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5 reasons Miami needs to be at the top of your LGBTQ+ travel list

Miami has flourished from a mostly cis gay-friendly city over the decades to one where the full spectrum of LGBTQ+ culture has been integrated into the fabric of life.

The Floridian city has become one of the largest LGBTQ+ communities in the world and attracts over one million queer visitors a year.

While being queer doesn’t intrinsically change what attractions we might be interested in, Miami has a great range of LGBTQ-inclusive draws and destinations beyond the main sites and spots.

From beautiful beaches and delicious food to a thriving art scene and accommodation that centres around the queer experience, here are five reasons why Miami should be bumped up on your travel list.

A home away from home for LGBTQ+ travellers

The AxelBeach Miami hotel. (AxelBeach Miami)

AxelBeach Miami is the ideal spot for queer travellers looking for a taste of Miami’s kaleidoscopic culture.

It’s located on South Beach, or SoBe, the centre of LGBTQ+ Miami. The calming rooms here are airy and crisp with nods to art deco, which provide respite from the thrillingly fast-paced and pulsing city.

There’s also a modern restaurant, a lively gay bar (complete with colourful dance floor), gym, hammam, beach house and swimming pool in the hotel grounds.

Events and pool parties are frequently held here for the community and booking 30 days in advance come with a 20 per cent discount.

The thriving art scene

Artist Carlos Black Pacifier paints on a building in Wynwood Walls. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The Wynwood Art District is a popular spot for the LGBTQ+ community. There’s a mix of art galleries and eclectic street art here, with outdoor museums and the Museum of Graffiti.

There are a lot of queer-owned businesses here too, like R House restaurant which serves as a hub for the community.

Check out the Wynwood Walls, a collection of life-size murals and drawings that are free to explore.

Elsewhere in the city, there’s the World Erotic Art Museum in the Florida Art Deco District. The museum, library and education centre serve as a think-tank illustrating the history of erotic art.

There’s a ‘gaybourhood’

(AxelBeach Miami)

With the ocean on one side and stretches of pastel-coloured art deco buildings on the other, South Beach is the epicentre for queer travellers.

It’s easy to spot when you’re in the area from all the rainbow flags, and beyond the two queer hotels in this stretch, there’s plenty of LGBTQ+ businesses, restaurants, bars and clubs.

The LGBTQ Visitor Center is a great place to start, providing information, assistance, and advice for tourists as well as locals.

New additions to the scene include the Sky Bar at the AxelBeach Miami, located on Washington Avenue, or its cosy lobby bar with a “hetero-friendly” philosophy.

A bountiful LGBTQ+ events calendar

Miami Beach LGBTQ+ Pride in 2015. (Sergi Alexander/Getty Images)

From large parties to cultural events, there’s a wealth of queer celebrations available in the city throughout the year.

Annual festivities start in February, with the one-day Gay8 Festival in Little Havana — a free art, music and food street festival which has grown into the largest Hispanic queer festival in the US.

Winter Party Festival in March is a week-long celebration of community, music and dance with dozens of events, while April sees OUTshine Film Festival, an internationally acclaimed queer film festival – both events, as well as Miami Beach Pride, are sponsored by AxelBeach Miami.

Later in the year in October, Aqua Girl serves as a five-day celebration for queer women.

There’s live music, parties, comedy shows and dining events throughout, with women travelling from across the globe for one of the biggest events for queer women in the world.

The beaches for queers

12th Street Beach. (Ken Ross/VW Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

One of the main draws to Miami is its beautiful weather and coastline, and thankfully there are a couple of queer beaches complete with clear waters, white sand and blue skies.

Twelfth Street Gay Beach is the most popular — as well as the most convenient. It’s in South Beach, close enough to AxelBeach Miami and plenty of LGBTQ+ hangouts.

Find the beach at the intersection between 12th Street and Ocean Drive.

A more remote option is Haulover Beach, north of the city. This one is the only legal clothing-optional beach in Florida — you’ll find it in between lifeguard towers 12 and 16, flanked with rainbow flags.

Visit AxelBeach Miami to discover more about LGBTQ+ Florida, and to book your stay with 20 per cent off (when booked 30 days in advance).

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