Fort Lauderdale is out, loud and fabulously proud! Over the past few decades it has become one of the gayest places in the States and was even featured as the ultimate gay holiday for the boys in the trashy movie – “Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild!”
In terms of gay scene, Wilton Manors is the vibrant gayborhood of Fort Lauderdale, which comes alive every night of the week.
We've been to Fort Lauderdale several times, mainly due to the abundance of inexpensive flights from Europe. We used JustFly to search and book our flights, which we recommend because they offer a comprehensive range of options allowing you to search for the lowest prices. We also recommend searching for options to Miami Airport, which is only a 45 minute drive away, to maximise your flight options.
However and whenever you visit Fort Lauderdale, you're guaranteed to have a great time with warm weather: temperatures rarely dip below 25 degrees (77 Fahrenheit).
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The gay area of Fort Lauderdale
The main gay area of Fort Lauderdale is Wilton Manors, located around 15 minutes drive inland from the beach. Wilton Manors comprises several blocks with many gay bars, clubs, boutique gay shops, cafes and restaurants. The biggest parties take place on weekends, but there is always a large crowd on every night of the week.
Nearby to Wilton Manors is a small Bohemian road called “Eucalyptus Gardens”. It has a handful of open minded and very colourful cafes like “Voo La Voo“, as well really cool street art murals. If you're looking for a gay shop to stock up on your fetish gear, buy new swimwear and other accessories, check out Pride Factory.
Finally, be sure to check out the Stonewall National Museum for an excellent history lesson about LGBTQ culture, as well as the World AIDS Museum for a fascinating insight about the history of HIV and the steps taken to alleviate it.
Gay bars of Fort Lauderdale
There are many gay bars in Fort Lauderdale, mainly based in Wilton Manors, some of which also double up as a restaurant. Our advice is to head to Alibi and see where the night takes you. Here are some of the main gay bars of Fort Lauderdale worth checking out. Unless otherwise stated, all bars listed are found in Wilton Manors and are open daily until around 2/3am.
- Georgie's Alibi/Monkey Bar: one of the largest gay bars in Wilton Manors, where you're bound to end up at at some stage. It has a large outdoor terrace for smokers with a small bar. Inside it has a large bar area where shows take, a separate dance area and an additional room for latino music and drag shows. Next door it also has a restaurant which serves up some pretty decent burgers.
- thePUB: we love the drag shows at thePUB. It's a smaller venue than Alibi but the female impersonators are hilarious. They usually have a drag or cabaret show on most nights of the week. They also serve food and have a daily 2-4-1 happy hour from 11am-9pm.
- DrYnk: fun cozy bar in Wilton Manors famous for their draft beers and cocktails. We like the more chilled atmosphere here, but still gets quite busy and rowdy on weekends.
- Le Boy: this is where the twinks (and their fans) hang out. Look out for their Thursday strip contests and happy hour from Tuesday to Sunday from 2-8pm. Le Boy is closed on Mondays but open every other day until around 2/3am.
- Gym Bar: one for sports fans (and their fans!) Gym bar plays the latest football/baseball/hockey match on the TV screens and has pool tables. But to be honest, we came here more to ogle at the hot gay jocks rather than follow the latest baseball game!
- Johnsons: a speakeasy lounge bar in Wilton Manors with live shows and really friendly, welcoming staff. They have themed nights like karaoke, drag night and more. Note that Johnsons is only open on Wednesdays to Sundays from 6pm until around 2/3am.
- Infinity Lounge: one of the more sophisticated bars in Wilton Manors with very stylish and chic interiors. It's more intimate than the other bars and better for a romantic date than a wild night out with friends.
Gay restaurants in Fort Lauderdale
There are many gay restaurants in and around Wilton Manors, which also double up as bars and are great places to come for dinner/drinks before going out to party. These are some of the best ones which we highly recommend from our personal experience:
- Bubbles and Pearls: this is one of the best restaurants we ate at in Fort Lauderdale. It's owned and managed by lesbian couple Marcy and Josie (who is also head chef). Their oysters are absolutely delicious and their Key Lime Pie is one of the best we've tried in Florida. B&P is open daily from 5pm to 10pm (11pm on weekends).
- Rosie’s Bar and Grill: we love coming here for a burger dinner before heading out to party in the Wilton Manors gay bars. Each week they produce a new Bow-Wow (Burger of the Week) and have a weekday happy hour from 11am to 7pm. Rosie's is open everyday from 11am to 11pm (midnight on weekends).
- Lips Drag Show & Dinner: The Ultimate in Drag Dining! This is one of the best places to come for drag shows in Fort Lauderdale, with some really funny and entertaining shows to complement your meal. Lips is located in Oakland Park and is only open Tuesday-Sunday till 10pm (after midnight on weekends).
- Rumors Bar & Grill: half sports bar, half restaurant with themed nights like $6 burgers on Mondays. They also have trivia nights and fundraiser events to look out for. Rumors is open daily from 11am to 2am (3am on weekends).
Gay clubs of Fort Lauderdale
These are some of the best gay clubs in Fort Lauderdale. Unless otherwise stated they are in Wilton Manors and open daily until around 2/3am:
- Hunters: the main gay club in town, which we ended up at almost every time we partied in Wilton Manors. There's always something happening here, whether it's karaoke night or “Fur Friday” Bear night. When we came here on a Saturday evening it was packed, but a lot of fun.
- The Manor Complex: a weekend only gay club in Wilton Manors, open from 11pm to 4am on Fridays and Saturdays. It's huge with 3 rooms of music spread over 2 levels, as well as a lavish VIP room. If the Andrew Christian models are doing a show in town, it's bound to take place here. Every evening is themed, so check their website for details of the next shows.
- Ramrod: Fort Lauderdale's famous leather, levi and uniform fetish bar with themed nights every day of the week. For example, Monday is “3 Dollar Night” and Friday is leather night. Check their website for the most up to date information about each event happening.
- Boardwalk: gay club which is famous for their margaritas, male dancers and $5 meals after midnight from their “Beefcake Grill”. They have a themed night every evening. Our favourite was Thursday's “Latin Night”. Check their Facebook page for the most up to date information.
To read more, including the best gay beaches, events and gay hotels, check out our comprehensive gay guide to Fort Lauderdale.
Happy travels are safe travels
We recommend you always take out travel insurance before your next vacation. What happens if you suffer from illness, injury, theft or a cancellation? With travel insurance, you can have peace of mind and not worry. We love World Nomads travel insurance and have been using it for years. Their comprehensive coverage is second to none and their online claims process is very user friendly.
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For more Floridian inspiration, check out the following:
- Tampa: gay guide to Tampa and best things to do in Tampa guide.
- Sarasota: gay guide to Sarasota and romantic things to do.
- Florida Keys: gay guide to Key West and best gay resorts in Key West.