Photo: Sebastian Beach on Fort Lauderdale Beach is one of the more popular sun spots for gay vacationers.
Most destinations have only one beach to brag about. Greater Fort Lauderdale has eight, with their own unique personalities and surrounding communities which incorporate hundreds of restaurants, shops, attractions, hotels and superior small lodgings. From singles and families to affluent couples, to a rainbow experience and a destination that caters to a multicultural audience, Greater Fort Lauderdale offers more to do than most destinations in southern Florida.
Take a tour of our unique beach communities and see why we’re able to cater to so may different audiences. Is it Fort Lauderdale Beach is the epitome of beach chic style, yet with a refreshingly low-keyed friendliness that appeals to all walks of life. Lauderdale-By-The-Sea is most famous as the “shore dive capital of south Florida. Pompano Beach is popular with fans of picnicking, sun-worshiping, surfing and sport-fishing. Or Hillsboro beach, home to the most powerful lighthouse on the eastern seaboard.
Deerfield Beach has casual beachfront eateries – popular with locals and visitors for lunch, dinner, drinks and dancing. Dania beach is home to John U. Lloyd Beach State Park, a favorite destination for recreation enthusiasts. And at the southern tip, Hollywood beach has a retro-cool Broadwalk where you can dine in open-air cafes, bike or blade along the brick promenade or swim in the pristine waters.
A family-friendly experience
Come see Greater Fort Lauderdale’s natural wonders Greater Fort Lauderdale offers a variety of other nature experiences. Butterfly World features the largest indoor butterfly aviary in North America. Flamingo Gardens & Wray Botanical Collection offers 60 acres of diverse native plants and trees, a Bird of Prey Center with a free-flight aviary, and the chance to view alligators, flamingos, bobcats and Florida panthers. At Anne Kolb Nature Center in Hollywood, kayak through narrow canals where mangrove trees create a tangled canopy. Look out for spiders!
Pet friendly GFL
The “pet set” will have no problems keeping Fido happy in Greater Fort Lauderdale. With 73 pet-friendly hotels, recreation areas, and even spas and restaurants that welcome pets with open paws, Greater Fort Lauderdale is proving that every dog (and other pet) does indeed have its day. With 73 pet-friendly hotels, recreation areas, and even spas and restaurants that welcome pets with open paws, Greater Fort Lauderdale is proving that every dog (and other pet) does indeed have its day.
Educational excursions in GFL combine learning with leisure
What do deck shoes, protective headphones, a sand wedge, camera, wetsuit and a butcher’s block have in common? All can be part of an engaging and enriching vacation experience in Greater Fort Lauderdale. Travelers increasingly combine learning with leisure. Greater Fort Lauderdale offers visitors a variety of participatory learning opportunities, whether this means studying a fascinating native culture or pursuing a personal hobby.
Looking to explore the destination and take to the water? Work the jib aboard the deck of a sailboat, practice equalizing your air pressure underwater, learn how to fly above the waves, or take snapshots of Florida wildlife while coasting in an airboat. Landlubbers can learn flambé techniques from a renowned chef, improve their killer slice on the golf course, or c
amp under the stars in an authentic Seminole Indian Chickee hut.
Be Our Guest! Greater Fort Lauderdale Guest Houses: Where Fun Is the Best Option
When the Rainbow Carpet Lodging and Hospitality Alliance (RCLHA) of Greater Fort Lauderdale formed in 1999, there were approximately two dozen gay guesthouses serving the needs of travelers and locals. Today, the group – now called the Rainbow Alliance – represents around 50 Gay- and Gay-Friendly Guesthouses, along with other, Gay and Lesbian Vacation rentals and seven properties that offer Gays and Lesbians with kids a place to vacation with other families.
The Rainbow Alliance includes hoteliers, shop owners, restaurants, are attractions, realtors and members of the service industry working together to welcome tourists as well as those looking to relocate for work, to start their own business, or to retire.
The Rainbow Alliance also produces a Paper Map and Guide of Greater Fort Lauderdale distributed around the United States, Canada, and throughout Europe. This year, the RA announced its plans to form an LGBT Chamber of Commerce in association with the Broward County Convention and Visitors Bureau and Visit Florida. The organization hopes the change will better serve the promotion of LGBT tourism in Greater Fort Lauderdale, as well as all promoting all LGBT and Gay-Friendly Businesses.
Greater “Fork” Lauderdale: Re-discover the top restaurants that make dining here so Lauderlicious.
The new luxury hotels are bringing a windfall of elegant eating to Greater Fort Lauderdale. Featured restaurants such as the soon-to-open Todd English eatery, da Campo Osteria, at il Lugano Suite Hotel (November2008) and Cero at The Ritz-Carlton join instant successes like Trina, a “New Mediterranean” masterpiece at The Atlantic Resort & Spa – and Council Oak steakhouse at The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood. However, visitors looking for other exciting, eclectic options won’t stay hungry for long. Floribbean (think Florida fresh + Caribbean spice) hot spots such as Johnny V, a “dock and dine” dinner at Blue Moon Fish Company, and a burger that’s been voted America’s Best at the funky Le Tub (what else do you call a place with pastel bath tubs everywhere?) are just a few of the possibilities.
Las Olas Boulevard: Where the Beach Meets Chic
Translated “the waves” in Spanish, Las Olas Blvd. has historically been the road that connects the beach with the city. Today it’s known as Greater Fort Lauderdale’s “style mile,” lined with independently owned boutiques featuring couture, jewelry, home décor, art galleries and specialty gifts. Acclaimed restaurants like Johnny V make up a virtual restaurant row, while lively lounges and cafés with sidewalk seating provide laid-back people watching and colorful nightlife. Las Olas also is the starting point for canal tours in authentic Italian gondolas, as well as a major stop along Greater Fort Lauderdale’s water taxi system – two ways to discover Greater Fort Lauderdale’s Intracoastal Waterway.
Get Your Feet Wet: Learn to Dive then Dive Right In
One of the country’s top scuba diving destinations, Greater Fort Lauderdale features more than 100 wreck dives of various depths and skill levels to complement its three-tiered natural coral reef system. The result is an eclectic undersea world of living coral and resting ships, one whose gulfstream currents bring a treasure trove of brilliantly colored exotic aquatic wildlife. Dozens
of dive operators in Greater Fort Laud-erdale cater to all ages and skill levels.
Currently, the Greater Fort Laud-erdale Convention & Visitors Bureau is offering “Train and Try” opportunities for VIP media. Get certified where you live, then experience Greater Fort Lauderdale’s tremendous scuba scene. For a preview, consumers can visit www.sunny.org/scuba to watch a special destination dive video.
Simply SUN-Sational: Memorable Meetings
From its signature SUN-Sational Service program to free convention center floor space when booking large groups for August and September meetings, Greater Fort Lauderdale continues to be an innovative leader in the meetings industry. The 600,000-square-foot Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center and the destination’s 30,000 hotel rooms are just the start of the story. Meetings venues in Greater Fort Lauderdale are as diverse as the destination itself: a sprawling flamingo garden, a renowned performing arts center, a beachfront boardroom. Meeting professionals are encouraged to visit www.sunny.org/ meetings to order a free Meeting Planners Guide. Stay tuned for more news on the planned 1,000-room, waterfront hotel serving as the new anchor hotel for the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center.
The Water Taxi
You haven’t seen South Florida until you’ve seen it from the Water Taxi! See and hear about mega-yachts and mega-mansions as you go from stop to stop and explore all the dining, shopping and fun that Greater Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood have to offer. Stops include #4/Beach Place, just steps away from world-famous gay Sebastian Beach, on the corner of A1A and Sebastian Street. Make sure to check out Stop #9/Mangoes on sassy and chic Las Olas Boulevard. The Water Taxi’s Cruise & Save program provides discounts to Guests at the hottest restaurants, bars, and attractions near their stops. New daily service to Hollywood is included in your ticket; visit their Web site for route times: watertaxi.com. 954.467.6677
Where the Boys Are: Sebastian Beach
The more popular area is the southern section, which is the area from Sunrise Blvd south to the Las Olas Blvd area. One can’t help but to take a stroll up and down the golden sandy beaches that provided the setting for the now famous movie “Where The Boys Are.” You’ll probably find that most of the gays and lesbians hang out in the area between Las Olas Blvd up to Sunrise Blvd. at Sebastian Street, since there are a lot of gay owned and gay friendly resorts/hotels located near here. There is a cross walk signal right at Sebastian with a City parking lot just West of the Gay Section of the Beach. For years that section has been the unofficial Gay Beach of Fort Lauderdale.
Although not as popular, the northern beach is just as beautiful, and provides a nice escape from the crowds. This section of the beach begins at Sunrise Blvd and continues to Oakland Park Blvd.
Parking: Limited and Pricey beachside parking in southern section; Pay parking has been added on A1A north of Sunrise Blvd., and $3.25 per car all day at Hugh Taylor Birch State Rec. Area, located just west of A1A on Sunrise Blvd.
Food: Numerous restaurants and bars along southern section, none along northern section
Facilities: Restrooms and Private establishments along southern section, No restrooms along northern section except for Hugh
Taylor Birch State Rec. Area (accessible by tunnel from beach)
Lifeguards: 10am to 5pm daily along southern section, none along the northern section.
Wanna Get Naked? Haulover Beach is your place!
Located about 30 minutes south of Ft. Lauderdale, this is a very popular spot for locals and visitors who want to work on their all over tan in the sand. Haulover is one of the largest legally sanctioned clothing optional beaches in the US, officially sanctioned in 1991 – and the only one of two in the State of Florida. Just north of the North Beach tunnel (to the left when facing the water) is the far northern portion of the officially designated nude area, and this is the predominantly gay area of the beach.b