Going Gay in Miami: Destination Honeymoon
When it comes to creating a romantic getaway, nothing beats a tropical vacation, where sea breezes blow gently over white sands while you sip on a fruity concoction. Equally important is finding a place where you and your partner are free to express your feelings without the fear of homophobia. Enter Miami, the tropical destination that welcomes LGBT couples with open arms. Best of all, you don’t even need your passport!
"The areas of South Beach" to Greater Miami and the beaches "have a very gay-positive culture," said Karen Brown, executive director of the Miami Beach LGBT Visitor Center. (http://www.gogaymiami.com) "It is probably one of the sexiest destinations in the world. You don’t lack for anything you want to do, from recreational activities to good places with great drinks and wine lists and spectacular views, with no fear of judgment."
An Enchanting Tropical Getaway
In Miami, South Beach’s 12th Street Beach is legendary. This gay beach is ground zero for sunbathing, people watching, volleyball and assorted canoodling. For sunbathing au natural, head 30 minutes out to Haulover Nude Beach, to the north. Active types can hit Key Biscayne for windsurfing or snorkeling, or biking. Rent a DecoBike, Miami’s official rent and share bike program, or explore South Beach’s Art Deco district with a Bike and Roll guided tour.
The Art Deco district is an ideal place for LGBT couples to stay. In South Beach, gay Hotel Nash is located one block from the beach, and features three plunge pools in its courtyard.
Other hot spots that are diverse and trained in gay hospitality include the Z Ocean Hotel South Beach, Beacon Hotel, The Betsy Hotel, W Hotel South Beach, Dream South Beach, Beachcomber Hotel, Viceroy Miami Hotel and Trump International Resort.
You have Brown to thank for ensuring that local hotel employees are trained in how to deal with LGBT visitors. Through the Pink Flamingo Hospitality Diversity Training Program, hotel employees are educated on LGBT sensitivity. For example, desk clerks are taught not to assume that just because two guys check in, they want two smaller beds instead of a king-sized one -- a surprisingly common assumption, said Brown.
"These are people that walk the talk and are not just checking a box," said Brown. "They are taught on sensitivity, cultural divides, and even transgender issues.’"
Michael Jamrock, co-founder of EnGAYged Weddings, said that his hometown area of South Florida is consistently amongst the top LGBT wedding and honeymoon destinations, despite the fact that Florida does not have marriage equality. He has seen his business increase fourfold since the federal DOMA ruling, especially in the Miami area.
"Most of the hotels in Miami specifically cater to the gay wedding market," said Jamrock. "The Miami market is probably the most competitive wedding market in the country, second only to L.A. in regard to opulence and beauty. The best wedding vendors in the country are in Miami, so whether you want a $1,000 beach wedding or a half-million dollar affair, they will have what you need."
Rest and Relaxation in South Florida
With the help of the Visitor’s Center, located near the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, gay and lesbian guests can connect with great hotels, spas, restaurants and nightclubs.
"This area has all kinds of things to do, from fantastic restaurants and caterers to spas and hip clubs," said Brown.
For those in search of a relaxing spa and a bit of individualized pampering, the Viceroy Hotel has welcoming facility with a lesbian spa director and a gay-friendly general manager. For a scene that is "hipsters meet SoBe gorgeous," the Standard Hotel’s spa is the place to go. And the Dream Hotel’s Shala Spa is another hot destination, with friendly people and a soft touch. For a more typical "bathhouse" hookup scene, visit Club Aqua Miami.
Dining options abound, with many culinary treats on the main drag of Lincoln Road, among them Escopazzo, a toothsome, organic Italian restaurant. City Hall The Restaurant in Downtown Miami is another winner, with owner Steve Haas saying, "Our goal is to create a restaurant for Miami’s diverse communities to gather."
The James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz recently opened Restaurant Michael Schwartz in the Raleigh Hotel, which Brown called a "beautiful venue for a wedding."
Miami is also legendary for its parties. From Miami Beach Gay Pride in April to Aqua Girl and Sizzle Miami in May, to the Miami Beach Bruthaz Conference in July, the summer sizzles for LGBTs.
But every night is a party in Miami. Score Bar at 727 Lincoln Road is a pulsating dance club featuring a video bar in the front, and a large dance floor in the back. Theme nights pepper the week, and a large outdoor terrace allows for a relaxing respite.
For those who like to bar hop but don’t want to travel far, Twist at 1057 Washington Avenue is the place! With seven bars in one, each with its own unique flavor, you can find what’s right for you, be it a game of pool, live DJs or hot go-go boys.
For weekend fun, Club Boi is Black Miami’s dance spot for Hip-Hop, House, R&B, Soca and Old School. Just remember, Miami players roll big.