There is just something magical about Key West, maybe it’s the tourists (I doubt it), maybe it’s the sea and the sun, or maybe it’s the fact that it’s the southernmost point in the continental US that makes it a bastion for the “anything goes” crowd. It’s the end of the road, the farthest south you can drive in this country, so Key West is like no other place in the states. For years, Key West was the gay place to go in Florida. Before South Beach, Wilton Manors, and Ybor began to welcome the LGBT crowd…
There is just something magical about Key West, maybe it’s the tourists (I doubt it), maybe it’s the sea and the sun, or maybe it’s the fact that it’s the southernmost point in the continental US that makes it a bastion for the “anything goes” crowd. It’s the end of the road, the farthest south you can drive in this country, so Key West is like no other place in the states. For years, Key West was the gay place to go in Florida. Before South Beach, Wilton Manors, and Ybor began to welcome the LGBT crowd, Key West welcomed us, as if we were family. Although it’s become a much more mainstream place to visit with added flights to the airport and expansion of the famous Route 1, the small island still attracts a sizable gay crowd, on a weekly basis. If you are looking to stay in the US, to have some uninhibited fun, to “let your hair down” and have a gay old time, Key West is definitely the place for you.
What makes Key West extra special is the fact that so many of the businesses cater to the gay community. It’s really like no place on earth because it’s such a small town, yet there are many gay bars, gay owned restaurants, adventure companies, a gay beach, and a moving monument to our brothers and sisters who have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS.
As I am sure you already know, it’s Pride Season and Key West celebrates in grand style with 5 sun filled days of pride activities from June 5-9. Below you will find out all you need to know about the pride activities as well as where to stay, where to eat, and what else you might like to do while you are in town. Before I tell you all about pride, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the other festivals that gather thousands of visitors to the island. Fantasy Fest and Tropical Heat are classic Key West Parties and you definitely don’t want to miss them.
Fantasy Fest 2013 October 18- 27th
Originally conceptualized in 1978, this festival takes place around Halloween every year, and has really helped to kick off the start of the tourist season on the Island. Every year, Hotels and restaurants are booked solid during this 10 day festival of hedonism, debauchery, and costumes in pure Key West style. This year’s theme is Superheroes, Villains and Beyond . Book your hotel reservations ASAP because they are sure to sell out, especially during the weekends. For more information including a full schedule of events, visit www.fantasyfest.com
Tropical Heat August 15-18
This all-male event includes intriguingly decadent adult parties ranging from adult themed parties, fetish dance parties, clothing-optional pool parties and snorkeling trips, and more. See Key West in a way few people ever do, but only if you can stand the heat! For a list of parties and events, check out www.tropicalheatkw.com
Key West Gay Pride
Street Fair, Pride Parade, Pool Parties, Dance Parties, Sunset Sails, Comedy, Film and so much more! All set on a tropical island that is legendary for its laid back style and its open and accepting atmosphere. Make sure your first stop when you hit the island is the Gay Key West Visitor Center, where you can get your official Pride Guides, T-Shirts, Gay Key West Maps, One Human Family stickers, sponsor info, and more! 9:00 AM 5:00 PM -513 Truman Avenue
I am only including one event each day, but there are tons of things happening this week. Please visit www.KeyWestPride.org for a full list of what to do. Since I am limited on space, I have just included my favorite events. Hope to see you there.
Wednesday June 5
Miss Key West Pride at 801
Pride meets Glitz and Glam in this 16th annual competition between drag queens based on looks, talent, and of course, personality! Contestants are limited to men dressed as women. Entries Welcome Night of Event. Later, let Sushi & the 801 “Girls” welcome you to Key West Pride and to their home, The 801 Cabaret. This show is filled with comedy and a little naughty fun so bring your friends and your dollars upstairs and discover the largest Drag House on the island. Contact Brad @ 305.731.9055. All Adults Welcome.
8:01 PM -12:31 AM 801 Bar – Cabaret | 801 Duval Street
Thursday June 6
Sunset Watersports Moonlight Tea Dance
Cruise the nighttime tropical waters of Key West aboard a 64′ Gold Coast Yacht, two levels with a clothing optional deck. You can dance the night away! Price includes unlimited draft beer, wine, champagne, and appetizers. Call 305-296-2554 for reservations. Men Only.
10:00 PM 12:00 AM Sunset Watersports | 201 William Street
Friday June 7
Fury’s Key West Pride Ultimate Adventure
Sailing, snorkeling, jet skiing, parasailing, kayaking, water slide, water trampoline and water toys! Breakfast, Lunch, Beer, Wine & Sodas included. Departs from the Historic Seaport @ 613 Greene St. Call 305.294.8899 to purchase tickets
10:00 AM 4:00 PM Historic Key West Seaport | 613 Greene St
Saturday June 8
Key West Pride 2013 Street Fair
Visit the shops, bars, and restaurants of the 700 and 800 blocks of Gay Key West while shopping with street vendors for jewelry, art, gifts, and more!
10:00 AM 7:00 PM Key West Pride Street Fair | 700 Duval Street
Sunday June 9
Key West Pride Parade 2012
Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the “Sea to Sea Diversity Flag”, we take to the streets with this colorful and exuberant celebration of community. Gilbert Baker, creator of the original Rainbow Flag, serves as Grand Marshall.
5:00 PM 7:00 PM Duval Street | 100 – 1200 Duval Street
Island House –Gay Owned and operated with an all-male staff, this guest house is clothing optional and has been voted one of the best gay resorts in the country time and time again. Book early, especially during Fantasy Fest, Tropical Heat, and Gay Pride.
1129 Fleming Street|www.islandhousekeywest.com
Casa Marina Resort and Beach Club-Opened on New Year’s Eve of 1920, Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, is a flawless merging of old Key West ambiance and contemporary luxury. Immerse yourself in a restful haven where emerald lawns meet a blue Atlantic
1500 Reynolds Street| www.casamarinaresort.com
The Palms Key West Guesthouse- A landmark in the historic old town district, The Palms captures the romance and charming atmosphere of this tropical island city.
820 White St| www.palmshotelkeywest.com
Santiago’s Bodega- This tapas style restaurant is a must visit on your trip to Key West. Their motto is “Bringing Tapas to the People” and they sure do deliver. Start things off right with a jar of sangria, and let the feast begin. The highlights of their menu include some Spanish staples like lentil soup, shrimp and chorizo, and rack of lamb. Make sure you save room for dessert, the bread pudding is to die for, and I am not exaggerating.
207 Petronia Street|http://www.santiagosbodega.com/
Azur Restaurant AZUR is a must on your list of innovative-chef restaurants in Key West. Must haves from the appetizer menu are artichokes served with roasted red peppers and the salt cod and potato croquettes. From the dinner menu, I recommend the Yellow Tail Snapper. It was delish. Azure is open for breakfast and lunch as well.
425 Grinnell Street|www.azurkeywest.com/
Croissants De France- Do yourself a favor and stop by Croissants De France for breakfast and have one (three or four) of their delicious fresh baked pastries. Wash it down with a cup of deliciously brewed café au lait, or stick with an American brew, just don’t skip this amazing bakery. If you are in the mood, they are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Try the
816 Duval Street |croissantsdefrance.com/
Moped Hospital- This gay friendly scooter and bike rental shop offers some of the lowest prices on the island. One of the first things you will notice as you arrive on the island is the abundance of Mopeds (scooters). They are by far the easiest way to get around while you stay in Key West, and they are relatively inexpensive as well.
601 Truman Ave. | www.mopedhospital.com
Blu Q – No gay trip to Key West would be complete without a trip on the blu q. This all male, clothing optional catamaran will sail you out into the beautiful blue waters of the Atlantic and have you in the water in no time at all. Most cruises include lunch as well as beer and wine. They offer Snorkel, Kayaking, Island Adventures, Sunset Sails, and Dolphin Watching. Boats leave from Bight Marina
201 William St| www.bluqkeywest.com
Sunset- Mallory Square Dock- Each night, find arts and crafts exhibitors, street performers, food carts, psychics, and of course the thousands of tourists. The crowd begins to swell two hours before sunset as everyone flocks to the water’s edge to experience a multicultural happening and to watch the sun sink into the Gulf of Mexico.
400 Wall St| www.mallorysquare.com
Some other activities include The Key West Light House, The Hemingway House, and The Little White House that Harry Truman called home away from home while he was president. There are so many activities that there is just not enough room, but you can find a lot more information at www.gaykeywestfl.com