Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Things To Do

Out in the sun: Florida's top 10 gay beaches

Florida's fantastic beaches welcome all, but some are friendlier than others to the LGBT community. From party places such as Miami, Key West and Fort Lauderdale to mellow, secluded spots in St. Pete Beach and Sarasota, here are some of Sunshine State's best gay-friendly beaches.

1. South Beach's 12th Street Beach, Miami Beach

Just look for the rainbow flags flying amid the rental chairs and lifeguard stations. The most popular gay beach in Miami, it's mostly a hangout for men, but you'll also find lesbians and straights soaking up the sun with locals. It's across the street from the Palace Restaurant & Bar, a gay hangout that has been welcoming sunbathers for the past 25 years. At 12th Street and Ocean Drive.

Best time to visit: In March, when the Winter Party, the biggest gay beach party in North America, takes place.

2. Smathers Beach, Key West

At 2½ miles long, Smathers is big compared to other beaches on this tiny island, one of the nation's top destinations for gay travelers. The beach's shallow waters are only a short distance from the bars, restaurants and shops of Duval Street. Along South Roosevelt Boulevard.

Best times to visit: In March for the Winter Party Festival; September for Womenfest; October for Bear Fest or June for Key West Pride.

3. Sebastian Street Beach, Fort Lauderdale

The most popular gay beach in Fort Lauderdale, it's across the street from the Ritz-Carlton and within blocks of some of the city's gay resorts and guesthouses. Fort Lauderdale is home to the Stonewall National Museum & Archives, which houses the largest circulating LGBT book and film program in the U.S. Last year, the city welcomed 1.1 million LGBT visitors. At Sebastian Street and North Fort Lauderdale Beach Drive (A1A).

Best times to go: In March for PrideFest Week; May for Beach Bear Weekend; in October, when the Fort Lauderdale Gay & Lesbian Film Festival takes place, or June for Stonewall Summer Pride.

4. St. Petersburg's Sunset Beach

One of the west coast's premiere gay beaches, bohemian Sunset Beach is 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. Once famous for foam parties, the strip, with its beachfront bars, is now known for regular Sunday beach parties. 9000 W. Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island.

Best time to go: In October for the International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival or June for St. Pete Pride.

5. Pass-a-Grille Beach, St. Pete Beach

On the southern end of St. Pete Beach, south of the historic Don Cesar Hotel, Pass-a-Grille stretches for about 22 blocks. Quiet and narrow – it's only one-block wide – the island is charming, with white sand and pink shells. Along Gulf Way, from 22nd Avenue to the end of the island.

When to go: In June for St. Pete Pride.

6. Fort De Soto Park, Tierra Verde

At the southern tip of Pinellas County near St. Pete Beach, the breathtaking, rustic North Beach area of this county park has a northern expanse near the end of the island where gays and lesbians congregate. It's known to be patrolled by undercover police officers, so stick to sunbathing with a suit on! North Beach claimed the No. 1 spot on Dr. Beach's "America's Best Beaches" in 2005. 3500 Pinellas Bayway.

When to go: In June for St. Pete Pride.

7. North Lido Beach, Sarasota

The quiet northern reaches of this white sand key is popular with gay sunbathers. It's secluded – think dunes and sea oats – and 22-acre north Lido Park looms like a forest above. 400 Ben Franklin Dr., within a 10-minute walk of St. Armand's Circle, with its posh shops and restaurants.

Best time to go: In October for Sarasota Pridefest.

8. Guana Tolomato Reserve, Ponte Vedra Beach

With more than 73,000 acres, this aquatic preserve – officially known as the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve – is between Jacksonville and St. Augustine. It includes Old Florida beaches, sand dunes, salt marches, tidal wetland and estuarine lagoons. There's an unofficial gay meet-up at Guana's first beach access point, reached by a boardwalk that winds down a 40-foot-tall dune system to a pristine stretch of secluded sand. Along A1A.

Best time to go: In October for River City Pride Parade in Jacksonville.

9. Pensacola Beach

This Panhandle city near the Alabama border may not seem like the most gay-friendly spot, but it's been a beach getaway for LGBT folks from the South for a long time, particularly for Gay Memorial Day Weekend, which started informally in the 1980s and has grown into a huge gathering, drawing thousands to late-night circuit parties with well-known professional DJs and informal tent parties on the beach. The friendliest beach is on County Road 399, two miles past the Gulf Islands National Seashore sign.

When to go: May for the Pensacola Gay Memorial Day Weekend.

10. Haulover Beach, Sunny Isles

If you really want to sun your buns, this nude beach in northern Miami-Dade County is your choice. About 20 minutes north of South Beach, it's the only legal clothing-optional beach in Florida and it's gay-friendly. Only the north part of the 1½-mile pristine, white stretch of sand is delegated for urban nude sunbathers. LGBT beachgoers tend to set up just north of the lifeguard tower. 10800 Collins Ave.

This story originally appeared at Visit Florida.

Comments
Mason Ruffner’s career reached ‘Crossroads’ with this memorable tune

Mason Ruffner’s career reached ‘Crossroads’ with this memorable tune

Our '80s historian Kevin Wuench goes to the Deep South today with his music lesson: Like your AOR with a touch of Texas/Louisiana blues swamp? Then you should try some Mason Ruffner with his sweltering Gypsy Blood.Mason Ruffner grew up in Texas ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Plan your weekend Dec. 15-17: Katy Perry, boat parades, Star Wars parties, comics Gilbert Gottfried, Michael Carbonaro

Plan your weekend Dec. 15-17: Katy Perry, boat parades, Star Wars parties, comics Gilbert Gottfried, Michael Carbonaro

Plan your weekendSuperstarKaty Perry: In the ever-escalating arms race to be the most eye-popping pop star on the planet, sometimes you have to call in for backup. Even if you’re Katy Perry. When plotting her lavishly spectacular Witness Tour, which ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens dies at age 62

Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens dies at age 62

Pat DiNizio, the lead singer/guitarist for '80s power rockers The Smithereens, passed away Tuesday, the band announced overnight. He was 62."It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Pat DiNizio, lead singer and songwriter of the influ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
2018 Gasparilla Music Festival lineup: The Roots, Spoon, Father John Misty and more

2018 Gasparilla Music Festival lineup: The Roots, Spoon, Father John Misty and more

Got your tickets to the Gasparilla Music Festival yet? No? You better hurry up, because after today's initial lineup announcement, they might go fast.Tonight Show house band the Roots and indie rock heroes Father John Misty and Spoon top the initial ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: Katy Perry, Jingle Ball, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and more

This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: Katy Perry, Jingle Ball, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and more

WHERE’S THE PURPOSE? Katy PerryYou can pinpoint the exact moment when things started to unravel for Katy Perry’s Witness. It was 12:23 a.m. on Feb. 10, when she tweeted of her latest musical direction: "We gonna call this era Purposeful Pop." You kin...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The Phantom never dies, orchestra doings this week

The Phantom never dies, orchestra doings this week

PHANTOM REDUX: LOVE NEVER DIESTurns out, the Phantom survived that angry mob. We know that because the antihero of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical The Phantom of the Opera re-emerges in the 2010 sequel, Love Never Dies.It opens in 1907 New York, w...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Top things to do this week: Star Wars parties, comics Gilbert Gottfried, Michael Carbonaro

Top things to do this week: Star Wars parties, comics Gilbert Gottfried, Michael Carbonaro

NEW HOPE: Star Wars partiesWith the opening of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the force of fan excitement is strong, so of course there are Star Wars parties this weekend. The giant movie complex Riverview 14 GDX is having celebration with characters from...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Dec. 14

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Dec. 14

Santa and Ice Skating in St. Petersburg: Santa and his sleigh will be appearing on select nights in St. Petersburg for visits with area children. After visiting Santa, stick around for "glice" skating on a simulated ice rink. 6 p.m., North Straub Par...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Sounds of the Season opening act for Hernando Symphony Orchestra in 2017-18

Sounds of the Season opening act for Hernando Symphony Orchestra in 2017-18

BROOKSVILLE — Impressive guest performances, student nights and 25 new pieces of music are just a few of the exciting additions to the Hernando Symphony Orchestra’s 2017-18 season.And when the orchestra opens the season with the Sounds of the Season ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Even post-Weinstein, 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' is extremely popular

Even post-Weinstein, 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' is extremely popular

Gifts are wrapped, halls are decked and people are on Twitter calling Baby, It’s Cold Outside a "sexual predator anthem." It’s a holiday tradition for the social media age. Pointing out the creepiness of the song — or "rapeyness," ...
Updated: 6 hours ago