By PASSPORT Global Studio
Greater Fort Lauderdale (Broward County) is home to more than 31 municipalities and is renowned for its welcoming, authentic vibe and for being a top destination for LGBT+ travelers. As one of the most progressive destinations in the U.S., Greater Fort Lauderdale has been a global leader of diversity and inclusion. Long considered the LGBT+ capital of Florida, Greater Fort Lauderdale welcomed 1.5 million LGBT+ travelers annually.
The destination is also home to a thriving local LGBT+ community with the highest concentration of same-sex couple households in the country and hundreds of gay-owned businesses, many of which are centered around the Wilton Manors neighborhood. Sebastian Beach, the top-rated gay beach in the United States, is nestled in Fort Lauderdale beach.
Visit Lauderdale, also known as the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, has been proactively inviting and welcoming the LGBT+ market since 1996. Greater Fort Lauderdale is the only destination in the world that includes transgender people in its marketing initiatives. Visit Lauderdale is integrating all markets into its mainstream marketing efforts, including disabled people, like in the “Celebrate You” campaign. This campaign includes Trans, Drag, Lesbian, Disabled, Non-binary and gay in a very non-resort way.
Greater Fort Lauderdale celebrates diversity and inclusion in every way, each day, where Pride is the daily way of life. The destination is embracing every segment of the LGBT+ community to make everyone feel welcome, comfortable and safe. This includes those who identify as nonbinary and pansexual, the sometimes-forgotten transgender community, the disabled and allies.
More than 58 percent of the local population are minorities, and 32 percent were born in more than 100 countries. Approximately 79 percent of foreign-born residents are from Latin America, including large communities of immigrants from Cuba, Brazil and Colombia. With this melting pot of cultures, Broward County is the second most diverse county in the United States. Because of the diverse community, it creates inclusion without assimilation and allows people the space, opportunity and freedom to be themselves.
“Greater Fort Lauderdale is the ultimate, inclusive retreat, and we are thrilled to welcome LGBT+ visitors who are looking to satisfy their wanderlust,” says Richard Gray, Senior Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Visit Lauderdale. “Our 23 mile-stretch of golden sand among our eight distinct beaches is one of our greatest treasures, along with our extraordinary culinary offerings, thriving arts and culture scene, and outdoor sporting activities.”
During this unprecedented time caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the destination’s highest priority is the safety and wellbeing of visitors and residents. Hotels, tourist attractions, restaurants and businesses throughout Greater Fort Lauderdale are taking Visit Lauderdale’s Safe + Clean Pledge, in accordance with CDC guidelines. All are offering exemplary service and have enhanced sanitation and safety measures so everyone can enjoy a change of scenery while having peace of mind.
First-time visitors are encouraged to visit the LGBT+ Visitors Center in Wilton Manors. From there, they can visit the world’s first AIDS museum and explore Wilton Drive, featuring unique boutiques and a variety of restaurants serving up delectable meals. The Yard, also in Wilton Manors, houses unique wares, an antique shop, outdoor murals, a weekend flea market, a gourmet coffee shop, a French creperie and more. Another must-visit spot is the Stonewall Museum, one of the only permanent spaces in the U.S. devoted to exhibitions relating to LGBT+ history and culture.
In Sunrise, visitors will find the nation’s biggest luxury and designer outlet destination. The 2.1 million-square-foot Sawgrass Mills features more than 350 stores, including GUCCI, Burberry, Jimmy Choo, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo Company Store, Tag Heuer Versace, David Yurman, Ralph Lauren and Saks OFF 5th. Fuel up between the bargains at many on-site eateries, such as Shake Shack, Seasons 52 and Yardhouse.
The world-renowned Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood unveiled a $1.5 billion expansion in October 2019. New offerings include 638 upscale guestrooms in the first-ever Guitar Hotel, 168 luxury guestrooms and unique swim-up suites in the adjacent Oasis Tower at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood. Additional amenities include the lush, “Bora Bora” style lagoon with private cabanas and butler service; a 42,000 square-foot Rock Spa® & Salon; a 13.5-acre recreational water experience for swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding; and 19 dining outlets and 20 bars and lounges.
With a vibrant collection of cultures and activities, Greater Fort Lauderdale is the ultimate, inclusive LGBT+ destination where everyone comes together, under the warm embrace of the sun. You are welcome to fly your flag high, make an impact and radiate life – because you are you, and you are worth celebrating. Create your own adventure at sunny.org/lgbt