Wilton Manors, also known as “The Island City”, is an internationally-known LGBTQ destination. This Greater Fort Lauderdale city is known as the “Second-Gayest City” in the United States next to Provincetown in Massachusetts, with 140 gay couples per 1,000 residents. Its epicenter, Wilton Drive, is also home to more than 40 LGBTQ-friendly and LGBTQ-owned businesses. South Florida Gay News has even named Wilton Manors “Best City” twice.
Its walkable, urban atmosphere, coupled with the most renowned gay bars in the country, outdoor activities, and a rich art scene, makes it fit for LGBTQ travelers with eclectic tastes.
Discover everything Wilton Manors has to offer in this guide!
Wilton Manors’ Inclusive Legacy
Wilton Manors’ reputation as a “gay city” gained traction partly due to the revival of Wilton Drive as the Arts and Entertainment Overlay District in March of 1997.
When Georgie’s Alibi, the first of many LGBTQ businesses, opened in April of 1997, the city’s demographic shift started taking place. It became a “welcoming, inclusive, and diverse place – one that is open to everyone regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or any other label”, according to its former mayor, Jack Seiler.
Wilton Manors has always been ahead of its time. The town elected its first openly gay official in 1988 and was the first municipality in Florida to elect an all-LGBTQIA+ city commission.
Honoring its progressive legacy, Wilton Manors continues to celebrate the Stonewall Pride Parade & Street Festival every June and has been home to The Pride Center at Equality Park since 1993.
Stonewall Pride Parade
Since 1999, Wilton Manors has proudly celebrated the Stonewall Pride Parade & Street Festival, drawing crowds of up to 40,000 people every year. The parade honors the momentous anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in 1969 that demanded equal rights for LGBTQ people.
If you’re visiting Wilton Manors in June, be sure to partake in this event. It’s completely free, with a parade, multiple live performances, street vendors, and more to keep you entertained.
The Pride Center At Equality Park
2040 North Dixie Hwy
Founded in 1993, The Pride Center at Equality Park is committed to empowering LGBTQ folks all over South Florida. Known as one of the largest community centers in the country, its outreach activities have directly impacted over 125,000 residents and visitors to South Florida.
From its transgender education series, women’s health initiatives, and community flea market held every first Saturday of the month from 8 AM to 2 PM, visitors can learn more about what this organization provides and stay connected to the local community.
Stay At These LGBTQ-Friendly Hotels in Wilton Manors
A pleasurable hotel experience is crucial to a pleasurable visit. Luckily, Wilton Manors has several hotels that cater to all kinds of LGBTQ travelers who want to have curated experiences. Check out some of these below.
Island Sands Inn
2409 NE 7th Ave, Wilton Manors, FL 33305
Stay near the heart of the city at Island Sands Inn, an LGBTQ-owned inn that offers multiple amenities and a comfortable stay. It provides complimentary parking, two saltwater pools, and even private exterior entrances to guest rooms.
The Island Sands Inn mainly stands out because of its location. Being only a few steps away from The Drive, guests can easily traipse to the best gay bars and restaurants the city has to offer, like Rosie’s Bar & Grill.
The Cabanas Guesthouse & Spa
2209 NE 26th St, Wilton Manors, FL 33305
The Cabanas Guesthouse & Spa was voted Best Gay Guesthouse & Resort eight years in a row by Instinct Magazine. The guesthouse likely earned its recognition because of its services and amenities. With its Tiki Bar, Men’s Day Spa, clothing-optional protocol for guests, two heated pools, and a jacuzzi, the Guesthouse ensures discretion and relaxation for all who stay there.
Dine At “The Drive” in Wilton Manors
Home to several LGBTQ-owned businesses, bars, restaurants, and more, “The Drive” is the colloquial name for Wilton Drive, the heart of the city. These hotspots are a must-visit for your visit. See drag shows, mingle with other gay travelers, and visit some of the most established and celebrated gay-friendly restaurants in the city.
Rosie’s Bar and Grill
2449 Wilton Dr. Wilton Manors, FL 33305
Rosie’s Bar and Grill has been a longstanding favorite of locals and tourists alike. Gay patrons frequent this spot for their boozy Sunday brunches, festive patio, happy hour specials, and an impressive selection of burgers and sandwiches.
Georgie’s Alibi Monkey Bar
2266 Wilton Dr. Wilton Manors, FL 33305
A Wilton Manors staple for over 20 years, Georgie’s Alibi Monkey Bar is one of south Florida’s longest-running gay restaurants and bars rolled into one. Looking for a stellar drag show? Drag brunches are held every Saturday, where you can enjoy bottomless mimosas with a group of friends. Just make sure to bring cash to tip the performers!
The Alchemist Café
2430 NE 13th Ave., Wilton Manors, FL 33305
Tired of partying at gay bars? Relax at this local coffee spot with tranquil gardens. The Alchemist Café prides itself on its artisan approach to coffee, using only the most curated and freshest ingredients. If you want to sit back and eat healthy options in the city, check out this café.
Shawn & Nick’s Courtyard Café
2211 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors, FL 33305
Another gay-owned and operated establishment in Wilton Manors, Shawn & Nick’s Courtyard Café is a diner open 24-7 to cater to the bustling nightlife of the city. It’s close to about 10 different bars and restaurants, so stop by if you are looking for comfort food after a night out.
2440 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors, FL 33305
Be different at LIT Bar Wilton Manors, your neighborhood live entertainment venue, lounge, and patio. You will not want to miss their weekly Bingo, Poker and Dart Tournaments, Retro Fridays, Revolution Saturdays, and drink specials. LIT is a space for everyone and being different is encouraged.
Ethos Greek Bistro
2055 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors, FL 33305
ethos Greek Bistro has unique selections of authentic Greek and Mediterranean cuisine, offering dishes that are light, flavorful, and friendly to vegetarians, vegans, and pescatarians. Enjoy its spanakopita platters, hummus, and homemade baklava while you’re in the city.
If you have a sensitivity to gluten or are vegan or vegetarian, make sure to inform the staff so they can accommodate your needs!
Drink And Dance The Night Away in Wilton Manors
Wilton Manors has the best gay nightlife scene in the Sunshine State. Whatever kind of bar or club you want to go to, you’re never more than a stone’s throw away from the setting of a memorable night.
There’s too many amazing gay bars to experience around “The Drive”, so we wrote a separate guide about the best gay bars in Wilton Manors. Check out that article to plan out your next night out on the town!
If you want some quick recommendations, here are three:
- Scandals Saloon for a wild west vibe with some hot cowboys around
- Hunters for a night of nonstop dancing
- The Infinity Lounge for a fancy night out
Buy Gifts And Snag Thrift Finds in Wilton Manors
Shopping secondhand is one way to live sustainably, and it’s even more incentivizing when you know the stores’ proceeds go to a charitable cause. Luckily, there are several thrift and vintage stores in Wilton Manors, with some of them proudly supporting LGBTQ organizations and underserved populations.
If you pride yourself on being a thrifting master, visit these shops while you’re in the city.
1732 NE 26th St
Worth Repeating is a well-loved preloved clothing consignment store. It’s especially known for curating designer items for an affordable price.
If you have designer items yourself, you can even offer them on consignment. Just make sure to check out their consignment guide to see if your items would be eligible.
2056 North Dixie Hwy. Wilton Manors, FL 33305
Poverello has been a part of the Wilton Manors community since the 1980s. The thrift store is an extension of the Poverello Center, Inc., which was originally founded in 1987 by Father Bill Collins and a group of volunteers.
The founders’ primary goal was to feed people with complications from AIDS who were ostracized by society. Every purchase supports the organization, which feeds, clothes, and supports underserved people in South Florida.
Out Of The Closet
2097 Wilton Dr. Wilton Manors, FL 33305
Out of the Closet has been around the United States since the 1990s, and you can be sure to find a branch at Wilton Manors.
At Out of the Closet, you can thrift items for affordable prices while supporting a good cause. It donates to HIV/AIDS programs and even has on-site pharmacies and HIV testing. When you shop or donate here, 96 cents of every dollar made goes to AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s HIV prevention and treatment services.
Antiques & Mid-Century Furniture
132 E Oakland Park Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33334
At this massive furniture store, you can snag your next statement furniture piece. If you find must-have items that may need repair, the good news is that they also offer upholstery and repair work.
236 Prospect Rd, Oakland Park
If you need an on-the-nose outfit from a specific period, Vintage Diversity might have something for you. Its inventory covers styles from the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, and the store even offers styling services. While this shop is a short 5 minute drive outside of Wilton Manors, it’s well worth the visit.
Immerse Yourself In The Arts And Bohemian Scene
Artists have long been the voices of important movements throughout history, and the LGBTQ community is no exception. Wilton Manors treasures this creativity through its vibrant arts and bohemian scene that embraces LGBTQ stories.
2430 NE 13th Ave, Wilton Manors, FL 33305
The Yard, also known as Eucalyptus Gardens, is home to an eclectic range of boutiques, cafés, and mural art. The open-air space is perfect for shopping, coworking, thrifting, and people-watching.
Island City Stage
2304 N Dixie Hwy. Wilton Manors, FL 33305
The Island City Stage is a small but mighty theater that has made waves in the industry by impeccably showcasing up-and-coming talent, originally written plays, and, of course, theater classics. Stories told here are centered on LGBTQ experiences, but entertainment is guaranteed for all!
2376 Wilton Dr. Wilton Manors, FL 33305
Collectors of gay art and male figurative art frequent Gallery XO, which has one of the largest gay male art collections in the world, to acquire curated art selections. This gallery prides itself on showcasing the talent of gay artists, so stop by if you’re looking for an exemplary showcase of queer expression.
Claudia Castillo Art Studio
2215 Wilton Dr, Wilton Manors, FL 33305
If you’re into discovering new art and artists, stop by the Claudia Castillo Art Studi. it’s, owned by local LGBTQ artist Claudia Castillo, who painted the Rainbow Drive leading into Wilton Manors. This picturesque art gallery and studio sits along the main thoroughfare of Wilton Drive and features works created by Castillo herself and other young, local artists.
Lola’s Bazaar Art And Music
2449 NE 13th Ave. Wilton Manors, FL 33305
Lola’s Bazaar Market spotlights bespoke jewelry, unique vinyl records, and local artists at their weekly event. Make sure to check this out if you’re looking for something one-of-a-kind to bring back from your visit – you might just find your new favorite colorful stone bracelet or vinyl album when you come to Lola’s!
Unwind In The Outdoors
Despite what most travelers might think about Wilton Manors, the city is host to diverse wildlife and offers outdoor activities for anyone looking to escape from the usual hustle and bustle of city life. In fact, the city boasts 15 parks certified by the National Wildlife Federation. Here are some of the places where you can feel more connected to nature.
Richardson Historic Park And Nature Preserve
1937 Wilton Dr. Wilton Manors, FL 33305
Enjoy the observation deck, river boardwalk, and nature trails of this 5.4-acre park. The Historical Manor and Carriage House, arguably the oldest historically significant structure in the area, can also be found here.
1975 NE 15th Ave
Are you a wildlife enthusiast? Visit this mangrove preserve that contains plenty of diverse natural habitats. The 8.5-acre community park also has a dog play area, asphalt walking trail, outdoor fitness zone, and a pavilion with picnic tables.
Wilton Manors’ Waterways
The Wilton Manors wouldn’t be called “The Island City” without its famous waterways. After all, the city is surrounded by the North and South Forks of the Middle River.
Explore the waterways, and you can find a diverse species of birds, mammals, and aquatic life. You might even encounter some endangered species!
Wilton Manors might be known for its vibrant nightlife, but the city has a vast array of attractions, activities, and scenes that cater to all who visit. The Island City continues to be an inclusive and progressive place for LGBTQ folks (local and otherwise), so don’t forget to check out these recommendations!
Want to tour Florida? Check out the other Out Coast travel guides to help you plan your visit.
**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.