beach & beyond

Gay all day (and night): Celebrating Miami’s LGBTQ+-owned & ally businesses 

Two men on a bench in Miami Beach
Greater Miami is bursting with possibilities for the ultimate getaway. Photo courtesy of GMCVB

Greater Miami features one of the most diverse LGBTQ+ scenes in the country. Sandy beaches, vibrant nightlife, world-class restaurants, art museums and galleries, and powerhouse drag performers add to the ultimate weekend getaway. 

Miami’s queer roots run deep, including Miami Beach Pride, which celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2023. But whether you’re looking for a signature event to anchor your trip (OUTSHINE Film Festival is the largest LGBTQ+ cultural arts event in South Florida and another travel-worthy annual happening) or simply want to soak up some rays, Miami delivers.

Participants carry a large Pride flag during Miami Beach Pride
Miami Beach Pride’s annual celebration draws over 170,000 attendees annually. Photo courtesy of GMCVB

Miami’s thriving scene is rooted in the Greater Miami LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce (MDGLCC), the country’s largest nonprofit dedicated to queer-owned and ally businesses, with nearly 600 members. One of its flagship initiatives, the Pink Flamingo Hospitality Program, trains service professionals on gender and orientation. 

Travelers can find a one-stop shop at the LGBT Visitor Center on Miami Beach, where knowledgeable staff offers tips and recommendations for making the most of your getaway. (History buffs will enjoy Julio Capó, Jr.’s Welcome to Fairyland: Queer Miami Before 1940, an award-winning book about the roots of Miami’s queer community.)

Stay in style

MiMo architecture on Washington Avenue in Miami, Florida
Many of Miami’s hotels feature MiMo architecture, such as the facades featured on Washington Avenue. Photo courtesy of GMCVB

The MDGLCC’s nearly 70 member hotels accommodate every type of traveler, whether you’re looking for Miami’s famous architectural details known as MiMo (Miami Modern) or a hidden gem to recharge before a night out. Options include:

Fontainebleau Miami Beach — The oceanfront property on Collins Avenue has been a beacon of Miami style since it opened in 1954, attracting queer icons like Judy Garland to Moris Lapidus’s groundbreaking architecture and lush Versailles-inspired gardens. Even if you don’t spend the night, dress to impress and enjoy a cocktail in the soaring lobby’s Bleau Bar, regarded as the “meeting place of the stars.”

The Betsy South Beach — For a quieter stay, consider the Betsy, located at the southern end of Ocean Drive. The family-owned boutique hotel features 130 rooms and suites, two pools, rooftop yoga on the Skyline Deck, and beach service for a no-fuss day in the sun. 

AxelBeach Miami – South Beach — In the heart of Miami’s Art Deco district, the pool and sky bar are the perfect backdrops for unwinding or socializing, with a steam room and gym to work up a sweat. In 2023, the hotel group joined Queer Destinations, which includes training and distinction to guarantee a safe and welcoming experience for LGBTQ+ travelers.

The perfect day in Miami

Two women ride bikes in Lummus Park, Miami, Florida.
South Beach is easy to explore by bike. Photo courtesy of GMCVB

No matter when you arrive, fuel up at the 11th Street Diner, which serves all-day breakfast and modern takes on American classics in a 1948 dining car. Standouts include the Cubano sandwich, shrimp and grits, and waffle combos stacked with fried chicken, New York strip steak, or a sweet version with ripe strawberries, whipped cream, and maple syrup. 

Miami Beach’s name says it all. Head to 12th Street Beach, the site of the Winter Party Festival and Miami Beach Pride, which is also within easy walking distance of restaurants and bars. Haulover Beach (about 10 miles north of South Beach) features South Florida’s only clothing-optional area for those who want to feel even more liberated. 

Water activities can thrill or chill, depending on your preference. Water Fantaseas has over 30 years of experience and offers private charters on various vessels, from speed boats to catamarans and luxury yachts. Under the water line, snorkelers can discover the Florida Reef Tract, the only barrier reef in North America. For those who prefer to stay above water, PortMiami is the embarkation point for many of our favorite LGBTQ+ cruise ship charters, or enjoy the day paddleboarding or kayaking at Oleta River State Park.

MiMo architecture on Washington Avenue in Miami, Florida
Many of Miami’s hotels feature MiMo architecture, such as the facades featured on Washington Avenue. Photo courtesy of GMCVB

Greater Miami and Miami Beach also boast an impressive art scene, whether you’re a collector or an admirer. From the Wynwood Walls, featuring large-scale murals, to Art Basel Miami Beach, held each December, Miami’s cultural community is ever-evolving, including the integration of cutting-edge technology. 

Artechouse’s digital and experiential art installations invite visitors to explore ever-changing environments. The current million-dollar exhibit, “Magentaverse Miami,” showcases the Pantone color of the year through various immersive spaces, including rooms inspired by NASA’s moon landing and another with LED animations.

Drinks, dinner & dancing

Men gather for drinks at the bar at Hotel Gaythering, Miami, Florida.
Hotel Gaythering’s bar lives up to its name, attracting a diverse crowd throughout the day and night. Photo courtesy of GMCVB

Whether you’re looking for craft beer or cocktails, Miami’s bar scene continues to deepen its roots with the help of some of the country’s best brewmasters and mixologists. Drink local at South Beach Brewing Co., which showcases the state’s citrus farmers with beers like Blood Orange Sunset IPA and South Peach Bellini Sparkling Ale. Miami’s tiki bars like Drunken Dragon offer fresh takes on rum-based drinks, including Scorpion Bowls — Insta-ready, sharable large-format cocktails. If you like a hotel bar, Hotel Gaythering’s nightly events offer something for everyone, from karaoke and trivia nights to “boozie bingo” hosted by Blamie Foret.

Bon Appétit named Miami its city as 2023’s food city of the year, and with good reason. Access to daily fresh catches, Caribbean and South American culinary influences, and 12 Michelin-starred restaurants (including the state’s only two-star recipient, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon) offer many dining options. 

A Fish Called Avalon’s towering seafood plateau is a meal in itself, while meat lovers can indulge in the South Beach outpost of famous Brazilian churrascaria Fogo de Chão. Early autumn is one of the best times for food lovers to visit Greater Miami, with Miami Spice Months offering three-course pre-fixe meals through September 30. For an even deeper dive, the Food Network South Beach Food & Wine Festival returns February 22-24, 2024, with more than 100 events planned. 

A drag queen performs outside of Palace in Miami Beach, Florida.
Palace has been entertaining Miami locals and travelers since 1988. Photo courtesy of the GMCVB

And the fun continues when the sun sets. The legendary Palace dates back to 1988 and has been at its current Ocean Drive location since 2007. The multi-floor venue offers dining, drag shows throughout the day and evening, and a rooftop bar with panoramic views. A five-minute walk will lead revelers to Twist, South Beach’s premiere LGBTQ+ dance club, where there’s never a cover charge. Three dance floors ensure you’ll find your rhythm, including Showtunes and Karaoke Wednesdays, Sabroso Thursdays featuring Latin beats and live percussion, and a rotating roster of the country’s best DJs throughout the weekend, spinning until 5 a.m.

For a final kiss goodbye (accompanied by duck walks and death drops), head to Wynwood for R House’s drag brunch, where drag icon Athena Dion and the House of Dion’s living legacy continue to establish Miami’s unique drag scene and further strengthen the LGBTQ+ community. 

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