Gay-friendly vacation spots?
September 28, 2012 9:23 AM   Subscribe

Where should my girlfriend and I go on vacation in January? We're open to pretty much anything - and that's the problem.

Apologies in advance for the broadness of this question…

We're in DC (we = two ladies in our mid/late twenties) and have a little over a week to go on vacation in early January (we'll leave on a Thursday or Friday and come back the following Saturday). I've searched the archives, but generally the questions are asking about the gay-friendliness of specific destinations, which we don't have yet. I've had terrific success searching the archives for when we had actual destinations in mind, but it's harder when I don't know where we're going.

Anyway! We're open to going skiing, going to the beach, going abroad, or going to visit friends in other cities (Atlanta, New York, and Austin (we lived in Austin for several years)). We don't mind driving, but I've never driven in snow and my girlfriend hasn't in several years. We're OK with 9-10 hours of traveling. We like outdoor activities (my girlfriend is especially obsessed with the idea of cross-country skiing), craft beers, good coffee, delicious eats, and walkable cities. I really like beautiful places, college towns, and reading for hours on end. My girlfriend needs slightly more entertainment than that, but that generally just means a little bit of browsing in stores or a day hike. We don't care about the weather and there's a possibility we'll be in Vegas in February. Price is not a huge issue because we have almost no living expenses.

Places we've been together: Denver, Acadia NP, Seattle, New York City, Boston, Asheville, Vermont, Montreal, Vancouver, Paris, Amsterdam, Munich, Freiburg, Ghent, and Bruges

Places we've both been, separately: Zion NP, Bryce NP, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone NP, London, and Italy

I've traveled a fair amount in the US, but there are many major cities I've never been to (Philadelphia, Chicago, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Portland (OR)) and I've never been to Alaska or Hawaii. I have been to Edinburgh and Switzerland. My girlfriend has traveled abroad more than I have (New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, Mexico, Austria, and Spain) and more widely in the US (including Hawaii, but not any of the cities I named other than LA, where her grandma lives).

tl;dr: Please tell us where we should go on vacation. The only requirement is that our destination is gay-friendly. Oh, and I'd like to catch the NFL games on Sunday, if possible.
posted by vakker to Travel & Transportation (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
San Diego. My wife and I go all the time because we have friends there. But its got comfortable temperatures (evenings are on the cool side, wear a sweater or light jacket). It's football crazy so no problem finding the NFL, and has a well established gay area in the Hillcrest neighbourhood.
posted by dry white toast at 9:27 AM on September 28, 2012

Go to Key West. The weather is nice and there's lots to do. I am not gay, but when I was last there, in January, we saw a lot of gay women enjoying the city.
posted by Jenna Brown at 9:27 AM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

You could head south for summery Buenos Aires!
posted by lois1950 at 9:30 AM on September 28, 2012

For the second time this week, I'm going to recommend Portland. Because: craft beers, good coffee, delicious eats, and walkable cities. I really like beautiful places, college towns, and reading for hours on end. My girlfriend needs slightly more entertainment than that, but that generally just means a little bit of browsing in stores or a day hike. We don't care about the weather

Split your time between a home base in town (the Ace Hotel is the standard answer) and Timberline, about an hour away on Mt. Hood. Drive up the Columbia River Gorge and hike to the top of Multnomah Falls.
posted by purpleclover at 9:37 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

How about a cruise. You can do a regular cruise (reasonably gay-friendly) or do a Gay Cruise, if that appeals more.

I'm older and Husbunny and I like cruises because we are pampered and catered to and we can do or not do as we please.

You can do a Caribbean cruise pretty inexpensively, or you can get the Presidential Suite (we did that once on an upgrade thing and it's a pretty fabulous way to travel. The private pool was the highlight.)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:40 AM on September 28, 2012

I'm biased because I live here, but craft beers good coffee and a walkable gay-friendly city with day hikes? Sounds like Portland to me! Seriously. It's beautiful, the food is amazing, and you can probably stop by a MeFi meet-up!
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:41 AM on September 28, 2012

San Francico for sure! Super queer lovely. Never freezing. You can take a road trip to Tahoe to ski. Amazing food. Incredibly walkable. Amazing nature all around you (like Redwoods to the north). Great coffee shops to read in, bookstores that still live. I'm not a big drinker but lots of bars there with character. Oh and sea lions! No such thing as a lesbian vacation without those! Oh, and Santa Cruz. Take the coast road down and rent a private hot tub that you sit in while drinking tea! I'm jealous and you haven't even left for your trip yet!
posted by anya32 at 9:42 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

What does gay friendly mean to you? Gay bars? Lots of local visibly queer folks? Or some place you won't really be hassled? Being able to say you want one bed without them giving you weird looks, or forcing you into a room with twin beds? It means different things to different people.

I'm queer and well-travelled, and happy to give further recommendations with a bit more detail about this requirement.

Rio is freaking amazing. A week is pushing it, but there are cheap flights on Spirit, and it's an awesome destination.
posted by barnone at 9:50 AM on September 28, 2012

What I would do (because this IS what I do, more or less, each year when planning our vacation) is to write down a bunch of difference places that sound interesting, put them in a hat (or, an envelope or whatever), pick one out, and go wherever is written on the piece of paper. The world is full of amazingness and it sounds like you are good travelers who enjoy a wide range of places. So just pick one and go!
posted by something something at 10:11 AM on September 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

Seconding San Francisco. I was there last January. It's a great time to be there in terms of weather. Definitely gay friendly, amazing food, loads of little shops and neighborhoods to explore, and beautiful scenery.
posted by DeltaForce at 10:43 AM on September 28, 2012

Hawaii is crazy cheap that time of year, if you're interested in it at all might be worth going just because the timing means you won't be able to go there so cheaply any other time. I love SF but January is rainy season--it can sometimes rain 20 or more days in a row in January! Not pleasant.
posted by animalrainbow at 10:44 AM on September 28, 2012

Ah, this is an easy one :) The sunspot cycle is approaching its 11 year peak. And the Nordic countries are some of the most gay friendly - socially and legally - in the world.

So you and your partner head to the arctic circle and thereabouts, of Norway, Sweden and/or Finland. Fjords, mountains, snow, forests, reindeer, quite amazing food and drink, beautiful cities (stop off at Stockholm), log cabins, wide open spaces, hotels made from ice, and friendly people.

And above all, you experience this and this together, and it becomes one of those highlights of your life that you will never forget.
posted by Wordshore at 11:00 AM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Thirding the SF Bay Area! Even if it's gets moody and foggy in San Francisco, drive 30, 40 minutes south and you'll be in much sunnier climes--I live in the South Bay, and I swear I never had to break out my winter coat and waterproof boots last winter. There are tonnes of interesting stuff within a 20min to 2 hour drive anywhere--Napa, Tahoe, Berkeley, Santa Cruz/Monterey, 17 mile drive through Pebble Beach, the Muir Woods national monument etc. In the city, there will be plenty of good bookstores (City Lights, Green Apple, Dog Eared, Borderlands), good eats, great coffee (Sightglass, Four Barrel, Ritual, Blue Bottle), and fun shops!
posted by peripathetic at 11:05 AM on September 28, 2012

2nding Key West. It's a close as you can get to leaving the country without actually leaving the country. Fantastic climate, super relaxed vibe. No car needed, great food, etc.
posted by jquinby at 11:17 AM on September 28, 2012

Missed out in the bit about Scandinavia - it's pretty much the home (especially Norway) of cross-country ski-ing, as you mentioned it. In Rovaniemi (Finnish city on the Arctic circle) tend to see more people on skis at that time of the year than in vehicles. It's pretty much how they turned their national health issue around a few decades back.

(Also, the winners of the Eurovision song contest a few years ago came from there and filmed this video of their winning song locally, but that's perhaps not part of your criteria :)
posted by Wordshore at 11:30 AM on September 28, 2012

Hawaii, because it's whale-watching season (Dec - Mar only). It is expensive to go in the winter, because of the whales (they generate their own high season). We were there this past Jan, and the whale-watching was incredible (south shore, Kauai).

I apologize for not knowing about Kauai gay-friendly-ness part of the question.

We live in the SF Bay Area, so of course it's gay-friendly; but you may not know that Oakland has been called a lesbian mecca, including the awesomely-named Hella Gay dance party.
posted by honey badger at 11:43 AM on September 28, 2012

Thirding Key West. Key West is so lovely once you get past the shops that sell "Who Farted?" t-shirts. Also, it's a short enough flight from DC that you aren't going to spend too much of your vacation on the plane.

Curacao is one of the Caribbean islands that is most committed to welcoming gay and lesbian travelers. I really love it; it is a little strange because it's mostly desert rather than richly forested like many other Caribbean islands, but there are wonderful things to do at the national park (including hiking and mountain biking!) and there is great snorkeling and diving if you do that, and beautiful weird caves that have charming guided tours and also delicious food. And beaches.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:59 PM on September 28, 2012

I do think that Wordshore's suggestion of going somewhere in Scandinavia and seeing the Northern Lights together is pretty incredible, though, and now I want to do that. I just always need to do WARM vacations in the winter.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:01 PM on September 28, 2012

posted by ImproviseOrDie at 3:05 PM on September 28, 2012

If you haven't yet been to New Orleans, I highly recommend it. Generally good weather but not hot in January; very walkable, easy public transit & cheap cabs. Several beer pubs - the best is The Bulldog on Magazine St- and at least two smallish local beer brands, Abita and NOLA. NOLA is brewed right in the city. Good coffee and plenty of excellent coffeehouses - CC's and PJ's are two local-to-the-city chains. The architecture, especially in the French Quarter and Garden District, is beautiful. Museums, landmarks and cultural experiences a-plenty. And the food! Just utterly fantastic! As for an outdoor activity, rent a car or take a tour out to the Barataria Preserve to hike thorugh the swamp & bayou; in-town, stroll along the Mississippi River on "The Fly" or wander through either Audubon Park or City Park. Lastly, if the queerest thing about you is that you're together as a couple....well, that's not weird enough for New Orleans to even notice.
posted by Ardea alba at 5:51 PM on September 29, 2012

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