Palm Beach County is home to a sizable LGBTQ population, especially in the area's largest city, West Palm Beach, and also in the smaller, laid-back beach community of Lake Worth, which is where Palm Beach County Gay Pride takes place in late March each year. Many of the gay folks you'll meet in this part of the state, which is just north of the hugely popular gay mecca of Fort Lauderdale, have moved here from cooler climates, taking advantage of the great weather and generally more affordable living than farther down the coast in Broward and Dade Counties.
Although not a huge destination specifically for LGBTQ tourists, plenty do come down to this area to visit. The county is home, of course, the world-famous, ultra-posh Palm Beach community, which lies just across the Intracoastal Waterway from the city of West Palm Beach and is rife with oceanfront mansions and swanky resorts, from the world-famous Breakers to the Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach. If you're vacationing in Palm Beach proper, you won't find any gay bars in this community, but it's a relatively short drive to the places listed below in this article.
In the town of Lake Worth, just six miles south of West Palm Beach, the Mad Hatter (1532 N. Dixie Hwy., 561-547-8860) is one of the most popular gay bars in the area. The friendly neighborhood lounge has a good-size patio, a pool table, video games, light bar food (burgers, chicken wings, etc.), and a good mix of cocktails, beers, and wine. Catering mostly to a locals crowd, the low-key Mad Hatter is easy to find—right on U.S. 1 (Dixie Hwy.).
Gay bars have come and gone in West Palm Beach and the surrounding county, and these days the LGTBQ nightlife options are down to just a few spots. Rooster's (823 Belvedere Rd., 561-832-9119) has been going strong since the early '80s and remains the most popular gay nightclub in the region. It's an attractively decorated spot just a short drive southwest of downtown, just off Exit 69 of I-95 and close to U.S. 1. Popular events include Monday bingo, lip sync battles on Friday, and karaoke on Sunday. There are also some of the best drag shows in southern Florida on weekends, and the club is open late—until 3 a.m. most evenings and 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
It's hard to argue with the "It Begins at Sunset" slogan of Sunset Bar & Grill (2500 Broadway, 561-832-2722), which is set along the main drag of West Palm Beach's historic and LGBTQ-popular Northwood Village neighborhood, a couple of miles north of downtown. This popular spot with the gay community for drinks and dinner is indeed a fine place to start off the night—it offers some great happy hours in the late afternoon and early evening—or to enjoy a leisurely lunch or dinner. Steaks and local seafood are among the specialties: consider the blackened Key lime dolphin, rib eye steak, or crab cakes with a balsamic reduction and red pepper aioli. Plenty of fans rank the burgers here among the best in town, too. There's an extensive wine list, and the bar serves a full complement of cocktails.