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6 reasons to start Pride season with a bang in Greater Fort Lauderdale

This Valentine’s weekend, check out and check into Greater Fort Lauderdale for Love Pride 2018. Beginning Friday, February 9th, the beach town hosts everything from awesome street food vendors to pride dance parties to all-star entertainers (Estelle anyone?), all set against the backdrop world-class beaches.

With the feel of a beach town yet cosmopolitan at the same time, Fort Lauderdale knows that we are Greater Together, and how to make visitors feel not only welcomed but celebrated. The city sponsored a campaign showing off LGBTQs enjoying life under the sun, and it is one of the first in the nation to reach out to transgender travelers. In this diverse place, you’ll meet everyone from party kids to middle aged baristas to the retirement set who’ve settled comfortably into the beach lifestyle.

Greater Fort Lauderdale boasts an abundance of fun and celebratory things to do at the country’s earliest major Pride, and we’ve got the list below to help you get the most out of it. (For more detail, check out Greater Fort Lauderdale’s Vacation Planner.)

This is your guide to Pride in Greater Fort Lauderdale before, during and after your trip…

1. Pride Weekend

Combine the feeling of a small town pride with a world-class city and you get Greater Fort Lauderdale Pride. Join enthusiastic travelers from Miami (it’s only an hour away), Atlanta, Key West, and of course the snow angels of the east coast looking for warm weather escapes.

At this festival by the beach, dance the night away at the kick-off party Friday, February 9 @ 6:30pm. Then cover yourself in glitter and climb aboard the “Love Pride” cruise ship and meet the fabulous Charo. Be sure to take advantage of the open bar and sip cocktails. There will also be local bites to satisfy your taste buds.

Pride itself is scheduled for Sunday, February 11 right on Fort Lauderdale Beach Park South adjacent to the B Ocean Hotel & Resort. This year it includes something for everyone: family, sports and pride history areas as well as senior chill zone, sober zone and a new VIP area.

South Florida Trans Pride takes place Sunday, February 11 @ 12pm. Check out the celebrity meet & greet with Laith Ashley, Jaimie Wilson and Carmen Carrera.

And of course don’t miss the official Saturday Pride Party @ Hunters. Get close to the Hunters hotties, located in the center of gay nightlife along “The Drive” in Wilton Manors, the official Saturday event is sure to be steamy.

2. The Bars & Clubs

Take a dip in the resort pool, towel off, head to the bars, then end up back in the pool again. It’s the Fort Lauderdale way.

  • The Manor — Vintage style, cosmopolitain vibes at this multi-level nightclub complex with strobe lights
  • Hunter’s Night Club – Located on “the drive” in Wilton Manors, it offers dancing and entertainment daily
  • Infinity Lounge — Warm up or wind down from the madness at this sophisticated, upscale lounge in the heart of it all
  • Georgie’s Alibi Monkey Bar — Located in the heart of Wilton Manors, this classic bar is a must-visit

3. The gay beaches

The relaxing, low-key vibe of Greater Fort Lauderdale beaches offer a complete sensorial experience. Pristine white sand, palm trees, beach volleyball and surfing (did we mention board shorts and speedos?), and the proximity to entertainment makes the beach scene magical.

  • Sebastian Street Gay Beach — Nestled along the corner of Sebastian Street and A1A across from Casablanca Cafe, this is the queer destination
  • NE 18th Street – Quiet beach next to the sand dunes and popular with the locals

4. The resort pools

Fort Lauderdale offers a great range of resorts with lively social scenes and a mix of older and younger guys. The cabins built around the pools allow an escape from the sun; rest up then head right back into the water! Fuel up during breakfast at the guest house or resort. Enjoy poolside happy hours.

  • Alcazar Resort — For nearly 70 years, this clothing optional resort is a short drive from the festive gayety of Wilton Manors
  • Cabanas Guesthouse & Spa — This all-male, gay, waterfront resort feels secluded and sophisticated while being nearby the nightlife fun
  • Grand Spa Resort — Indulge yourself with a massage, facial, body wrap or scrub at one of Fort Lauderdale’s biggest gay guesthouses

5. Savor seafood

The dining scene in Greater Fort Lauderdale is of course driven by the fresh local catch, and there are numerous great seafood restaurants and sushi joints. There’s also some of the great local haunts, the kind of diners where everyone knows your name.

  • Bubbles & Pearls – Join Bravo’s Top Chef Josie for a feast of champagne and east coast oysters
  • Casablanca — Enjoy the flavors of Mediterranean dishes
  • Sushi Song Gaysha — Wilton Manors’ late night sushi destination offers fresh ingredients with indoor and outdoor seating

For the more local gay experience, check out the perennial faves Rosie’s Bar & Grill and Courtyard Cafe, one of our favorite local big breakfasts places where you’ll run into the guys you met last night at the bar.

6. The Guys

Sometimes, pictures speak a thousand words! *wink*

Check out Greater Fort Lauderdale’s Vacation Planner for more information.

Related: 6 ways to enjoy beautiful Fort Lauderdale while staying totally beach-ready