The Florida Keys are among the top destinations for tourists looking for good weather and a fun getaway full of new experiences. They’re also home of the delicious key lime pie, of course, but it doesn’t stop there! The Florida Keys and Key West are also known as a gay paradise celebrating openness and pride throughout the year. From events to nightlife, dining, and more, this LGBTQ destination has so much to offer! Here are just a few suggestions if you are planning your trip to the Florida Keys.
For more of the good life in Florida, check out our LGBTQ Guide to Miami!
FLORIDA KEYS LGBTQ NIGHTLIFE
The Florida Keys are popular for their nightlife, and when it comes to LGBTQ nightlife, it doesn’t disappoint. One of the highlights of the trip was Aqua Key West. This bar and nightclub is full of entertainment and not only does Aquaplex have multiple bars, but it is constantly reinventing itself to keep things fresh and fun. The cocktails are amazing and drag performances are incredible. The VIP experience is highly recommended as you get a private booth and bottle service. One of the bars behind the club is also home to Poke in the Rear, where you can indulge in fresh eats in between your cocktails!
If you are looking for something a little different, the Bourbon Street Pub is a New Orleans themed bar featuring Men of Bourbon nightly. In the back area, there is even an outdoor bar and pool, which is called the garden bar – male only, and clothing is optional. The perfect place to be when you are sweaty from all the dancing and escape from the summer heat.
But the options don’t stop there. There is the 801 Bourbon Bar, a gay bar full of fun events including drag shows, bingo, karaoke, and more! Start here before making your rounds of all the other gay bars on Duval Street; Bobby’s Monkey Bar and Karaoke is full of locals and tourists alike. This dive bar is a great place to have a couple of drinks and meet new people. It is a fun and casual atmosphere where you can go up on stage and belt out your favourite tune or sing along to fun classics; One Saloon is a historical gay spot that has late hours, amazing drinks, entertainment, and an outdoor patio where you can enjoy it all; and there is the popular La Te Da Cabaret Bar. Featuring two bars, La Te Da is the home of The Piano Bar, which is the place to go for inside dining before a night of live Cabaret entertainment, and The Terrace bar, which is perfect for people watching.
When dining in Key West, you can’t go wrong with seafood and Key Lime Pie. Azur, a gay-owned Mediterranean restaurant makes you feel right at home. The fresh catch is a must try, and one of the highlights of the trip! Although key lime pies are the traditional dessert of the area, their crème brûlée is to die for. Fishermen’s Café located along the Lazy Way Lane, also shouldn’t be missed. With their incredible fish tacos, they tend to get pretty busy, so scope out the best times to go. Seriously, they were the best tacos, and they are large in size too, so go hungry!
If you are looking for something with more of an exclusive vibe, Island House Key West is the place to go to eat lunch by the pool while you people watch. The entire facility is also clothing optional – some areas with more privacy than others. This is the place to see and be seen when visiting LGBTQ Key West.
For amazing low key places with a more relaxing setting, Kermit’s Café/Key Lime Shoppe is a quaint establishment that offers the cutest outdoor dining experiences with fountains, a pond with fish and the occasional rooster that wanders around their gardens. They are famous for their Key Lime Pies so make sure you try a piece. They also sell whole to-go pies in case you leave wanting more. There is also Cuban Coffee Queen, a must try famous coffee spot where you can get the BEST coffee to start your day right. Try their Cafe Con Leche (Cuban Coffee with Steamed Milk). If you are not a coffee drinker, their Tumeric Con Leche — made with turmeric, cardamom, ginger, vanilla, honey, and almond milk — is another must try. Cuban Coffee Queen also serves up breakfast and Cuban favourites.
Matt’s Stock Island Kitchen & Bar is one of the top Key West spots for dinner. They offer indoor and outdoor dining. Outdoor dining is alongside the water and the ambience is super romantic with outdoor fires and stunning views. Go hungry as portions are sizeable, and the key lime pie is amazing, so try to save room for dessert!
WHERE TO STAY
The Florida Keys have so many amazing places to stay that it is not easy choosing one. Marker Key West Harbor Resort is one of the top options. This signature hotel in Key West is everything you’d want in a Key West experience, and they are LGBTQ friendly. Located by the harbour and steps from Duval Street, it is right in the heart of Key West’s best seafood eateries, bars, shops, and more. The rooms are pretty sizable, and the décor has the typical beach vibe that immediately reminds you that you are, indeed, on vacation! The best part are the cute balconies overlooking one of the 3 pools or gardens where you can sit out and enjoy the sun.
Equator Resort in the old town is another popular option and it is walking distance from all the gay bars. This resort is exclusively for men, and although rooms are on the smaller side, you have everything that you’ll possibly need, including 2 pools and 2 hot tubs. Each room is also unique and some have balconies overlooking the pools where all the boys hang during the day. They host a complimentary happy hour between 5-6:30pm every day. They also have complimentary coffee/tea throughout the day and continental breakfast each morning.
La Te Da — La Te Da not only has the amazing Cabaret shows and Piano Bar, but it is also a super cute hotel. The rooms have a modern cabin look and feel and they are adorned with soft shades of beachy colors and decor.
Alexander’s Guest House, known as your own piece of paradise, is a LGBTQ guesthouse where they also welcome all friends of the LGBTQ community. The cute 3 story conch-style house is listed in the national historic register and it’s a true retreat where you can relax with family and friends.
KEY WEST LGBTQ EVENTS
Key West has LGBTQ events every season, but when you hear Key West, you probably think of Spring Break! Did you know that there is also a Gay Spring Break in Key West? It takes place each year in late February – early April. The town opens its doors to LGBTQ students and others seeking warm-weather fun in the sun. There are gay-friendly beach gatherings, exciting nightlife, dance parties, jet-skiing tours and so much more to keep you busy!
In early June, there is Key West Pride, featuring a street fair, Pride parade, dance parties, sunset sails, music, film and everything you need to feel PROUD! All set on a tropical island that is legendary for its laid-back vibe celebrating openness.
In late August, there is Tropical Heat, a fun weekend of intriguingly decadent adult parties for gay men with events including clothing optional pool parties, a feisty fetish bash, and underwear “or not” parties.
For Fall visitors, there is Womenfest in Key West in September. This is one of the nation’s premier events for lesbians and their friends. The six-day fiesta includes clothing-optional pool parties, a sizzling dance club scene, a golf tournament, women-only water excursions, and so much more!
Find more info about Florida Keys and Key West here!