Fort Lauderdale Travel Guide

Fort Lauderdale Travel Guide

David Durán

Sometimes overlooked by those who think Miami is everything that South Florida has to offer, Fort Lauderdale is just as welcoming an area, if not more, especially for gay travellers. Greater Fort Lauderdale is made up of multiple cities, with Fort Lauderdale being the best known, but the remaining cities and areas are part of what makes Greater Fort Lauderdale so special and unique. The weather tends to be borderline perfect, and the locals are usually pretty chill and friendly. Overall, it’s a beach town, with so much more to offer. Wondering what to do in Fort Lauderdale? Mr Hudson has got you covered.

The best hotels in Fort Lauderdale

Here’s where it becomes tricky, because there are so many options for hotels and guesthouses within the county, so it all depends on the type of traveller you are, and where you would like to stay. But usually directly on the beach strip is where most want to be, and The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale is currently one of the most upscale properties on that strip. Having recently undergone a major renovation of public spaces, including a new restaurant, Burlock Coast, and an updated spa, the Ritz-Carlton is an excellent choice for those seeking direct beach access and 5-star service. But soon the Ritz will have some solid competition. Opening later this year is the Conrad, Fort Lauderdale Beach, a condo-hotel a long time in the making. Offering studio, 1 and 2 bedroom spaces it will completely transform the luxury hotel market on the strip because it will be unlike what any other property currently offers. And within a couple of years, The Four Seasons will be joining the ranks of best hotels on the beach front with the opening of their hotel and residences, conveniently next door to the Conrad.

For a more casual yet still sophisticated stay, The W Fort Lauderdale tends to rank high with visitors and not only because of the popular brand but because its pool as well as restaurant scene are both beyond excellent. WET bar by their pool is the place to be, day and night, while the lobby bar is always buzzing.

Photo: Andrew David

Photo: Andrew David

Where to eat in Fort Lauderdale

After checking out the pool at the W, be sure to make a reservation downstairs at Steak 954. Arrive with a big appetite, though, as the portions are large, but so very much worth every bite. If steak is a bit too much, try S3 at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale, where they do offer steak, but also specialise in seafood and sushi, all in a unique shareable concept. The island-chic indoor/outdoor atmosphere is the ultimate in oceanfront dining. For some Italian cuisine, Louie Bossi is your best bet, and visually, the atmosphere will make you want to snap photos non-stop as the outdoor patio area is just too cute to describe, so just go. Headed back to the Ritz, a meal at Burlock Coast is a good idea, not only because it’s a new and fresh restaurant, but also because the food is ridiculously amazing. It’s also rather casual; so don’t let the location within the Ritz-Carlton be intimidating.

All those suggestions aside, if you can only go to one place for dinner, take the trip out to Hollywood (about $12 in an Uber), to Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and enjoy a meal at Kuro. The new-style Japanese restaurant features both locally sourced and ingredients imported directly from Japan. Select your cocktails and let your server design your meal experience, as it’s best to just sit back and eat a little bit of everything. Plus, since you are in a casino, try your luck on the slots after that big meal – you never know. And when it comes to breakfast, your hotel will most likely be a good option, but try and make it out to OB House if only just to sample the baked pancakes, as they are heavenly, although they are massive, so plan to split one if you can.

Photo: Andrew David

Photo: Andrew David

Exploring Greater Fort Lauderdale

Seriously, one of the best things about Greater Fort Lauderdale is that Uber is readily available, and when compared to NYC prices, it’s seriously cheap. Nightlife here is excellent, and there’s no reason to drive, so whip that phone out and get your ride down to Wilton Manors, where the best gay bars happen to be. Wilton Manors is just north of Downtown Fort Lauderdale and is the proud home to many bars, restaurants, and businesses geared towards gays and owned by gays. There are lots of watering holes to choose from, but your best bet will be to hit up Georgie’s Alibi and its adjoining Manchester Room. Alibi has a great outdoor patio and a massive indoor area with plenty of bar space, making waiting in line for drinks not so tedious. The classier Manchester Room, which is accessed via Alibi, is more of an intimate setting with popular live shows, including one of the best drag shows in town. Across the street is the newest bar on the scene, The Village Pub, for those who like the setting of a more casual sports bar. The original Wilton Manors sports bar, Rumors, is also worth a visit, as it’s more of an establishment and gets packed deep on the weekends. 

Things to do in Fort Lauderdale

It would be hard to visit Great Fort Lauderdale and not spend some time at the beach; it’s kind of hard to miss. There’s a “gay” beach directly in front of the Ritz-Carlton, named Sebastian Beach, but really, anywhere you can find a good spot will be a great time. Beyond the beach, Greater Fort Lauderdale has lots to offer, such as unique neighbourhoods with boutique shopping and small cafes to explore. The NSU Museum of Art is an excellent way to spend a morning or afternoon. The museum’s 83,000 square-foot building contains 25,000 square feet of exhibition space, including a 256-seat auditorium, store, and café. But for something a bit unique and out of the ordinary, take a trip to the Everglades to Sawgrass Recreation Park. There you can experience the reptiles and exotic wildlife, as well as see a show from expert caretakers (ask for Gator Tim) of exotic animals. But the highlight here is taking an airboat tour, offered during the day and at sunset – the rides are both adventurous and different, and will make your trip to the Greater Fort Lauderdale as authentic as it can get.

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