With its stretching coastline of sandy beaches, tropical climate and thriving gay district, Fort Lauderdale has quickly evolved into the gay capital of Florida and this exciting and beautiful location is teeming with possibilities for exploration and entertainment.
The city’s main gay district is Wilton Manors, a diverse and vibrant district spanning multiple blocks and boasting a plethora of gay bars and clubs. Even the government of Wilton Manors is largely LGBT+ and the area has a truly friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
Fort Lauderdale boat tours
Often referred to as “The Venice of America” Fort Lauderdale features a unique and expansive waterfront and one of the best ways to enjoy all that the city has to offer is by boat. There are numerous boat tours available in the city and each offers a unique glimpse at life in the sunshine state.
Those choosing to explore the city by boat will have the chance to peer into the beachfront gardens of the rich and famous, observe the area’s beautiful coastal scenery and spot wildlife from the comfort of an air-conditioned cruising vessel. Tours range from high-octane speedboat rides to gentle river cruises, meaning there truly is something for every gay traveler.
Las Olas Boulevard
Las Olas Boulevard could be considered the beating heart of Fort Lauderdale. The beautiful tree-lined street is the city’s main district for shopping, eating and entertainment and boasts 250,000 square feet of retail and dining space. Las Olas is home to a carefully curated blend of local, national and international brands that guarantee visitors an exciting shopping experience.
By dusk, the boulevard is alive with the bustle of locals and tourists enjoying the many outdoor dining and drinking options that span the area, soaking up the last rays of Floridian sun before heading to one of the area’s many bars and clubs. Any gay travelers will undoubtedly spend time in this lively and vibrant area of the city and it should definitely not be missed.
With the city’s district of Wilton Manors being one of the most renowned and impressive gay districts in the country, there are, unsurprisingly, a vast array of options when it comes to gay bars and clubs. A number of gay nightlife tours can be found in Fort Lauderdale, whereby travelers can experience the best and brightest of the city’s nightlife venues with a knowledgable and well connected gay local.
Hunters is a large gay club located in the heart of Wilton Manors and features a large dancefloor, lounge and outside balcony area. The club hosts regular events including cabaret, country nights and drag shows. Hunters prides itself on its inclusive and friendly ethos and prioritizes individual difference and diversity.
Occupying the city’s former warehouse and packing district, FATVillage is a regeneration and innovation programme developed as a non-profit effort to increase the area’s artistic and creative output. The four-block district is compact but the atmosphere is one of energy and possibility, many of the old warehouses are now rented by up and coming artists, quirky coffee shops and multi-purpose venues.
There are numerous experimental events that take place in the district throughout the year and the eating options are fantastic. A range of cuisines and palettes contribute to FATVillage’s growing identity as one of the best places to eat in Fort Lauderdale.
Fort Lauderdale’s beaches
Deerfield Beach is located just north of Boca Raton and is known for its chilled and casual atmosphere. The area is less busy than some of the nearby beaches and is popular amongst local fishermen, who can often be seen hauling their prized catches up the shore. Deerfield Beach is also notable for its plentiful selection of restaurants and cafes.
Home to 18 shipwrecks, Pompano Beach is a haven for travelers keen to explore the mysterious structures hidden under the water. Visitors can snorkel or take scuba courses in the tropical waters and the area is also very popular with accomplished divers. Boats can be hired from a number of rental outlets and are the perfect way to explore the bay.
For a deeper dive into the beach options in the city, read our rundown of the best gay beaches in Fort Lauderdale.
Stonewall National Museum and Archives
Since opening in 1974, the Stonewall National Museum and Archives has served as the USA’s largest library and archive dedicated to LGBT+ history, liberation and individuals. The museum attracts 8,000 visitors a year and displays a revolving collection of exhibitions and installations including Billy Porter’s red boots from Broadway’s Kinky Boots, an original print from Alfred Kinsey’s sex research and costumes from the iconic Queer as Folk.
The archive boasts an impressive collection of costumes, papers and digital artefacts that represent the tumultuous and joyous history of the country’s LGBT+ population. The World AIDS Museum is also located close by and visitors are recommended to experience both centres.
Situated across 35 acres and peacefully tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Fort Lauderdale beach, Bonnet House is a stunning early 20th century estate that was once the home of artists Frederic and Evelyn Barlett. Now a museum, Bonnet House gives visitors the chance to step back in time to an era when the manicured gardens and Caribbean influenced Old Florida architecture dominated the state.
Whilst the property itself is a beautiful masterpiece of period architecture, Bonnet House is also home to an impressive permanent collection of artworks collected by Frederic Barlett, a once highly influential figure in the US art scene. Visitors can enjoy the expansive grounds that play host to a diverse array of flora and fauna including flamingoes, peacocks and monkeys.
Published: 20-Jul-2020 by George Pizani | Last Updated: 24-May-2022
On: Gay Fort Lauderdale