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Gay Sarasota: A living proof that size doesn’t matter
Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, this small city of some 50,000 residents is full of surprises – from its beautiful beaches, enchanting art scene, and good restaurants to its eclectic gay community.
An art-oriented city, with lots of writers, musicians, artists, and open-minded people living here, Sarasota has a rather impressive LGBT concentration for a city of its size. A Sarasota mainstay is the LGBT bowling league, League of Our Own. During their charity tournaments, more than 400 gay men and lesbians bowl in nothing but boxer shorts to raise money for charity.
Although Sarasota’s gay scene isn’t as expansive as that in larger coastal cities, it’s certainly blooming. A growing number of gay-friendly restaurants, bars, clubs, and shops bloom in downtown Sarasota. During the night, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and straight owls storm the streets looking for a good time.
Besides the vibrant nightlife, Sarasota is filled with museum, art galleries, restaurants, and shops. At St. Armand Circle, for example, you can find anything you want, from furniture to beachwear and antiques. Sarasota’s pride events attract thousands of people annually.
Sarasota Pride strives, with every event, to promote the elimination of prejudice and discrimination and the defense of human and civil rights. The event takes place every year in May and attracts thousands of people from all around the country.
O’Leary’s Tiki Bar & Grill
An exceptional Tiki bar in a great location, O’Leary’s serves wonderful tropical drinks and a wide selection of beer and wine. The venue is open daily, from 8AM to 11PM and hosts live music performances every night.
Throb is a gay owned and operated nightclub on Industrial Blvd. and a staple of Sarasota’s gay scene. A large space, elegantly decorated, with comfortable seating areas, pool tables, a large dance floor, and a performance stage, Throb is definitely worth checking out.
Nested in the heart of downtown area, Ivory Lounge is considered one of Sarasota’s best nightclubs. With a glamorous setting, state-of-the-art lighting and a selection of top hip-hop and electronic hits, Ivory Lounge attracts an eclectic crowd every night. Various theme nights take place throughout the week, but it’s their Cream Thursdays that attract a predominantly gay clientele.
Cream is, perhaps, the best gay and lesbian night in whole downtown Sarasota. Their theme parties, drag shows, and high-end cocktails attract a younger crowd, making it one of the best entertainment establishments in the city. The event takes place every Thursday and is hosted by The Ivory Lounge.
Gay Guy Happy Hours, or G2H2, takes place the first Thursday of every month at a new location throughout Sarasota. Check out their website to find out which beach-front bar, trendy restaurant, or hip lounge will be the host of the next G2H2 event.
Modern Peruvian flavors meet contemporary Tapas at this Spanish and Peruvian restaurant from downtown Sarasota. Formed through the merger of Maemi Peruvian Cuisine and Sangria Tapas Bar, Jalea is now Sarasota’s go-to place for authentic Latin-cuisine. The restaurant is open 7 days a week and serves a wide selection of meat, seafood, soups, salads, and tapas.
Louis Modern, Sarasota’s newest dining hotspot, is a family-friendly and gay-friendly restaurant, serving advanced dishes prepared with contemporary techniques. They take pride in using only the freshest, top-quality ingredients to create inventive dishes and to offer a unique dining experience.
Selva serves everything from Latin food to American cuisine, but their emphasis is on Peruvian dishes. Praised by the New York Times as one of Sarasota’s best restaurants, Selva’s offers an innovative and diverse menu, appealing to every tastes and desire. Check out their famous ceviches de la casa or try they rich selection of appetizer entradas.
Ocean Blues Sarasota
Located in Southside Village, Ocean Blues Sarasota is a local favorite dining and live music venue. Whether you are in the mood for a light lunch, a full-course dinner, or just a few beers with friends, Ocean Blues is the place to go.
Sarasota Film Festival
The Sarasota Film Festival is dedicated to celebrate the art of filmmaking and the contribution of filmmakers. The film fest is held every year in April and screens almost 200 films including documentaries, features, shorts, and kid-friendly picks.
Harvey Milk Festival
Harvey Milk Festival is a celebration dedicated to the life of Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay Americans elected to public office. The festival takes place annually, mid-May, and features a variety of attractions including live music, film, performing, and visual artists, speakers, and vendors designed to engage a large and diverse audience.
C’est La Vie
If you are looking for an authentic French experience in America, C’est la Vie is the place to go. Set in a chic environment in downtown Sarasota, this French bistro offers delicious specialties like quiche, crepes, croissants, and fresh sandwiches.
Ziti offers a unique dining experience that blends Italian, American, and Asian cuisine in a creative manner. An upscale restaurant and lounge, Ziti is lively and refreshing and consistently leaves patrons with a good impression.
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse
The generous hospitality and mellow atmosphere may be an important part of Fleming’s popularity, but their steaks are the real superstars. In addition to their fantastic steaks, they also have an exceptional selection of wines.
With a Southern French- and Mediterranean-inspired flavors, Mozaic offers a cuisine that is adventurous, yet familiar. A blend of flavors, spices, ingredients, and cultures, Mozaic attracts a mosaic of guests, from almost every culture, race, age, or sexual orientation, and welcomes each one of them with its arms open.
Florida Underwater Sports
Florida Underwater Sports offer scuba diving, scuba equipment, dive gear, and other gears for your diving needs. A friendly and professional staff will assist you, helping you find the right gear for the right price. They also offer scuba classes.
High Noon Guns
High Noon Guns is a full service gun shop catering to gun enthusiasts. Their shop on Bee Ridge Road features a huge selection of handguns, rifles and shotguns, ammunition, accessories, gun safe, and some branded apparels, including hats and T-shirts.
Located in Sarasota's hottest dining, in Southside Village, Pacific Rim is a restaurant that specializes in Japanese and Thai fusion cuisine. Famous for their delicious selection of sushi and for their relaxing atmosphere, Pacific Rim is a dining experience that one must have when visiting Sarasota.
Verona Restaurant at Ritz
The restaurant at Ritz Carlton’s hotel offers a fresh new take on coastal cuisine and handcrafted cocktails. Catering to upscale customers, the restaurant stands out as a hip eatery with a relaxed environment.
Sarasota manages to satisfy every taste and need – from leather daddy joints to sports bars and go-go boys/girls trendy venues, there is something for everyone. So, what’s the best gay hot spot in Sarasota?