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Gay Travel Guide to Miami

Miami is a hedonistic haven with a huge gay community. Famous for its White party and kicking club scene as well as its beautiful beaches there is certainly plenty going on. Our initial desire to go to Miami stemmed from having seen the White party special called Fabulous on SkyTv in 1998 and from a brief stopover in Miami south Beach six years ago having visited Orlando and Key West.

Getting there:

Obviously Miami is a slightly longer trip than popping over to Ibiza. Expect a 8/9 hour flight from London. Miami is also five hours behind British time so if you leave London mid morning you actually arrive mid afternoon having gained 5 hours) which is quite good. Sleep off any jet lag on the beach. We were lucky enough to fly with Virgin Atlantic (the planes with the TVs in the back of the seats to keep you entertained) and got a fantastic deal by booking on the Net about 10 days prior to flying. Our flight cost just around £175 incl. sales tax. Ebookers.Com / Lastminute.com are good places to search for cheap flights on the Net. Expect to pay quite a lot more if booking in a highstreet travel agent.

Gay Travel Agents:
Update soon. (UK) specialise in gay and lesbian travel to 3 florida resorts, Fort Lauderdale, Key West and Miami South Beach.

Accommodation:

There are numerous hotels and guesthouses including a number of exclusiely gay establishments. Try searching the worldwide directory (see top of page). For your interest we had a very enjoyable week at The Jefferson House

South Beach

The southern most tip of the Miami Beach, known the world over as South Beach has experienced an unprecedented rebirth over the past 5 years. What was once a quiet haven for retirees (God's waiting room) has exploded into the one of the hottest, sexiest and most exciting destinations in the world. South Beach is very much a part of Miami, but it is also a world all its own.

The easiest access to South Beach is from the MacArthur Causeway, which connects with I-95 just north of downtown Miami. Along the MacArthur Causeway as you head into South Beach, you will see the luxurious Star Island, home to many famous Miami residents, including Madonna and Gloria Estefan. On the right is the Port of Miami, the beginning and ending destination of 75% of cruises taken each year. The causeway exits onto 5th street, into the heart of South Beach. Directly ahead on your left is Michigan Avenue, home to European Guesthouse, followed by Washington Avenue, Collins Avenue, and finally Ocean Drive. Those streets together with the newly refurbished Lincoln Road are the center of life in South Beach.

Gay Clubs:

Most of the gay bars are situated along Washington Avenue or Lincoln Road which cuts cross Washington Av. between 16th and 17th Street.
The gay beach is situated at the end of 12th street although you will find queens dotted along the length of the beach. The good thing about south Beach is that all the clubs are situated all within walking distance or each other or just a short taxi ride away.

Salvation, Federation, Twist, Liquid, Score (727, Lincoln Road Tel: 305 535 1111) are all excellent venues in their own right. The latest addition to the gay scene is a new clubnight called Federation and runs every Friday at Level/1235 Washington Avenue. Noche Blanca (post White Party disco) was held at Level here on the Sunday this year. An impressive club which has obviously had millions spent on it. Packed on that special night with some absolute gorgeous guys.

Weather:

The weather was a fairly constant 82-86 degree which is hot sunbathing weather. Slightly cooler in the evenings but still warm enough to walk round in shorts and a tee-shirt. Don't bother packing jumpers apart from wearing one which you leave behind the British winter or arrive back. The best time to visit Miami / Florida is during the winter/spring months of November through to May. After that the climate gets humid and you get the hurricane season in the late summer.

Beaches:

As the name suggests Miami Beach is in fact one huge stretch of beach running from South Beach/Art Deco area at one end all the way up the Florida coastline. The beach is sandy and fairly clean. There are beach chairs and umbrellas available to hire. The sea is clean and warm although when the wind blows up there are quite strong currents so take cares. We also hired jet skis of a couple of occasions ($60) which was fun if not cheap.

Shopping and Eating Out

You are obviously going to need that special little number to wear to all the clubs. Again you are spoiled here. All along Washington Avenue there are little boutiques. In particular though check out Check out Whittall and Shon. The other main shopping area in Lincoln Road. Lincoln Road is undergoing a revival with a number of gay friendly bars, excellent restaurants including the South Beach branch of Balans (for those of your familiar with the one in Old Compton Street. Should you get bored or fancy a quieter night there is a smart new multiplex cinema at the Alton road end of Lincoln Avenue. The latest exclusive restaurant to pop up is "Touch" (910 Lincoln Road. Tel: 305 532 8003). Offering a menu of modern influenced grill, the decor is sumptuous, the food was excellent although given the prices perhaps should be considered for special occasions or anytime you feel like spoiling yourself.

White Party Week: See www.whiteparty.net

This was our main reason for going to Miami at the end of November. The White Party week as the event has grown into runs every year coincide with America's thanksgiving weekend (the last weekend in November). The White party is all about raising funds to find a cure for HIV/AIDS and does it by organising a week of amazing parties in Miami culminating with the White Party itself at Vizcaya. The White Party now in its fifteenth year has expanded into a week of events including the fantastic SnowBall held at the Miami convention centre on the Friday night. Other Miami clubs including Score, Salvation and the new Federation night at 1235 Washington hold White Party sanctioned parties from the Wednesday through to the Monday.

Snowball 5 is a massive party held in the Miami Convention Centre on the Friday of white party week.. The event is one of the big sanctioned events organised by the Jeffrey Sanker Group One of the exhibition hall decked out with huge inflatable snowflakes, icicles. The place hold about 6000 people and attracts some of the most gorgeous guys you will ever see. The events runs from 11 - through to 8am and from 1am the dance floor is a mass of sweating bodies in what can only be described as Muscle Mary heaven. Expect to pay $75-$90 for this event. In 2000 Snowball 6 moved downtown to the Hyatt Convention Hall. A huge dance event called Icon filled the convention centre of Saturday night with several most gala events taking place at Level this year as it seemed to be the preferred club partner of the White Party Committee.

Saturday night Salvation plays host to a big party.

The White Party:

Usually Sunday after Thanksgiving (November 6.30pm-11.30pm) is the big night though. We spent half the week looking for someone suitable to wear (white of course). For someone who is built for comfort and not speed, dresses in black tee shirt and jeans when clubbing in London, trying to find something suitable and forgiving to the figure can be a bit of an ordeal. A constant reminder to get back to the gym. My colleague Lady Barnsdale surpassed herself with a tight white tee-shirt and white plasticky shorts which tied up at the side. A couple of stiff vodka and cokes gave us both that little bit of Dutch courage.
A short taxi ride takes you out to Vizcaya where the white party is held. Vizcaya which is normally a museum was a former luxury house and gardens built at the beginning of the century. With the whole place decked out in little white fairly lights, everyone wearing white, the scene is absolutely amazing. We are talking sheer glamour here. Even though its cost $150/£80 to go its probably one of those nights you won't forget for a long time. After the White Party a lot of the people head back into town for the final big event called Noche Blancha (white night). This year the event was held at Level which is the brand new club located at 1235 Washington Avenue.

As with all the all the sanctioned White Party club events, they don't come cheap but are all in a good cause. Most club events are in the region of $80 with the White Party itself costing $150. Given these prices the event has been classed at elitist with "the average punter" not being able to afford some of the events. If you can afford it, the white party itself is something special.
See www.whiteparty.net for full details, tickets etc.

Gay Friendly Accommodation:

Advertising your hotel/guesthouse. If you wish to promote travel to Miami or offer gay friendly accommodation in Miami please feel free to contact us by e-mail or click here for advertising rates.

Useful Links:

Funmaps - www.funmaps.net
White Party Week - www.whiteparty.net for full details about whats on.
Genre Magazine www.genre.com has a useful gay Miami guide
www.thecircuitdog.com for the latest update on US circuit parties.
Travel links

Summary:

The heady mix of a fabulous winter climate and kicking gay scene means Miami South beach is bound in increase in popularity as a holiday destination not just for Americans but for Europeans looking for a change from old favourites such as Ibiza and Gran Canaria. The White Party more than lived up to expectations and if you can sort out cheap flights/ accommodation then we can thoroughly recommend it. If you want to spend longer than a week then you might want to consider including several nights down in Key West which is fabulous in itself to driving up to Orlando for all the Disney theme parks/Universal Studio attractions. Any excuse to escape the British winter should be justification in itself for checking how many days holiday you've got left.

 
 
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