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By: Gino R. Campodónico

International queer travel expert Ravi Roth has visited countless destinations in 35 countries over the past 13 years. No place, however, quite beats the electrifying energy of Greater Miami & Miami Beach.

As an advocate for LGBTQ+ travel, Ravi is the travel host of multiple adventure series, including “Ravi Round The World,” “Ravi’s Road to Pride” and “The Gaycation Travel Show.” He approaches travel by planning his itineraries around authentic experiences that locals in the LGBTQ+ community enjoy in each destination – including the best local places to stay, play, eat and explore.

Ravi recently spent some time exploring Miami’s eclectic offerings and gave us some insight into his favorite experiences, as well as tips for a great visit.

What attracted you to visit Miami?

I visited this past May. I also went to Miami Beach Pride last year for the first time and I fell in love with Miami, so I was excited to come back and do a real episode on the city to get a grasp of what it really had to offer.

At first, my expectation of what Miami was going to be was not what it was. I had this expectation that Miami was going to be like The (Fire Island) Pines, and I felt like I was not going to really find my place or my tribe here. But in reality, I was just blown away by the kindness of the locals.

Historic Virginia houses
Spend a day at Historic Virginia Key Beach Park

In your opinion, what makes Miami so unique?

Anywhere that there is an ocean, I am immediately drawn to it. Also, Miami is a city where I felt I was the minority, and I mean that in the best way possible. Miami has an eclectic array of people from all over, including a big Latin influence in everything… from food to nightlife and everything in between.

What I didn’t really realize was that Miami is not just South Beach. I think when anybody thinks of Miami they think of the gayborhood area, 12th Street Beach, the shops… but there is so much to do on the mainland that is amazing to see.

There is also so much history. I went to Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, and that blew my mind. I didn’t realize that it once was the only beach for Black people to go to and that it was also a safe haven for LGBTQ+ people before we had any kind of rights.

Did you find Miami to be gay-friendly?

Totally! I felt like I could be myself. I never once felt that I needed to cover up who I am.

I happened to be there during a lesbian Black pride event called SweetHeat Miami, and that was so cool. It took place at one of the hotels I stayed at, the Marseilles in South Beach, and it was such a fun, inclusive party – it was very welcoming to everyone. I didn’t get any kind of weirdness for being one of the token white people. It was just great. Everyone was living. I was living.

Drunken Dragon BBQ
Try Drunken Dragon's Asian-inspired creations

What were a few of your favorite food spots in Miami?

Miami has a vast array of vegetarian cuisine, which is so cool.

Planta South Beach is a fantastic vegetarian restaurant I visited, and it’s very well-known. I also went to Organic Food Kings, which is a food truck in Wynwood, and that was an amazing experience. I got a vegan burger and fries, and it was so delicious, so good!

I also did Time Out Market Miami, which was great since it features a lot of different cuisines from around Miami and the city’s top chefs. I had a really good experience at Time Out and loved that they had a fun atmosphere with a DJ playing music. It’s a great place to make new friends.

The coolest place was Drunken Dragon, which is an Asian-inspired restaurant. It was incredible food and great sake!

Tell us about your best nightlife experience while in Miami.

When I was in Wynwood, I went to R House and they have this YAS QUEEN event on the weekends, which is a drag show paired with really good food. The drag shows were just so fun because they went around everywhere in the restaurant.

Twist is a staple, for good reason; it’s got seven different rooms and it’s a great place to meet some boys. I also loved Hotel Gaythering – I stayed there, and their bar is awesome. It’s truly a locals’ spot, and I just love their outside patio. The whole place has a chill vibe, which I enjoyed. I went to their drag queen bingo night, and it was so fun. The drag queen’s name was Blamie Forret, and she was just amazing and super interactive, which made everyone have more fun.

Vizcaya East Facade at Dusk
Don't miss Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

What cultural activities in Miami did you enjoy the most?

I think Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Coconut Grove was just absolutely stunning! I definitely recommend going in the morning when the lighting is still good, which makes for great photos. I also went to an exhibit at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in Downtown Miami and got to check out the Frost Planetarium, which was really cool. I learned a lot about stars.

I went on an Art Deco tour, and the guide was truly amazing because we learned so much about the history of Miami. Our guide also does an LGBTQ+ tour, and I loved talking to him about queer culture and the progression of our community. It was extra meaningful since it’s such a scary time for a lot of people and marginalized groups right now. I am making it my mission to push visibility and show people that it’s ok to be gay, it’s ok to be loud, it’s ok to be proud, and it’s ok to be yourself.

What was your experience with the locals?

I loved seeing the joy of people who live and work in Miami. The joy that they have with their jobs and their commitment to making the community better. I got a chance to meet a lot of local gamechangers, and everyone was so passionate to live there. In my videos and coverage around the world, I always make it a mission to really get an inclusive and diverse group of voices to be in the video, and I didn’t really have try in Miami.

How different is Miami from your hometown and other cities you've visited?

Miami has a lot of heart. It’s a very vibrant city and it’s always on. You can make it whatever you want it to be, so you can go there and party your face off or you can go there and just do cultural things.

It’s different because it’s really the capital of melting pots that I’ve been to, and I’ve been to 35 countries and tons of cities. It’s more ethnically diverse than New York and London. Miami is really popping!

For example, I did eight episodes for my Pride series last year, including World Pride, and to me Miami had the best programming and variety. I experienced Miami Beach Pride’s parade and street festival, but they also had an art showcase where they featured local artists, a night where they had panel discussions and talk backs, a section for the elderly Jewish community, a children’s section… It had just something for everyone and it went beyond just partying.

Green lifeguard stand
Enjoy the colorful lifeguard towers in Miami Beach

What was the highlight of your stay?

The Hotel Gaythering was the most ridiculous in the best way possible. It was so kitschy; my room was just so fun. The staff was the best and I am still friends with them, we still talk. They were all very personable.

I loved seeing the iconic lifeguard towers in Miami Beach. I also went to Haulover Beach and I loved that. It was just really chill, and I made so many friends there.

What is the must-do thing you would recommend to your readers when they come to Miami for the first time, and why?

Watch my video and read my blog for some suggestions of things to do.

Miami blew my expectations! I would say to have a loose game plan. Do not book out every single day. Have a loose plan and make sure you spend time on the mainland, including Wynwood.

In terms of housing, I would recommend changing it up. Gaythering is really fun, but also try a boutique hotel. I stayed at the Marseilles Hotel and it was super cute and conveniently located. It has a really nice area by the pool, and they gave out free drinks every day during happy hour. If you want to be surrounded by family and your tribe, the AxelBeach Hotel and Gaythering are great options.

I would recommend first-time visitors to spend at least four days in Miami because there’s so much to see and you’re going to need time to explore. Bring an array of speedos, tank tops and sunscreen. And lastly, talk to and befriend a local. They might take you out until 6 in the morning, but it might be worth it.

Learn more about Ravi’s stay in his 24-Hour GAYover MIAMI video.

Ways to Connect With Ravi Round the World:

About the Author
Gino R. Campodónico is a communications professional, champion for the arts, freelance writer and content creator. He knows what’s hot and where to go to make the most out of any visit to Greater Miami & Miami Beach. Connect with Gino on Instagram: @ginocampodonico.

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