LGBT Miami: The best restaurants, hotels and gyms

Discover the LGBT scene in Miami—the city’s hottest gay neighborhoods and beaches, the best places to stay, eat and work out

The 12th Street Beach—together with the nearby Palace bar, a focal point for the Ocean Drive LGBT scene

Gay neighborhoods

During the day, you'll find the pride of LGBT Miami working up a sweat at the gym (see below) or baking in the sun at the gay 12th Street Beach, ready to hit the South Beach gay clubs tanned and toned. Other al fresco action can be had at Flamingo Park where there's a pool and running track, plus basketball, handball and tennis-but be aware that it closes at 10pm.

For nude swimming and sunbathing, head to the northern end of Haulover Beach Park. For those in search of more highbrow stimulation, the Wynwood Arts District is home to more than 50 galleries, studios and museums. Back on South Beach, every visitor's itinerary should include a stroll along Ocean Drive, shopping and cocktailing on Lincoln Road and a trip to the World Erotic Art Museum.

The queer calendar

Miami hosts two of the US's largest events on the gay circuit—the White Party, “the world’s sexiest HIV/AIDS fundraiser”, held around Thanksgiving, and the Winter Party Week beach blowout. In April, the internationally acclaimed Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festaival comes to town—it's a ten-day movie extravaganza showcasing more than 65 films from around the world. Since 2009, the city has also played host to the fast-growing Miami Beach Gay Pride Festival each April. This weekend-long celebration of LGBT lifestyles attracts more than 60,000 people.

In May thousands of women migrate south for Aqua Girl (305 576 2782), the largest charity women's weekend in the US, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefitting the Aqua Foundation for Women, which promotes lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights. The three days of aciton include raucous comedy shows, pool parties, happy hours and wine and cheese tastings.

LGBT hotels

European Guesthouse

Promoted abroad in gay publications, the friendly European Guesthouse is a quaint little getaway decked out with Queen Anne-style furniture and plenty of chintz, plus a deck and jacuzzi.

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South Beach

Island House

In the heart of SoBe, just steps from the 12th Street beach, Island House is gay central. The guesthouse mainly caters to men, although all open-minded adults are welcome to stay. Some of the rooms have a kitchen with a fridge, which can be a blessing for visitors on an extended stay.

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South Beach

Island House Key West

You'd be hard-pressed to find a homophobic hotel in Key West. But Island House is the queen of the scene. Here, amid lush foliage and gingerbread architecture, guests shed their clothes and inhibitions. Bronzed Muscle Marys glisten under the mist spray system on the sun deck or bare all by the pool; bashful types cover up and sneak a peek. At night the place is a garden of Eden, with Adam and Steve giving in to temptation at every turn. If lurking by the jacuzzi is not your style, take refuge in conversation by the poolside bar. Despite all the hanky-panky, the decor is comfortable and the service professional.

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Key West

SoBeYou Bed & Breakfast

Located on a low-key residential block, this pet-friendly B&B is one of the best gay and lesbian guesthouses in Miami. It features a sun deck, spa pool, wine and cheese parties, and breakfast by the pool. You’ll feel like you’re visiting old friends.

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South Beach

Restaurants and cafés

Palace Bar & Grill

Positioned across from the 12th Street gay beach, this place could serve sawdust and would still be packed. Thankfully, it doesn’t: the salad and sandwich fare is basic but good. The Sunday T-Dance (4pm) spills over into the street; other draws include the Saturday drag shows (6pm) and burlesque Wednesdays (7pm). If a deranged drag queen doesn’t give you the eye, some shirtless intoxicated muscle boy is bound to.

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South Beach

Front Porch Café

One of the quainter and less posey spots on Ocean Drive, the Front Porch is the preferred breakfast and lunch venue of locals who seek good food with no attitude. Expect no-nonsense diner fare, including pancakes, plus fruit salads; the moreish french toast comes with bananas and walnuts.

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South Beach

News Café

This place practically invented the sport of South Beach people-watching, and it remains the café king of Ocean Drive. Wait for an outside table to fully appreciate the experience. Service is as slow as ever, but the menu has some good bites and the portions are huge. International newspapers and magazines from the in-house shop might fill the time until the food arrives. The café also has a separate bar, also open 24 hours daily.

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South Beach

Balans

A longtime fave of pink brunchers in London, Balans’ first overseas venture is Miami. Curiously, despite the laid-back locale, it’s more uptight than its Anglo counterpart. In all three branches the food is good—a mix of Asian and Mediterranean—and keenly priced.

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Upper East Side

Gyms and bath houses

Club Aqua

This “clothing optional” bath house and private men’s club features free poolside buffets, safe sex shows and an occasional porn actors doing what they do best, live and uncensored. There’s a gym too, but that’s not why anybody’s here.

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Coral Gables

Equinox Fitness Club

A shiny new gym with all the equipment and classes, from ballet to Yoga Butt. Though mixed, it's a gay fave; out ex-boyband star Lance Bass was recently spotted at the juice bar with a shirtless stud.

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South Beach
More LGBT venues in Miami

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