Looking for an LGBT-friendly vacation getaway? A trip to these 10 vibrant cities will give you Pride and LGBT nightlife experiences to leave your Instagram followers jealous AF. Prepare to flaunt your beautiful gay self down the streets of these ultra-welcoming communities. Make new friends at neighborhood LGBT bars or show off your rainbow personality at creative arts and culture events. With cities this inclusive, you’ll scramble to extend your trip to fit everything in. Cue you vacation auto messenger and escape to the ultimate gaycation.
Check out these 10 best gaycation destinations for a getaway you’ll never forget.
10. Tucson, Arizona
If you're indecisive, Tucson may be your kryptonite. With dozens of awesome LGBT events throughout the year, there's so much to do and see. Try your luck competing for prizes at Retro Game Show Night, a monthly event at Hotel Congress that puts a modern twist on game shows from the 80s and 90s. Or, check out monthly events like pool parties and brunches in rotating locations hosted by gay event planning group G3 Tucson. Visit Saguaro National Park to fill your Snapchat story with incredible shots of a cactus-strewn desert with snowcapped mountains rising in the background. Or, try out a wine tasting of local blends in the city’s Barrio Historico (Old District). The Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation also organizes community events like jello wrestling (complete with a live auction), walk-a-thon Aidswalk and bowling fundraiser Bowling for Tommy. Try out the Southwest’s premiere LGBT club IBT’s Bar & Food for a well-rounded night out. The hot spot offers drag shows, music on the patio and live DJs performing six days per week.
9. Nice, France
Feel like a celebrity visiting this scenic hidden gem of an LGBT hotspot along the French Riviera. In recent years, Nice made a serious attempt to steal Paris’ crown as the most gay-friendly city in France — a true accomplishment considering the country’s relaxed attitude toward sexuality. Don’t miss the annual Pink Parade, Nice’s Pride event. Nice's 2017 Pride weekend turned out as the largest in the city's history. Catch some rays on LGBT Coco Beach or at gay-friendly Castel Plage during the day. Then, indulge in French wine and cheese in the sleek bistros at night. The Mediterranean lifestyle looks good on you.
8. Vancouver, Canada
You can always find a party brewing in happy Vancouver, but LGBT events really take the cake. “The attitude toward the LGBT community in Vancouver is very positive. Given that Vancouver is a very liberal city, there is a very progressive cultural environment. Vancouver is quite vocally concerned with LGBT rights and is very inclusive of everyone,” University of Washington senior Savannah Miller said. Run wild at Unicorn Ball, an LGBT fundraiser complete with go-go dancers and an adult-sized ball pit to bring out your inner kid. Be aware of the suggested dress code: the event literally encourages the crowd to show up in sparkly unicorn attire. Stop by DIVA’S drag shows at club Showtime to see a show that raises the bar for drag performances. You might be obsessed with The Bachelor, but following along with the search for Vancouver’s next best drag superstar at Celebrities Nightclub will win a special place in your heart.
7. Miami, Florida
Miami offers more than just white sandy beaches and pina coladas, though both remain great options. Don’t miss Gay8 Festival, a massive Latino LGBT music, food and art event free to the public. Then, catch circus acts, Cuban theater and comedy shows at performing arts event Out in the Tropics. Plus, the friendly locals make this city one of the best gaycation experiences you could ask for. “Everyone was very friendly, asking where we were from and why we were visiting. The locals were so kind and helpful. Miami definitely has a lot of nightlife but that isn’t all it is. I was very surprised how many families were there and how family friendly Miami was overall,” Temple University senior Jane Kraus said. Go the DIY souvenir route and drop by queer craft nights run by Pridelines, Miami’s oldest LGBT community center. Channel your charitable side by giving back during White Party Week, a non-stop weeklong party where bars and community organizations across Miami raise funds to fight HIV/AIDS.
6. Denver, CO
Laid-back locals fill this up-and-coming city with a relaxed vibe to make visitors feel at home. Denver’s Pridefest, considered one of the top 10 in the country, hits hard every summer with quirky events like the Dogs in Drag Parade and the Big Gay 5K. You can find year-round LGBT entertainment at places like Clocktower Cabaret, which hosts a variety of drag, burlesque and comedy shows for a rib-cracking night of entertainment. Channel your inner Beyoncé with karaoke nights complete with prizes and free shots for performers at Pride and Swagger. Or, dance your heart out at Tracks, one of the nation’s best gay bars. If you need some exercise to work off those vacation calories, hit the nearby slopes or hike The Denver Beer Trail (that still counts as a workout, right?). 148 craft breweries proudly call Denver home, giving you something worth writing home about. “Denver is close to almost everything. There is shopping, great beer and hiking all within an hour, usually less,” Widener University graduate student Natalie Higgins said.
5. Seattle, Washington
Nestled in the shadow of Mount Rainier, this beautiful Pacific Northwest haven easily ranks as one of the most accepting cities in the nation. Two annual pride festivals mean double the gaycation fun (and trouble) each year. “Seattle is a great vacation spot for the LGBT community because judgment or discrimination is very minimal here as there is such a large LGBT population. This combined with all the events, positivity and progressive culture makes for an awesome experience,” Miller said. Two of the largest LGBT chorus groups in the world, the Seattle Men’s Chorus and the Seattle Women’s Chorus, proudly belt their tunes from the Emerald City. Don your best flannel and walk in the footsteps of musical legends Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix along the rainbow-painted crosswalks of the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Put your own music skills to the test or enjoy one of the rotating interactive exhibits at the Museum of Pop culture in the heart of downtown. Then, join the crowds watching everyone’s favorite reality show RuPaul’s Drag Race at viewing parties at Purr Cocktail Lounge before reveling in the low-key vibe at Changes, one of the country’s best gay bars. A visit to Seattle means prime feasting on fresh locally caught seafood, exploring Pike Place Market and witnessing orcas in action on a whale watching tour. Don’t head home before sampling local homemade Molly Moon’s honey lavender ice cream.
4. Lisbon, Portugal
Take your pride international with a gaytastic trip to Lisbon. This iconic coastal city includes a safe and welcoming environment, mind-blowing cuisine like stews and fresh seafood and rich culture. Don’t miss September’s Gay and Lesbian Film Festival showing 100 international titles or the annual gay pride festival Arraial Pride. The bookshops, cafes, and shopping centers of relaxed neighborhoods Chiado and Principe Real attract the LGBT crowd like a magnet. Connect with LGBT locals at popular beaches like Meco and Beach 19 before hitting the clubs. Dance like your vacation will never end under disco balls on the neon-lit bi-level dance floor at Trumps, Portugal’s largest LGBT club. Or, party in true Portuguese fashion by sipping a chilled cocktail in a sauna at sauna house-club hybrid Trombeta Bath. Soak up the steam and wonder why the States haven’t popularized sauna clubs yet.
3. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Welkom in Amsterdam – Welcome to Amsterdam! The LGBT experience in the Venice of the North contributes to the city’s international acclaim as a party hotspot and Europe’s gay capital. People recognize this romantic historic spot as one of the planet’s best places for LGBT members. Ride a bike along the city’s quaint canals for picturesque views and make a pit stop at the Flower Market to see if the river of flowers rivals your rainbow spirit. Storm the streets during King’s Day Amsterdam, a Mardi Gras-esque parade attracting members of the LGBT community from across the continent. Dive deep into international gay waters in the Amstel neighborhood’s smattering of energetic gay bars or check out the spots along Reguliersdwarsstraat, a major gay party street. Soak up the excitement of incredible drag shows and rotating theme nights among the boisterous crowd at The Queen’s Head before taking an obligatory stroll the infamous Red Light District. Wind up at Club NYX, a quirky club with graffiti, neon lights and glitter pulsing with the DJ’s beats (peep the DJ playing in the bathrooms). If you ditch your return flight home, we won’t blame you. "The LGBT community here is very much an accepted part of society. There's no judgment and everything is allowed. I would definitely recommend a trip here. The people are friendly, everyone speaks English and getting around is really easy because of the tram," Baruch College junior Cathilee Andrews said.
2. San Francisco, USA
With the amount of LGBT events and hotspots in this city, it feels like one big gay adult playground. The Golden Gate City lets vacationers explore several massive LGBT fests throughout the year like Frameline42, an international LGBT Film Festival, and Pride. During Pride, take Market Street by storm on the parade route, rock out to live music performances downtown or seize the stardom for yourself during Queeraoke events at bars across the city. You can also check out Up Your Alley, a day-long street fair with more than 50 vendors selling adult products to the gay, BDSM and fetish communities. Fill up on the arts at Fresh Meat Festival, a transgender and queer performance event including live art exhibitions like hula hooping and interpretive dancing. Spend your evenings at world-class gay bars like OMG and Oasis, though you can barely tell the difference between San Francisco’s gay bars and a regular bar, to be honest.
1. São Paulo, Brazil
Worried about taking your LGBT love international? Don’t be. Brazilians celebrate gay love harder than anyone else. São Paulo hosts Parada de Orgulho, the largest gay pride celebration in the world. More than 5 million parade-goers have purportedly attended the event each year since 2013. Just envision Carnival meets Pride level parties. You’ll be finding glitter on your clothes even days after you fly back home. Start your mornings off with brunch in Frei Caneca or Largo de Arouche, two of the city’s vibrant gayborhoods, then hit the town in Sampa district. Check out Up Cozhina & Bar to mingle with friendly crowds on the terrace. Order a caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail made with sugar cane rum, sugar and fresh lime. Then, channel the Brazilians’ unbeatable sexy dance moves while partying the night away at hotspots like The Week and Blue Space. Don’t miss Blue Spaces’ hilarious drag shows with São Paulo’s cream of the crop go-go boys. And if it strikes your fancy, remember Brazil operates tons of 24-hour gay saunas and sex hotels, because Latin America.
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