Metro Weekly

5 Fall LGBTQ Travel Picks

From Atlanta to West Hollywood, these five destinations are perfect for a fall vacation

Autumn brings cooling temps, changing colors, and new opportunities to explore destinations that shine during the fall season. Here are five picks for LGBTQ travelers:

Atlantic City

The Atlantic City skyline

New Jersey’s top seaside resort destination, Atlantic City offers travelers world class gaming, wide beaches, the iconic boardwalk. and a long history of welcoming LGBTQ travelers.

In recent year’s Atlantic City has undergone a mini-renaissance, especially along the northern end of the boardwalk that is now branded as North Beach Atlantic City. It centers around the historic Steel Pier that features dozens of amusement rides, carnival games, and eateries. It’s also home to some of the city’s most popular hotels and casinos, including the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (former Taj Mahal), which is following up its recent hosting of the annual Miss’d America Drag Pageant with HallowQueen, a drag-themed Halloween party staring Thorgy Thor, Sherry Vine, Pandora Boxx, and Phi Phi O’Hara on Saturday, Oct. 26.  There is also the Showboat Hotel, which recently opened the LGBTQ-welcoming Club Unique.

MGM’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa is one of Atlantic City’s largest properties and an off-the-boardwalk oasis offering travelers elegant accommodations, celebrity chef driving dining options, exciting entertainment venues, outstanding spa, large fitness center, and multiple indoor pools.  It has also operates OUT at Borgata, an LGBTQ promotion program for a number of years 

And while summer is traditionally a popular time to visit Atlantic City, the fall season provides for smaller crowds and lower rates, but weather that still makes for pleasant walks along the boardwalk and beach.

Roanoke 

Mountain biking in Roanoke, Virginia

If seeing colorful foliage is part of your fall travel plans, Roanoke and its surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains of southwest Virginia deserve a look. In addition to its picturesque downtown that offers plenty of hotels, restaurants, craft breweries, and attractions for travelers to enjoy, Roanoke is one of the best destinations in the country for outdoor recreation, with exceptional opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, cycling, and paddling, all within the city limits.

Noteworthy fall events in Roanoke include Jeter Farm Fall Festival and Country Store happening every Saturday through Oct. 27, and Go Outside Festival from Oct. 18 to 20.

Visitors should also plan some indoor time at the Taubman Museum of Art, which just premiered, POP Power from Warhol to Koons, a groundbreaking exhibit celebrating the evolution of Pop art running through March 8. And fans of rail travel can enjoy Amtrak’s direct daily service between D.C. and Roanoke.

Atlanta

A Whale shark at the Georgia Aquarium

The capital city of Georgia, Atlanta is an ever-evolving city with Southern charm and world-class sophistication. Among its many attractions are the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, CNN Studio, and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights (FYI – Visitors can save more than 40% on admission to these and other attractions with a CityPASS).

It also has a thriving LGBTQ community and active nightlife scene centered around Atlanta’s Midtown neighborhood, home to Blake’s On The Park, Bulldog’s, and The Atlanta Eagle, among others. Atlanta Pride is one of the top Pride celebrations in the U.S. with a packed schedule of events from Oct. 11 to Oct. 13 including a kick-off party at the Georgia Aquarium, a parade through Midtown, and festival in the beautiful Piedmont Park.

A leading sponsor of Atlanta Pride, Marriott is offering an official Pride Package at many of its properties throughout the Atlanta area during the entire month of October.

Santa Fe

Santa Fe’s New Mexico Museum of Art

Follow a margarita trail, eat green (or red) chile enchiladas, tour the oldest continuously occupied public building in the U.S., look upon astonishing landscapes once painted by Georgia O’Keeffe and photographed by Ansel Adams, explore more than 250 art galleries, have a rejuvenating massage at one of the top rated spas in the world… the list of unique things one can do during a visit to n Santa Fe is exhaustive.

The capital of New Mexico is one of the oldest cities founded by European colonists in the United States, and Santa Fe ranks among the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the country. The fall season is a particularly popular time to visit Santa Fe, as many people are drawn to the city for pre-holiday shopping opportunities and festivities.

West Hollywood

Micky’s in West Hollywood — Photo: Ryan Forbes Photography, West Hollywood Travel + Tourism Board

With more than a third of its residents identifying as members of the LGBTQ community, West Hollywood makes up some of the gayest two square miles of space in the country.

Situated midway between downtown LA and the coastal city of Santa Monica, WeHo bills itself as the “cultural and geographical heart” of the Los Angeles region. Visitors can stay in a sleek hotel such as the Mondrian or Andaz; see world class attractions such as Hammer Museum and MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House; eat at notable restaurants such as Lucques and Connie and Ted’s; and play at iconic LGBTQ nightlife venues such as Micky’s.

A well timed fall visit can also included the opportunity to join Halloween Carnaval on Oct. 31, a free one-mile long street party on Santa Monica Boulevard drawing hundreds of thousands of costume-clad participants.

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

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