Fort Lauderdale has grown up since its Spring Break days of the 60s, 70s and 80s immortalised in the classic teen movie Where The Boys Are. The students have been replaced with sophisticated Europeans, hip Americans, savvy Latinos and gay and lesbian travellers. Having undergone a major tourism-related transformation in the past decade, the destination offers an ideal climate, wide variety of attractions and quality accommodations, fine dining and shopping. OutUK correspondent Jill Pentrack explores one of America's best gay destinations just 40 minutes from Miami.

The weather is a factor in any holiday, but even with great weather you need something more. Naked, sun-bronzed bodies arenít enough Ė a man needs to eat after all - and we all like the social aspect of making new friends from different parts of the world. Here in Ft. Lauderdale, the gay community has exploded on the scene with a variety of restaurants, clubs and shops all with that marvellous gay-family feel. Since there is so much to do and see here, I thought it might be helpful to outline a typical day and night in this very gay city along the Florida coast.

By Day

If youíve arrived from any of the weather-challenged parts of Europe youíll need to spend at least one day thawing by the pool. A tan is mandatory and will also serve as your best souvenir. (Plus your friends back home will envy you even more.)

Next on your agenda should be a drive along the coast (especially if youíve rented that hot little red convertible for the week). Not only does this contribute to your healthy glow, it also allows for a 360į view of the boys jogging, skating, walking and sunning along the beach.

Your first stop is the Gay Beach located at Sebastian Street where locals and visitors alike congregate. After youíve enjoyed a few hours of sun and fun, head back North along the coast to Wilton Manor, a Gay district of sorts in Ft. Lauderdale. Stop by Georgiís Alibi for a cool one and a bite to eat, head to Gay Mart or the Pride Factory for some lite shopping and supplies, and then back to your hotel for some R&R before your night on the town.
If youíd just like a relaxing cruise through the waterways, in what some call The Venice of America, the Water Bus will only set you back a few dollars and makes about 20 stops throughout the day. The Jungle Queen Riverboat (no kidding) hosts 3 hour sightseeing cruises and includes a stop at the Jungle Queen Indian Village in a tropical island setting.
If youíre into watersports (the real ones) like snorkeling, diving, and parasailing, there are a number of companies here to indulge you.
Spend at least one afternoon or evening walking along Las Olas Boulevard. With over 100 specialty shops, galleries and restaurants, itís a great opportunity to try out that new Platinum card.

By Night

Dining choices are endless. Some of my favourites are Hi Life just off of Federal Highway. Gay owned, this restaurant attracts a mixed crowd and is known by locals as one of the better restaurants in Ft. Lauderdale. If you enjoy sushi and other Asian fare, Galanga, located in Wilton Manor has some of the finest, served in a trendy and relaxed setting. A favourite with gay men, it can be quite cruisy.

For American cuisine, great location, and very gay-friendly service make sure you try the Casablanca Cafe at 3049 Alhambra St, it has good food at a very reasonable price.

Broward County is home to over 4,100 restaurants and over 120 nightclubs (1/3 of them are Gay or Lesbian oriented). Several of the nightclubs are located in downtown Fort Lauderdale's Arts & Entertainment district, but most LGBT establishments are located in Wilton Manors, the "Gayborhood of South Florida."


Time for bed! And here is where it gets tricky - there are so many great places to stay, from the larger, full service hotels, to the more intimate menís guesthouses (over 30 of them). Understanding that each resort has a unique setting, I suggest you visit them online to find the perfect one. Here are a few to consider:

The Royal Palms is our favourite with impeccable standards of service and a sophisticated vibe. It's an intimate, clothing optional, small hotel which surrounds a lush tropical pool.

The popular Coral Reef Guesthouse is a spectacular property located in the beautiful Coral Ridge area. It has a heated pool and 14 man Jacuzzi, both of which are high standard. Clothing is Optional.

The Blue Dolphin is located just 15 minutes from Fort Lauderdale International Airport and 1 minute (walking) from the beach, The Blue Dolphin is host to gay travellers from all over the world. The facility is completely enclosed for your privacy and a large heated pool is located in the center courtyard where clothing is optional.

With 23 miles of pristine beaches, over 100 gay-owned establishments, and more than 30 hotels catering to the gay and lesbian market. You can get full contact details at in the official gay guide to the city at

Updated May 2015


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