Hey, manchic! What are the best gay destinations? It’s usually one of the most frequently asked questions when I tell people I’m a lifestyle and travel writer.
For 2019, the list is substantial. With the help of my PR peeps, and after looking up travel trends – all together with my personal experience – These are the spots in the United States where you want to spend your rainbow dollars in 2019.
Whether you want to explore the beauty of Northern California, hike the world most famous canyon, dine out at some fancy restaurant or honor gay history, there’s a destination on this list for you.
Check out some queer hotspots in the US
Sitting atop the coastal cliffs of Northern California, Mendocino County might not be the most accessible destination – a winding three and a half hours ride from San Francisco – but the reward is a magical getaway together with moody weather, rolling vineyards, colossal redwoods and turbulent waves carving sea caves. To best admire the dramatic landscape, stay at some of the cliffside inns. The distinctive white-with-green-trim Little River Inn, offers a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. Find the Little River Blowhole Trail – a gorgeous and very short hike – just steps away from it. The surrounding region is known for its beguiling coastline and epic nature. Like the ever green Russian Gulch State Park and the stunning Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.
WHEN TO GO: During the rains of January, Little River Inn offers “stormy” specials.
DON’T MISS: Stopping beside Highway One in a place that overlooks the sea stacks off Elk and walking under the canopy of majestic coastal redwood trees at Hendy Woods State Park.
WORTH CHECKING OUT: The scenic ride through the redwood forest on board of the Skunk Train – this historic route dates back to 1885. And of course, the Smoked potato beignets at Stone and Embers – in the popular Anderson Valley.
They say everything is bigger in Texas, and Houston lives up to that expectation. This Texan metropolis is America’s fourth-largest city, which is home to a great mix of art, music and LGBT culture. You can see the Houston skyline from miles away. However, to have a cosmopolitan experience, one needs to stay downtown. Surrounded by towering high rises and easily accessible from the Interstates, you’ll find the Aloft Houston Downtown. The rooms are simple and modern, although the rooftop pool is definitely the shining star of this property. A short 10-minute drive from it will take you to the Buffalo Bayou Park – the 52-mile slow-moving waterway was the site of Houston’s founding in 1836. Walk along its banks and trails until you find the most picture-perfect view of downtown. The culture and food scene in Houston is thriving – The Museum of Fine Arts $450 million expansion is expected to be complete this year. Not to mention, the huge trend in food halls.
WHEN TO GO: How about Easter Sunday to celebrate 40 years of Bunnies on the Bayou. This LGBTQ fundraiser is the largest outdoor cocktail party in the entire state of Texas. Last year, the 39th edition drew a large crowd – shirtless hunks wearing bunny ears and cottontails and flamboyant characters with over-the-top bonnets showed up for the occasion.
DON’T MISS: Experiencing the legacy of the first lunar landing at the Space Center Houston. This is the number one attraction for international visitors and the first Smithsonian Affiliate in the greater Houston area. This year, they are commemorating the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing.
WORTH CHECKING OUT: Smither Park – this hidden gem features elaborate mosaic works of art made out of recycled and found materials. In the East End neighborhood of Houston, try the vibrant Coral Sword cafe. They not only serve a good cup of coffee but also offer classic board games at communal tables. They also have a colorful mural, you won’t be able to resist the desire to use it as a backdrop for a photo shoot.
New York City, NY
New York City is where the modern gay rights movement was born, and the riots at the Stonewall Inn kicked off the movement as we know it today. These days, the city offers one of the most extensive and amazing gay scenes in the world. The options are endless and kind of overwhelming. But after all, isn’t that part of the thrill when you’re visiting a city? What’s not fun, is how expensive accommodations can be. So if you’re looking to save money on your next trip, you should consider staying in a hostel. Some like The Local NY in Long Island City features terrific amenities such as a coffee shop/bar and a rooftop with some of the best Manhattan views. If space isn’t an issue, but privacy is, Sister City – set to open in March, might be just the right place for you. Part of the Ace Hotel group, this new concept hotel takes minimalism to the extreme. The inspiration comes from the philosophy of less is better, but while still focusing on the core needs of travelers. There are plenty of food options including the recently opened “La Central” at Hotel Americano. A Latin-America outpost from executive Chef Franklin Becker that offers thoughtful & inventive dishes inspired by the hometowns of his kitchen team.
WHEN TO GO: 2019 marks 50 years since the Stonewall Uprising, a pivotal moment in LGBTQ history— and in June, New York City will host World Pride, the world’s biggest LGBTQ celebration. More than 50 events spanning the entire month, from rallies to parties to lectures, you better clear your schedule.
DON’T MISS: ART AFTER STONEWALL (on view April 21 – July 21, 2019), at the Leslie-Lohman Museum. This exhibit is timed with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and will examine the impact of LGBTQ civil rights movements on the art world.
WORTH CHECKING OUT: Hudson Yards, the neighborhood changing the Manhattan skyline. This development contains more than 18 million square feet of commercial and residential space. There lays The Vessel – design by Thomas Heatherwick. The can’t miss sight is a structural steel wonder covered by a polished copper-color cladding.
Palm Springs, CA
In the Coachella Valley at the base of several mountains, about 2 hours outside of Los Angeles, lies Palm Springs. It’s like stepping back in time. The collection of old and new Mid Century Modern homes and buildings is like nowhere else. What used to be a getaway destination for the Hollywood stars in the ’50s, Palm Springs now attracts all walks of life. This desert town is filled with clothing-optional resorts, a bustling LGBTQ community, art galleries, restaurants, and shopping galore. When walking around downtown, you can’t help but notice the tallest building in town. At 7 stories, the Rowan has incredible views all around. The rooftop restaurant 4 Saints and the pool are breathtaking. When you get hungry, the country chic “Farm” is a must for brunch. For dinner, Workshop Kitchen + Bar is to die for, both by taste and site. It is farm-to-table freshness in an award-winning industrial space. For an afternoon pick me up, stop by Ernest Coffee. If you are the outdoorsy type, there is terrific hiking minutes away from downtown, such as Indian Canyons. This land (part of the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation) is home to dense groves of native California fan palm that run across a parched landscape.
WHEN TO GO: The Coachella Music and Arts Festival is in April, with the luxury Hotel Indigo Resort slated to open just in time for the festivities. Nonetheless, the year-round sunshine makes it the perfect winter getaway. All that is why, during the first week of November each year, more than 125,000 people flock there to celebrate Greater Palm Springs Pride – a site to see and be seen!
DON’T MISS: The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, one of the world’s largest and longest single-lift passenger tramways – an spectacular 2.5 miles ride from the Valley Station in Chino Canyon to the Mountain Station, on the edge of the Mount San Jacinto State Park. While the average summer temperatures are in the 70s, during the winter the ground is often snow covered and temperatures can range from the 40s during the day to single digits at night. So make sure to check the weather up there before jumping on it.
WORTH CHECKING OUT: About an hour from Palm Springs is Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms. The center of both towns offers unique shopping with vintage and antique stores. If staying the night, Folly Collection is an “off the grid” cabin with a unique stargazing bed that makes for a once-in-a-life night stand.
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
As one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon is astonishing, and this year, even more by marking its centennial anniversary. This travel hotspot can be accessed from the North, South, East or West. Quieter and requiring more travel time to many of the viewpoints, the North Rim is majestic. There are several points of interest with tons of hiking, even mule rides to the bottom. The South Rim can offer the broadest range of experiences from rafting, helicopter and airplane rides, biking and more. On the East side, Horseshoe Bend is the number one attraction. Not as popular as the other rims, there is still plenty to see and do. Getting to the bottom isn’t that hard, once down there, enjoy a boat ride on the Colorado River, Guano Point and more.
WHEN TO GO: Plan a trip between May and October and head to the North Rim: less than 10 percent of the canyon’s 6.2 million annual visitors see this side of the park. You can also visit during National Park Week in April, for free admission to the park on the 20th.
DON’T MISS: The Skywalk on the on the West Rim.
WORTH CHECKING OUT: If you want to see it all, simply take a helicopter tour from Las Vegas over the entire canyon to appreciate the full scope. I did it, and I couldn’t believe how incredible it was.
Where are you going in 2019? Share your destination picks with me on social media by using #travelgaystyle
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