Florida's leading gay and lesbian vacation destination on the Gulf of Mexico, the St. Petersburg region comprises a downtown fringing Tampa Bay that's undergone a significant renaissance as well as a string of eclectic - and often historic - waterfront communities from quaint Pass-A-Grille to artsy Gulfport to the tony resort of Clearwater Beach. Host each June to St. Petersburg Gay Pride, the largest in the state, the area is home to a diverse mix of gay-Friendly lodging choices, from grand hotels to elegant B&Bs, plus Florida's largest gay resort. Here's a look at some of the best places to stay.
Like the slightly less elaborate Vinoy in downtown St. Petersburg, this wedding cake of a building is painted in creamy pink, was built in the 1920s, has hosted numerous dignitaries and celebs, and fronts the water - in this case, the Gulf of Mexico. Like the Vinoy, the venerable Don Cesar also felt into a state of abandonment (after serving as a VA building) and was nearly torn down but has been beautifully renovated and now ranks among the region's most luxurious resorts. This turreted beauty is set along a stunning swath of sugary sand in St. Pete Beach and has oodles of amenities: a substantial spa, excellent indoor and outdoor restaurants. It's also very close to St. Petersburg's gay beach, on Treasure Island as well as the charming village of Gulfport, with its inviting bars and restaurants.
Similar in style to the small men's resorts in Key West and Fort Lauderdale, this 1920s house in historic Kenwood - a short drive from several popular gay bars and restaurants in the Grand Central District - has both long-term and overnight accommodations. Rates are reasonable, and all the more so if you stay for a week or longer, and rooms are home-y and cheerfully decorated, with some opening directly to the clothing-optional pool. Other amenities include a six-person hot tub, dry sauna, and exercise room, and rates include Continental breakfast as well as an evening happy hour. Host Brian Longstreth is very active in promoting St. Petersburg as a gay destination and can provide plenty of advice on what to see and do nearby.
Steps from the several cool restaurants and shops (as well as the gay bar Kelly's/Blur) in charming downtown Dunedin, this eight-room property is a perfect base if you're staying in the northern reaches of greater St. Petersburg - it's close to Clearwater Beach, and also a pretty easy drive from downtown Tampa. A big advantage here is that each room or suite has a private entrance, ensuring plenty of privacy - and the tree-shaded grounds include a pool, gazebo, and orchid garden. Rooms at this GLBT favorite have porches or balconies, well-chosen art and antiques (themes range from Art Deco to Southwest to contemporary), and - in two suites - full kitchens. Breakfast is an impressive feast
This beautiful hip-roofed 1923 house overlooking Boca Ciega Bay and - across the water - St. Pete Beach, is one of the most inviting of the area's B&Bs, and it's definitely the ideal accommodation if you want to be in the heart of artsy, eclectic Gulfport. The trendy dining and gallery scene along Beach Boulevard as well as Gulfport's beach and fishing pier all lie within a few minutes' walk from the GLBT-friendly Sea Breeze, which contains six warmly decorated suites (some are in the main building, some in adjacent cottages). There's plenty of room to spread out, as each unit has a separate sitting area as well as a patio or balcony - rates include full breakfast as well as snacks and refreshments. It's a terrific property, inside and out.