Aaron Drake on St. Pete’s Pride, the gay beach and clothing-optional pools

Aaron Drake (center) with travel bloggers, Nomadic Boys

St. Petersburg, Florida travel writer Aaron Drake is living his jet-set life, attending Pride celebrations in London and Madrid.

Before flying off to his next destination, Aaron gave the GayCities Pride Guru series a rundown of everything to expect from St. Pete’s Pride.

Best Pride cocktail?

Rum Buckets at Flamingo are like a day at the beach in a cup. OMG, these cheap drinks are literally mini buckets and so tasty, but be warned – they will f*** you up!!!

What makes St. Pete Pride different from the others?

St. Pete Pride is the largest Pride celebration in the state of Florida. LGBTs are very integrated into every part of the city here, so no matter where you go during Pride, you will feel it!

Which Pride party is a must?

The after-parade party at the Flamingo is packed. Live music, drag performances, and even a swimming pool if you dare.

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Where to find the bears, daddies, leather, A-gays, hipster, etc?

Enigma is more the trendy, younger, A-gays (and straights love to come out for the drag shows). Code Bar at Flamingo for leather bears. Garage or Lucky Star for daddies and granddaddies! Punky’s is a mixed hangout for everyone in the community. The Dog Bar is for lesbians and the gay men who love them and our furry friends (read: actual dogs, not furries).

What’s your favorite spot to watch the Parade?

Any spot along Bayshore Drive will do just fine. I enjoy being packed in with the crowd. It’s the best way to feel the love and meet people.

Hidden gem hangout?

Sunset Beach on Sunday afternoons is the “unofficial” gay beach. Gays of all ages from everywhere, visitors and locals alike, take over the beach for a little fun in the sun.

Sunday brunch?

The Canopy downtown is classy with chef-driven menus and waterfront views.

The place to see-and-be-seen?

Enigma, if you want to “be seen.” Otherwise, downtown’s Beach Drive is a short stroll of restaurants, bars, shops and a waterfront park. Busiest on Friday and Saturday nights.

Best cruising spots?

Flamingo is a very cruisy bar (and resort). Edge and Grand Central Districts are where you will find gay men galore.

Best places to eat?

  • Red Mesa Cantina: Order the tacos and wash them down with a Michelada; think a spicy Bloody Mary made with beer.
  • The Canopy rooftop bar: the best view of Tampa Bay. Order the Hemingway Daquiri and flatbreads or cheesy tots.
  • Bodega on Central: This little Cuban bodega has a walk-up window, sidewalk seating and a menu that will satiate.

Hotels you recommend for Pride visitors?:

  • Hollander Hotel: A gay-friendly boutique hotel downtown, close to the parade on the waterfront.
  • Vinoy Hotel: A pricier option and one of the nicest hotels in the city. Be right in the middle of the parade action.
  • Gay St. Pete House: the gay bed-and-breakfast. Only a handful of rooms, so it books up quick. Clothing-optional pool, too.

Bird’s eye view. #londoneye #eyelovelondon #london #thebeardedway

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