The best of gay USA – a line-up of America’s most gay destinations

The American LGBTQ+ community is staying loud and proud with gay destinations across the country that will have you feeling as carefree as ever. In fact, some areas of the US have such a strong queer presence that you wonder if there are any straight people left! We have chosen the best gay-friendly destinations in the USA for every kind of vacation, or should we say ‘staycation’ that you can think of. We go beyond the best gay bars and take you to the heart of culture, nature, and history for a richer, more memorable trip. So no matter whether you are looking for a sleepy sun-filled beach trip, or if you want to get your adrenaline pumping by hiking up a hill (or skiing down it), we have found the best gay-friendly spots within the US that are waiting to welcome you with open minds and open arms to their very own queer community.

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Best city - Portland, Oregon

While New York and Philly are certainly perfect for a party, for those who prefer a more wholesome, well-rounded city break, Portland is the place to go. Sure, the downtown party scene is as good as it gets with famous Portland gay bars like CC Slaughter’s and Silverado, but if you prefer suave and sleek to sultry and sexy, there are plenty of refined bars and restaurants for a more elegant evening, like Hobo’s piano bar and Vault Martini.

Photo: Brian Kyed

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The gay scene in Portland is not limited to just one neighbourhood – it’s everywhere

What’s more, the gay scene in Portland is not limited to just one neighbourhood – it’s everywhere. From the Alberta Arts District to Mississippi Avenue, the city’s diverse, open-minded, artistic culture is very inclusive of the LGBTQ community.

The Pearl District is the city’s hippest ‘hood with converted warehouses, art galleries, boutiques, brewpubs, and record shops. However, if you want to support LGBTQ businesses, you will find the most in the Burnside Triangle, affectionately nicknamed ‘Pink Triangle’ by its gay locals.

Portland Travel Guide

Photo: Zack Spear

Best beach - Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Within easy reach from almost anywhere along the Eastern Seaboard, the quaint and traditional Rehoboth Beach is the ideal location for a quiet beach break. Think boardwalks, saltwater taffy, striped deckchairs, and dusty white beaches.

Rehoboth Beach has long been a gay-friendly resort, but since CAMP Rehoboth Community Centre opened in 1991, the LGBTQ community has been central to the town’s development. Today, Rehoboth is a blossoming vacation spot with over 200 gay-owned boutique hotels, stores, restaurants, and bars.

From cute gift shops to amusement arcades, and fine seafood restaurants to candy stores, Rehoboth Beach’s boardwalk is known as one of the finest along the East Coast. A stroll along there will take you to Poodle Beach, a predominantly gay spot where you can soak up the sun in solitude. As the sun goes down, Baltimore Avenue comes alive with entertainment from renowned gay bars like the famous Blue Moon.

Photo: Ussama Azam

Rehoboth Beach | Photo: The Tampa Bay Estuary Program

Best skiing - Aspen, Colorado

Founded more than 40 years ago, Aspen Gay Ski Week is the longest-running gay ski festival in America. Each year, this historical high-end ski town hosts a series of events for the gay community, from cocktail receptions to comedy clubs, although it’s really all about aprés ski.

Of course, a lot of snow sports take place during Aspen Gay Ski Week too because, after all, the resort has four of the country’s most picturesque and rideable mountains. Aspen Mountain, the host of the World Cup Finals in 2017, has that covetable ski-in/ski-out convenience, while Snowmass Mountain has over 3000 acres of diverse skiable terrain.

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Founded more than 40 years ago, Aspen Gay Ski Week is the longest-running gay ski festival in America

Inching beyond the resort town, you can find plenty of other outdoor activities to stimulate the lungs, come winter or summer. You can hike, climb, fish and camp around Maroon Bells in the rugged Elk Mountains, giving you some quiet time to reflect and recuperate in the fresh mountain air.

Photo: Holly Mandarich

Aspen, Colorado | Photo: Adam Rinehart

Best adventure - Joshua Tree, California

Just a two-hour drive from LA, Joshua Tree National Park is the ideal place to escape city life and find respite. As a vast desert landscape sprinkled with mesmerising rock formations, it’s easy to feel humbled, grounded and like you have the whole world to yourself here.

Whether you like hiking, camping, rock climbing, or even bird watching, Joshua Tree’s natural playground is perfect for the adventurous spirit. And although the striking beauty of the landscape will no doubt be imprinted in your memory forever, there are many sensational photo opportunities not to be missed around the park.

Being close to the lively Palm Springs, it’s easy to find your way back to the throes of society and indulge in a slice of luxury with an array of exclusively gay bars, hotels, and restaurants to choose from. As the go-to getaway for Hollywood’s famous queer icons throughout history, you never know who you might bump into.

Joshua Tree | Photo: Tom Carroll

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Castro is the epicentre for all things gay and fabulous with exclusive gay boutique B&B’s dotted around the area

Best overall - San Francisco, California

As Life Magazine’s 1964 ‘Gay Capital of America’, could there be anywhere better to take a break from daily life than in San Francisco? The city has been central to the progress of LGBTQ rights in the US, with the first gay bar in the country, the first gay pride parade and the first same-sex marriage.

Today you can see where the history of San Francisco’s gay culture unfolded by visiting the city’s oldest operating gay bar in Polk Gulch, the original gay district of San Fran. Today, however, Castro is the epicentre for all things gay and fabulous, and with exclusive gay boutique B&B’s dotted around the area, you’re sure to feel at home.

Of course, there is much more to this multifaceted city than just its vibrant queer culture; hop on one of San Fran’s public bikes with a bike share app and cycle round the most splendid sights of the city. Be warned though – it’s rather hilly!

Torpedo Wharf | Photo: Ragnar Vorel

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