As far as gay destinations go, Miami is timeless. This Floridian oasis remains one of the hottest vacation spots in the US for beach dwellers and nightlife junkies. But in previous years, it's developed an artistic community that brings a whole new kind of attraction to the beachside city.
I recently spent a weekend at the Marriott Stanton in South Beach. Its exclusive SoFi location made it a perfect base for a relaxing weekend in close proximity to all the city's essential attractions. Located on Ocean Drive, it's a short stroll into the heart of South Beach, with its art deco charm and colorful Cubano flair.
From art in Wynwood to dancing in South Beach, this brief guide will ensure a perfectly gay getaway.
Check into Marriott Stanton, where you'll find a beautiful view of the ocean. The hotel's design blends a classic Art Deco sophistication with a modern, laid-back beach vibe.
It's just a short skip to the beach, where you can take a stroll and see a colorful array of lifeguard stands. Stop at 12th Street Beach, commonly known as the gay beach. It's a perfect low-key spot to get a tan and dip your feet in the water - as well as the local gay scene.
Stop at one of the many gay bars in the area for a quick afternoon drink. It's also worth a visit to the Hub at the LGBT Visitor Center to get some info on the local scene.
Walk down Ocean Drive, back to the hotel. If you have time, check out the Art Deco Welcome Center on your way. The Miami Design Preservation League will be happy to educate you or even offer a walking tour of the Art Deco Historic District and its many beautiful structures.
Return to your room to freshen up for dinner at Lolo's Surf Cantina. Located just downstairs at the Marriott Stanton, this local favorite from Chef Richard Ampudia offers some delectable Mexican cuisine. With a wide selection of tequilas, the Blood Orange Margarita is an unbeatable choice. The Mexican-style grilled corn with cojita cheese is a perfect starter to the meal. And you will kick yourself if you don't top it off with the corn cake and crèmre fraiche ice cream.
Start your day with a run to La Playa Market, a local favorite for authentic Cuban sandwiches. Stock up for a picnic and a day outdoors.
Take a quick drive to Oleta River State Park for a fun and beautiful day of kayaking or paddleboarding. Guides will lead you, no matter your skill level, and you might even see a manatee on the way. Stop at Sandspur Island for a picnic on the beach with a gorgeous view.
On the way back to the hotel, stop by the Villa Casa Casuarina Hotel for a drink at Gianni's. Fashionistas and anyone in the know will recognize this as the Versace mansion. It's now a fully operational hotel, but the designer's vision remains, down to the mosaic-tiled pool.
Head back to the Stanton, and freshen up for dinner downstairs. This time, check out the Michelin-starred Sushi Azabu, recently opened by Chef Masatsugu Kubo. It's the finest in Japanese fare you'll find in Miami. Don't forget to enjoy some sake from one of his many unique sake glasses. If you have room at the end of your meal, the raindrop cake is bliss.
The night doesn't end there. Just a short walk away is Nikki Beach, a local hot spot for the past two decades. Dance until dawn at the second floor nightclub.
It's a short trip to Wynwood, a popular destination for artists and art enthusiasts. Enjoy a brunch of Latin-influenced cuisine at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar. The ropa vieja empanadas, queso frito, and flautas are all too irresistible.
Afterward, take a guided tour of Wynwood Walls, a hub of street art from some of the most talented artists around the world. It's full of Insta-worthy sites, and you may even meet an artist at work.
After soaking in all the inspired art, it's time to soak in some mojitos. Just across the street is Miami Mojito Company. Or if you're looking to curb your sweet tooth, take a quick stroll down to Zak the Baker, where the pastries are as beautiful as they are delicious. Top it off with some shopping at the many charming boutiques in Wynwood.
For dinner, unwind at GKB. A Peruvian-inspired restaurant with elements of Latin and Asian, Chef Rafael Pérez Cambana puts every ingredient to work and offers a cool and inviting atmosphere. Enjoy the cherrywood smoked shrimp ceviche with a perfect playlist of music.