Destinations appeal to LGBT travelers for a big colorful rainbow array of reasons. But most of all, gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual folks, like most travelers, want to enjoy welcoming, safe places. Some may prefer a busy metropolis with lots of restaurants and cultural choices. Others may favor active outdoor time or quiet beaches. Some may just want to visit a city they’ve not yet explored.
Though there are plenty of fabulous cities eager to welcome LGBT travelers, here’s a look at five U.S. cities where queer travelers can find something special — from history, to cool gay- or lesbian-owned businesses, to LGBT enclaves where easygoing attitudes and a certain joie de vivre are what matter most.
There are always good reasons for gay travelers to visit and revisit America’s greatest city. (Why yes, I am a proud New Yorker!) One of the biggest is that Greenwich Village is now America’s official gay-rights epicenter, since last year the National Parks Service designated Stonewall National Monument as the first national landmark to LGBT rights. But in the diverse, welcoming city that is New York, travelers will find themselves welcome around all five boroughs — each of which, by the way, has its own Pride celebration.
Several Florida cities could get the spotlight for their strong LGBT communities — we’re talking about you, Key West and St. Petersburg — but Fort Lauderdale stands out for important cultural institutions like the Stonewall National Museum & Archives and World AIDS Museum. They’re both in Wilton Manors, the “gayborhood” whose streets are lined with busy restaurants, shops and bars. Plus the city tourism bureau makes a special effort to attract and accommodate LGBT travelers from around the world.
When the local motto is “let the good times roll,” you know LGBT travelers are on the scene. The Big Easy is exactly that, welcoming travelers of all stripes from around the world to join its particular brand of laid-back fun. The city is all-around gay-friendly, but head to the Bywater and Marigny neighborhoods to find the greatest cluster of gay-owned accommodations, shops and the famous Country Club — where you can drink and dine, lounge in the hot tub, and catch fun events like Saturday drag brunches.
It’s famous and fabulous — it’s Hollywood! Or rather, it’s the distinct city of West Hollywood, a compact urban LGBT-centric destination. Head to Santa Monica Boulevard for a slew of happening cafés, galleries and nightclubs; browse the wares (and spot celebrities) along Melrose to see what some of the country’s best designers are up to; or indulge in posh pool scenes at the Sunset Strip’s luxury hotels. And don’t miss the chance to discover fascinating LGBT history across Los Angeles with Out & About Tours.
The freedom and fresh air of the Southern California desert have lured gay travelers for decades, and Palm Springs has long been their happy hub. Each spring, young lesbians flock to The Dinah women's party/music festival, while gay guys love the long-running White Party. But all year round there are pool parties, group nature outings and plenty of gay-helmed restaurants and shops happy to induct visitors into the easy-breezy Palm Springs atmosphere.