Known for its intense Latin flavor and balmy tropical climate, Miami has been among the country's most popular winter resorts for more than a century.
Miami remains an important stop on the pink party circuit. Both the White Party and Winter Party raise hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for local, state and national gay rights organizations. And some of the country's most celebrated DJs spin at Miami Beach nightclubs.
In 1977, Dade County made history when it passed a gay-rights ordinance. Singer Anita Bryant waged a successful crusade
to repeal it, leading to a national boycott of orange juice. Today, more than 30 years later, the gay community is warmly welcomed here. Both the city and county offer domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples.
Miami International Airport is located eight miles northwest of downtown. Metrobus provides direct connections to the rest of the city. The Tri-Rail, a commuter train that operates throughout Miami-Dade County, has its southern terminus at the airport. A taxi from the airport costs roughly $22 to downtown, $19 to Coral Gables and $32 to South Beach.
Most South Florida visitors rent a car, but buses and trains run throughout Miami-Dade and southern Broward County. A seven-day pass costs $26. The free Metromover shuttles stop at 20 downtown Miami locations.
The Tri-Rail is another option. A round-trip from Miami to Fort Lauderdale costs $8.45 during the week and $5 on weekends.
One of the best ways to truly appreciate Miami is on the water. Gay-friendly Island Queen Cruises offers a variety of sightseeing trips on Biscayne Bay. The company also offers tours throughout the city and the Everglades.
Coconut Grove: Located directly south of downtown Miami and east of Coral Gables, Coconut Grove remains the historic heart of Miami's gay community. Bohemian types moved into the South Miami neighborhood in the 1960s, but its waterfront location and many restaurants make Coconut Grove a popular destination.
Miami Shores and Upper East Side: Gentrification has brought an increasingly gay population into Miami Shores and other areas along Biscayne Bay. The Design District, Edgewater and Belle Meade also contain bars, galleries and restaurants.
South Beach: It almost goes without saying that South Beach has the hottest gay scene. Collins and Washington avenues and Alton and Lincoln roads are the area's principle thoroughfares.
Media & Resources
Miami Gay Blog the local website, has business listings, events info, and good photos of gay life in the Miami/South Beach area. Wire Magazine and Miami Gay News are other South Florida sources for gay listings and information.
Besides having the scoop on SoBeSocialClub events around town, the website of promoter Edison Farrow has other useful Miami events tips and clubbing news.
The websites Calle Ocho and Little Havana Guide cover the lively streets of Little Havana, and provide year-round events info. The Carnaval Miami street fiesta each March is the big event of the year.
Visit Miami is the website of the Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.
What to See
The vast majority of gays who travel to Miami and Miami Beach want to taste at least a little of the area's renowned nightlife. As a result, most of the area's attractions are on or near South Beach.
The Art Deco District, between 6th and 23rd streets, contains nearly 800 buildings that reflect the style of architecture made popular in the 1930s. Many of the city's most popular bars, clubs and restaurants are scattered throughout
this square-mile area.
The Villa by Barton G. Weiss (1116 Ocean Drive), now a rather pricey hotel, is perhaps South Beach's most notorious location. Andrew Cunanan shot and killed Italian designer Gianni Versace on the mansion's front steps on July 15, 1997 when this was the Casa Casuarina. Another famous Miami mansion is Coconut Grove's Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (3251 S Miami Ave). Built by industrialist James Deering as a winter home, the villa incorporates a variety of French and Italian flourishes. The surrounding gardens have sweeping views of Biscayne Bay.
The city has a lively arts scene. Groups ranging from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra are on the schedule at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts (1300 Biscayne Blvd). The Bass Museum (2121 Park Ave) on South Beach and the Miami Art Museum of Dade County (101 W Flagler St) are also good bets.
Where the wild things are
A seemingly endless string of high-rise condos and hotels dominates South Florida's landscape. But one of this area's greatest assets is the Everglades, the so-called "River of Grass" that is just a short drive from downtown Miami.
Everglades National Park protects more than 1.2 million acres of hammocks (groves of mahogany and other tropical hardwood trees), cypress strands, mangrove swamps and estuaries in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe Counties. Some of the many endangered species found within the park's boundaries include the Florida panther, the American crocodile, the leatherback turtle and the elusive manatee. Herons and hundreds of other species of birds are a common sight along the two roads -- the Tamiami Trail (US 41) and Alligator Alley (Interstate 75) -- that traverse the park.
The park's proximity to Miami, Fort Lauderdale and even Fort Myers and Naples means getting here is a breeze. The Ernest Coe Visitor Center, on State Road 9336 near Homestead, is the main entrance. The Flamingo Visitor Center along Florida Bay, the Shark Valley Visitor Center along the Tamiami Trail and the Gulf Coast Visitor Center in sleepy Everglades City in Collier County have various exhibits and access to trails that lead into the park's more remote areas.
Seem like too much work? The gay-friendly Island Queen Cruises offers tours for those who want to experience the Everglades from a climate-controlled bus without mosquitoes and other pesky pests.
In addition to the Everglades, the area is home to other natural wonders. Home to one of the world's largest barrier coral reefs, Key Largo proudly proclaims itself as the "Diving Capital of the World." But the chain hotels, kitschy gift shops and ugly strip malls that stretch for miles along US 1 may dissuade some visitors. Islamorada and Marathon provide more tranquil options for South Florida day-trippers.
Another convenient option is Biscayne National Park. Located east of Homestead, the park is home to manatees, crocodiles and other animal species. One of Biscayne National Park's more curious features is a group of raised houses near Key Biscayne called Stiltsville. Various boating, fishing and social clubs have occupied the structures since they were built in the 1930s, but only seven of the original houses remain.
The Catalina Hotel & Beach Club (1732 Collins Ave; 305-674-1160) has rooms with stylish luxury at affordable prices. Two restaurants, the Kung Fu Sushi with sushi and Asian food, and Maxine with breakfast all day, plus the Red Bar with lounges and a garden, are a part of this complex.
The European Guesthouse (21 Michigan Ave; 305-673-6665) brings Continental flair to the Art Deco District of South Beach, convenient to bars, shops, beaches and restaurants, with a generous breakfast buffets, and charming rooms.
The enduring Island House (1428 Collins Ave; 305-864-2422) rents studios and apartments at several Miami Beach locations. Their 21-unit accommodation on Collins Avenue, a block from the beach, features large, modern, unfussy rooms with king beds, small kitchens, and several smaller economy rooms. All are an easy walk to Washington Avenue hot spots, and a breakfast buffet is served.
For additional local hotel options see our Miami map and listings section.
Nightlife in South Beach goes late, so afternoon siestas are often taken on the beach.
Alfaro's (1604 SW 8th St), Little Havana, gay-friendly late-evening music lounge, Cuban and international tapas and wine bar.
Azucar Nightclub (2301 SW 32nd Ave), Thursday through Sunday dance club, Thursday drag, Hip Hop Fridays, Noche Latina Saturdays, Escandalo Sundays.
Cameo (1445 Washington Ave) open winter season only, big mixed dance club, popular after-hours, gay nights sometimes.
Club Boi at Sandals (1060 NE 79th St), South Florida's only black-owned/ operated gay club, 18+ weekend dancing; Urban American, Reggae and Soca music all night. Secure parking, Thursday Latin nights, and all-nude male reviews.
Discotekka (950 NE 2nd Ave), like most downtown clubs - 24-hour license, Saturday to Sunday after-hours, full-throttle parties to 9am. Young, mixed crowd, shirtless hunks, guest porn stars and other performers.
Dugout (3215 NE 2nd Ave), the old Vlada, is now a gay sports bar in Midtown, with all the games on big screen TVs and a casual mix of mostly guys.
Eros Lounge (8201 Biscayne Blvd), 7-day gay video bar, DJ music, karaoke, drag shows, bingo, men/women mix, burgers and other light fare,
House Nightclub (website), "opening soon," after months of slick body-perfect ads in the gay press, is to be the newest and "most beautiful nightclub in Miami," from former fashion model Mark Lowe --creator of the Living Room in Fort Lauderdale. The location is as yet unpublished.
Jamboree Lounge (7005 Biscayne Blvd), Baytside men's dive bar open 7 days, shows, busy back patio cruising, all kinds of regular guys.
Johnny's Miami (62 NE 14th St), same as their Fort Lauderdale club, a 7-day rotation of young male strippers, amateur shows, karaoke Sundays, Latino and "Blatino" nights.
Mova Lounge (1625 Michigan Ave), contemporary boutiquey smoke-free venue, plush seating, eclectic mix of lounge music, large variety of martinis and cocktails. Friday night Hype by Sobe Social Club takes place here.
They love to say it: "Every Queen needs a..." Palace (1200 Ocean Dr). Ocean Drive's only gay bar and restaurant, across from 12th Street Gay Beach (look for rainbow flags). Open 10am to 11pm (midnight weekends), crowds spill onto sidewalk, high-energy drag shows. Sandwich wraps, finger foods, steak and salmon entrees, all-day every day breakfasts; Sunday T-Dances and Latin Nights.
Score (727 Lincoln Rd), stylish cocktail bar/ dance club, terrace seating on famous and cruisy Lincoln Road Mall. Monday shows; popular Tuesday Latino event; big dance parties and special nights Thursdays through Saturdays; Hip Hop/R&B Sundays. Handsome and personable bartenders, hot erotic male dancers.
Solare Coloseum (3635 NW 78th Ave), Saturday and Sunday Latino-flavored dance nights in Doral, with cabaret drag shows and go-go boys, picking up where WET in Little Havana left off.
Swinging Richards (17450 Biscayne Blvd, N Miami), Atlanta's all-nude male stripper club outpost in North Miami; showcasing the natural endowments of their famous dancers. Open to 4am, Friday/Saturday 5am; no cover before midnight, VIP room, table dances, Sunday breakfast and 6pm-3am amateur shows.
Tokyo Valentino's (8330 Biscayne Blvd) upper Eastside bar/lounge, small dance area, first-come cabins and rooms with king-size leather day beds and DVD players, bring-your-own or rent one of their movies, regular or sexy, share with friend/friends.
Twist (1057 Washington Ave), late-night intrigue, packed dance floor, nightly international crowd, friendly/ relaxed staff. Sunday amateur strip shows, blackout and fetish parties, game shows, talent contests, weekend Happy Hour BBQs.
Club Aqua Miami (2991 Coral Way), 24-hours, 18+ men's club, gym, steam and saunas, Jacuzzi, private cubicles, outdoor pool, patio and maze. On Sunday afternoons they do a complimentary poolside BBQ, with drinks.
For restaurants and locations/website links to all the above businesses, see our map & listings pages.
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