As the rainbow of gay and lesbian acceptance envelops the globe, getting brighter every day, more and more locals are opening their arms to welcome gay couples. Yet DINKS (double income – no kids), as gay couples are sometimes referred to in the marketing world, do not necessarily translate into high-priced luxury travel. For budgets of all shapes and sizes, there’s a resort that will cater to your every need and a city that will delight your every sensation.
While the traditional tried-and-true spots—like San Francisco, Key West, and New Orleans—are constantly re-inventing themselves to keep things lively and fresh, new destinations are blossoming at an incredible rate.
To find a fabulous spot for your next relaxing retreat, read this list compiled by ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents). Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, ASTA members know that the most crucial aspect of any vacation destination is simply to feel welcomed.
The United States – Gay Pride Nationwide
The United States has always been the land of plenty, and plenty only begins to describe the options for gay travelers. With gay-friendly resorts from coast to coast, the United States can often seem like one big beach party. So grab your flip-flops and tank tops and enjoy America’s fun side.
New York’s Fire Island is for those who seek quiet days and riotous nights as boardwalks and crowded bars keep the atmosphere festive and friendly. Everyone comes out for high tea at the Pavilion, a daily social gathering at the popular Fire Island Pines, where the talk ranges from Broadway reviews to California news. Nearby Cherry Grove, one of Oscar Wilde’s favorite haunts, is a natural sandbar that gorgeously provides the backdrop for one of the oldest gay and lesbian communities in America.
Further north on the Massachusetts coast, Provincetown boasts more than 60 gay-owned inns and B&Bs. A gay and lesbian entertainment hub with female impersonators, lesbian comics and cabaret act, P-town successfully blends many diverse social elements—Portuguese fishermen, artists and writers, hippies, and gays—resulting in a tolerant community that glows with laid-back charm.
Palm Springs in sunny California may sprawl across the desert, but its gay community is focused and flourishing. They all converge on Arenas Road, where gay bars, a gay restaurant, a gay theater, a gay clothing store, a gay barber, and a gay card shop cover all the bases. Home to the Dinah Shore golf tournament—said to be the world’s largest annual gathering of lesbians—Palm Springs is an oasis paradise where everyone comes to play.
A beach party would not be complete without Florida, and a gay hot spot list would not be complete without Ft. Lauderdale. After an open container law, enforced in 1986, knocked it off the spring break map, Ft. Lauderdale has undergone a dazzling rejuvenation. Now a more sophisticated crowd enjoys the vibrant array of gay nightclubs and restaurants set amongst its eternally beautiful weather and sandy beaches. No longer in the shadows of Miami or Key West, Ft. Lauderdale has come into its own.
Away from the beach scene, a newcomer to the openly gay-friendly world of travel is Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love has spruced up its downtown, offering a bounty of businesses catering to gay and lesbian locals and visitors. Steeped in history and brimming with culture, Philly perennially stays on the gay travel calendar with the annual Blue Ball AIDS fundraiser in late January, jubilant PrideFest in early May and the International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in July.
Vini, Vidi, Abba: I Came, I Saw, I Danced – Conquering the World
For those yearning for new, colorful stamps in their passports, contact your trusted travel agent to be whisked away to a number of international hot spots. Each country, while miles apart geographically, is uniting on one issue—that gay and lesbian visitors are a much-welcomed sight to their lands.
Simply put, Sydney is the gay and lesbian capital of the Southern Hemisphere. Gays joyously converge here throughout the year, especially during Mardi Gras and the Sleaze Ball, two huge gay parties that showcase the city’s more colorful side. Ask your travel agent for a hotel on Oxford Street, the main drag,” where gay and gay-friendly businesses line the boulevard for miles.
If you can’t find an all-night gay party in Amsterdam, then your eyes are closed. The gay mecca of Europe, Amsterdam is a liberal wonderland where the gay community is so socially embraced that once-scandalous same-sex displays of affection are now met with yawns. Enjoy the total Amsterdam experience during Queen’s Day, a raucous, annual street party celebrating the Queen’s birthday on April 30th.
Over 400,000 gay pride paraders attend the Christopher Street Day festival in Berlin late 19th Century, featuring everything from gay bars to a lesbian bowling club. With a city-wide atmosphere of acceptance, culminating in the recent election of an openly gay mayor, the scene is not limited to just gay venues but welcomed all over.
Hong Kong has finally come out of the closet as a great gay getaway known for its sauna culture. Here, though, sauna takes on a new meaning as a place where men gather, socialize, and even perform karaoke. Gay travelers from around the world have always held a special fondness for Hong Kong, for no other city better embodies the glamour of Asia and the intrigue of the Orient. Glamour and intrigue aside, most come here for the sublime shopping.
South Africa’s Cape Town has that magical combination of dazzling water, colorful culture and geographic beauty that appeals to everyone, and the endless beaches, easygoing locals and gay-friendly vibe that draws gays worldwide. With its good wine and beautiful people, warm days, and wild nights, Cape Town is the perfect exotic getaway.
For a vacation with extra spice, aim for Buenos Aires. The Argentine capital capitalizes on the positive energy of its nightlife, progressive gay-rights laws, and a vocal gay and lesbian movement. Inexpensive to visit, due to the recently devalued Argentine peso, Buenos Aires provides tantalizing culture and South American treasures all at a reasonable price.
After same-sex marriages became legal in 2003, Vancouver skyrocketed to the forefront of hot gay getaways. Before then, it was a pleasant secret of gay travelers, who returned to Canada’s west coast year after year to enjoy the vibrant city’s stunning scenery. Party animals need not apply, for Vancouver is a relaxed destination for nature lovers, gourmet connoisseurs, and shoppers with discerning eyes.
Your Travel Agent Knows
Whether you and your partner are traveling to experience new cultures or to counteract the stigma that tourists dress poorly in Bermuda shorts, loud shirts, and sandals with black socks pulled all the way up, the key is to get good, accurate information upfront so that nothing interferes with your enjoyment.
For all your travel questions, your travel agent knows the answers. They know the best ways to get to Berlin, the exchange rates in Buenos Aires, how to pick quality goods on the Hong Kong streets, which Cape Town hotel is the gay-friendliest and how to get discounted tickets for South Africa’s Blue Train while you’re there.