Where to eat, shop and chill in gay-friendly South Beach


Time to spend the weekend on South Beach and we've got your tips on where to shop, dine and chill.

Rainbow Flag flapping
Photo: Alex Guerra

By Juan Lopez

Welcome to South Beach. Now go to the gym!

That was once a slogan for a local gym that's no long around, but you get the drift. South Beach is the playground of the hot and muscular and there's plenty of eye candy to look at on Miami Beach's most southern corner.

Aside from the hot men, there are all types of beautiful people on South Beach (cue the song “I’m Too Sexy”). No matter the season, daywear consists of casual beach attire: a pair of nice shorts/bathing suit and flip-flops (shirt is optional for the men). At night, break out the jeans, cute t-shirt and a pair of hot kicks and you're ready for night of dancing and bar hoping.

Don’t know where to start? Not to worry. We have your entire visit planned, from where to shop, where to grab some food and where to hang out.

Let’s get started.



Looking for places to shop during the day? There are plenty of options, but Lincoln Road is your best bet. Here are some gay-friendly suggestions.

Base is an oasis of cool where you can shop for everything from clothes to jewelry to music cds and books. This gay-owned business is a great place to find a cool outfit or a sweet looking watch. (Think Fred Segal in Los Angeles or Collette in Paris). Base is a curated shopping experience like no other on South Beach. Prices vary from moderate to expensive and major credit cards are accepted.

Base, 939 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach; 305-531-4982. 
Hours: Mon-Thu. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.; Fri-Sat. 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Don’t want to break the bank but need that perfect white v-neck to set off your new kick-ass tan? Then American Apparel is the place for you. From t-shirts to shorts to colorful underwear you can find it here at a reasonable price. Aside from the Lincoln Road location, you can find sister stores at 840 Ocean Drive and on 1441 Washington Ave.

American Apparel, 720 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; 305-672-1799
Hours: Mon. – Thurs., 10 a.m. - Midnight; Fri., Sat., Sun. 10 a.m. - 1 a.m.

Looking for some SPF or maybe some moisturizer for your sun-kissed skin? How about some aromatherapy candle action for your room? Or maybe you need a haircut, or a manicure or how about a pedicure so you can strut in your Havanese flip-flops without worries? Then check out Kiehls located on Lincoln Rd. Shop at Kiehls for your skin needs..

Kiehls, 832 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; 305-531-0404.
Hours:  Mon. - Thurs. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Fri. - Sat. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.; Sun. Noon - 8 p.m.



Looking for some ideas of  what to do while on South Beach? Here are some suggestions that range from cheap to price.

Low on funds? Looking frugality right in the eye? Well, pull out your beach towel, throw on the shades and head on over to gay beach (12th and Ocean Drive). The weather isn't the only hot thing going on there. Slamming bods in very fashionable swim wear abound. (Be on the lookout for Pride Flags that signal you're in the right place!

Not into sand on your towel and don't mind paying a fee? Then chill out at The Standard’s or The Raleigh's hotel swimming pools.

The Standard Hotel (located on the bayside of Miami Beach) and The Raleigh (located beach side) are sister hotels and provide a shuttle service between the two. Both places are very gay friendly and devoid of the typical touristy crowd. These pool hangouts are a great place to do some celeb spotting.  There are pool fees for hanging out and food and drinks are not cheap. (Tip: Try the watermelon mojitos and mini-burgers at The Standard.)

The Standard Hotel, 40 Island Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-1717
$50 a day from Friday to Sunday, or $40 on a weekday. The day pass is good from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day but Friday, when it's good until midnight.

The Raleigh Hotel, 1775 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-534-4300; $25 pool entry fee.

Sick of the sun? Head to David Barton Gym at the Gansevoort South hotel and get your workout on. This is a gym like no other you've experienced before. Designed with a Moroccan theme, don't forget to look up and check out the metal ceiling panels that give you the feeling that you're inside a genie’s lamp. The mood lighting makes everybody look good while they pump up. Looking to see where the boys are? Peek gay hour is from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. There is also pool and beach access, so if you want to spend the day there you can. Day passes are available at a $50 fee and include the use of the pool. Or if you're friend's a member, hit them up for a guest pass (they get four free passes a year).

David Barton Gym @ Gansevoort South, 2377 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305-534-1660



You've shopped, hung out on the beach and probably got in a workout. Now it's chow time! Here are some places to go and grab something to eat on South Beach.



If you’re not sure where to eat, head over to Lincoln Road where there are a number of outdoor cafes and restaurants to choose from. (Tip: Avoid the menu hawkers as those places are usually tourist traps.) Popular gay spots are IceBox Cafe and Balans.

IceBox (located right off Lincoln Rd. and Michigan Ave.) is gay owned and known for their best cakes (according to Oprah, no less). A delicious brunch is served up every Saturday, Sunday and on holidays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Some brunch faves from the menu are The Egg Box (scrambled eggs, cheese, sausage, roasted potatoes, biscuit $11.50) and The Mess (scrambled eggs, ham glazes onions, roasted potatoes and biscuit for $12). If you can't make it for brunch, check out their lunch and dinner menus that change daily. No hard liquor is served but wine and mimosas are on the menu. Indoor and outdoor seating is available. No need to dress up, as casual attire is cool.

IceBox Café, 1657 Michigan Ave., Miami Beach; 305-538-8448
Hours: Mon. – Thur. 8 a.m. – 11 p.m.; Fri. – Sun., 8 a.m. - Midnight (kitchen closes at 11 pm, but restaurant is open for dessert and coffee)
Details: No reservations needed; major credit cards are accepted; take out is available; street parking available


Originally from London, Balans (between Michigan and Lenox Ave.) is the spot to have brunch and people watch. With brunch being their busiest time of the day, get ready to wait for a table if you want to sit outside (15 to 30 minutes). Indoor seating is usually available without much of a wait. Get there early (before 10 a.m.) if you want to avoid the crowds. Breakfast/brunch is served daily, and Balans has a full service bar. So if you stick around past brunch, and into a late lunch, look out for their daily drink specials. There's also an early bird special $2 off all entrées Monday to Friday from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. (excluding holidays and special events).

Balans, 1022 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; 305-534-9191
Hours: Sun. – Thur., 8 a.m. – Midnight; Fri. – Sat., 8 a.m. – 1 a.m.
Details: Takes reservations; major credit cards accepted; take out available; street parking available.



Not feeling brunch? Lunch or dinner more your style? Here is a pair of options that could be considered secret weapons of South Beach that won’t drain your wallet.

If you're on the go and don't have a lot of time or money to spend on a meal, Lime is a perfect solution. Known for its fresh Tex-Mex food, the menu has many health conscious items. Go for one of their saldas (the Southwest Salda with chicken is  $7.49 or try the Skinny Burrito for $7.99.) The setup is easy. You walk up, place your order at the cashier, and you’re given a number to place at your table. Servers bring your order to you. There is indoor and outdoor patio style seating.  Beer and wine is available. Lunch is a busy time. Mucho eye candy is to be had at Lime, making for a delicioso dining experience.

Lime, 1439 Alton Road, Miami Beach; 305-532-5463
Hours: Daily 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Details: Takes no reservations; major credit cards accepted; take out available; street/meter parking available.



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