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Miami Welcomes Gay and Lesbian Visitors

An article by the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau welcoming gay and lesbian visitors to Miami Florida.

One of the hottest spots in the gay universe for its hospitality and sexy, sun-splashed vibe, Greater Miami has been famously rolling out the welcome mat for gay men and women from around the world for more than a decade.

Circuit Parties and Special Events
Sophisticated and seductive South Beach rocks with a sizzling array of very gay-friendly and specifically gay-oriented lodgings, restaurants and nightspots. And it all shifts into overdrive when Miami hosts three of the planet's foremost "circuit" events: late November's White Party, March's Winter Party, and Aqua Girl Weekend in May.

Beyond South Beach
Yet beyond all the glitz, glamour, and partying till dawn, Miami boasts a sophisticated, multi-faceted scene in both South Beach and beyond. Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, Little Havana and Bal Harbour vie with South Beach and downtown Miami to offer up a head-spinning mix of world-class dining, culture, shopping and eco-tourism.

Multi-Ethnic Dining
No class of offerings is more diverse and sometimes exotic than the dining scene. The birthplace of Nuevo Latino cuisine, Miami is home to some of America's hottest chefs, who dish up award-winning fare. For budget-minded visitors, August-September's "Miami Spice Restaurant Month offers special prix fixe prices. And though heavily Latin-flavored, Greater Miami's multi-ethnic gumbo lets visitors galloping-gourmet their way around the world on any budget.

Theaters and Art Museums
Turning to sustenance for the soul, drama aficionados will love quality theaters such as the Coconut Grove Playhouse and there are scores of other performing arts venues for every conceivable taste and pocketbook, from salsa to symphonies and blues to ballet. The abundance of art galleries and institutions can hold its own with those of most major American cities. You could spend the better part of a week just prowling through the likes of Miami Beach's Wolfsonian and Bass museums, the Lowe Museum of Art in Coral Gables, downtown's Miami Art Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art off Biscayne Boulevard on Miami's increasingly hip (and gay) "upper East Side." In late 2006, the Miami Performing Arts Center is scheduled to debut in downtown Miami, featuring the finest performing arts, including the Concert Association of Florida, Florida Grand Opera, Miami City Ballet and the New World Symphony.

Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
A significant chunk of the culture is specifically oriented to gay and lesbian audiences, such as April's annual Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. The festival showcases groundbreaking world cinema, and also holds special screenings throughout the year. Venues like the Shores Performing Arts Theatre in Miami Shores regularly feature gay-themed works by lavender footlights.

Fabulous World Class Shopping
Also raised to an art form in Miami is America's true national sport - shopping! From the funky, sometimes outré shops of SoBe to the chic boutiques of the Grove and the Gables, there's something for every taste and wallet. And don't pass up a visit to the classic Bal Harbour Shops, America's top-grossing shopping center. It boasts nearly 100 upscale retailers, along with special events and fine dining. Meanwhile, interior deign enthusiasts will get a charge out of the Miami Design District just above downtown, with 18 blocks of showrooms, boutiques, and art galleries that span just about every taste and time period.

Beaches and Outdoor Activities
Then, of course, the great outdoors comes in all shapes, sizes, and speeds in America's most sun-worshipping big city. The gay scene at SoBe's 12th Street Beach has been celebrated far and wide, but 20 minutes north, the gay section of Haulover Beach Park is just as popular with locals, if not more so (maybe something to do with the clothing-optional stretch?). Meanwhile, 20 minutes south on Key Biscayne, the beach at Bill Baggs State Park is more low-key and romantically picturesque, complete with lighthouse. Or avoid sand in your suit at the Gables' lush, romantic Venetian Pool, where a strong gay contingent frolics amid the waterfalls and grottoes along with everyone else. Don't forget, too, that you can combine the outdoors with culture by taking a number of cool biking and walking tours of South Beach's Deco District and other colorful parts of Miami.

Active Sports and Eco Tours
For the more active, there's volleyball on SoBe's gay beach, but also windsurfing and snorkeling off Key Biscayne, zooming along the Intracoastal Waterway on wave runners, canoeing near Vizcaya (the elegant mansion that is the site of the White Party itself), plenty of golf and tennis and, of course, skimming across the Everglades in an airboat. Take it to the next level with a new series of expert-guided eco-adventure tours, which lets you hike, bike, kayak, and snorkel through the area's top nature sites.

World Famous Nightlife
Finally, when it comes to nightlife, Miami Beach offers many clubs which cater to every taste and style -- but don't overlook the wealth of goodies across the causeways from South Beach. Lots of mixed or mostly gay nightspots are peppered throughout downtown out to the heavily Latin areas to the west and south. You'll get a taste of a bigger cross-section of gay Latinoamérica than anyplace else in the hemisphere, and a guaranteed blast even if you don't habla español.

Related Links
Miami for Gay and Lesbian Visitors
Miami for Other Visitors
Miami for Local Residents

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