Sunset Beach, Florida, Is an LGBT Oasis—Here's How to Get There

Sunset Beach parking lot

TripSavvy / Andrew Collins

Any beach in Florida is a good beach, arguably, but there's one that's especially popular among the LGBT community. Sunset Beach, Florida, has long been dubbed "the gay beach" by locals. And when you arrive, it's easy to see why.

The LGBT community adores Tampa Bay for its abundance of gay beaches, lesbian hangouts, and drag queens. In the center of it all, there's St. Pete, as it's been affectionately nicknamed, which hosts Florida's largest Pride festival each June.

About 250,000 people flood into this Florida neighborhood every summer for a celebration that could rival Pride fests in most cities. It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, then, that St. Petersburg is also home to perhaps the most gay-popular beach on the Gulf.

Here, visitors are free to unravel their rainbow towels along the white sand coastline without judgement. Sundays, in particular, are the best time to visit for those interested in free jello shots and DJed dance parties.

This is like the Las Vegas Strip with a Pride theme. Are you intrigued?

No trip to Pinellas County would be complete without a stopover at Sunset Beach, so make your way to the southern tip of Treasure Island if only for a frozen margarita and live music at the beloved Ka'Tiki Beach Bar.

It isn't the easiest sliver of coastline to find, however, so follow these directions and you'll be lounging with a rainbow umbrella-topped Mai Tai in no time.

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Getting to Sunset Beach from St. Petersburg

The Tern Parking Lot, at Sunset Beach
Andrew Collins

Sunset Beach is about a 20- to 30-minute drive from Downtown St. Petersburg and rest assured it's worth the short detour. Start by heading west on Central Avenue for 9 miles through Historic Kenwood and the Grand Central District (which is also home to many of St. Petersburg's best gay bars, including Punky's Bar & Grill and The Queens Head). Then, cross the Causeway to Treasure Island and take Gulf Boulevard (Highway 699) south.

You'll find a metered parking lot just north of the Mansions by the Sea condo tower.

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Parking at Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach gay beach
Andrew Collins

The parking area with the easiest access to this section of Sunset Beach is called the Tern Parking Lot. There are plenty of metered spaces here, but it can get crowded on weekends, so plan your visit accordingly.

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Getting to the Beach from the Parking Lot

Sunset Beach stairs
Andrew Collins

From the Tern Parking Lot, you'll find the Sunset Beach Scenic Boardwalk to your left. You'll pass through one of several wooden crossover boardwalks before being spit out onto the sugary sand.

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Finding the Gay Section of Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach gay beach
Andrew Collins

Once your toes are submerged in sand, walk north along the beach. This is where the LGBT folks congregate. Treat yourself to a cocktail upon arrival.

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