With the holidays just around the corner, a lot of people are probably going to take advantage of the great travel deals and paid vacation time they get through work to either go home or venture to a new hot-spot they’ve recently discovered.
For LGBT people, finding the right destination can be difficult: is that particular location accepting? Are its residents friendly? Will I be able to afford my vodka soda at the club (if one even exists for queer people)?
If you’re tired of P-Town and Fire Island, and hoping to go somewhere OTHER than San Francisco and New Orleans this year, you might want to consider the following ten places for your gaycation.
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
Named by the Advocate as the gayest city in America, this metropolitan area’s North Loop neighborhood is brimming with queer people and features a number of cool establishments designed for this specific clientele. A quick Google search will pull up a webpage telling you all about the “gay scene,” which includes drag performances, theatrical productions, and themed-nights at local bars.
Palm Springs, California
Located roughly 100 miles away from Los Angeles, this sunny locale seems tailor-made for LGBT travelers looking to enjoy some R&R. In fact, the city boasts two clothing-optional resorts, each designed for specific genders: Escape Resort for the men, and Casitas Laquita for the ladies. And if you’re looking to stay active outdoors, Palm Springs has several options, especially if you’re open to biking around.
St. Petersburg, Florida
Perhaps tired of losing queer dollars to places like Orlando (home of Gay Days at Walt Disney World) and Key West, this coastal city has a vibrant downtown scene, great nightlife options, and a neighborhood dedicated to showcasing its artistic community. It’s also home to the state’s largest Pride event, which is probably why it has so many pro-LGBT hotels.
As someone who spent four years living in Austin during his collegiate years, I’ve seen first-hand just how great the Texas capital is for queer visitors. If you’re in the mood to dance off that finger-licking-good barbecue you ate earlier, visit one of the gay clubs on 4th Street, including Oil Can Harry’s. With a couple gay-friendly hotels located downtown and an unrivaled music scene that would make a fan out of any wallflower, you’re sure to be in good hands, y’all.
Travel + Leisure recently named Portland the No. 7 best city for gay travel, just one spot ahead of its northwestern sister town Seattle. Aside from being very environmentally-conscious, this hipster mecca is quite progressive on all political fronts. It’s also home to the Crystal Room, a former gay bar/bathhouse that has 51 rooms. So book ‘em while you can!
If you’re looking for inclusive theaters, businesses, and art galleries outside the continental U.S., then a trip to Toronto may be in your best interest. With famed gayborhood The Village thriving, Toronto continues to house Canada’s largest LGBT population. This week alone, there are almost a dozen queer events taking place city-wide, proving that you don’t need to wait until Pride to visit.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
A buddy of mine just got back from Puerto Rico and had nothing but great stories to share about his gay hotel experience and his time drinking the night away at one of a handful of San Juan’s LGBT bars. The island also boasts a gay beach at nearby Condado. Oh, and I’m sure the weather doesn’t hurt either, so pack as many swimsuits as possible!
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
If we’re sticking with a Latino theme here, many travelers are happy to suggest this Mexican staple that is oftentimes referred to as the “San Francisco of Mexico” because it openly embraces LGBT patrons. There’s a gay resort, a gay cruise, and a gay bar-hopping tour that you can certainly take advantage of, not to mention the mouth-watering authentic cuisine.
The financially-plagued country has at least one thriving section, which happily welcomes thousands of LGBT people (particularly gay men) each season. With inclusive accommodations, incredible beaches, pristine water, and delectable eats, this island getaway, though pricier than most, would not disappoint the deep-pocketed traveler.
Not only did Iceland have an openly lesbian head of state for four years, Reykjavik’s former mayor routinely marched in that city’s LGBT Pride Parade until he left office. With spectacular views, unique topography, amazing wildlife, and outrageous natural wonders, this could be the surprise destination you didn’t even know you were looking for. Also, look into Pink Iceland—it could be helpful!