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Fort Lauderdale Has the Sand, the Sun – and the Rainbows

Ft Lauderdale beach

The Florida beach town has been embracing LGBTQ+ people of all shades since the 1970s.

Fort Lauderdale held its first Pride in 1977, and it was born more from anger than celebration, as LGBTQ+ people spilled onto the streets to protest the state-wide referendum that overturned Miami-Dade County’s landmark gay rights ordinance.

Since then, the Florida beach city has gained a well-earned reputation for inclusion and celebration of queer travelers and the local LGBTQ+ community. Greater Fort Lauderdale is home to more LGBTQ-owned businesses than any tourist destination in the nation. There are queer and LGBTQ-embracing hotels for every kind of traveler.

W Fort Lauderdale pool

Want a dog-friendly beach-side hotel with one of the best pools in the city? Check out W Fort Lauderdale(above) with WET Deck, the pool five floors above the ocean. (Insider tip: want to experience the pool while staying elsewhere? Day passes are available.)

Want to bring your furbaby but also hang out at an exclusive, adults-only gay resort in Wilton Manors? Ed Lugo Resort has adorable renovated 1950s-style Florida bungalows with plenty of privacy. If you’re looking for clothing-optional queer accommodations, the Grand Resort, first opened in 1999, is a few blocks from the beach in a quiet residential area; while Pineapple Point Guesthouse & Resort sits on 2.5 lush tropical acres.

Fort Lauderdale gayborhood Wilton Manor is home to numerous restaurants, including best-breakfast-in-town Shawn & Nick’s Courtyard Café and perennial open-air favorite Rosie’s Bar and Grill.

Stop by Bubbles & Pearls Champagne Raw Bar, where effervescent owner and Top Chef star Josie Smith Malave mingles with regulars and serves delicious small plate creations. The oysters menu is like choosing vintages at a top-notch winery — the flavors are more diverse than you’d imagine, and each oyster has its own notes distinctive to the region where it was harvested.

Straddling the fence between restaurant and nightclub, Georgie’s Alibimorphs into a bar as the day progresses. At Hunters Nightclub Wilton Manors, an eclectic mix of leathermen and bears mingle with beach bunnies. Other local gay bars include The Manor and Village Pub.

two lesbians at Sebastian Beach in Ft Lauderdale


Year-round beach weather offers LGBTQ+ travelers plenty of things to do beyond hanging out at Sebastian Beach (above) or visiting Wilton Manors. You could spend days exploring the Intracoastal Waterway (below), a 3,000-mile maze of natural inlets, saltwater rivers, and canals.

Ft Lauderdale Intracoastal Waterway

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Jacob Anderson-Minshall