Florida offers so much to do and so many places to stay that it can be difficult to narrow down your options, but Fort Lauderdale and Orlando have long been favorite LGBTQ destinations. Orlando saw a record-setting 75 million visitors in 2018, making it the number one travel destination in the U.S. As home to seven amazing theme parks, Orlando is naturally the top family vacation destination in the country, but single adults will find plenty to do as well. In particular, it has a thriving wellness travel industry, offering everything from luxury spas at The Ritz-Carlton and Waldorf Astoria, to yoga at downtown Lake Eola. Given the health benefits of petting (heavy and otherwise), lesbians in particular may want to check out the Cat Café where you can drink coffee and snuggle adoptable kittens. At the other end of the spectrum are active-adventure outings from kayaking the crystal clear waters of Rock Springs Run to paddle boarding through tropical canals in Winter Park’s chain of lakes.
Meanwhile Fort Lauderdale — long recognized as Florida’s top destination for LGBTQ travelers in part because of the dozens of queer-owned or friendly hotels, bars, events, and restaurants — will be even more queer-friendly in 2020 when it hosts the inaugural Pride of the Americas Festival. Expecting to attract more than 350,000 visitors from across South, Central, and North America, the celebration next April will showcase top-tier entertainment at beachside Pride events while also featuring more serious advocacy and educational programming including conferences and symposiums focusing on LGBTQ business, travel, health, and environmental conservation.
Hotel options are virtually limitless in these destinations, so it can be hard to narrow down which one to choose. But these, however, offer unique amenities:
Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando
A signature Kessler Collection property, this award-winning, jaw-dropping beauty in downtown Orlando is blocks from popping scenes in art, music, and shopping.
From the Italian mosaic-tiled, barrel-vaulted ceilings to the jester-like statues at the entrance, an oasis of sheer and modern splendor welcomes you to The Grand Bohemian Hotel Gallery, which includes a collection of more than 150 rare pieces of art and showcases works of local and regional artists. The Boheme restaurant is a local favorite with menu items ranging from the Wagyu beef carpaccio and center cut filet mignon to Chilean sea bass and Mediterranean baked salmon.
The edgy Bösendorfer Lounge, another favorite hotspot, is perfect for flirting, drinking martinis, and enjoying the sounds of the Bösendorfer Imperial Concert Grand piano or the hotel’s Sunday Jazz brunch. (KesslerCollection.com)
DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld
This 28-acre resort features beautiful landscaping and fountains, a perfect backdrop for a hotel that mixes the best of both worlds: activity and rest. Conveniently close to Orlando’s major convention centers and the city’s world-famous theme parks (including SeaWorld, Universal Studios, and Disney World), this DoubleTree also provides many opportunities to escape from the kids and enjoy some adult R&R.
The gorgeous Grand Lagoon Pool overlooks the Laguna Restaurant & Bar, which serves frozen drinks to take poolside and the “never-ending breakfast” to indulge on inside. There’s also a well-stocked bar located in the lobby. (DTResortOrlando.com)
Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort
From Fort Lauderdale to Miramar Beach, Hilton has hundreds of hotels in the Sunshine State. Why go Hilton? The company has redefined sustainable travel with its #TravelWithPurpose initiative, hoping to cut its environmental footprint in half and double its social investment by 2030. To date, Hilton has saved nearly $1 billion since beginning its mission toward sustainability a decade ago. The company is now reinvesting that money, constructing over 2,400 new properties (half in the U.S.). Who says saving the environment doesn’t pay?