY, Ann Taylor, DKNY plus specialty shops and restaurants. A dozen major malls offer the best to be found anywhere in the world.
The Galleria features Neiman-Marcus, Saks, Cartier, Dillards, Ann Taylor and many other department and specialty stores in a three-story complex along Sunrise Boulevard, a short walk from the beach.
Other less conventional shopping options include Dania Historic Antique Shopping District which is home to dozens of antique dealers and shops. You may also want to visit - DCOTA - Design Center of the Americas ï¿½ which features world famous designer furniture showrooms or the Festival Flea Market Mall, an indoor flea market with over 600 stores of new, brand name merchandise at below outlet prices.
Dining and Gay Nightlife in Fort Lauderdale
After a day enjoying the sun and splendor of Ft. Lauderdale you'll want to show off your tan at one of Fort Lauderdale's gay friendly restaurants or gay clubs. For those with a taste for the finest, or a palate for adventure, you can dine on sublime creations by award-winning chefs, using the best and freshest ingredients. Enjoy year-round waterfront dining under the moonlight. And, while native seafood is a must (it's caught right off the beach) you can also feast on splendid meats, pasta and a variety of ethnic dishes.
Dining is an important part of the South Florida culture. With more than 3,500 restaurants ranging from intimate cafes to al fresco waterfront dining spots to quaint bistros, ethnic eateries and world renowned steakhouses. You'll find New Florida taste treats -- seafood straight from the sea and field fresh fruits and vegetables. Fort Lauderdale's dining options are numerous and varied; the area has more than its share of high-quality, high-value restaurants. Be warned that Florida now has a ban on smoking in all restaurants and some bars. (Those that serve food are likely to be smoke-free.) Seek out a place with a large patio or outdoor dining area if you simply must light up.
Fort Lauderdale is home to over 2 dozen gay bars, from big dance clubs, to up-scale video bars, from small friendly neighborhood bars, to ever popular Levi/Leather bars, to small dingy cruise bars. There's something here for everyone! In addition, many restaurants have popular piano bars connected to them as part of the restaurant. Click the "Bars and Nightlife" section in the City Direcotry in order to find out more!
Gay Bars and Nightlife in Fort Lauderdale
With more than 20 gay bars and clubs in the area (and more opening all the time), Fort Lauderdale has a full spectrum of nightlife options. Nightlife here is on the early side, with most clubs shutting down at 2 a.m. The options for women are, of course, less plentiful -- but those numbers are also on the rise.
Fort Lauderdale's gay bars include a wide array ranging from immense gay dance clubs, to up-scale video bars, to small friendly neighborhood bars, to cruise bars. Ft. Lauderdale also offers some of the most popular leather bars in Florida. In addition, you will find quite a few neighborhood bars if you are looking for something a bit more quiet. In addition some gay friendly restaurants have popular piano bars connected to them. There's something here for everyone!
Attire is casual - and when the thermometer starts to rise, less clothing is more desirable. But don't go too crazy - even the strippers in Fort Lauderdale have to keep it covered. But don't let that stop you from hitting one of Fort Lauderdale's many clubs featuring hot naked men baring it all with just a little towel covering those goods.
The Fort Lauderdale scene is welcoming to everyone, though birds of a feather tend to congregate in certain areas. For example, The Wilton Manors section draws an older middle aged crowd while the younger boys tend to flock to the nightclubs. Depending on the club, crowds are mixed with women welcomed at most of the men's places. So put on your sandals and step into the cool night air and see what Ft. Lauderdale has to offer. You won't be disappointed!
For a full list of PCG Preferred Bars and Nightclubs, click on the "Bars and Nightlife" section in the City Directory on the left of this page.
Gay Fort Lauderdale Weather
Average Temps and Precipitation
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* Average Precipitation is measured in Inches
* Statistics are as published on Weather.com
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