Every summer, New Times picks the best restaurants, bars, shops, and more that make Miami the bizarrely fascinating city it is. While you'll have to wait until June 13 to find out the winners, several local tastemakers have chimed in with their own Best of Miami picks.
This week, one of the most prominent players in Miami's queer nightlife scene, Miss Toto, reveals her favorites. In addition to being full-time fabulous, Miss Toto is also a nationally qualified bodybuilder, personal trainer, and postgraduate marine-science researcher. Last year, New Times crowned her Best Drag Queen for Best of Miami 2018, and while she recently left the Magic City for the Windy City, she still makes frequent trips south for some much-needed sand and sun.
Here are Miss Toto's Best of Miami picks.
12th Street Beach, Miami Beach
Whether you are gay or not, 12th Street gay beach is the place to go. Depending on the time of day, you can experience the beach in many ways. During the week, days here are super relaxed with people laying out and lounging. On the weekends, it's a full party with people playing music, dancing, and enjoying the company of their group. Whenever people visit Miami, I always take them to 12th Street Beach because I feel like that area gives the best range of what South Beach has to offer. It is in a perfect location for a pre- or postbeach drink with ample parking, shops, and restaurants around. This beach has become a classic for locals and tourists alike.
Equinox South Beach
520 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
The SoBe vibe runs rampant in the Equinox South Beach, with the windows allowing all of that beach lighting in and the buzz of energy that naturally exists in the club from all of the people. Not only is the gym aesthetically pleasing, but the recent updates make it so much better. It was the first Equinox in Florida so it has a very quintessential SoBe vibe that cannot be matched. The staff, the amenities, and the general location make this the best spot to work out.
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Best LGBTQ Night
Double Stubble at Gramps
176 NW 24th St., Miami
Double Stubble has become a Wynwood staple as far as LGBTQ nightlife goes. This weekly Thursday party at Gramps, hosted and curated by DJ Hottpants, has diverse talent that spans the whole drag spectrum, including drag queens, kings, things, and anything in between! The performers range from new to seasoned and the community that comes out to Double Stubble loves and supports it all. The show starts at 10 p.m. but you can get there a little late. But as DJ Hottpants says, the second set is on "gringo time," so you definitely need to be on time for the 11:30 p.m. set.
Best Drag Performer
Elishaly is the best drag performer in Miami hands down. With her insane acrobatics, flexibility, rhythm, body awareness, and overall stage presence, she has gone viral multiple times. You can find her performing all over the city — even hanging from tour buses in front of the iconic bar the Palace, and dropping into a split right on the road. As Miss Miami Beach Gay Pride 2018, she did her job and then some. If you haven't had the chance to see Elishaly in person, do yourself a favor and get to a show. You won't regret it.
If you want to take a break from the high-energy, fast-paced vibe of Vice City, do yourself a favor and head to Key Largo. It's approximately an hour to an hour and a half from Miami with a beautiful drive down, so it seems like it takes no time at all. There's a plethora of activities to do there like snorkeling, scuba, jet skiing, paddleboarding, and even swimming with dolphins. If water activities aren't your thing, the Keys has the best seafood and locations for general relaxation to unplug and unwind. If you can find the time to take a day to recharge, get yourself to the Keys and I'm sure you'll find something to do.
Now it's your turn: Head over to readerschoice.miaminewtimes.com and nominate your favorite restaurant, shops, and bars for Best of Miami 2019. Hurry, you have until before May 3 to submit your picks. The finalists will be announced on May 6.