The Top 14 U.S. Destinations For LGBTQ Travel
Whether you enjoy soaking up the sun, exploring some off-the-beaten-path towns, or want to see everything the big cities have to offer, our list of U.S. destinations for LGBTQ travel will help you decide where to go.
Keep reading to discover our top 14 picks!
For Beach Lovers
Grab your towel, some sunscreen, and your sexiest bathing suit, these are the top U.S. destinations for LGBTQ travel with a side of sun and sand.
From quintessential New England spots like Provincetown, to party hearty destinations like Fort Lauderdale, every sun worshipper will find a destination to fit their summer style.
Fire Island, New York
Fire Island offers relaxing beaches and incredible nightlife.
Although located just two hours from Manhattan, Fire Island feels much farther away thanks to its cascading sand dunes, maritime forests, and ultra-modern homes. It’s the perfect destination if you’re looking for LGBTQ-friendly shopping, hotels, and nightlife.
Since the 1940s, this seaside retreat has been a safe haven for the LGBTQ community thanks to the liberal attitudes of the original inhabitants. For that reason, many refer to Fire Island as America’s first gay and lesbian town.
Cherry Grove and The Pines are the island’s two LGBTQ enclaves. The former is artsier and attracts more of a lesbian crowd, while the latter caters to the male set. That being said, you can easily travel between the two areas by walking through or by water taxi (no cars are allowed on this part of the island).
Some travelers choose to rent a house as a group, whereas single travelers or couples usually stay in a single room in one of the island’s historic houses. Regardless of where you stay, you can party until the wee hours at gay bars like The Blue Whale and Ice Palace. If that’s not your thing, there’s nothing wrong with relaxing on the beach for a week.
Special events include the drag-queen-led Invasion of the Pines on July 4th, the queen-filled Pines Party, and the Fire Island Dance Festival benefitting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Rainbow flags, fun shops, and delicious food are the norm in Provincetown.
Provincetown, or P-Town as those in the know call it, is a gay and lesbian resort community at the tip of Cape Cod. Year after year it ranks among the top seaside destinations for LGBTQ travelers.
With one of the highest rates of same-sex couples in the entire country, LGBTQ vacationers can expect a warm welcome any time of year. That being said, summer is the best time to visit.
Not only will you get to experience this beachside hamlet in full-swing, but it’s also the season of special events. Provincetown Pride happens in June, while Girl Splash and Bear Week happen in July.
Regardless of when you visit, you’ll be sure to experience fine art galleries, top-notch restaurants, curated clothing boutiques, and live performance venues. If you’re looking for some outdoor fun, be sure to head to Herring Cove Beach. There’s a lesbian section about a quarter-mile south of the main entrance and a gay section another quarter mile down from there.
If partying is what you’re into, head to the Boatslip Resort’s 5:00 PM Tea Dance or knock back a couple of cold ones at America’s oldest gay bar, The Atlantic House.
Fort Lauderdale/ Wilton Manors, Florida
White sand beaches, LGBTQ culture, and a thriving club scene—Fort Lauderdale has it all.
Known as the “Venice of America,” thanks to its extensive canal system, Fort Lauderdale is one of our top picks for LGBTQ travelers. In terms of population, Fort Lauderdale is second only to Provincetown for the concentration of same-sex couples. The city also welcomes roughly 1.1 million queer visitors a year. Right next door is Wilton Manors, a city that’s been dubbed the “second gayest” in America.
There are over 30 gay bars and clubs between these two cities. Ramrod is the oldest leather bar in the city, while The Manor offers multiple dance floors. Besides clubs, LGBTQ visitors will also appreciate Sebastian Street Beach, a gay beach that’s flanked by gay resorts, hotels, shops and restaurants.
If you’re looking for a bit of culture, check out the World AIDS Museum or the Stonewall National Museum & Archives. In terms of special events, Pride happens in October, accompanied by the OUTshine Film Festival.
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
A true summer getaway, Rehoboth Beach welcomes LGBTQ travelers with open arms.
Although lesser-known than some of the other destinations on our list, Rehoboth Beach is the ideal beach getaway for LGBTQ travelers living in the Mid-Atlantic. Here you’ll find dozens of small shops, seafood restaurants, and a few arcades.
This small seaside town has been a refuge for gays and lesbians since the 40s, but its popularity really grew with the community in 1991. That’s thanks to the formation of CAMP (Creating A More Positive) Rehoboth, an LGBTQ community center that helps gay-owned and -operated businesses set up shop along the scenic boardwalk.
LGBTQ visitors flock to the rainbow-adorned Baltimore Avenue. Still, the best place to hang out is on the Atlantic-facing shoreline near Poodle Beach (for men) and North Shore Beach (for women). After the beach, many grab a few drinks at the Aqua Bar & Grill or Blue Moon, two of the town’s most popular gay hangouts.
Key West, Florida
Key West’s quirky vibes will have you feeling at home in no time.
With a motto like “One Human Family,” it’s no surprise that Key West is an LGBTQ paradise. Located at the southernmost tip of the US, this tropical city is small in size, but big in character.
LGBTQ travelers often gravitate to Duval Street, also known as the Pink Triangle, for a taste of the local nightlife. The bars 801 Bourbon, Aqua, and Bourbon Street Pub make up the three corners of the triangle.
Each has its own appeal. Aqua is known for its nightly drag shows, 801 Bourbon offers bingo and karaoke, and Bourbon Street Pub has spicy male dancers.
Aside from the active bar scene, Key West also hosts LGBTQ events throughout the year. February to April sees the city fill up with LGBTQ spring breakers, followed by the official Pride in June. Then there’s the Tropical Heat adult party in August and Womenfest in September.
And that’s all without mentioning the gorgeous beaches. We’re particularly fond of Higgs Beach and Smathers Beach.
You may never have heard of the next four places on our list of the top U.S. destinations for LGBTQ travel, but they’re well worth a visit. From liberal enclaves to spots that seem tailor-made for an LGBTQ getaway, you won’t want to miss them.
Asheville, North Carolina
Tucked away in the Smoky Mountains, Asheville is a liberal enclave for LGBTQ locals and visitors.
This small city (population 91,560) hidden away in the Smoky Mountains may not be on your radar, but it should be. For those in the know, Asheville has long been a bohemian LGBTQ paradise. In fact, Asheville has 83% more LGBTQ residents than the average American city.
Asheville is bursting with things to do. There’s drag night at Scandals, as well as plenty of wineries, breweries, boutiques, and outdoor activities.
If you’re visiting in September, be sure to check out the Blue Ridge Pride Festival. It’s a weekend filled with pageants, parties, and a street festival that CNN called one of the world’s best places to celebrate pride.
With an active fashion scene and plenty of nightlife, Columbus earns it’s spot as a top U.S. destination for LGBTQ travel.
While “progressive” and “Midwest” don’t often go together, Columbus is an exception to the rule, so much so that locals refer to it as the San Francisco of the region.
For a city of its size, Columbus has a bustling LGBTQ scene. Axis Nightclub is a favorite for those looking to dance all night, while Tremont Lounge and The Toolbox Saloon are authentic neighborhood gay bars reminiscent of Cheers.
Columbus also has one of the best drag scenes in the nation—check out Kings, Queens and In-Betweens if you don’t believe us.
Boating, art, and great food are just a few of the things you’ll find in Saugatuck.
With over 140 gay-owned businesses, covering everything from art galleries to ice cream shops, the two neighboring towns of Saugatuck and Douglas as home to the largest gay resort in the Midwest.
Thanks to its active arts scene and local protections of gender identity and sexual orientation, locals have taken to calling these towns the “Provincetown of the Midwest.” Like its East Coast counterpart, Saugatuck and Douglas offer stunning beaches, adorable shops, excellent restaurants, and plenty of outdoor activities.
The Dunes Resort is the area’s go-to gay resort. They offer hotel rooms, one- and two-bedroom cottages, and plenty of events like drag shows, karaoke, and pool parties.
Located 90 minutes from San Francisco, Guerneville holds its own as a top destination for LGBTQ travelers.
Located in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley, Guerneville has been an LGBTQ destination for more than 40 years.
Following extensive flooding in the 1960s, Bay Area LGBTQ folks began cleaning up the town. By the end of the 1970s, there were several prominent queer-owned resorts. Nowadays, the region continues to attract the LGBTQ community, as well as a mix of hippies, foodies, and art-lovers.
Popular times to visit include Gay Wine Weekend, Pride in June, Lazy Bear Week in early August, and Women’s Weekend in mid-September.
Special events aside, Sonoma County’s local vineyards are great to visit year-round. Be sure to check out all of the hiking, canoeing, and swimming available in this region as well.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, look no further than The Highlands Resort, a “straight-friendly” LGBTQ lodge close to the center of Guerneville. While you’re there, take a short walk to the Rainbow Cattle Company, a gay bar that’s been in business since 1979.
What list of the best U.S. destinations for LGBTQ travel would be complete without talking about cities? With some of the best museums, restaurants, and attractions, you can’t go wrong. We’ve chosen our top five cities for you. Keep reading to discover what they are!
San Francisco, California
The Castro District shows off its pride year round with rainbow flags and crosswalks.
Known alternatively as the original gay city, the gay capital of the world, and the gay Mecca, San Francisco is a must-see for any LGBTQ traveler.
The Castro District is San Francisco’s LGBTQ hotspot. Here you can pop into the SF LGBT Center or visit Harvey Milk Plaza, named after California’s first openly gay elected official. Right across the street you’ll find Twin Peaks Tavern, often described as the city’s first gay bar.
Be sure to also check out the Pink Triangle Park, a monument to the queer victims of the Nazi regime, the GLBT Historical Society Museum, and the San Francisco South of Market Leather History Alley.
In terms of events, there are plenty. San Francisco Pride, dubbed as the largest gathering of LGBTQ people and their allies in the United States, happens at the end of June. June also sees the Frameline Film Festival, known as the oldest and largest LGBTQ film festival in the world.
Later in the year there’s the San Francisco Transgender Film Festival (the world’s oldest transgender film festival) and the infamous Folsom Street Fair for BDSM and leather lovers.
Heading to The Abbey in Los Angeles is a surefire way to start your night off right.
As the backdrop to shows like The L Word and Eastsiders, Los Angeles has a long-held reputation as an LGBTQ-friendly city. In fact, Los Angeles is home to one of the world’s largest LGBTQ populations.
Most locals and visitors to this Southern California metropolis gather in West Hollywood (WeHo). This neighborhood is also the site of LA Pride, the Halloween Costume Carnival, and Outfest.
If you’re looking for a place to really get to know the LGBTQ community, we can’t recommend The Abbey Food & Bar enough. During the day, it’s a great spot to meet up with friends and enjoy a refreshing cocktail on the patio. At night, it’s the perfect place to dance until you drop.
Rain Bar & Lounge, in Studio City, is also worth a trip. It’s touted as the Valley’s first gay nightclub and rivals those in West Hollywood.
Aside from the clubs, we also recommend checking out the Out and About bus tour, which features gay landmarks and the homes of allegedly closeted stars. There’s also June’s OUTFEST, the nation’s largest LGBT film festival.
Capitol Hill is the place to go for LGBTQ bars and shops.
Seattle is a liberal, politically-active city that welcomes and encourages diversity. It’s no wonder that so many LGBTQ travelers flock here.
Just east of downtown, the Capitol Hill neighborhood has long been Seattle’s LGBTQ epicenter. Here you’ll find rainbow crosswalks and flags adorning the streets. There are also all kinds of delicious restaurants and adorable boutiques in this charming part of the city.
Seattle has no shortage of LGBTQ bars. Bars like The Cuff cater to the leather and kink crowds, while Re-Bar and R Place offer everything you could want in a dance club. Plus, there’s even a lesbian bar.
In the summer there’s not one, but two Pride Festivals—Seattle Pridefest and The Volunteer Park Pride Festival.
New Orleans, Louisiana
No matter the time of year, New Orleans is always ready to show LGBTQ travelers a good time.
Thanks to its thriving arts community and its laissez le bon temps rouler (let the good times roll) attitude, New Orleans has a history of attracting both queer locals and visitors.
The LGBTQ community takes center stage at festivals all year long. Southern Decadence, often referred to as Gay Mardi Gras, takes place over Labor Day weekend and attracts more than 125,000 partiers to the city.
There’s also Pride Fest and even a Gay Easter Parade. For those who are a bit more bookish, the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival brings LGBTQ literati together for three days of events.
There are tons of gay and gay-owned bars throughout the city, but the most famous are on the French Quarter’s “Lavender Line.” This stretch of St. Ann Street bisects Bourbon Street and is home to the United States’ oldest continuously operating gay bar, Café Lafitte’s in Exile.
With sexy shows, steamy saunas, and awesome bars, Las Vegas has everything an LGBTQ traveler could want.
There’s no way we could forget to talk about Las Vegas! Thanks to its “anything goes” reputation, it’s long been a favorite destination for LGBTQ travelers.
For starters, resorts like The Cosmopolitan and Luxor actively market to the LGBTQ community. Then there’s the Pride Concierge service offered by Encore Wynn Las Vegas. These pros can help you book dinner reservations for you and your sweetie, book tickets to a sexy show, or reserve a day at the spa. They can also tell you where to find the best gay bars and saunas.
Plus, there’s everything else Las Vegas is famous for—gambling, restaurants, and all-night fun.
In terms of special events, Las Vegas PRIDE is the main attraction and takes place in October. However, there’s also the Sin City Classic, a 4-day sports event attracting LGBTQ athletes from around the country. Nevada Gay Rodeo also features various events throughout the year like Miss Cow Patty and Cowboy Bingo.
Get Set For LGBTQ Travel
While we’re partial to Las Vegas and think it belongs at the top of every LGBTQ travel list, we recognize that there are tons of other great destinations worth checking out. We hope this list of 14 U.S. destinations for LGBTQ travel inspires you when booking your next trip.
If you have any questions about our picks or need help planning your next vacation, please contact us. We’d love to help out.