Its reputation as a sun-drenched LGBTI mecca is known far and wide – and from July, you can fly directly from Gatwick Airport to Fort Lauderdale with British Airways.
Found 28 miles from Miami, the Florida city will be the airline’s fourth service to the sunshine state, when it begins on 6 July.
In anticipation of the new route, here, we count down 14 facts about the ‘Venice of America’, explaining why it’s a dream destination for people of all sexualities…
1 It has the highest concentration of gay couples of any city in the US
According to the 2012 US census, 2.8% of Fort Lauderdale households are made of same-sex couples – the most in the country.
2 Its LGBTI marketing spend is mammoth
In 2015, it emerged that Fort Lauderdale’s LGBTI marketing spend had risen 2757.14% in 19 years since 1996, from $35,000 (€30,949, £22,561) to £1m (€1,371,783, £1,551,300).
3 It was formally home to the largest gathering of the trans community
The annual Southern Comfort Conference sadly ended last year, despite being one of the most important dates in the calendar for trans issues. Since its inception in 1991, it has been held almost exclusively in Atlanta, but mirroring Fort Lauderdale’s popularity with trans travelers, moved to the city for its 2015 and 16 instalments.
4 It has its own UK trans ambassador
Further demonstrating Greater Fort Lauderdale’s impressive trans credentials was the appointment of its first UK trans ambassador – former boxing manager Kellie Maloney – by the CVB last year.
5 Greater Fort Lauderdale is home to 23 miles of beach
These include Hillsboro Beach, Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Fort Lauderdale, Dania Beach, Hollywood and Hallandale Beach, according to Sunny.org.
6 The population is tiny
It’s often surprising how small some of the US’s biggest tourism hotspots actually are. Fort Lauderdale is home to around 170,000 people – similar in size to Canterbury in Kent.
7 The city receives 3,000 hours of sunshine every year
Like the rest of the state of Florida, there’s never a bad time to visit Fort Lauderdale weather-wise. The average temperature in January is 19C, shooting up to 28C in July.
8 LGBTI visitors bring $1.5 billion to the city every year
That’s around £1.2 billion, or €1.4 billion. Any which was, a mind-boggling amount of money. But tourism is big business in the state generally – almost 113 million people visited Florida in 2016.
9 Greater Fort Lauderdale has over 34,000 lodging accommodations
Indeed, although marine commerce is the largest industry here, tourism comes in second. So, unsurprisingly, there are a wealth of stopover options to suit all tastes and budgets. (We reviewed the Pelican Grand Beach Resort last year and loved it.)
10 It has over 30 LGBTI drinking spots
Not to mention a plethora of queer-owned businesses – including LGBTI retirement homes!
11 This year, it launched the first travel marketing campaign to feature trans models
This was back in January and reportedly a world first.
12 An array of other Florida destinations are accessible by car
Located on the state’s east coast, many of Florida’s other touristic gems are within driving distance. Miami is a 40-minute drive, Orlando three hours and Key West is three hours and 40 minutes. Tampa, West Palm Beach and the Everglades are also close by.
13 It’s full of waterways
Over 300 miles of them, in fact. Hence its ‘Venice of America’ nickname.
14 It’s a liberal oasis
While Florida as a state is strongly Republican, Broward County, of which Fort Lauderdale is the largest city, is firmly Democratic.
Top picture by Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, others by Pixabay.