Lesser-Known US Destinations for LGBTQ Travelers

Provincetown, Palm Springs – there's more to the US beyond the major cities worth exploring, so we asked our expert Ed Salvato to reveal the best LGBTQ-friendly beachside and regional destinations.

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Rainbow-colored lights on Town Hall, Provincetown, Massachusetts. Photo © Getty Images / Vadim Anvaer

When to Go

The US is a huge country – parts of it are popular in winter, and other parts popular in summer. You can visit the cities all year round, of course, and in fact many are more fun and much less expensive off-season. New York, for example, offers all sorts of specials on restaurants, Broadway entertainment, and attractions in January and February.

LGBTQ Events

If you can plan your trip around one of the major queer events, it’s even more fun. Gay Pride in some of the big cities can be super fun. The two best for visitors are in San Francisco and New York

Other major events to plan a trip around include: Winter Party in Miami, Florida; White Party for men and the Dinah for women in Palm Springs, California; Southern Decadence in New Orleans, Louisiana; Fantasy Fest in Key West, Florida; and Carnival in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Note that the first ever Pride of the Americas is scheduled for 2020 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Provincetown, Massachusetts

Provincetown is probably the gayest resort in the United States – in some ways, on par with Mykonos and Ibiza for gay popularity, though not so much in terms of vibe. P-town (as locals call it) is located at the curlicue tip of Massachusetts’ arm-shaped Cape Cod, and bathed by the Atlantic Ocean. It has been home to the original Pilgrims (who penned the Mayflower Compact there 400 years ago, then decamped to Plymouth, Massachusetts to found one of the earliest American colonies) and Portuguese fishermen (there’s just one active fishing trawler left, though many families of Portuguese descent still live here). Artists and queer people started coming here in the late 1800s to live relatively free lives, and have been returning every summer since then.

Key West, Florida

Key West was the quintessential gay colony, located in a remote area of the Caribbean (only 90 miles north of Havana, Cuba) and home to super quirky, hippy gays and lesbians for decades, until a bridge and large mainstream cruises connected it to the outside world. It’s more straight than gay nowadays, but it still retains its quirky, independent, all-welcome vibe, and boasts one of the world’s greatest and longest-running all-men’s gay guesthouses (Island House Key West).

Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs is a fabulous, midcentury modern resort in the desert, two hours east of Los Angeles. This is mostly popular with gay men who flock here all winter long and gather around their all-male (sometimes clothing-optional) guesthouse pool to flirt over cocktails.

Other beach-oriented gay getaway spots include:

  • Saugatuck, Michigan
  • Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
  • Waikiki on the Hawaiian island of Oahu – Waikiki may, of course, be considered more urban than resort-like, since Honolulu is a big – and in places, gritty – city but, hey, you go for the warm and the beach in addition to the active gay scene.

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