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By: Liz Cepeda

With its vibrant nightlife, bars and party scene, Miami has long been a hotspot for the LGBTQ community. It’s no wonder that the beaches here are equally inviting. The city boasts two “semi-official” gay beaches: 12th Street Beach, with its rainbow flags, and Haulover Beach, with a designated “clothing-optional” area. Of the two, 12th Street is known as the more raucous beach, but both are welcoming and beautiful places to spend the day soaking up the sun with friends.

12th Street Beach

Lummus Park
Lummus Park

In Miami, no beach is more popular with the LGBTQ+ crowd than 12th Street Beach. It’s smack dab in the middle of the city’s Lummus Park, a green space that runs along Ocean Drive with volleyball courts, weightlifting equipment and public restrooms. 12th Street Beach is also home to the famous beach parties thrown each year by the Winter Party Festival and the White Party. Miami Beach Pride uses the park around 12th Street for the Pride Festival, which over the past 10 years has grown into one of the largest celebrations of gay pride in the region.

The beach is dotted with rainbow flags near each lifeguard station. Bring your towel and sunblock; it gets hot on the sand. When it’s time to refuel, you’ll find many restaurant and bar choices, including the famous Palace Bar, just a couple of blocks down Ocean Drive, and Twist South Beach, which is a couple of blocks west at 11th and Washington.

The best parking option for 12th Street Beach is the city garage at 13th and Collins. There are a few street spots along Ocean Drive between 5th and 15th streets, but you’re more likely to find a spot in a parking lot.

Haulover Beach

Haulover Park
Haulover Park

Haulover Park, about 11 miles north of South Beach, is famous for being the only beach in Florida with a clothing-optional area. The park is known as one of the best “naturist” beaches in the world. On this nearly half-mile stretch of beach, nudity is legal and the vibe is very welcoming. Gay beach-goers tend to gather on the northernmost section of the nude beach.

On the weekends, the beach is packed with locals and visitors alike working on their all-over tans. Don’t worry if you aren’t ready to bare it all – there are plenty of people who prefer to stay clothed while still enjoying time around “family” without body shaming.

Take advantage of chair and umbrella rentals on the beach (best to bring cash) as well as food and beverage service provided by onsite vendors. In the southern section of the parking lot, find bike rentals, a skate park, a dog beach and a charter fishing fleet. In the northern lot, you can rent a boat. On Tuesday evenings, food trucks gather at Haulover Park, providing a variety of dining options.

To be near the gay beach, park in lot #1, the northernmost lot. Visitors can pay the parking meter using an app. The park is open from dawn until dusk, but the lot fills up quickly – especially on weekends – so get there early. Bring a cooler, an umbrella and snacks, but leave flotation devices at home; they aren’t allowed at Haulover Park.

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