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Exclusive | All About South Florida Part Two

Exclusive | All About South Florida Part Two

From Key West's 'everybody goes!' to Miami's art worlds (Deco and Basel) and Fort Lauderdale's spring fever to celeb-stacked Palm Beach, South Florida is a lively destination, and then some.

Fort Lauderdale
For those who still think Fort Lauderdale is simply a palladium of wet T-shirt contests, Sun-In, and carcinogenic tan lines, a lot has changed. Chic, urban high-rises now line the Atlantic Ocean and the intricate vagaries of the Intracoastal Waterway. Strips of boutique shops and lofts along Las Olas Boulevard accommodate Fort Lauderdale's bourgeoisie influx.

While the new Fort Lauderdale has indeed emerged, the urban growth has not compromised the small party-town feel that has historically defined the city. A hedonistic "spring break forever" mentality remains, such that gay men well into their 40s and 50s are still enthralled by casual sex, booze, and Deborah Cox dance remixes.

Did you know that?
Gay tourists represented a $1.24 billion force in the Fort Lauderdale economy in 2007, accounting for nearly 15% of all tourism spending in the area.

Hot Tip!
Experience the "Venice of America!" A boat trip through Fort Lauderdale's waterways is an essential but often overlooked experience for visitors.

The Palm Beaches
While Palm Beach has steadfastly remained America's money vault, West Palm has seen significant upswings and downturns, with its most recent rebirth largely spearheaded by gay community members. Bungalows from the teens and 20s and Spanish mission -- and Mediterranean?style homes have resurfaced -- reworked with a touch of homo sophistication.

Nevertheless, the latest gentrification efforts still linger in the shadow of the infamous Palm Beach mansions, unaffordable to even most celebrities. Stacked one after the next, the lavish "cribs" along Billionaires' Row astonish the mere commoner.

Did you know that?
South Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach boasts the finest antiquing in Florida and arguably some of the best in the country.

Hot Tip!
Bring the Platinum (or Black) American Express! Long before Julia Roberts's infamous Pretty Woman shopping snub on Rodeo Drive, store attendants from the even more posh Worth Avenue in Palm Beach were damaging the self-esteem of millions. The series of beautifully appointed boutiques and designer stores housed in Moorish architecture exude exclusivity and originality.

Adapted from The Out Traveler: South Florida by Paul Rubio, Alyson Books, 2009. Visit Alyson.com to purchase.

Part One | Part Two

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