Metro Weekly

Here Are the Top 6 LGBTQ Travel Destinations for 2023

This year is expected to see travelers return in numbers equal to pre-pandemic levels. And LGBTQ travelers will likely lead the way.

Sydney’s LGBTQ Mardi Gras Parade – Photo: Manologuerrero /

Following two years of COVID cancelations and restrictions that limited travel for many people, 2023 is expected to see travelers return in numbers equal to or greater than pre-pandemic levels. And LGBTQ travelers will likely lead the way.

“[The LGBTQ travelers] lead, and the rest follow,” said Roger Down, former president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, to USA Today.  “They’re adventurous and like new experiences. They have a penchant for travel far greater than their heterosexual counterparts. They travel more and spend more when they travel. They’re the darlings of the travel industry when it comes to spending and dollars.”

If you are one of the many LGBTQ travelers anxious to feed their wanderlust in the coming year, here are six destinations hosting significant LGBTQ events that are well worth a visit.

Sydney, Australia

Known to the world for its harbourfront opera house, Sydney is also well known among LGBTQ travelers as a welcoming destination.

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of Australia’s largest annual events and the longest-running Pride celebration in the Southern Hemisphere.

This year’s event will be even more spectacular as it coincides with the city’s hosting of WorldPride. From Feb. 17 to March 5, Sydney will host dozens of events including dance parties, concerts, art exhibits, parades, and film festivals.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico, Cabo San Lucas is a resort city on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.

From April 26 to May 6, it will also be the location of Olivia’s 50th-anniversary celebration. A leading travel company for LGBTQ women, it’s taking over the all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel Los Cabos with an unforgettable lineup of events to mark the milestone.

Pioneering feminist singer-songwriter and lesbian political activist Cris Williamson will be the headliner among an all-star line-up of entertainers that includes comedian Suzanne Westenhoefer and DJ Rockaway.

Orlando, Florida

With upwards of 75 million annual visitors, Orlando is the most visited city in the U.S. – and for good reasons. This Central Florida city is home to dozens of top theme parks, Michelin-starred restaurants, an abundance of national beauty, and world-class cultural attractions.

GayDays Orlando, which originally began as a single-day event in 1991 for local members of the LGBTQ community to visit Walt Disney World, is now a weeklong celebration attracting more than 150,000 attendees to dozens of events citywide.

This year’s GayDays will be held from May 31 to June 5, with the Doubletree by Hilton Orlando at Seaworld as the host hotel.

Sonoma, California

Located just an hour north of San Francisco, historic Sonoma is the gateway to the renowned Sonoma Valley winemaking region and its more than 400 wineries. It is also home to acclaimed restaurants, relaxing spas, and stunning beauty.

A great way to experience it all is by attending Out in the Vineyard’s Gay Wine Weekend. Going strong for more than 10 years, this year’s event, July 14 to 16, includes winery tours, winemaker dinners, and multiple parties as well as a new host venue, the luxury Vintners Resort

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is a city filled with rich traditions, yummy Cajun and Creole cuisine, and famed nightlife. It’s also a city with a long legacy as a haven for LGBTQ residents and visitors — New Orleans’ Cafe Lafitte in Exile, founded in 1933, is one of the oldest continuously-operating gay bars in the U.S.

Another testament to the Big Easy’s welcoming nature is Southern Decadence, a weekend-long festival that includes drag shows, bar events, pool parties, community events, and much more.  It has been going strong for over 50 years, and this year’s event is expected to attract upwards of 300,000 attendees, from Sept. 1 to Sept. 5.

Hong Kong, China

From rolling green mountains and tower skyscrapers to ancient temples and modern museums, Hong Kong is visually breathtaking. It also has a sophisticated fusion of east and west cultures, which has helped give growth to a vibrant and visible LGBTQ community.

The city’s many positive attributes are why it was selected to be the first destination in Asia to ever host the Gay Games, set for Nov. 3 to 11.

Expected to attract 7,000 participants and 25,000 visitors, the games will feature a wide variety of sporting events, opening and closing ceremonies, a festival village, and arts and cultural events.

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