Gay Key West
This island off the coast of Florida is the southernmost city in the continental United States. This tiny island sits just 100 miles north of Cuba, and is known for its fabulous turquoise waters, tropical foliage and welcoming culture.
For decades, Key West has been considered a place where one can be out, open and welcomed, and where gay visitors quickly embrace the motto, 'One Human Family.' Key West has had a number of openly gay elected officials, a gay chief of police and a rainbow flag flying over City Hall, helping gay locals and visitors alike feel comfortable anywhere on Key West.
VIDEO: Get the inside scoop on gay Key West from one of our Gay Travel Gurus below!
Key West Gay Scene
Key West is an open-minded community that is safe, gay-friendly and relaxed. A longtime tropical playground for the LGBT community, Key West's warm, "come as you are" ambiance is one of the main reasons many gay and lesbian visitors feel more themselves in this subtropical island's gay scene than anyplace else.
In Key West, many guesthouses cater primarily to gay men, lesbians or a combination of the two. They're often private hideaways tucked underneath swaying palms, furnished with island wicker or rattan and museum-quality antiques. It's common to find private pools, private beaches as well as clothing-optional sunning decks. Many establishments offer suites or apartments, perfect for a group of friends.
On Key West, you can find drag shows, gay and lesbian fishing excursions, gay pool parties, and a number of award-winning gay-owned and managed cafes and restaurants. It's easy to understand why Key West locals adopted their whimsical motto: "Close to perfect, far from normal."
Key West is a great place to grab an outstanding meal, with an impressive selection of award-winning restaurants on this small island. Eat authentic Cuban fare at El Sibony in Old Town, oysters at Hog's Breath Saloon, key lime pie at Kermit's, and a home-brewed beer at Kelly's Caribbean Bar, Grill & Brewery, owned by actress Kelly McGillis of Top Gun. The restaurants are all gay-friendly and a few of them are gay-owned and operated as well.
Winner of the 2016 Diners' Choice Award, this gay-friendly restaurant is a unique way to relax and enjoy life's simple pleasures. The chefs at Bagatelle have combined their French heritage with Southern hospitality and the indigenous tastes of the Florida Keys to create their mouth-watering menu. Bagatelle features locally caught seafood and delicious tropical fruits for truly unique flavors.
The Flaming Buoy is a Key West restaurant and wine bar located on a residential street where all are welcome. Enjoy the fresh fish, lobster, bacon-wrapped scallops, and mashed sweet potatoes. A Key West dining experience!
This one-of-a-kind restaurant serves Mediterranean-style dishes infused with traditional Italian ingredients. Stop by for a hearty breakfast or brunch, lunch on their al-fresco dining patio, or an intimate dinner in their newly renovated dining room.
Antonia's is a local treasure, serving homemade Italian cuisine cooked fresh to order. The elegant location on Duval Street feels quaint and removed. Locals and visitors alike savor the homemade sauces, fresh seafood, and succulent steaks and chops, not to mention the award-winning wine list.
Dancing, dining and debauchery can all be found in Key West's gay nightlife.
The legendary 801 has been a part of the Gay Key West landscape for over 30 years. Enjoy the downstairs bar or the upstairs nightly cabaret that features the largest drag house on the island.
Bobby's Monkey Bar
An incredibly fun gay bar and a local favorite watering hole. This place serves strong drinks and has great karaoke.
Aqua is considered the premier place for a good drag show in Florida. Definitely, check this place out if you enjoy a good laugh and great entertainment.
*LGBT-owned Bourbon Street Pub
This bar features a disco area, bar-top dancers, videos, live singers, a clothing optional pool, jacuzzi, and garden bar with sundecks open to the public. They also have the only all-male guesthouse on Key West, the New Orleans House!
Gay-Friendly Activities & Destinations
It's easy to be entertained in Key West. On your first visit, you might spend all day just wandering historic Old Town and joining the nightly street carnival at Mallory Square sunsets.
Tropic Cinema supports independent films and filmmakers, and screens historically important, experimental and avant-garde art films.
A great place for snorkeling, fishing or enjoying the sunset, Higg's Beach also happens to be one of the most populated gay beaches on Key West. Slather on your sunscreen and enjoy the eye candy!
While taking in the pier and Martello Towers, stop at the Key West Wildlife Center for a stroll along their nature trail to catch a glimpse of local wading birds. The free center is located across the street in a 7-acre park with a freshwater pond and wildlife rehabilitation center.
No literary buff would pass up the chance to visit one of America's greatest author's homes. Enjoy a guided tour of Hemingway's home and gardens, but be careful not to trip over one of the 40 to 50 six-toed cats living on the museum grounds. It's believed that the cats are descendants of Hemingway's six-toed cat named Snow White, and they enjoy leisurely lives at the Hemingway Museum today.
Local Tips, Tricks & News
The best way to get into town is the Key West International Airport. There are also various nearby mainland airports that are accessible via car. Driving and parking in Key West tends to be expensive, but the city is easily walkable and you can also rent a bicycle, moped or golf cart.
There are plenty of walking tours you can join in Key West to learn about the history of this quaint island village. If you're on a budget, skip the group tour and embark on your own self-guided tour using the printable Pelican Path Self-Guided Tour of Key West to learn the stories behind 51 historic buildings on the island.
Key West has a number of gay clothing-optional resorts for those looking for a little relaxation and a lot of fun. Check out Island House or Equator Resort for a great experience surrounded by gay travelers.
Related Blog Posts
The Gay Scene in Key West
Beyond its idyllic location and tropical beauty, Key West’s warm, “come as you are” ambiance is one of the main reasons for the island’s popularity among gay and lesbian visitors, and the strength of the local gay scene as well.