Metro Weekly

5 Summer Destinations for LGBTQ Travelers

Five LGBTQ-friendly summer vacation options that don't require a passport

If you’re one of thousands of people who spend their workdays scrolling through Instagram, staring enviously at others’ vacation photos, then fear not, we’re here to help.

This summer’s travel season is predicted to be the busiest on record, and to make sure you’re not missing out on the fun we’ve gathered together five great places for LGBTQ travelers to visit — no passport required.

So read on for our suggestions to satisfy your wanderlust.

Miami

Photo courtesy of Greater Miami and the Beaches

While it’s common to think of visiting Miami in the winter, it should not be discounted as a summer destination. Yes, the temperatures are high and the humidity can be thick, but does that really matter when you’re lounging by a beautiful pool with a cold cocktail in hand?

The beauty of visiting Miami in the summer is that it’s the city’s off-season, which means fewer tourists and bargain prices galore. In addition, all the things that make Miami appealing – from the stunning street art on the Wynwood Walls and the fun LGBTQ nightlife at Twist and Azucar Nightclub, to the authentic Cuban food found in Little Havana and the miles of beaches including 12th Street Gay Beach – are still there for you to enjoy in the summer.

Tip: Like your hotel room with an view? Check out the iconic Eden Roc, where all the rooms provide beautiful ocean views.

Provincetown

Photo courtesy of Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce CVB

Located at the tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown — or P-town as it’s lovingly called — has been a haven for members of the LGBTQ community since the early 1900s, and a top destination for LGBTQ visitors for the last 50 years.

Drawn to its picturesque beaches, unique boutiques and galleries, cozy accommodations, and welcoming nightlife, LGBTQ travelers can also enjoy a lineup of fun festivals throughout the summer, including Bear Week (July 13-21), Girl Splash (July 23-27), Family Week (July 27-Aug 3), and Carnival (Aug 15-24).

Tip: VACAYA, a new LGBTQ tour operator, is making its debut with a cruise from Aug. 11 to 18 aboard the 5-star Celebrity Summit, which will include an overnight stop in P-town during the start of Carnival.

Niagara Falls (New York)

Photo by Troy Petenbrink

Despite its famed Rainbow Bridge connecting the US and Canada, New York’s city of Niagara Falls is not going to be found on anyone’s list of LGBTQ meccas — but it doesn’t need to be. It’s a destination that everyone (that includes you) should visit, and the summer months are an ideal time to do it.

Often referred to as the 8th natural wonder of the world, the Niagara Falls are breathtaking — especially when viewed from the deck of the Maid of the Mist — as are the 400 acres of surrounding park land, first developed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the famed landscape designer responsible for Central Park in New York City,  and recently given a $65 million face-lift.

Beyond the waterfalls, you also have the opportunity to tour the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center and learn the stories of the freedom seekers who passed through Niagara Falls.

Tip: If you need more of a “gay scene,” consider combining your trip to Niagara Falls with a stay in nearby Buffalo, which has a very active and visible LGBTQ community.

Chicago

Photo courtesy of Choose Chicago

Chicagoans will often say they live in a city with two seasons, summer and not summer. While a (slight) exaggeration, summer in Chicago is the perfect time for you to catch the views from the Willis Tower Skydeck, take a cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady with the Chicago Architecture Foundation Center, and see the many masterpieces at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Summer in Chicago also means the return of Northalsted Market Days (Aug 10 & 11), a weekend long street festival held in the Boystown neighborhood (America’s first recognized gay village) that has become the city’s de facto second Pride celebration.

It features all-day lineups of entertainers on five stages, along with hundreds of unique vendors. Headliners for this year’s festival include Steve Grand, Sheila E., Deborah Cox, and DJ Dan Slater.

Tip: You can visit many of Chicago’s top attractions and save a bunch on admission prices by purchasing a CityPASS.

Portland

Photo courtesy of Travel Portland.

We could all learn a lot from Portland. It doesn’t shy away from its quirkiness — as a matter of act, it embraces it with the unofficial motto “Keep Portland Weird.” Of course, that begs the question of just how weird is Portland? Well, that’s for you to decide, and a summer visit is a great opportunity to do just that.

A few suggested places to visit that might help in your decision making process include Voodoo Doughnut; the “Mystic District,” home to Seagrape Bath & Body, Sugar Mountain Vintage, and Brown Bear Herbs Magical Mini Mart; and the Shanghai Tunnels.

You should also check out Portland’s nightlife that includes spots that cater specifically to the LGBTQ community, as well as plenty that welcome everyone — no matter how weird.

Tip: Take a trip just outside of Portland and visit SakeOne. It’s hands down one of the best brewers of sake outside of Japan.

Troy Petenbrink is Metro Weekly's contributing writer for food and travel. He can be reached at thegaytraveler@gmail.com.

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