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The Complete Guide To Safe Solo LGBTQ+Travel In Florida

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Traveling by yourself is such a rewarding experience. More LGBTQ+ travelers are following their wanderlust and booking trips without friends, families, or partners, but many more are too intimidated by worries about safety and comfort to travel solo. So how do you plan a stress-free trip for discovering Florida’s major attractions alone?

This complete guide to solo LGBTQ+ travel in Florida will help you safely navigate your way with confidence. Read on to find out which vibrant, exciting destinations to visit, and what you can do to travel with peace of mind!

Tips For Solo LGBTQ+ Travelers: Staying Safe While You Explore Florida

Whether you’re traveling alone for the first time or you’re a seasoned solo tourist, it’s good to keep these simple guidelines in mind for your safety!

Share Itinerary Details With Trusted People

It can be easy to forget to tell friends and loved ones where we’re going on a trip, especially if we’re immersed in the sights and sounds. But trust us – you don’t want to be caught in a situation where you’re lost without access to help!

Unfamiliar destinations can quickly become unsafe, so leave a rough outline of your itinerary or tour with a friend or family member back home. Having said that, you don’t have to announce to everyone on social media that you’re going on a trip. Some criminals use these details to plan home robberies, so keep the specifics on the down-low.

Bring A Travel Safety Kit

Keep everything accessible and within reach when you most need it by putting together a basic travel safety kit. Your kit should include essential documents such as your travel documents and IDs so you can quickly pull them out at stops. The last thing you want is to hold up a line of impatient tourists as you rummage around for your passport!

A good safety kit should also have sunscreen for the Florida heat, a portable charging port, and a mini flashlight. Solo travelers should note that pocket knives and pepper spray might be confiscated at airports. Luckily, you can still carry around a safety whistle as a necklace. This can be used to quickly call attention during sticky situations.

Keep Identification Documents On You At All Times

Having IDs ready is always important, but it’s especially important for travelers who are trans, gender nonconforming, and gender-queer. A simple mishap such as being asked to leave the men’s entrance instead of the women’s entrance can be avoided if you present your ID that clearly shows your gender identity.

Make sure that your passport and driver’s license match your gender identity and always carry them with you – you never know when you’ll need them. Keep an extra physical copy and a digital copy on your phone as well, just in case you misplace your ID or can’t access it quickly from your bag.

Go To Solo Traveler Meet-Ups

Remember, there’s safety in numbers! Traveling solo doesn’t mean isolating yourself from other fellow travelers. Check out AirBnB’s offered activities – it has curated experiences to help you enjoy a location and meet new friends, often with a friendly local guide.

There are plenty of solo traveling networks designed to provide support and friendship on the road, like Contiki. You can also join city tours so you can navigate unfamiliar places in Florida in a safer way. Sign up for these to meet up with like-minded people while exploring!

Pick Accommodations Wisely

It’s tempting to save a few extra dollars by staying somewhere a little farther from the city center. However, this can make transport to and from your room a lot less safe, so pick a hotel or BnB closer to the action.

You can check out feedback on Yelp or Expedia to see how other guests rate these places in terms of affordability, safety, and comfort. Some travel blogs also list which accommodations are LGBQ+-owned and operated, so conduct online research to find out which places will give you the comfiest environment to be yourself.

Say No To Experiences That Make You Uncomfortable

Most people feel the pressure to avoid confrontation and not speak up even during unsettling situations. If you feel uneasy or have doubts during your trip, don’t hesitate or worry about manners. Keep your travel plans to yourself, and don’t disclose hotel information to strangers – no matter how friendly they may seem.

If speaking up feels a little dangerous, simply walk away if you can. Then, head for the nearest safe place where you can get help from someone in the community.

Find LGBTQ+ Hotspots

If you’re looking for a comfy environment where you can be yourself and interact with the community, it’s helpful to know which cafes, bars, and other attractions in the area are LGBTQ+-owned and/or LGBTQ+-friendly. These can also give you opportunities to network with the community and make new friends.

Research these places on social media to find out which locations can be beacons of safety in a tough situation. LGBTQ+-travel bloggers are helpful in this regard – check out their suggestions for where to go, what to eat, and which LGBTQ+ activities and events to check out during your stay!

Have A Backup Payment Method

The last thing you want is to be stuck in an unfamiliar place with no way to pay for transportation in a pinch. Keep a backup credit card or emergency bills in case you lose your bag or wallet. Some travelers recommend hiding an emergency credit card or bills inside your cellphone case.

Try Not To Advertise Your Valuables

Leave the flashy bling and expensive gadgets behind to avoid being targeted by thieves and pickpockets. This doesn’t mean that you can’t dress fabulously, but do be mindful of attracting unwanted attention to your valuables. If you need to bring your tech items like laptops or cameras around, carry them in a discreet day bag so they’re always on your person.

When In Doubt, Invest In Your Personal Safety

Yes, a cab ride is much more expensive than walking alone or taking the bus. But if you feel uneasy doing the latter, take the safer option for your peace of mind. That’s something you can’t put a real price on!

Amazing Florida Destinations For Solo LGBTQ+ Travelers

Now that you have a few safety tips up your sleeve, it’s time to plan an incredible solo trip to Florida’s cities! Here are some of our top picks for where to go, what to do, and what to see in the Sunshine State as a solo LGBTQ+ traveler.

The Florida Keys 

Known for its fun bars and inclusive scene, the Florida Keys are a popular party destination. It’s also a lot safer than some travelers may think: just watch your alcohol and avoid hurricane season! Steer clear of the spring breakers by booking from March to June to enjoy the Keys in peace.

We suggest that you book accommodations near Duval Street in Key West for easy access to the best bars. Then you can visit other parts of the Keys, such as Key Largo or Islamorada.

The Keys Bucket List

Key West has many walking tours where solo travelers and tourist groups can learn more about the city’s historic sights. Dig into some key lime pie in one of the city’s many quaint cafes, or visit the Hemingway Home to learn more about one of America’s most famous writers.

Visiting Key Largo on your trip? Go snorkeling with tropical fish in the clear waters of John Pennekamp State Park. You can also go for a ride in a glass-bottom boat while you’re there, or try your hand at kayaking!

Nightlife In The Keys

Party animals should also join one of Key West’s many booze cruises to make new friends. There are several sunset cruise companies that offer affordable drinks, the perfect view of the ocean, and the chance to socialize and meet new people.

If you want to grab a drink with the community, we highly recommend Bobby’s Monkey Bar for the refreshing cocktails and inclusive atmosphere. It also has karaoke, so feel free to unleash your inner diva and wow the crowd. The Tipsy Rooster is another great, proudly LGBTQ+-friendly spot thanks to the warm service and house-infused alcohol for drinks. Yelp reviewers sing praises about its jalapeno-infused tequila and strawberry-basil flavored gin.

Thinking of catching a drag show during your vacation? You’ll be spoiled for choice in Key West. Aqua Key West is well-known for its interactive drag shows and DJ dance music, where the Aquanettes perform seven days a week. Bourbon Street Bar has family-friendly drag shows too, but female visitors should note that they won’t be allowed into the back bar – it’s a men’s clothing-optional area that’s connected to a gay men’s resort.

Tampa

Tampa is a safe and affordable destination with many walkable or bikeable hot spots. It also has many solo traveler-friendly experiences.

What To Do & Where To Eat In Tampa

Book a room at the Barrymore Hotel – it has a pool and it’s located right in the heart of the Tampa Riverwalk. Explore the Riverwalk to watch the local birds and fish, go biking, or enjoy al fresco music.

We highly recommend that you visit Ybor City and Tampa Heights, two of Tampa’s most historic neighborhoods. Known as the city’s Latin Quarter, Ybor is home to great live music, museums, and art galleries – the perfect destination for a gay night out! Sports lovers should also check out the Tampa Baseball Museum, a destination that celebrates baseball culture from Little League to Major League.

Must-visits in Tampa Heights include Armature Works, a repurposed warehouse that now hosts a funky food hall and events space. The Waterworks Park along Hillsborough River is also a great spot to catch concerts or go for a stroll.

After a long day out, forget the carb-counting and grab a bite at LGBTQ+-friendly Evos. Visitors recommend ordering a delicious steak burger and air fries. If you want lighter meals and veggie-friendly options, Bamboozle Cafe serves a tasty Vietnamese menu that includes gluten-free and vegan choices.

Hit The Beaches In Tampa

No trip to Tampa is complete without visiting one of its sunny beaches. St. Petersburg’s Sunset Beach is calm, sun-soaked, and far from the party crowd. Grab a blanket and enjoy a beautiful Florida sunset, or go for a swim in the turquoise waves. It’s near other beaches like St. Pete Beach and Upham Beach too, if you want to check out other sandy spots.

Miami

Miami may attract many tourist groups, bachelorette parties, and families, but it’s also a great destination for solo travelers. Its vibrant art scene, beautiful beaches, and great nightlife are unmissable. A hot tip: most affordable accommodations are in the downtown area. They may be a bit farther from the beach, but they’re a lot more budget-friendly.

Haven For LGBTQ+ Travelers

For sun-worshippers, South Beach is a surprisingly solo-friendly stop – and according to many, it still has the best waves! There are many great parties thrown on the shores, as well as a ton of food options if you want to sample the local cuisine. It’s also the heart of the LGBTQ+ scene in Miami! Start your visit at the LGBT Visitor Center there for more great info to plan a solo getaway. In the evening, you can stop by Nathan’s Bar or Twist to drink and dance.

For something different from the usual nightlife spots, check out Bar Gaythering. It’s an old-school bar with saunas and fun events seven days a week, like Trivia Night on Thursdays or Bears and Hares on Fridays. It also has a delicious selection of cocktails on the OG Craft Classics menu – try the zingy Gordon Gingers or the spicy Flinty Caliente!

Historic Districts For Art And Culture

The IG-worthy Wynwood Art District features tons of wall installations with work from some of Miami’s best street artists. Go early to avoid the crowds and take the perfect shot against your favorite pieces. You should also stop by The Rubell Family Collection, one of the world’s largest privately-owned art collections.

When you’re done touring the galleries and checking out the street art, grab a bite at Joey’s Italian Café. One of the first restaurants to serve food in the district, it’s popular for its thin-crust pizza and hearty pasta. Latin music fans and foodies should stop by Estefan Kitchen, a Cuban eatery owned by Miami superstars Gloria and Emilio Estefan.

The district is also home to gay-owned R House Wynwood, famous for its weekend drag brunches. We strongly recommend that you make a reservation if you plan to visit this spot, as its drag brunches frequently sell out!. Enjoy high-quality entertainment from some of Miami’s greatest divas, while treating yourself to R House’s unlimited menu and bottomless drinks.

Another fun, friendly neighborhood to visit is Little Havana, home to incredible Cuban food and cultural attractions. Don’t miss out on visiting the heart of Miami’s Cuban diaspora! We suggest planning your vacation so you can participate in the annual Gay8 Festival, considered the largest Hispanic LGBTQ+ festival in America. Listen to live music at the CubaOcho Museum & Performing Arts Center, or savor sweet Cuban coffee and a Cubano sandwich at Versailles. 

Pensacola

Famous for its stunning beaches and laid-back atmosphere, Pensacola is for solo LGBTQ+ travelers who want all of Florida’s sandy beauty, but less of the party scene.

Mingle With The Community

Pensacola is a very gay-friendly destination in Florida. It’s home to many gay business owners and residents and hosts the largest yearly LGBTQ+ Pride event in the south.

One must-visit for LGBTQ+ vacationers is The Cabaret, known for friendly staff, generous pours, and karaoke. Locals also recommend The Roundup, a judgment-free Pensacola favorite that’s been around since the ‘80s. It has a more relaxed air than your usual gay hotspots, so feel free to chat people up, shoot some pool, or drink beer in this welcoming space.

Sample Tasty Local Dishes

There are plenty of places in Pensacola where you can enjoy comforting fare and fresh local seafood. Tuck into the shellfish at Marina Oyster Barn – its fried oysters and hush puppies are delicious and affordable! Joe Patti’s Seafood Deli is considered a local institution for its market-style dining and take-away options for seafood. Pick from the catch of the day and get them to cook it for you to enjoy right there, or buy some to take home.

If you’re craving Southern food, there’s no better place to be than the Ruby Slipper. This quaint cafe’s Southern-focused menu features signature omelets and comfort food like Sweet Heat Chicken and Breakfast Tacos. Its cocktail menu packs quite a punch, with eye-opening refreshments such as the Morning Margarita and Boozy Iced Coffee.

Bask In The Pensacola Sun

No trip to Pensacola is complete without a day at the beach. Pack your beach blanket and sunscreen and head to Pensacola Beach to soak up the sun. Chill along the gulf side of the beach for picturesque views and calm waters. Pensacola Beach also has several water activities like jet skiing, kayaking, and parasailing!

Looking for a more serene location for lounging in the sand? Pensacola Beach may be the most popular, but locals frequent Perdido Key because it’s more tranquil for swimming and sunbathing. The stretches of sand offer little commercial development but plenty of clean and beautiful sand for a relaxing afternoon.

St. Pete/Clearwater/Dunedin

The neighboring areas of St. Pete, Clearwater, and Dunedin are so close to each other that you can plan a trip that explores all these places! Here are their major attractions.

Visit Local LGBTQ+ Hotspots

LGBTQ+ solo travelers need not fret, as St. Pete and Clearwater are known for being some of the most gay-friendly places in Florida. Clearwater even hosts one of the largest Pride events in the area, and the city of St. Pete consistently gets a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Municipal Equality Index.

Explore St. Pete’s Grand Central District, an area designated as both a national and state Main Street community. It’s home to many LGBTQ+ hotspots, such as gay-owned Punky’s Bar & Grill, which is practically a St. Pete institution. You can also party your blues away or catch a drag show at Enigma, an LGBTQ+ bar in the Edge District.

Seaside Attractions And Activities

Some of Florida’s most famous beaches are found in Clearwater, so pack your swimsuit and get ready to try some of the many water activities here! Ditch the cabs and go for a ride on the Clearwater Beach trolleys. There are three main routes: 

  • The Jolley Trolley services Clearwater Beach seven days a week. Its Coastal Route goes to Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor and Tarpon Springs every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
  • The Beach Trolley will take you to any of the beaches from Clearwater to Pass-a-Grille Beach. 
  • The St. Petersburg Trolley takes you into the downtown areas.

Check out the street performers and musicians at Pier 60. Water babies, on the other hand, should go for some deep-sea fishing, scuba diving, and jet-skiing at Clearwater Beach. After relaxing on the sugar-white sand, grab a bite to eat or shop for souvenirs around Beach Walk.

Must-Sees & Do’s In These Areas

Animal lovers should visit Clearwater Marine Aquarium, which serves as a hospital for sick or injured marine creatures. The aquarium also offers animal encounters and boat tours – we recommend going during weekdays or off-peak hours to avoid the crowds.

Looking for a dinner spot? Locals and seasoned travelers alike always recommend Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill for Florida’s take on Caribbean food, great live music, and refreshing cocktails. You can also grab a drink at one of the many lively bars in Clearwater, like Shephard’s Tiki Beach Bar and Palm Pavilion Beachside.

Just a short distance up north from Clearwater is the artsy community of Dunedin, a creative haven known for its many eclectic art galleries and quaint antique shops. Learn more about the area’s Scottish heritage by visiting the Dunedin Historical Society and Museum. After exploring the area, you can treat yourself to crab cakes at Kelly’s or cheeky martinis at the Chic-a-Boom Room, both LGBTQ+-friendly spots in Dunedin.

Fort Lauderdale

Thanks to an upsurge in gay-owned and gay-friendly establishments, Fort Lauderdale is quickly becoming one of the go-to destinations in Florida for LGBTQ+ travelers. Whether you’re traveling solo or in a group with other community members, you’ll have a grand time hitting the incredible beach spots and nightlife destinations.

Enjoy A Cozy Stay In These Hotels & BnBs

Book one of the many gay-friendly hotels in the area for a cozy stay. The W Hotel is world-famous for providing an inclusive, safe environment, and the one in Fort Lauderdale is the largest in the world. It has over 500 rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and comfy beds – we recommend booking a room with an ocean view. It’s a mixed hotel, so do expect to run into straight groups and families while you’re here. However, it’s also a popular spot for hosting gay events like Drag Brunches and themed parties.

The Pillars Hotel is another highly recommended place to stay because of its gorgeous Art Deco-inspired interiors and beautiful view of the water. Coral Reef Guesthouse, on the other hand, has a homey bed-and-breakfast vibe with only 8 units to stay in, a swimming pool, and a jacuzzi.

Another place to stay that’s near plenty of drinking and dancing venues is the Calypso Inn. This male resort is LGBTQ+-owned and has its own outdoor pool and tanning areas where you can relax with a poolside read. It’s also near Fort Lauderdale’s Museum of Art and The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale Shopping Center!

The Inn On The Drive is another great choice that’s also budget-friendly and located near Wilton Drive. Many visitors have praised its comfy beds and spectacular pool. Don’t be afraid to ask the friendly hosts for suggestions for places to visit or where to eat – they’re more than happy to offer their knowledge of the area to all their guests.

Go For A Dip In Fort Lauderdale’s Beaches

We’d be remiss if we didn’t tell you to chill at Sebastian Street Beach, widely considered the most popular gay beach in the area. Located near the Ritz Carlton Hotel and Fort Lauderdale’s main beaches, it’s a nice spot for basking in the sun with an ice cream cone. Fair warning: it can get pretty crowded on the weekends, especially in the summer.

While Sebastian Street Beach is no longer considered a nude beach, you can drop by Haulover Nude Beach if you want to fly fancy-free. Note that this is considered a family-friendly beach, so you may feel more welcome at the gay section on the northern end of this beach. Whatever your shape or size, there’s no judgment here!

Visit These Spots For Top-Notch Eats

After a day at the beach, drop by Rosie’s Bar and Grill and treat yourself to the delicious, award-winning burgers and cocktails! Sunday brunch is the perfect time to people-watch here solo while enjoying one of its many comforting dishes on the cheekily irreverent “Big Dicts” or “Omelet Porn” brunch menu.

End your trip with dinner and a nightcap at Georgie’s Alibi Monkey Bar, one of the oldest and most well-known gay bars in Fort Lauderdale. Locals sing praises about the kitchen, so order the Champ Burger, Ahi Tuna Nachos, or the homemade potato salad. Afterward, you can catch live Latino music, go wild on the dancefloor, or watch a hilarious drag show while enjoying drinks.

Sarasota

Beach lovers who want to fly solo in an LGBTQ+ environment should plan a trip to Sarasota along the Gulf Coast. It’s home to a small yet cozy and welcoming gay scene, as well as some of the best beaches in the Sunshine State.

LGBTQ+-Friendly Accommodations

Start your vacation here by booking a cozy room near the shores and bars. Turtle Beach Resort near Montego Bay is just a hop and a skip away from Turtle Beach. This oceanfront property has a communal outdoor pool, shady porches, and charming, fully-equipped cottages. For those looking for adults-only accommodations, the Turtle Beach Inn is right next door so you can get some rest and relaxation.

If you want to stay somewhere closer to the city, Hyatt Place Sarasota Lakewood Ranch has over 120 rooms spread over five floors, with king-sized beds and a huge outdoor pool with a hot tub. Online reviewers also praise the spaciousness of the hotel’s 24-hour gym. Don’t forget to treat yourself to the delicious buffet breakfast – one of the highlights of staying in a Hyatt hotel!

Bask In Sugar-White Sand And Calm Waters

Sarasota visitors simply must visit the magnificent Siesta Key, famous for its crystal-clear waters and powdery white sand. Nobody bats an eyelid at LGBTQ+ visitors here, so feel free to frolic in the sun or try one of the different water sports activities here without a care in the world.

Another sandy spot to visit is North Lido. Often called Sarasota’s official gay beach, it offers a much more secluded and private spot to chill amidst other LGBTQ+ folks. With soft dunes, a large forest, and serene waters, it’s a nice place to go for a swim. Do note that it is no longer designated as a nude beach, so keep your swimsuits or trunks on while you’re relaxing here!

Drinks, Dancing, And Nightlife

Looking for fun nightlife spots where you can let your hair down? Make the trip to the city’s oldest gay bar, Purple Rhino. It may not have the most modern interiors, but it’s known for having a homey, welcoming environment and affordable drink prices. It’s also a non-profit bar staffed by volunteers, so tip well and enjoy chatting up members of the community!

If you want to go somewhere with a more dancey crowd, Oasis is your place. This downtown Sarasota spot offers a friendly, safe area where the community can dance until the wee hours of the morning to their favorite pop tunes. Grab drinks at a lower price during Happy Hour from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., then dance with male go-go dancers or catch a drag show!

Book That Solo Trip To Florida

Traveling solo can be a daunting prospect, especially if you’re an LGBTQ+ traveler who may have to leave your comfort zone. But it also offers you a chance to soak up the sights of a destination at your own pace, catered to your own tastes.

Follow our simple guide and keep our recommendations in mind when booking a solo weekend away in Florida. These places and tips will help you enjoy a sun-soaked vacation even if you’re exploring alone!

To learn more regarding the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill click here.

Booking.com

***Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).

Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.

Written by Rachel Covello

Rachel Covello is an award-winning speaker, writer, diversity consultant, and LGBT advocate. She is the Founder of LGBT Equality Alliance, a Chester County, PA nonprofit organization, and CEO of OUTCOAST, an online marketing and concierge platform marketing the Gulf Coast as an LGBTQ-inclusive place to VISIT, CELEBRATE, and LIVE.

Rachel is also an avid event photographer and has captured photos for LGBT organizations around the world, including the IGLTA, NGLCC, NLGJA, and Out & Equal.


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