Water tower

Gay Fort Lauderdale · City Guide

First trip to Fort Lauderdale? Then our gay Fort Lauderdale city guide can help you get from A to Z.

Water tower

Fort Lauderdale is the gay capital of Florida and a laid-back paradise of relaxation and discovery. Stretching white sand beaches that are warm from the almost constant sun give way to a bustling downtown and eclectic and diverse array of neighborhoods, brimming with blossoming art and cultural scenes and rich with entertainment.

The city’s main gay district is Wilton Manors, an exciting and vibrant district that has a long history as a strong and thriving enclave of gay culture. Spanning multiple blocks, the area boasts a plethora of gay bars and clubs that are suited to any gay traveler’s tastes desires. The government of Wilton Manors is just as gay as the district itself, with a majority LGBT+ council.

Lesbian Fort Lauderdale

Gay Rights in Fort Lauderdale

Florida could be argued to be one of the most socially-conservative and historically anti-liberal states in the USA, however, just like its neighbors Miami and Orlando, Fort Lauderdale has become a mecca for gay community and culture in this red state.

Same-sex sexual activity was only legalized in 2003 but since then there have been a number of progressive laws and legislative bills that have afforded LGBT+ individuals increased liberties and equality. Same-sex marriage was legalized in 2015 and the Supreme Court protects LGBT+ people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Public opinion in regards to LGBT+ people has experienced a drastic change over the last decade, with more people supporting same-sex relationships and growing respect and empathy for LGBT+ people and issues.

Fort Lauderdale

Gay nightlife in Fort Lauderdale

Wilton Manors is the primary gay district in the city and is a bustling hub of creativity and expression. Wilton Manors is also one of the USA’s most established and recognized gay villages. As such, there is, unsurprisingly, a wide range of options when it comes to gay bars and clubs in Fort Lauderdale. The city even has multiple companies offering gay nightlife tours, allowing gay travelers to have a full and varied experience of the local gay scene alongside a member of the local LGBT+ community.

The oldest neighborhood gay bar in Fort Lauderdale, Smarty Pants has been serving delicious drinks to the local community since 1961. It’s not just drinks on the menu though, the bar is also known for its great food - running breakfast, lunch, and dinner services. Smarty Pants also hosts a variety of weekly events, including underwear parties, karaoke nights, and games nights. The bar is an excellent place to meet and socialize with friendly gay locals.

Hunters is located in the heart of Wilton Manors and is one of the city’s largest gay clubs, with a spacious dancefloor, outdoor terrace, and comfortable lounge area. Hosting regular themed nights and events, visitors to Hunters can enjoy country and western nights, cabaret and drag shows. The club centers diversity and inclusivity, priding itself on fostering a warm, open, and friendly atmosphere.

Fort Lauderdale

Gay Hotels in Fort Lauderdale

The city’s most popular gay-friendly hotels are located in the Wilton Manors gay district and the bustling Downtown area. These locations promise convenient and simple access to the wide range of gay venues and landmarks that can be found throughout the city. Fort Lauderdale is unique in its numerous gay-focused or gay-only accommodations and the city’s reputation as a gay travel hotspot means that you’ll be well catered for here.

The Big Coconut Guesthouse is one of Fort Lauderdale’s most popular gay-only hotels and offers a fun and friendly experience. The guesthouse is located just a short drive from the lively nightlife of Wilton Manors and is also clothing-optional. The guest rooms are bright and spacious, creating an airy and fresh atmosphere. Guests can also make full use of the Big Coconuts charming patio and pool area.

The Worthington is another of the city’s gay-focused hotels and is located in the heart of gay Fort Lauderdale. With the majority of the best gay bars, clubs, and venues all within walking distance, the hotel is the perfect base from which to explore all that the city has to offer. The gay-popular Sebastian Street Beach is also close by and the entire resort operates a clothing-optional policy, making for free and liberated fun.

Getting to Fort Lauderdale

The city is served by the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, a major regional airport that welcomes over 700 flights per day. Visitors can get from here to the city’s Downtown via a range of public and private transport options.

The public transport networks to and from the airport are not great, and whilst they may be the cheapest choice at times, they are also the longest. The bus and train lines will take roughly two hours to make the journey from the airport to the Downtown area. The most efficient option is to drive or take a taxi, both will take 35 minutes and offer a more relaxed and enjoyable experience.

Gay Fort Lauderdale

Getting around Fort Lauderdale

Water Taxi

Whilst not being the fastest, cheapest, or most efficient way to travel around Fort Lauderdale, the Water Taxi is definitely the most enjoyable. With 15 stops along the city’s riverside area, many of which are located at top tourist attractions, the Water Taxi is a good way to leisurely travel during your trip to the city. From the water, you will also be able to see the many waterfront mansions and yachts that are synonymous with this part of the country.


Buses are a great option for travelers staying in the central areas of Fort Lauderdale and those with high tourist populations, as buses are regular and reliable here. Much like other Floridian cities, the city has invested heavily in its bus network due to the large amounts of tourists in the state. The bus is the cheapest way to travel in Fort Lauderdale.


The main areas of Fort Lauderdale will be well served by Uber and Lyft, and this can be the most efficient way to travel. There are also plenty of licensed Taxis in the city and they tend to operate on single fare prices, protecting against price surges.


Things to do in Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale is a boasts wide open waters, fascinating LGBT+ history and cultural locations, and some of the best things to do include:

  • Set sail on the Jungle Queen Riverboat
  • Shop at the Riverwalk
  • Visit the Flamingo Gardens
  • Discover the Art Museum of Fort Lauderdale
  • Wander down East las Olas Boulevard
  • Escape to Butterfly World
  • Unwind in the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

Read more: Things to do in Fort Lauderdale.



Those living outside the United States will require a temporary travel visa, and these can be applied for through the official US Embassy website or in your local US embassy.

When to visit

The best time to visit Fort Lauderdale is between December and April. This is Florida’s high season and during this period the weather will be warm and the sun will be shining. You’ll also be free from the sweltering temperatures of the summer and the water will also be cooler at this time, providing a welcome escape from the heat.

Both the winter high season and summer are busy times of the year for the city, with high levels of tourism and many festivals. This makes these periods great for those seeking an action-packed trip, however, for less crowded streets, consider visiting in autumn.


There are plenty of ATM machines around Fort Lauderdale, and the majority of venues will accept both credit and debit cards. However, some ATM machines and card readers may add an additional fee for transactions attempted with overseas cards.

The accepted and expected rates of tipping in Fort Lauderdale are 15-20% for good service.

Join the Travel Gay Newsletter

Have we got something wrong?

Are we missing a new venue or has a business closed? Or has something changed and we have not yet updated our pages? Please use this form to let us know. We really appreciate your feedback.