4 Gay-Friendly Cities to Visit in Florida
It has never been easier to find right where you belong when you Visit Florida on your next vacation by using their websites new LGBTQ Travel Hub. The travel tool offers many resources to assist with your vacation planning including listing LGBTQ-friendly events that may be going on, the top gay friendly beaches or destinations to visit throughout the state, must-see attractions and more. This feature just recently became available in 2020 as Visit Florida is committed to helping all feel welcome in the sunshine state and wanted to make planning your perfect LGBTQ family getaway or romantic vacation a little easier.
Since 1983 Tampa Bay has been a premier destination for the LGBTQ community. Last year they launched Visit Tampa Gay which was a comprehensive virtual travel guide to help visitors navigate the hip, urban city. They are home to TWO Pride festivals each year, one in Ybor City and one in St. Petersburg.
Have you heard of their "GaYBOR District"? It’s a coalition of gay and gay-friendly businesses that began on the west end of Tampa’s historic Ybor City neighborhood over 10 years ago. Dubbed the “LGBTA Main Street for The West Coast of Florida,” the 12-block area offers a fun mix of shops, bars and restaurants. The coalition has a large presence, with its own float and krewe, in Tampa’s parade season, which includes the Krewe of San’t Yago Knight Parade in February, the Rough Riders St. Patrick’s Day Parade in March, St. Pete Pride Parade in June and the Tampa Pride Parade in March. Visiting in December? Check out the Santa Speedo and Mrs. Claus in Bras Run, a light-hearted, Christmas-themed, one-mile fun run and AIDS benefit through Ybor City’s holiday decorations.
Like the rest of Ybor City, GaYbor has a thriving night life, pumped up by dance music at Seventh Avenue hot spots, such as Honeypot. Among the district’s many restaurants, Hamburger Mary’s is loudest and proudest, with dinner-time drag shows, drag queen bingo and cabarets. Use Visit Florida’s new LGBTQ Hub to learn more.
St. Petersburg waves its rainbow flag with its own LGBT Welcome Center and Pride Guide featuring events and the region’s LGBT-friendly businesses. The heart of LGBT St. Pete is the historic Grand Central District and its adjacent gayborhood of Kenwood, with its streets lined with Craftsmen-style cottages from the 1920s. Grand Center’s commercial district features more than 70 LGBTQ-friendly businesses, including antique stores, home décor galleries, salons, boutiques, bars and restaurants.
St. Pete’s Pride Weekend is one of Florida’s largest gay pride events, drawing more than 100,000 marchers to a downtown night-time parade in the Grand Central District, as well as a street fest and concert, every June. St. Pete also is home to one of the west coast’s premiere gay beaches, bohemian Sunset Beach. Located on the southern tip of St. Pete’s Treasure Island, among the string of barrier islands that extends along the Gulf of Mexico to the west of St. Petersburg, Sunset Beach is famous for its strip with beachfront bars and its Sunday beach parties.
Fort Lauderdale and its neighboring gayborhood of Wilton Manors welcome more than 1.1 million LGBTQ travelers a year and boasts of having over 100 gay-owned establishments to experience on your trip including bars and clubs, cafes and coffeehouses, and award winning hotels.
This urban playground has been celebrating Pride every February since 1977 bringing people together to bond over love and acceptance with hundreds of outdoor vendors, live music, dancing and parties. Learn about the history of gay rights by visiting the Stonewall National Museum & Archives, known as the “LGBTQ community’s Smithsonian.” A few prime times for visits are Prime times for visits are May for Beach Bear Weekend, October for the Fort Lauderdale Gay & Lesbian Film Festival or June for Stonewall Summer Pride. Every April, in nearby Davie, the Florida Gay Rodeo Association sponsors the Sunshine Stampede Gay Rodeo, a two-day rodeo that draws thousands for parties, line dancing, bull riding, barrel racing, calf roping and a “rodeo school” for beginners.
This fun-loving southernmost city is selected repeatedly as “Best Gay Resort Town” by readers of Out Traveler magazine. Along with shops and boutiques, you’ll find most of the town’s gay bars along walkable Duval Street, including Aqua Nightclub and 801 Bourban Bar, with their fun drag shows, and La Te Da Hotel and Restaurant, which has a poolside lounge, piano bar and cabaret room.
Time your visit for Pridefest in June for a week of events that include home tours, sunset sailing and a two-day street festival. WomenFest, held each September, draws lesbians of all ages for a week of beach parties, snorkeling cruises, competitive bull riding and galas. The annual FantasyFest in October is an outrageous, five-day celebration with costume competitions, street fairs and a grand parade with floats.
Photos and Content Courtesy of Visit Florida