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. The Metrorail Orange Line operates trains from Dadeland South Metrorail station to the MIA Metrorail Station. At Earlington Heights, the first station from the airport you can change for Green Line trains to Brownsville, Northside, Palmetto and other stations to the north.
Metrobus provides direct connections to elsewhere in the city from each of the Metrorail stations. Route number 150, the Miami Beach Airport Flyer, travels from MIA Metrorail Station, express to Alton Road in Miami Beach then down IndianCreek Dr, Collins Ave, and Washington Ave, as far as South Pointe Dr.
The Tri-Rail, commuter train operates throughout Miami-Dade County, from its southern terminus at the airport, up to Fort Lauderdale, Pmpano Beach, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach and other points north.
From designated taxi and shuttle stands outside the baggage claim area, the fare from the airport costs roughly $22 to downtown or Coconut Grove, $17-22 to Coral Gables and $35 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.
Miami Beach Gay Pride takes place each April. The MiFo LGBT Film Festival, also in April in Miami, and in October in Fort Lauderdale, are the local gay and lesbian film festivals. The mainstream Miami Film Festival takes place each March.
The Miami Beach LGBT Visitor Center, at 1130 Washington Ave, can help you plan your Miami Beach vacation from hotel bookings to event listings.
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 (721 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.
Gathering (1409 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach; 786-284-1176), gay boutique hotel rooms, men's spa, steam/dry sauna, Jacuzzi, Cafe Cubano WiFi, coffees, smoothies/frappes, and baked goods; Bears & Hares weekly bears and friends Friday parties.
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.
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.
Club Bailo (7020 NW 72nd Ave), gay Latin cabaret dancing, drag shows, male strippers.
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.
EVO, once-a-month urban dance Friday club night for "masculine men of color" featuring erotic shows with "sexy ass dancers." Most recently at Warehouse (525 NW 29th St, Wynwood), or Therapy (60 NE 11th St, Overtown) -- check their website for updates.
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, Bigger Saturdays, Electric Sheep Sundays. Moved from long-time Lincoln Road location. Club Boi Revival nights with Urban American, Dance Hall and Soca music, erotic male go-go dancers.
Space Miami (34 NE 11th St), Downtown mega-club dancing; occasional gay events include White Party Weekend parties.
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.
CLOSED: Cabaret South Beach (233 12th St), SoBe Social Club cabaret shows, open mic, piano bar and live music seven days a week; Eros Lounge (8201 Biscayne Blvd), gay video bar, DJ music, karaoke, drag, bingo.
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.