Fort Lauderdale’s Fabulous Beach

by Sheri Elfman
Friday Feb 10, 2012

Sometimes Fort Lauderdale residents are so used to their gorgeous surroundings that they forget how lucky they are to live in a beach paradise. According to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, 11 million tourists from around the world flock to the area annually to enjoy the beaches. Oddly, sometimes the locals go 6 months to a year without even stepping one flip flop onto the sand.

Fort Lauderdale's fabulous beach is a true gay mecca! It has become the top gay destination among gay travelers through the last few years and it's easy to see why. With the glorious 23 miles of beach and large amount of gay friendly businesses, Fort Lauderdale is truly one-of-a-kind.

It first became popular in the gay scene in the 1970s when Marlin Beach Hotel opened on A1A (Beach Place now fills this space). The establishment was known worldwide for its legendary t-dances. It was the place to be on a Sunday afternoon and men would come up from all over, including popular Miami to be a part of the party. Entertainers from disco diva Sylvester to Dana Manchester all made appearances at this 70s landmark. It was even featured in the film "Where the Boys Are" with Connie Francis.

Through these years, savvy businessmen noticed that Fort Lauderdale Beach was truly where the boys were, and several guesthouses began opening up to meet the needs of the visitors flooding our area. After Marlin Beach Hotel closed down, visionary Richard Gray opened a boutique gay resort, Royal Palms. Others, such as The Flamingo, St. Sebastian (now The Dunes), Villa Venice and Orton Terrace, soon followed.

With the glorious 23 miles of beach and large amount of gay friendly businesses, Fort Lauderdale is truly one-of-a-kind.

During the 1980s, Fort Lauderdale Beach was taken over by partying Spring Breakers. Earning the unflattering name "Fort Liquordale," its reputation took its toll and tourism began to lag. However, sexy out-of-towners are always welcome, so this did little to stop the growing plethora of gay guesthouses in the area.

As gay Fort Lauderdale Beach grew, guests decided to stay longer at these beautiful guesthouses and the establishments began to expand their repertoire. The Grand Resort, which opened in 1999, was the first to offer a full-service day spa, with Royal Palms, Villa Venice, and Windamar among the other guesthouses following with their amazing spa services.

Recently, several upscale, international hotels opened up in the area, including The Ritz-Carlton, W and Atlantic Hotel. These glamorous hotels have also been quite a draw to gay travelers. It just goes to show, as it's been proven time and time again, gays move into the area first, fix up it, and then everyone else follows.

Of course, the best place to meet up and make new friends is what is known as the gay beach, Sebastian. This is the stretch of beach where you will find men of all shapes and sizes sunbathing, checking each other out and splashing in the waves.

Check us out next week to find out about the exciting new developments taking place in Fort Lauderdale Beach, which will take the area to the next level as the world's premiere gay destination.

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