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Gay Fort Lauderdale Travel Guide: Eat, Sleep, and Have Fun!

What to do in Fort Lauderdale
B Ocean Resort in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

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The Greater Fort Lauderdale region includes 23 miles of beautiful golden beaches. The region has become a top tourism destination for international travelers, northerners and Florida residents. Fort Lauderdale is also a major hub for the LGBTQ+ community, making it a prime destination for queer travelers.

This South Florida destination where “everyone under the sun” is invited to visit, is a must-see coastal region packed with plenty of LGBTQ history, sunny beaches, culinary delights, shopping and more. From the energetic “gayborhood” of Wilton Manors to the calm beauty of the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens, here’s what to see, where to sleep, and what to eat while on a Fort Lauderdale road trip.

How Gay is Fort Lauderdale?

After traveling all over Florida, one can confirm, without a doubt, that Fort Lauderdale is gay – very gay! Although several regions of Florida pride themselves as being LGBTQ-welcoming, Fort Lauderdale “takes the rainbow pride cake” as the gayest of all.

In fact, Fort Lauderdale was host to the first Pride of the Americas Festival in which Pride Fort Lauderdale and Visit Fort Lauderdale teamed up to bring three days of celebration and song to Fort Lauderdale Beach, including a performance by 80s pop star and LGBTQ icon, Boy George.

If you’re looking to bare it all for an LGBTQ-welcoming experience, and prefer to stay at a clothing-optional gay hotel or resort, you’re in luck! Fort Lauderdale is home to many.

Wilton Manors is the hub of LGBTQ+ life in Fort Lauderdale. Not only is the town home to several LGBTQ+ organizations, a new LGBTQ+ senior residence and the region’s LGBTQ+ business chamber, but most of the businesses in Wilton Manors are also LGBTQ-owned. In fact, nearly 100% of the stores, bars and restaurants that line Wilton Drive (the main drag of the city – and we’re not talking queens), are LGBTQ-owned and operated.

As a result of the 2010 US Census, the City of Wilton Manors was named the “Second gayest City” in the United States. And in November 2018, Wilton Manors became the first city in Florida with an all LGBT+ City Commission – second only to Palm Springs, California.

When visiting Fort Lauderdale, and more specifically Wilton Manors, connect with the LGBTQ+ community by visiting these organizations:

The Pride Center at Equality Park

2040 N Dixie Hwy, Wilton Manors, FL 33305

Photo taken in 2020 during the expansion of the Pride Center at Equality Park (Photo by Rachel Covello)

The Pride Center at Equality Park’s mission is to provide “a welcoming, safe space – an inclusive home that celebrates, nurtures and empowers the LGBTQ communities and their friends and neighbors in South Florida”.

This organization celebrated 30 years of service in 2023 and meets the distinct health, social, educational, socio-economic and safety needs for the LGBTQ+ community and its allies. The Pride Center focuses a significant amount of energy and resources on supporting LGBTQ+ seniors and HIV residents.

The Center hosts more than 65 regularly-scheduled meeting groups each month. Support, social and educational groups focus on seniors, youth, women, men, transgender individuals, recovery, health, the arts, athletics, spirituality, games and more. Outreach activities over the past year directly impacted over 125,000 residents and visitors to South Florida.

In late 2020, The Pride Center welcomed its first residents at The Residences at Equality Park. The Residences offer affordable housing to the region’s senior adults, with a special focus on LGBTQ+ individuals.

Stonewall National Museum and Archives

1300 East Sunrise Blvd Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304

The Stonewall National Museum and Archives (SNMA) is a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501 organization that seeks to preserve and share the culture of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, highlight their role in society, and promote understanding of the community. SNMA is dedicated solely to LGBTQ history, civil rights, art and culture.

The Stonewall Library is the largest lending library of LGBTQ materials in the United States with more than 34,000 books, CDs, and DVDs, organized and cataloged under the Library of Congress classification system. The collection incorporates most winners of gay literary awards, including the prestigious Lambda Literary Award.

The library hosts artist and author speaker events, a monthly book club, history discussion group, exhibitions, and other programs and events. And Stonewall offers several Virtual Exhibitions.

Note: Stonewall National Museum and Archives has no connection to the famous Stonewall of New York City, although photos and articles about said event may be documented within its archives.

IGLTA

1201 NE 26th Street Suite 103, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33305

Although the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) office is not a place to pop in at any time, it would be an injustice to pen this road trip guide without mentioning the organization.

Founded in 1983, IGLTA is the world’s leading network of LGBTQ+ welcoming tourism businesses. The global organization, based in Fort Lauderdale, provides free travel resources and information while continuously working to promote equality and safety within LGBTQ+ tourism worldwide.

Greater Fort Lauderdale LGBT Chamber / LGBTQ Visitor’s Center

2300 NE 7th Avenue, Wilton Manors, FL 33305

The LGBT+ Visitor Center opened in June 2018 and is co-located with the Greater Fort Lauderdale LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber promotes business and economic opportunities for the LGBT and LGBT-friendly community. As advocates and resources for all member businesses, the organization strives to promote tourism with a unified approach by working with related and appropriate organizations.

The LGBTQ Visitor’s Center is a partnership between the Greater Fort Lauderdale LGBT Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitor’s Bureau. The two organizations work in collaboration to showcase attractions of interest to LGBT+ visitors. When in the region, stop over at the Visitor’s Center to find out which local businesses to support.

Equality Florida’s regional office is also located right next door.

LGBTQ Nightlife in Fort Lauderdale

Whether you’re looking to enjoy a quiet cocktail or shake your tail on the dance floor, Fort Lauderdale offers a plethora of LGBTQ bars for all tastes.

Hunter’s Bar, located in The Shoppes in Wilton Manors, has been a popular local spot for over three decades. With premium house liquors, a delicious dining menu, and first-class DJ, it’s no surprise that Hunter’s has been voted best bar by South Florida Gay News seven years running. Hunter’s features a spacious dance floor, video bar with 8 screens, and monthly themed dance parties.

A quick trip up Wilton Drive will bring you to the Village Pub. Also known as Pub on the Drive, or simply The Pub, this well-loved LGBTQ hangout offers happy hour and dining specials daily, as well as a variety of live music and entertainment throughout the week.

And don’t miss Georgie’s Alibi Monkey Bar, one of the oldest LGBTQ bars in the area. Celebrating its 25th year of success, Georgie’s Alibi is one of south Florida’s most successful gay restaurants, bars, and nightclubs rolled into one. A one-of-a-kind venue, Georgie’s offers a variety of different themed nights and features 4 unique areas to sip and socialize, including an outdoor patio.

For more suggestions, check out our ultimate guide to The Best Gay Bars in Wilton Manors.

For an overview on more of South Florida’s LGBTQ nightlife, click here.

Where to Stay in Fort Lauderdale

Are you ready to plan your Big Gay Fort Lauderdale Road Trip yet? Then let’s talk about sleeping accommodations! After all, you’ll need plenty of rest and recovery while you’re enjoying all the area has to offer.

Good news! You can be rest assured that nearly any hotel, resort, Bed & Breakfast, or AirBnB will be welcoming to LGBTQ travelers. If they aren’t, they’re located in the wrong town. With that being said, there are a few places that go out of their way to promote themselves as LGBTQ-welcoming.

Be sure to read our guide to The Best Gay Resorts in Fort Lauderdale, where you’ll find the most popular LGBTQ-friendly stays in the area.

For more accommodation options, including clothing-optional resorts, check out our Where to Stay in South Florida travel guide.

The B Ocean Resort

B Ocean Resort drone photo by Rachel Covello

The B Ocean Resort is an exciting oceanfront hotel located directly on Fort Lauderdale Beach. Originally built in 1956 as the Yankee Clipper, the property offers stylish, remodeled guest rooms with stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, and was once a historic hot spot for American icons such as Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, and Robert De Niro.

Featuring the most desirable amenities, including FreeB™ WiFi, direct private beach access, a 24-hour fitness center and delectable dining at the world-famous Wreck Bar and seafood concept, the Naked Crab, this first-class resort is sure to satisfy. The sunrise views from the ocean-front suite are spectacular, and the evening views relaxing and beautiful. From the fruit and champagne room service to the giant soaking tub, and the comfy beds to the adorable turtle stuffed animal, the details of the resort and the rooms are unbeatable.

The B Hotels & Resorts own three Florida properties (Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Florida Keys) and one in New Orleans. Both the B Ocean in Fort Lauderdale and the B Resort and Spa in Orlando are beautifully unique with modern amenities, but the beach views at B Ocean make this a top resort choice.

W Hotel

The W Hotel Fort Lauderdale is an upscale hotel located right on the beach. They offer a variety of amenities, such as a luxurious pool, full-service spa, and 24-hour fitness center. The W Hotel Fort Lauderdale also offers four amazing restaurants to suit any occasion or craving, including a Mexican-inspired restaurant, a classic steakhouse with a unique twist, a delicious sushi spot, and a European-style bistro.

Guests can relax in the hotel’s ocean view guestrooms, which come with free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and premium bedding. The hotel also boasts a lively nightlife scene and stunning views of the ocean from the rooftop terrace.

Le Cabanon Motel

Located in neighboring Pompano Beach, Le Cabanon Motel is a wonderful destination for a beachside getaway. With the Atlantic’s warm, sandy beach just footsteps away, this hotel will give you breathtaking views of the ocean and plenty of entertaining outdoor activities.

Guests can choose from cozy studios, spacious one-bedroom suites, and even luxury two-bedroom suites, all oceanside. Additionally, the hotel offers a delicious on-site restaurant, pool area, and a full-service bar. With its stunning views, convenient amenities, and luxurious accommodations, La Cabanon Hotel is the perfect place for a relaxing beachside retreat.

Grand Resort and Spa

The Grand Resort and Spa is the foremost all-male spa-resort on Fort Lauderdale Beach. Perfectly located just a stone’s throw from the beach and within easy reach of all the city’s attractions and nightlife. The resort prides itself on offering exceptional value and a memorable stay for over 20 years, with amenities including a full-service spa, complimentary WiFi, free parking, no resort fees, and a continental breakfast. The courtyard pool is a popular gather place, and it’s clothing optional!

Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort

If you’re looking for a luxurious and relaxing getaway, this all-suite resort on Fort Lauderdale Beach is a perfect choice. With stunning views of the waterfront, you’ll be able to discover the sandy stretches of the beach right from your own suite. The resort also features a full-service spa and a tropical outdoor pool area with private cabanas.

Conveniently located just three miles from Las Olas Boulevard’s vibrant restaurants and shops, and less than seven miles from the Fort Lauderdale Airport, Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort offers the perfect blend of tranquility and accessibility.

Booking.com

Where to Eat in Fort Lauderdale

The rumors are true. South Florida, with its New York and Latin American influences, serves it up right – and fresh! Upon visiting, you may not remember a time when you visited a town with such a delicious variety of food. Not only does the Greater Fort Lauderdale region offer a plethora of dining options, but the food is creative, fresh and fabulous.

And the LGTBQ traveler is in for a treat! There are dozens of LGBTQ-owned and inclusive restaurants throughout the region, many of which are packed into Wilton Manors. So grab a fork and dig in! This Fort Lauderdale Road Trip is about to get flavorful!

The Naked Crab

Crab and Avocado Toast at the Naked Crab, Photo by Rachel Covello

1140 Seabreeze Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, FL (located on the first floor of the B Ocean Resort)

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, The Naked Crab is located in the iconic Yankee Clipper building which is now B Ocean Resort.

Executive Chef David Morales combines his 20 years of experience and Latin heritage to create a one-of-a-kind menu, influenced by the flavors of Europe, North and South America. The contemporary Mediterranean menu features locally sourced, fresh ingredients and spices.

Whether you’re craving surf and turf or fresh seafood, The Naked Crab offers something for every palate. And the picturesque beachside setting along the famous A1A make this a must-visit restaurant during your Fort Lauderdale Road Trip.

Pro tip – Visit the Naked Crab for breakfast or lunch during your stay at the B Ocean Resort. And be sure to try the crab and avocado toast.

Steak 954

401 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304 (located on first floor of the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel)

A smart, modern update of the classic steakhouse template, this is South Florida dining that is effortless in its elegance.

Nestled into the waterfront W Fort Lauderdale, Steak 954 takes full advantage of its breathtaking natural surroundings. Sweeping beach views during the day and luminous starlit nights set the scene at this luxury boutique steakhouse.

The restaurant is designed with a fresh, clean nautical feel that draws deep inspiration from the ocean. The centerpiece reef aquarium, home to live jellyfish that gently undulate as you eat, provides an exquisite back drop to this beachside restaurant.

As its name implies, Steak 945 caters to meat and seafood lovers. The menu features dry-aged prime and American Wagyu beef, locally caught fish, decadent side dishes and a global selection of fine wines and spirits.

Pro tip – Start your meal with the Yellowfin Tuna Tartare and enjoy the Ora King Salmon, Branzino or Grilled Tuna Steak for dinner.

Lona Cocina Tequileria

321 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd #4204, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304 (Located on the first floor of the Westin Hotel)

Another waterfront favorite, the Lona Cocina Tequileria Restaurant menu highlights the skills of Pablo Salas. This upscale restaurant with a laidback feel perfectly mimics a casual Mexican waterfront cantina. The restaurant prides itself on quality customer service, superior cuisine, and beautiful views.

Open for lunch and dinner, the menu at Lona is as diverse as its customers. It offers meats from the grill, ceviches, tostadas, tacos, and classic and modern sides for you to enjoy. You can also stop by the outdoor patio and bar, which offers a special menu of small plates, tacos, and snacks, as well as freshly made margaritas, sangrias, cocktails, Micheladas, and agave flights. The best part of the outdoor patio is the breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean.

Pro tip – Order the chips and lump crab guacamole to start! YUM! Then dive into the Salmon Mole or Drunken Grouper. You also can’t go wrong with the enchiladas or tacos. And if you’re moaning for mimosas, plan your visit for Bottomless Beachside Sunday Brunch.

Rosie’s Bar & Grill

2449 Wilton Dr, Wilton Manors, FL 33305

Rosie’s Bar & Grill, Photo by Rachel Covello

Craving a super gay experience? Then pull out the rainbow flags and head to Rosie’s Bar & Grill in Wilton Manors. This LGBTQ hot-spot isn’t just the hub of the Wilton Manors community, but they have award winning food, too! From the rainbow array of paper lanterns dotting Rosie’s tropical patio to the welcoming, inclusive atmosphere, this fan favorite continues doing what they do best – serving the community. They even have their own softball team – the Silverhawks!

Pro tip – Lunch is a perfect time to enjoy Rosie’s. The portions are huge, so either come hungry or plan to head home afterward to store your leftovers in the fridge. I recommend the Cobb salad and giant pretzel!

LGBTQ-Owned Restaurants to Support

Bubbles and Pearls

Tee Jay Thai Sushi Restaurant

Apt 9F

le Patio

Georgie’s Alibi & Monkey Bar

Rosie’s Bar & Grill

Shawn & Nick’s Courtyard Cafe

For a full list of LGBTQ-owned and welcoming bars and restaurants in Fort Lauderdale, click here. (Note: we feature all LGBTQ-owned establishments along with our partner listings).

Don’t see your LGBTQ-owned Fort Lauderdale restaurant listed? Contact us!

Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale

Has your mouth stopped watering from the deliciousness above? Probably not. But before you grab your keys and jump into your car for your Fort Lauderdale road trip, it might be a good idea plan out a few things to do while in the area.

There are an endless number of activities, attractions and excursions to experience while in the region. You’ll find plenty of Florida travel pro recommendations below. So, take your time, review the list, and then get to planning!

Fort Lauderdale Beach

Fort Lauderdale Beach at the B Ocean Resort. Photo by Rachel Covello

Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard, from Sunrise Boulevard to Las Olas Boulevard

This might sound like common sense, but if you’re visiting a coastal town, you might as well enjoy the coastal experience – beach included!

One of the iconic characteristics of Fort Lauderdale Beach is the visibility of both beach and water from the main road – A1A. Today, most of Florida’s coastal beaches are blocked by condos, hotels and corporate buildings. And if the beaches aren’t blocked, the waters are blocked by sand dunes, like in Miami’s South Beach or Saint Pete’s Pass-A-Grille. In Fort Lauderdale, you can either enjoy the Atlantic Ocean waves beachside or sip a drink at a local restaurant while taking in the views.

Unlike the West Coast of Florida, where waters are slightly calmer, Florida’s East Coast beaches are perfect for boating, swimming and surfing. Whether you enjoy wading in the tides or cruising on a boogie board, Fort Lauderdale Beach is perfect for all beach bunnies. And if you’re up for an adventure, then try parasailing, jet skiing or deep water fishing. Fort Lauderdale even offers sunset cruises. You might be scratching your head on that one, but the skies are beautiful during sunset – even if the sun is on the other side of the state.

Bonnet House Museum and Gardens

900 N Birch Rd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304

If the water is rough or you’re just not up for washing salt and sand from your body, then head over to Bonnet House Museum and Gardens for a relaxing walk through the largest and most scenic coastal property in Fort Lauderdale.

Bonnet House Museum and Gardens preserves the unique historic estate of Frederic and Evelyn Bartlett, a gift from early settler Hugh Taylor Birch to Frederic’s late wife, and Birch’s daughter Helen. Through enjoyable and enriching cultural experiences, the museum connects today’s community to the Bartletts’ architectural, artistic, and environmental legacy.

Together, the house and its surrounding naturescape create the perfect place to spend a peaceful afternoon. And if you’re a photographer, then bring the camera, because there are plenty of photos ops. Check out a few of our own below:

Bonnet House is an ideal spot for weddings and events, too.

Segway Fort Lauderdale

Segway Fort Lauderdale Tour along Las Olas Boulevard. Photo by Rachel Covello

Not into water or walking? Then try a Segway! Committed to creating fun and entertainment for visitors to the region, Segway Fort Lauderdale offers small group tours that provide a beautiful overview of Fort Lauderdale’s waterfront living.

And don’t worry! If you’re new to the Segway, you’ll get used to it in no time. And wear comfortably fitting clothing and shoes. Save that haute couture for your hot date night!

Other Recommended Adventures

Sawgrass Recreation Park Everglade Tours

Pompano Beach Water Taxi

Seaquest Fort Lauderdale

Sun Trolley

Museum of Discovery & Science

Hugh Taylor Burch State Park

Fort Lauderdale Road Trip Video Overview

Sometimes words aren’t enough to capture an experience. Check out this three minute minute video recap, highlighting the best parts of OutCoast’s Fort Lauderdale Road Trip experience.

Video Sponsored by the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB

Plan Your Fort Lauderdale Road Trip

Whether you live a few hours away and need a long weekend getaway, or live further up north and are dreaming of sun and salty air, there are plenty of places to eat, shop and stay in Fort Lauderdale. So pack up your car, book your hotel and plan your visit.

For more ideas on planning a road trip to Fort Lauderdale, click here.


**Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).

Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.

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