Now that winter has brought snowy or freezing weather to many U.S. locations, I’ve been reminding my friends and family how they too can enjoy the far warmer atmosphere of Key West. Some of my favorite words of wisdom/encouragement for them include, “It’s never been easier to visit the Keys.” Also, “Come on; I know you SO want to swap your heavy winter clothes for shorts and tank tops.”

Key West LGBT pool

Photographer Mike Freas (foreground) captures guests chilling around the pool at Key West’s centrally located New Orleans House.

While my northern friends are digging out their winter coats (and most likely some snow from their driveways), I may have accidentally sent them a couple of recent beach and/or pool party pics (my bad — sorry, guys).

This season, the Florida Keys & Key West have already welcomed countless visitors eager to escape the throes of wintertime and bask in our sunshine. In addition to our pleasant winter temps, the Keys offer scenic wide-open spaces perfect for social distancing, solitude and outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, snorkeling and paddling. Not to mention all our incredible restaurants with spacious outdoor seating!

And in case you haven’t heard, Tripadvisor recently named Key West among the five most popular domestic visitor destinations in its 2022 Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best awards.

Now you might be saying, “Okay, Greg, you got me. I’m all in — but where should I stay”?

Island House offers guests 24-hour food and beverage service as well as world-renowned accommodations. (Photo courtesy of Island House)

Well, Key West just happens to have five amazing LGBTQ-oriented lodging options with lots of extras in store for guests. Also, FYI, they’ve remained focused on COVID safety while still maintaining our island’s laid-back state of mind.

Among the LGBTQ properties is the award-winning 34-room clothing-optional all-male Equator Resort at 822 Fleming St., featuring two pools and wide sundecks, loungers, whirlpools and a Tiki bar. The lovely property in the heart of Old Town is just three blocks from historic Duval Street (very walkable) and offers a private tropical setting with five historic buildings — each containing unique rooms with island and pool views.

The world-renowned Island House Resort at 1129 Fleming St. offers an unprecedented 24/7 access to its facilities even for non-hotel guests. The all-male clothing-optional island oasis features 24-hour food and beverage service, a pool, Jacuzzis, saunas, a gym and over-the-top pool parties on Wednesdays and Sundays. The resort is currently offering a fabulous promotion where, when you stay four nights this winter, you receive three complimentary nights next summer (blackout dates and restrictions apply). Also, be sure to ask about the special prices for active and retired military and past guests.

Alexander’s features distinctively decorated guestrooms and a welcoming happy hour. (Photo courtesy of Alexander’s)

The New Orleans House at 724 Duval St. (conveniently located in the center of the Pink Triangle entertainment district) is a male-only guesthouse with a full-service Tiki bar, Jacuzzi, pool, gym and spacious sundeck. The 14 guest rooms underwent extensive renovations in 2020 and feature new bedding and flooring. Also, owner Joseph Schroeder just announced plans for a 2022-24 expansion and renovation of the guesthouse’s outdoor venues, including a new men’s sauna and private club.

The 17-room Alexander’s Guesthouse is an LGBTQ property that also welcomes friends of the LGBTQ community that are age 21 or older. Located at 1118 Fleming St., the property has three levels of sundecks, a Jacuzzi and a pool dubbed the “social hub” — perfect for mingling with guests and making new friends. It’s also a great place to enjoy the scrumptious expanded continental breakfast. And be sure to check out the daily 5-6 p.m. happy hours at their Pink Monkey Bar. Summer promotions include an ongoing frequent-stay guest rewards program.

“We will be offering special prices to U.S. military, fire, police and healthcare workers, active and retired, all year long,” said general manager Laura Zequeira. “We are so grateful for their service.”

Key West La Te Da

La Te Da offers accommodation and entertainment with a true  Key West flair. (Photo courtesy of La Te Da)

Last but not least, the all-welcome age-21-and-over La Te Da at 1125 Duval St. incorporates a well-appointed 15-room hotel, restaurant and bar with stylish poolside dining, piano bar and live entertainment with cabaret-style shows.

I’m elated to announce the property’s famed entertainment offerings, including Christopher Peterson’s  EYECONS show and the “Randy Roberts Live” performances, are back and better than ever!

Please note that many Florida Keys accommodations have been at or near capacity, so booking in advance is highly recommended. Explore the possibilities now — and treat yourself to some well-deserved warmth this winter!

Click here to subscribe to the Florida Keys & Key West’s LGBTQ travel blog.