Miami is home to one of the largest LGBTQ communities in the world. With a reputation as being a welcoming and fun-filled destination, Miami is a gay mecca that attracts over a million LGBTQ visitors each year. Although gay clubs have existed in Miami since the 1930s, it wasn’t until the 1970s that LGBTQ culture began to become more prominent.
Throughout the ensuing decades, LGBTQ culture in Miami expanded and evolved, and today the city is known as one that celebrates its LGBTQ culture and heritage. The LGBTQ scene in Miami is stronger than ever. Like many U.S. cities, Miami’s population is more inclusive than ever, and LGBTQ culture has been integrated into the fabric of life here.
That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of thriving LGBTQ destinations, though. Miami Beach has been recognized as one of the top municipalities in the country for LGBTQ equality. South Beach’s gayborhood is the most prominent LGBTQ-friendly area of the city. The Miami Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce can be found here—as well as its LGBTQ Visitor Center—and dozens of welcoming hotels, clubs, and businesses can be found near the famous 12th Street Gay Beach.
LGBTQ parties and events are held throughout the year in Miami. Some of the best Pride celebrations in the country can be found in the city. With so many opportunities to celebrate the LGBTQ community in Miami, it’s no wonder the city has become synonymous with acceptance and inclusion. Let’s take a closer look at the best LGBTQ-friendly neighborhoods to visit in Miami.
Miami Beach’s South Beach neighborhood has long been the epicenter of LGBTQ life and culture in South Florida. South Beach is famous the world over for its glamorous energy, all-night parties, and vibrant lifestyle.
Framed by gorgeous, pastel-hued Art Deco buildings and sublime views of white sand beaches and aquamarine water, South Beach’s gayborhood is located between 10th and 15th Streets, from Ocean Drive to Washington Avenue. Rainbow flags and crosswalks make it easy to find the 12th Street Beach, which is the beating heart of the neighborhood. Locals and visitors alike gather here to enjoy the sun, sand, and surf; as well as some of the best people-watching around.
There are gay-friendly businesses throughout South Beach, and the vibe here always feels welcoming and inclusive. The LGBTQ Visitor Center is a wonderful resource for information, publications, and assistance, and though it caters mainly to out-of-towners, it’s an important institution for locals, too.
South Beach is ground zero for some of the best nightlife. The options for gay-friendly partying are almost endless. Washington Avenue is home to Twist, an expansive club that offers one of the best happy hours in Miami, as well as a rotating cast of DJs and awesome weekly events.
Nearby Score is another firm favorite, known for its late-night parties and excellent electronic music. Perhaps the most famous LGBTQ-friendly venue in Miami, Palace has been going strong since the 1980s. The drag queens here are local celebrities, and the famous mimosa brunch draws huge crowds every weekend. A favorite local hangout is the bar at Hotel Gaythering. There’s a vibrant, friendly atmosphere at this unassuming place, and the weekly karaoke nights are known to get loud and wild.
When it comes to LGBTQ festivals and celebrations, it’s hard to beat South Beach. Miami Beach Pride draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each April, for a three-day extravaganza that includes colorful floats, beach parties, and drag queens. Sizzle Miami Beach is another fun-filled celebration featuring yacht parties, pool parties, and nightclub happenings over five days. The largest gay women’s charity event in the country, Aqua Girl is another five-day celebration. Women from all over the U.S. travel to South Beach for music, dancing, and epic pool parties.
Another hub of the LGBTQ community in Miami, Wynwood, and the adjacent Design District are located just to the north of Downtown. Once a slightly seedy and rundown neighborhood of warehouses, Wynwood has been transformed into one of the world’s hippest hangouts and is undoubtedly among the most vibrant, diverse, and exciting neighborhoods in Miami.
Wynwood’s main thoroughfare is 2nd Avenue, and there are many gay-owned businesses here, as well as a super-inclusive atmosphere. Second Avenue is lined with eclectic and independent boutiques, breweries, cafes, and cutting-edge restaurants. Wynwood is a hub of contemporary and street art, and aside from the staggering collection of galleries, beautiful and colorful murals cover the neighborhood walls. The neighborhood’s public art centerpiece is the Wynwood Walls—a collection of 35 murals by world-renowned artists.
Unlike South Beach, there’s no defined gayborhood in Wynwood, though there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate LGBTQ culture and community. R-House is one of the neighborhood’s most popular destinations, offering a relaxed environment with DJs and events throughout the week. This gay-owned business is the brainchild of chef/owner Rocco Carulli, whose innovative and diverse cuisine draws a regular crowd of fans. Weekends are when things really heat up at R-House. The super-popular Drag Brunch is a fun-filled affair that features award-winning drag queens, an unlimited menu, and bottomless drinks.
Thursdays bring the most popular drag night in Wynwood at Gramps. This hipster hangout is transformed from a laid-back drinking spot to a thumping, DJ-fuelled party, as a fabulous collection of Miami’s best drag queens parade the catwalk in front of an adoring crowd.
The adjacent Design District is home to incredible public art, cutting-edge architecture, edgy galleries, and an impressive collection of flagship luxury stores. There’s world-class dining here, too, with Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink and Mandolin Aegean Bistro among the local favorites. Each June, Wynwood Pride offers the local and regional LGBTQ community the chance to come together and celebrate. This 3-day event benefits LGBTQ youth, health, and justice, and draws thousands of visitors to its dance parties, artisan vendors, and parades.
Nearby Wilton Manors
Located in the Miami Metropolitan Area, just a few short miles north of central Fort Lauderdale, Wilton Manors prides itself on being a place where diversity isn’t just tolerated but embraced. Wilton Manors is known as the second gayest city in America (after Provincetown) and a large percentage of the local population identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
For many years, now, Wilton Manors has been a super-progressive place to live, work, and play. Because it is surrounded by water, Wilton Manors is known as The Island City and is its own municipality within Broward County. Nearly all members of the city commission are LGBTQ, and the City of Wilton Manors Police Department conducts special police training geared toward working with the LGBTQ population.
The city’s Pride Center at Equality Park exemplifies the commitment to serving the LGBTQ community in Wilton Manors. This is one of the biggest LGBTQ community centers in the United States, and as well as providing a safe space for anyone, it offers information, education, and events to the gay and transgender community. The city commission here is heavily involved in organizing the yearly Greater Fort Lauderdale Stonewall Pride Wilton Manors event. Held in June, this awesome celebration draws locals as well as tens of thousands of visitors, and features live music, various events, and a wonderful parade.
Wilton Manors’ business district is the epicenter of LGBTQ culture in the city. Wilton Drive is the main drag here, and the mile-and-a-half-long strip is lined with over 40 LGBTQ-friendly and gay-owned businesses.
There’s an eclectic collection here, including boutiques, cafes, restaurants, and lounges, and the vibe is warm and friendly. Out of the Closet Thrift Store is one of the most popular local businesses in Wilton Manors. It offers a curated collection of collectibles and one-of-a-kind treasures while making sure to donate proceeds to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Elsewhere, the Community Flea Markets—held on the first Saturday of every month—are a wonderful way to experience the lifestyle and culture here.
While not in the same league as South Beach, there’s a vibrant and friendly nightlife scene in Wilton Manors. Manor Lanes is a local favorite for stylish bowling, followed by drinks in the awesome bar, which features DJs, games, and karaoke. Sunday brunch is the most important meal of the week in Wilton Manors, with Rosie’s Bar and Grill offering the best patio in town to see and be seen. There are bottomless bloody marys here, too, as well as a cheeky menu that features favorites like ‘smores pancakes and “Big Dicts” eggs Benedicts.
Little Havana and Coconut Grove
Little Havana is known as the historical and spiritual heart of Miami and has a long, colorful history of ethnic diversity. African-Americans, Cuban-Americans, Jews, Mexicans, and so many more groups have had an influence in the formation of Little Havana, leading to a vibrant and ever-evolving neighborhood that celebrates acceptance and diversity.
As in many other of Miami’s neighborhoods, the LGBTQ community in Little Havana has a long track record of leading revitalization and restoration efforts, while preserving the diverse nature of the neighborhood and stimulating economic development. Though Little Havana isn’t an explicitly gay neighborhood, everyone feels welcome here.
Calle Ocho is the neighborhood’s main business district, informed by Latin flair and global cuisine. Influenced mainly by Little Havana’s Cuban population, Calle Ocho is a magical blend of restaurants, outdoor cafes, galleries, bars, and all-night dance clubs.
Each February, the LGBTQ community in Little Havana comes together for the country’s largest Hispanic LGBTQ event. The Gay8 Festival started in 2015 and features a street party atmosphere with dancing, performances, and art installations. There’s also a human rights symposium that brings leaders in global thought to discuss human rights and education.
Coconut Grove was once the center of Miami’s gay scene before South Beach rose to prominence as the city’s largest LGBTQ community. There’s a long history of liberalism and acceptance in Coconut Grove, which resonates to this day.
The neighborhood is Miami’s oldest and is full of lush parks and green spaces, as well as beautiful tree-lined streets and historic architecture. Although it’s been surpassed by other neighborhoods, Coconut grove maintains an understated LGBTQ presence and continues to provide a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere.
In between Little Havana and Coconut Grove on SW 32nd Avenue, Azucar is one of Miami’s hottest Latin nightclubs. This amazing club offers an experience like no other, and the mojitos flow freely. The most popular nights are Thursdays and Fridays when the legendary “Drag Wars” brings the best artists from the Miami area to strut their stuff for a chance to win $200.