Sneak Away To These Small-Town LGBT Travel Destinations in the US
West Hollywood, Palm Springs, Fire Island. Yeah, we’ve all heard that list of LGBT travel destinations. No shade to WeHo, but the 2010s were big for LGBT rights in the US. Historic progress was been made from the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to the legalization of same-sex marriage. The US is fast becoming a country where queer travelers can feel comfortable showing their true colors.
The whole country is becoming more LGBT friendly, and that opens the map up to some fantastic destinations. With more than 400 million annual visitors to Hotels Combined, we’ve gathered together some of the best LGBT travel destinations in all 50 states for a quick country getaway. From cozy cabins by the Great Lakes to some well-deserved southern comforts, we’ve got you covered for every kind of great American escape you can imagine.
The most recent of our LGBT travel destinations to “out itself,” there wasn’t much pink tourism to Moab until recently. The change happened in 2011 when the little town organized its first Pride parade and earned nationwide praise for making a U-turn in conservative Utah—I’m proud of the pun; live with it.
So what’s been bringing in the tourists? Unlike Provincetown and Ogunquit you won’t find so much in the way of drinking and dancing here. Instead of nightlife, tourists make the 3 ½ drive out here from Salt Lake City to marvel at Moab’s badass badlands. You’re at the gateway of two incredible national parks here, Arches and Canyonlands. Both offer otherworldly hiking, biking, kayaking, and climbing—all of which can be accessed with the help of local tour operator Gay Adventure Week.
Located a short drive up Highway 128, this scenic ranch-style resort is perfect for those seeking the true spirit of a Western adventure. The Red Cliffs Lodge’s prime location is a stunningly desolate valley just outside Arches National Park, with sweeping views of the Colorado River and its monumental red-brown plateaus. Incidentally, this was where John Wayne’s cowboy classic Rio Grande was made. However, you don’t need to be a fan of The Duke for your pulse to quicken with the ample horse riding, mountain biking, and white water rafting on offer at this fabulous desert retreat.
When it’s time to hit the hay, the Red Cliffs Lodge has everything you could need to make your stay in Moab a restful one. The resort’s rustic suites and rooms can sleep up to six people and are great for couples and groups of friends. The hotel also offers pool, restaurant, and daily wine tastings, which are sourced from their onsite vineyard. So there’s plenty to do for those just looking to relax and unwind back at the ranch.
- Fisher Towers Trailhead (14 kilometers)
- Arches National Park Visitor Center (28 kilometers)
- Slickrock Bike Trail (33 kilometers)
Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 301 – USD 457
Guest Rating: 9.1
Address: Mile 14 Highway 128, Moab, Utah, United States
Hooked onto the tip of seaward-reaching Cape Cod, Provincetown reels in streams of gaycationers throughout spring, summer, and fall. Like it’s sister up the New England coast, Provincetown rose to acclaim as a retreat for poets and painters. Today, those fringe beginnings are still honored by a high concentration of art galleries. But you’ll also note the indie pride in Provincetown’s clutter of kitschy shops, idiosyncratic hotels, and family-run restaurants.
Provincetown is a near-perennial LGBT travel destination for New Englanders, but summer is when the town really shines its brightest. Surrounded by sand on three sides, Province town’s beaches cater to a diverse crowd. Head to Boy Beach on the south side to join the speedo-clad crowd of 20-somethings. Or if you’re looking for something more family-friendly, pitch your parasol on the banks around Herring Cove Beach Bathhouse. On the north side, surf-battered Race Point Beach is a great spot to watch the sunset with a lobster roll from Mac’s Fish House.
Crowne Pointe delivers unrivaled Cape Cod hospitality in the center of Provincetown. Just across the road from the Pilgrim’s Monument, this elegant Victorian house offers easy access to many of the town’s prime attractions. Crowne Point’s elegant, well-appointed rooms are ideal for couples, with comfortable queen-sized beds and a range of complimentary perks. These include a made-to-order breakfast, and a cheese, beer, and wine reception every evening from 5 to 6 p.m. Those who upgrade to a suite will also be able to enjoy the use of a private whirlpool tub for two.
Crowne Point promises guests a restorative stay with the inclusion of an all-access pass to the retreat’s mineral soaking tub, eucalyptus steam room, and soothing Himalayan salt sauna. Couples can also opt for a number of stress-relieving treatments and massages.
- Art’s Dune Tours (500 meters)
- The Squealing Pig (550 meters)
- The Mews Restaurant and Cafe (1.0 kilometers)
Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 217 – USD 503
Guest Rating: 9.0
Address: 82 Bradford Street, Provincetown, Massachusetts, United States
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
The small-town South might seem like a strange suggestion in a list of LGBT travel destinations. However, Eureka Springs is an oasis of acceptance in a state known for its social conservatism. Don’t let the impressive seven-story Christ of the Ozarks Statue fool you, it’s known locally as “The Hole in the Bible Belt Where the Buckle Goes Through.”
Founded as a spa town in 1879, little Eureka was built around several springs that were believed by both Indians and European settlers to have miraculous restorative powers. Within a couple of decades, its growing reputation as a center for health and healing had turned it into a popular resort town. Much of the affluent Victorian architecture from this period survive today, earning it the nickname “San Francisco of the Ozarks.”
For those looking to unwind on a truly romantic getaway, Eureka Springs offers numerous natural springs and world-class spas. Be sure to check out the Spa 1905, located in the grand turn-of-the-century settings of the 1905 Basin Park Hotel. The 1,600-acre Lake Leatherwood City Park, meanwhile, offers abundant outdoor recreation in summer, including canoeing, kayaking, and mountain biking.
Overlooking one of Eureka Spring’s main thoroughfares for drinking and dining, The Palace Hotel offers period lodgings in a historic bathhouse. Rest and recuperate in one of eight sophisticated king suites, decorated with hardwood paneling and charming shuttered windows.
Begin your grand tour of Eureka Spring’s spas with a visit to the Bath House spa, where numerous couple’s deals and packages are available. Revitalize your pores and sinuses with a eucalyptus steam treatment. Alternatively, enjoy a deep soak in one of the iron claw-footed baths before you head out to try one of the town’s many memorable mom-and-pop eateries.
Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 171 – USD 285
Guest Rating: 9.1
Address: 135 Spring Street, Eureka Springs, Arkansas, United States
New Hope, Pennsylvania
It’s not to feel the pink positivity when you’re in a village that literally has the words “New Hope” on its welcome signs. Posted on a now long-forgotten highway between New York and Philadelphia, this charming, pastoral settlement is one of the most historically significant LGBT travel destinations on the eastern seaboard. It’s where George Washington camped the night before crossing the Delaware River. Aron Burr hid here after shooting Alexander Hamilton. And hundreds of acclaimed poets and playwrights called it home during the 1940s and 1950s.
As a favorite holiday haunt of gay guys and gals for well over sixty years, New Hope welcomes visitors of all stripes. No matter whether you’re visiting the village on a romantic getaway or looking to spend some quality time with the family, you’ll find something to suit your tastes here. Well-preserved 18th-and 19th-century streets like Ferry and Main, are the home of specialty shops and gay bars. Fascinating local lore can be discovered on lantern-lit ghost tours and along the idyllic canal. For families, Bucks County Children’s Museum and the Ivyland Railroad are definite musts.
Housed in an 18th-century country manor and surrounded by five acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, this heritage inn certainly has a story to tell. The Inn at Bowman’s features an assortment of traditionally decorated rooms and suites with whimsical names like Orchard Retreat and Hidden Pines. Featherbeds, period furniture, and gas fireplaces all make for an undeniably romantic setting, the complimentary breakfast service will ensure that you start your day right. In Spring and Summer, make sure you save some time to while away on the trellised restaurant terrace or in this property’s jacuzzi or pool.
- Washington Crossing Historical Park (1.8 kilometers)
- Bucks County Playhouse (5.2 kilometers)
- Marsha Brown (5.4 kilometers)
Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 445 – USD 1,270
Guest Rating: 10.0
Address: 518 Lurgan Road, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Saugatuck & Douglas, Michigan
People call it the “Provincetown of the Midwest.” We think that’s a bit of a misnomer. News archives hint at male naked bathers sprawling out on the sands of Saugatuck’s Oval Beach as early as the 1890s. By 1910, “artistic” sorts were flocking to this tangle of two tiny towns for a summer residence here run by the Chicago Institute of Art. No matter how you draw it, S&D went gay when even Greenwich Village was still fumbling around in the closet.
Sometimes, LGBT travel destinations can get pigeonholed into only attracting a niche crowd. That’s not the case in S&D. This is as much a place to clink martinis and get boozy on the waterfront as it is to build sandcastles with the kids. You’ll see that along the lakefront beaches, which are shared by families, couples, and singles batting for both teams.
In the two tiny town centers, there’s plenty to do when you’re not catching rays. Galleries along Water and Butler streets are a great place to while away the time that you’re not splurging at S&D’s over 140 LGBT-owned shops. In the mood for a show? Head to Mason Street Warehouse or Saugatuck Center which regularly book talent from New York or Chicago.
Huddled between the galleries on one of Saugatuck’s artsiest streets, Hidden Garden Cottages & Suites put you at the center of the action. Oval Beach, the sands that started it all, can be reached on foot as is Mt. Baldhead overlook, a great place to catch the sunset.
With all that’s going on outside, Hidden Garden offers a quiet space to relax and recharge. Set behind a bushy garden of gorgeous native flowers, these discrete rooms and vacation homes offer quaintly decorated king-sized beds. Guests will also have access to their own private dining area that is stocked daily with fresh produce for breakfast. Owners Gary and Johnathan are proud of the fact that they source their ingredients from the local farmers market, from the first rhubarb to the last cranberries in fall.
Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 235 – USD 250
Guest Rating: 10.0
Address: 247 Butler Street, Saugatuck, Michigan, United States
Once known as “The Queen of the Copper Camps,” Bisbee originally struck it big as a lucrative mining town. By 1900, this was a booming town of 20,000 full of saloons and houses of ill repute. However, in the 1970s, resources ran dry, and when the miners moved on, the queer community moved in.
Today, you can still see much of Bisbee’s former glory in the town’s perfectly preserved Victorian shop fronts and miners homes. Most of these now house boutique hotels, local speciality shops, and loveable drinking holes, including St Elmo’s Bar, Bisbee’s time-tested hub for queer nightlife. Those looking to delve into the town’s underground origins can also descend into the depths of nearby Queen Mine, which has been running tours since 1976.
Set in the heart of historic Bisbee, these quaint and cozy suites are an ideal base for exploring what the town has to offer. Guests will be able to settle into their room with a complimentary bottle of wine, and enjoy the use of a private tub and kitchen. Note that there is a minimum two-night stay for holiday periods. This the Bigbee Blues Festival and Bisbee Pride, which is held on Father’s Day weekend. But what better reason to stick around?
- Bisbee’s Table (71 meters)
- POCO Vegan Restaurant (140 meters)
- Bisbee Royale (280 meters)
Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 146 – USD 238
Guest Rating: 9.0
Address: 27 Subway Street, Bisbee, Arizona, United States
Key West, Florida
“Close to perfect, far from normal,” the continental US’s southernmost point is a haven for folk of the family you choose. Maybe it’s that laidback island lifestyle, but Key West was welcoming visitors of all stripes long before the mainland started changing its tone. Key West was one of the first towns in the country to vote in a gay mayor in Richard A. Heyman in 1983. To boot, it’s also been the choice residence of liberal-minded writers like Ernest Hemmingway, Tennesse Williams, and Judy Blume. In the words of the HIV-positive activist James Thompson, Key West is “one human family.”
You won’t have to push far to find rainbow bars, resorts, and parties on this tiny tropical island. Key West is serviced by a variety of men-only, women-only, and mixed queer lodgings—you can actually check out a comprehensive list of them here. Duval Street (look for the rainbow sidewalk crossing) is where most of the gay bars can be found, offering everything from drive bars to dive-in pool parties. Meanwhile, Tropic Cinema supports local, independent, and Avante-Garde filmmakers. Not that you’ll need to plan for rainy weather—Key West is sunny 260 days a year.
This lesbian-run resort offers a slice of island life just minutes away from Hemmingway House, Duval Street, and the Keeper’s Quarters Museum. Offering a Caribbean atmosphere, its rooms and suites are decked out in elegant beachy decor with garden, pool, or ocean views worth sighing at. Upgrades to the Luxury Suites come with the added bonus of an onsite concierge.
Apparently, being situated right on the US’s southernmost sands isn’t enough either. That’s why this easygoing escape also provides a private sundeck with sublime Atlantic views—perfect for a seaside wedding reception or anniversary party. In addition, Southernmost Beach Resort also boasts three terraced bars and a scrumptious beach café serving Caribean-American fare.
- Southernmost Beach Resort (120 meters)
- Key West Lighthouse (650 meters)
- Higgs Beach (1.3 kilometers)
Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 342 – USD 1,055
Guest Rating: 8.9
Address: 508 South Street, Key West, Florida, United States
With its craggy coastline, sand-pounding surf, and glorious fall colors, its easy to see why “Ogunquit” translates as “beautiful place by the sea” in the Abenaki language. This charming New England settlement was already being charted onto itineraries in the late 19th century when it was the site of an artist’s colony. Today, though, its laid-back litoral vibe makes it a great family-friendly LGBT travel destination.
The jewel in Ogunquit’s coastal crown is a long sandbar beach that separates the village’s waterfront from the Atlantic Ocean. The outer side of this three-mile swathe often has great surfing for those that can find their feet on a board. For those that can’t, there’s a much calmer backwater that’s the perfect place for a swim.
Should travelers find themselves with gray skies (rain? In New England?) there’s still Ogunquit’s rich artistic heritage to explore at galleries like Art & Soul and Barn Gallery. A little further out, John Lane’s Ogunquit Playhouse, America’s Foremost Summer Theatre, is a great place to check out shows like Avenue Q, The Music Man or Chicago. Or if that’s not what you’re hungry for, head to Ogunquit Beach Lobster House and crack into its buttery crustaceans while you watch the rain hammer down on the Atlantic Ocean.
Located minutes from many of Orgunquit’s shops and restaurants, this cozy, gay-owned B&B is housed in a charming New England cottage. Owners Rick and Mark have been running the show since 2011 and welcome back returning guests year on year with fresh batches of scones and their two dogs, Ty and Hope.
Moon Offer Maine features eight warm and welcoming rooms with king and queen-sized beds, four of them boasting semi-private balconies. Outback, Moon Over Maine’s discreet garden and terrace is the perfect place for a quiet read or a dip in the jacuzzi.
- Cornerstone Artisanal Pizza & Craft Beer (160 meters)
- The Front Porch Piano Bar and Restaurant (220 meters)
- Abacus Gallery (230 meters)
Star Rating: 3.5*
Price: USD 109 – USD 375
Guest Rating: 9.2
Address: 22 Berwick Road, Ogunquit, Maine, United States
Which LGBT Travel Destinations Do You Escape To?
The US’s LGBT travel destinations can by no means be limited to a single roundup. Our honorable mentions go out to Boise, Fort Lauderdale, and Tucson, all of which have cultivated thriving LGBT scenes despite being in red states. But we know that the party doesn’t stop there. Which are your favorite locally-oriented queer getaways? Let us know in the comments below!
I’m a blogger, history buff, and serious overpacker, currently based in Taiwan. Eats, drinks, and destinations are my thing. When I’m not writing about those, I’m either hitting up the local hot springs or slurping down a bowl of sesame noodles. I hope to one day do both at the same time.