Discover Gay Florida :: Palm Beach County
Priding itself on not being like hectic and busy Miami, the county is now trying to shed part of its sleepy reputation in the hopes of attracting more LGBT tourists.
Palm Beach County was created in 1909, as residents wanted to carve their own identity separate from Miami (at the time the entire South Florida area was part of Dade County). As a result of becoming its own county, property taxes fell dramatically, making Palm Beach County a very affordable place to live.
The county grew from just 5,500 residents in 1910 to 114,000 in 1960 to 1.3 million in 2010; Palm Beach is now the 14th most populous county in the United States. Over the decades, a local economy grew and thrived, creating thousands of jobs, not requiring people to commute further south for work (although this still happens to varying degrees). The purchasing power in Palm Beach County is just as strong as in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, without the extra cost of living: Living in the three biggest cities in Palm Beach County (West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, and Boynton Beach) costs 30 to 35% less than living in Miami’s city limits, and on average 5% less than living in Fort Lauderdale.
Many people from the North retired to Palm Beach County, to cities such as Boca Raton and Palm Beach Gardens, among others. Consequently, the median age in the county is 42 years, making Palm Beach one of the oldest counties in Florida. Snowbirds and natives enjoy 234 days of sunshine per year, even as West Palm Beach is well-known as one of the wettest cities in the country!
Palm Beach County is the most relaxed county in south Florida, and it is growing into an LGBT tourist destination of its own, while still close and very accessible to the bigger scenes further south.
FTI Winter Equestrian Festival
DGF equestPalm Beach County loves its horses, and it hosts the largest and longest horse show in the world to prove it. Over twelve weeks, horses and riders from all over the world show off their skills in dressage and show jumping. Contestants range from Olympic competitors to well-heeled amateurs. The 140-acre complex in Wellington is considered to be the best in the world for horse shows. (January through March, Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, 14440 Pierson Road, Wellington.)
PrideFest of Lake Worth and the Palm Beaches
PrideFest boasts the oldest pride parade in Florida, running nearly every year since 1992. The DGF pridefesttwo-day event includes a parade and a festival, the latter of which boasts 140 businesses and organizations set up for spectators at Bryant Park on Lake Avenue in Lake Worth. The event has grown from its beginnings inside the Armory Arts Center in West Palm Beach to its current two-day setup with an estimated 15,000 spectators this past year. PrideFest has earned its place among the major pride celebrations in the state of Florida. (Third weekend in March, parade route from J Avenue to Bryant Park in Lake Worth.)
Palm Beach International Film Festival
DGF palmbeachThe Palm Beach International Film Festival (PBIFF) is considered one of the top 25 film festivals in the world. Started in 1996, it has hosted over 1,100 films from 55 countries, and in 2013 the festival started a competitive element, with juries ruling in such categories as "best feature," "best documentary," "best short" and special consideration open to productions created and produced in Florida. Celebrities such as Helen Hunt and Illeana Douglas attended the 2013 festival to promote their films. (April, many locations, including Muvico Parisian @ CityPlace, 545 Hibiscus St., West Palm Beach; Hyatt Place Delray Beach, 104 NE 2nd Ave., Delray Beach; and Frank Theatres CineBowl & Grille at Delray MarketPlace, 14775 Lyons Rd., Delray Beach.)
SunFest is billed as Florida’s largest music festival. Last year, 50 acts performed over five days on three stages on Flagler Drive in downtown West Palm Beach. The headliners were Train, Smashing Pumpkins, The Offspring, and Ed Sheeran, mixing in current big names with ’90s nostalgia. Where else can you hear country, then walk down the street and hear classic rock, and then hear the hottest in indie music by going to another stage? Music festivals may exist in other parts of Florida but the sheer size and variety of SunFest is one to be appreciated. This event kicks off "that summertime feeling" in the Palm Beaches. (First week of May, Flagler Drive, West Palm Beach.)
Grandview Gardens Bed and Breakfast
This particular B&B has the #1 rating in the Palm Beaches on TripAdvisor. This property is situated inDGF grandview the Grandview Heights neighborhood of West Palm Beach and the property and buildings date from 1925, built in Spanish Mediterranean style. The resort offers both B&B stays and vacation homes for rent. Relaxing poolside or in the gardens will put anyone in a state of tranquility and bliss. They even offer sightseeing tours originating from the property, and VIP service for your dog (should you choose to bring him or her along!). (1608 Lake Ave., West Palm Beach)
Sabal Palm House
Their website is quick to note that they are the only bed and breakfast earning four diamonds by AAA between Miami and Orlando, and have held that distinction for 11 years running. Each room has a large four-poster bed, and the color white is key in the decor of all seven rooms and suites. A hot breakfast and afternoon tea with pastries make sure you will be well-fed in style. If you want to take your special someone for a breathtaking weekend of passion, the innkeepers will help you plan (almost) every detail. (109 N. Golfview Rd., Lake Worth)
DGF mangoBuilt in 1915, this bed and breakfast is situated inside one of the oldest homes in Lake Worth, and has been painstakingly renovated to offer pastel Floridian charm mixed with understated opulence. It’s the little things that set Mango Inn apart (the waterfalls, the continental breakfast served outside, overlooking the pool) in a town that is somewhat competitive as far as B&B offerings are concerned. Each room has a specific theme (Victorian, country, Provençal, etc.), giving you lots of options to feel lots of different emotions. (128 N. Lakeside Dr., Lake Worth)
Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach
Want something luxurious and a little bigger? The Four Seasons Resort might be a little more your DGF fourseasonsthing. Complimentary spa facilities, two tennis courts, and a health club are available if you are health-conscious and haven’t discovered the wide expanse of beach just outside your window! There are also four different restaurants (all rated five diamonds by AAA), so you don’t really have to leave the hotel for...well, anything, but we recommend you do. You can still experience all of Palm Beach while still being treated like the king (or queen) you are. (2800 S. Ocean Blvd, Palm Beach)
This restaurant emphasizes fresh ingredients and farm-to-table cuisine. The chefs are skilled at various cuisines, such as Italian, Southern American, Jamaican, French and Mexican. (3800 N. Ocean Dr., Singer Island)
Bistro Ten Zero One
DGF bistroIf you want seafood and steaks in a casual dining atmosphere, this place is for you. Fresh seafood from Florida is served alongside delicacies flown in from as far away as Prince Edward Island. (1001 Okechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach)
Blue Fire Grille
American cuisine with a Caribbean flair is the specialty of this restaurant, with its signature dish being the bone-in ribeye steak. Try the creole crab cakes or the jerk chicken quesadillas for Caribbean taste. (4000 RCA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens)
Serving all three meals daily, this restaurant is notable for its eclectic selections (where else can you choose between a mango-coconut mousse or chocolate s’mores for dessert?). Entrees are the best in French haute cuisine. (301 Australian Ave., Palm Beach)
Morimoto’s Sushi Bar
The famed Morimoto’s of Philadelphia now has a branch in south Florida. Four different sushi chef DGF sushistations ensure you will get the freshest delicacies fast. Color -- in both the senses of sight and taste -- exemplify the Morimoto’s experience. (501 E. Camino Real, Boca Raton)
Entrees at this restaurant combine flavors such as parmesan and capers, vanilla and saffron, and apples and mint, while focusing on fresh seafood, including three different taste notes of butter with the Maine lobster tail. (5 N. A1A, Jupiter)
If you’re looking for a large community comparable to Fort Lauderdale and Wilton Manors, you will be slightly disappointed. However, there are four different gay bars and clubs in Palm Beach County: two in West Palm Beach and two in Lake Worth.
Fort Dix (6205 Georgia Ave., West Palm Beach) touts itself as host to the Palm Beaches’ best drag shows. HG Rooster’s (823 Belvedere Rd., West Palm Beach) also hosts drag shows, karaoke, Latin nights and bingo on various nights, and will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year.
The Bar (2211 N. Dixie Hwy., Lake Worth), bills itself as a "neighborhood bar," frequently hosting live music acts, that skews more female, although both men and women are welcomed.
Another cozy bar where everyone is bound to know your name after a few visits is The Mad Hatter (1532 N. Dixie Hwy., Lake Worth). It’s one of the older bars in Palm Beach County, having celebrated 60 years in business last year!