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. Metrorail has Orange Line has an elevated extension from the Earlington Heights Station to the Miami Intermodal Center (MIC) next to the MIA rental car facility. Metrobus provides direct connections to elsewhere in the city from the Metrorail Station.
The Tri-Rail, a commuter train that operates throughout Miami-Dade County and up to Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton and other points north, has its southern terminus at the airport. A taxi from the airport costs roughly $22 to downtown, $14-19 to Coral Gables and $32 to South Beach. The MIA Mover transportation system connects airport terminals with the Miami Rental Car Center.
Most South Florida visitors rent a car, but buses and trains run throughout Miami-Dade and southern Broward County. MetroBus and Metrorail basic fares are $2.25. Easy Cards, plastic reloadable fare cards must be used for Metrorail but the buses take exact change cash. An easy Ticket one-day pass costs $5.65, a seven-day pass is $29.25, and a month-long pass costs $112.50 - each with add-on options.
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 and MyGayMiamiBeach local websites have business listings, events info for gay life in the Miami/South Beach area. Wire Magazine is another South Florida source 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.
Miami Beach is the official website of the City of Miami Beach.
For map locations and website links to the businesses below, and more, see our gay Miami listings pages.
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 Pérez Art Museum Miami (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 are part of this complex: the Kung Fu with sushi and Asian food, and Maxine (1756 Collins Ave) with breakfast through dinner, all-day small plates and sandwiches, plus live music.
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 20 local hotel and restaurant options see our Miami hotels & guesthouses 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/wine bar, Cuban and international tapas,
Azucar Nightclub (2301 SW 32nd Ave), Thursday through Sunday dance club, Thursday drag, Hip Hop Fridays, Noche Latina Saturdays, Escandalo Sundays.
The Cabaret South Beach (233 12th St), SoBe Social Club cabaret shows, open mic, piano bar and live music venue open seven days a week.
Cameo (1445 Washington Ave), open winter season only, big mixed dance club, popular after-hours, gay nights sometimes.
Club Bailo (7020 NW 72nd Ave), gay Latin cabaret dancing, drag shows, male strippers.
Club Boi 3.0 at GFive (337 NW 170th St, N Miami Beach), black-owned/ operated gay club night, coming Saturdays to a new home; 18+ dancing, Urban American, Reggae and Soca music, naked male go-go dancers. Formerly at Club Sandal.
Discotekka at Therapy (60 NE 11th St), new location downtown club, Saturday to Sunday La Puta Nota after-hours from 4am, full-throttle parties to 9am. Young, mixed crowd, shirtless hunks, guest porn stars and other performers.
Dugout (3215 NE 2nd Ave), gay sports bar in Midtown, with all the games on big screen TVs and a casual mix, mostly guys.
Eros Lounge (8201 Biscayne Blvd) - CLOSED - gay video bar, DJ music, karaoke, drag shows, bingo, men/women mix, burgers and other light fare.
EVO, once-a-month downtown urban dance Friday club night for "masculine men of color" featuring erotic shows with "sexy ass dancers." Has been downtown at Therapy (60 NE 11th St), but check their website for updates.
Flirts Exclusive Miami (8871 SW 132nd St), to open June 2015, promises a Thursday night Temptation "LGBT Bash" with DJAL and Angel Emilio.
Floppy Rooster (7018 NW 72 Ave), nude male strippers work the poles and offer lap/ friction dances and and private VIP sessions for a gay male crowd; women welcome with a male escort.
Jamboree Lounge (7005 Biscayne Blvd), Bayside men's beer and wine dive bar open 24/7; late night drag and talent shows, black light area, back patio cruising, bear and leather nights, underwear parties, all kinds of regular guys.
Magnum (709 NE 79th St), gay/ straight-friendly Upper East Side American restaurant, cocktail lounge with piano bar cabaret entertainmnt.
As they say: Every Queen needs a: Palace (1200 Ocean Dr). Ocean Drive's only gay bar and restaurant, across from the 12th Street Gay Beach (look for rainbow flags). Open 10am-11pm (midnight weekends), crowd spilling 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 (1437 Washington Ave), stylish cocktail bar/ dance club, shows, Latino events, big dance parties and special nights. Handsome and personable bartenders, hot erotic male dancers, Electric Sheep Sundays. Moved from long-time Lincoln Road location.
Space Miami (34 NE 11th St), Downtown mega-club dancing; occasional gay events include White Party Weekend parties.
Tokyo Valentino (8330 Biscayne Blvd), Upper Eastside bar/lounge, small dance area, first-come cabins/ rooms, king-size leather day beds, DVD players; bring-your-own or rent movies, regular or sexy, share with friend/friends.
Twist (1057 Washington Ave, SoBe), seven bars, three dance floors, each with a different vibe, international crowd and friendly/ relaxed staff; nightly hot male dancers, Latino and theme parties, show nights, underwear contests.
Swinging Richards, (1350 SW 2nd St, Pompano Beach), all-nude male strippers, relocated up the coast from North Miami. Click name for Fort Lauderdale map/ new location.
Club Aqua Miami (2991 Coral Way), 24-hours, men's club, gym, steam and saunas, Jacuzzi, private cubicles, outdoor pool, patio and maze. Free admission 24/7 for 18-24 year-olds, Friday DJs and dancers, Sunday afternoons complimentary poolside BBQ, with drinks.