The importance of highlighting cities that are especially LGBTQ+ friendly cannot be understated. Safety and security are two important considerations when making travel choices as any tourist, but this can be especially true for members of the LGBTQ+ community when weighing their destination options. In the United States, there are a variety of cities that are known for being a melting pot of culture and diversity, as well as being friendly destinations for LGBTQ+ identifying tourists. If you’re looking for LGBTQ+ friendly destinations to visit, consider visiting one of these cities next.
San Francisco, California
It may come as no surprise that when discussing cities that are friendly toward the LGBTQ+ community, San Francisco rightfully remains at the top of many lists. Sometimes referred to as the gay capital of the world, San Francisco is home to the historic Castro District, where you can find tons of LGBTQ+-owned businesses and historical landmarks, including the iconic Castro Theater and The GLBT Historical Society Museum.
There are also countless restaurants, bars, and shops you can support in this area of the city, which can all be found through The Castro Merchants. They’re an organization that highlights the wide variety of businesses within the Castro District, many of which are owned by queer-identifying people. Nevertheless, definitely don’t feel like you’re confined to one area while visiting San Francisco as the city is filled with many places and sights worth visiting.
P-town. For nearly a century, Provincetown has been a bohemian haven for gay and lesbian travelers. This colorful tip of Cape Cod is a welcoming favorite for the LGBTQ+ community and events draw crowds year round, not just during June for Pride celebrations. In August, Carnival attracts upwards of 90,000 people for a flamboyant parade down Commercial Street. Swing by local favorite, Connie’s Bakery for coffee and backed goods made from scratch, in-house and by hand daily. Stay at 8 Dyer Hotel, a chef-owned historical guesthouse that favors local, organic produce and heavily supports the local community.
New York City, New York
Similar to San Francisco on the West Coast, New York City is a well-known hub for the LGBTQ+ community on the East Coast. Some of the more famous areas known to be friendly are the Chelsea District, Hell’s Kitchen and more recently, the Meatpacking District. There, you can find countless of LGBTQ+-owned bars, like The Edge and El Rio, and businesses to visit during your trip. New York City is also the destination of the largest Pride event in the whole world, when millions of people travel to the Big Apple during the month of June to celebrate.
Celebrations include a variety of parades, music events, and street parties. New York City also remains an extremely important city in terms of LGBTQ+ history with important historical landmarks like the famous Stonewall Inn and Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, a museum showcasing art related to LGBTQ+ experiences.
South of New York City, the city of Philadelphia proudly has a growing LGBTQ+ presence in the city and an established tourism industry related to that presence. In midtown Philadelphia, there is an area that is referred to as the “Gayborhood,” where there is a large variety of LGBTQ+ owned shops, bars and restaurants to add to your itinerary.
Some of the most popular gay bars in the Philadelphia area are Woody’s, U Bar, Tavern on Camac, and Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar, which is considered the first gay sports bar in Philly. You can also book private tours of the Gayborhood with Beyond the Bell Tours, which can definitely give you a different perspective on the city of brotherly love.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Fort Lauderdale is a friendly destination for members of LGBTQ+ community because of the prominent population of queer residents and hundreds of businesses that are also owned by community members throughout the city. While the official month of Pride is June, Fort Lauderdale hosts their own Pride event every February where you can find a week-long amount of festivities and LGBTQ+ identifying vendors to support. If you’re looking to learn more about history, you should consider visiting The Stonewall National Museum and Archives and World AIDS Museum.
San Diego, California
From the beautiful beaches to the year round sun, San Diego is a desirable locale for anyone. For the LGBTQ+ community, however, it is a friendly hot spot. The thriving Hillcrest neighborhood is located in the heart of San Diego, near Balboa Park and downtown San Diego. University Avenue is chock full of gay bars and nightclubs. Urban MO’s is perfect for day drinking and and Rich’s is a nighttime mainstay. A supper club run by drag queens, Lips is always a party in itself.
The city of Austin prides itself on the fact that unlike other cities, their LGBTQ+ population is not concentrated in one district, but instead are throughout the entire city. Furthermore, the city has expressed an interest in expanding LGBTQ+ tourism in the city, recognizing its contributions to the entire tourism economy. The gay-friendly Bunkhouse boutique hotels in Austin, Hotel San Jose, Austin Motel, Hotel Magdalena and Hotel Saint Cecilia are all rooted in local community, art, culture and sustainability. You can’t go wrong with any of them!
New Orleans, Louisiana
It’s not just Mardi Gras and jambalaya in New Orleans. The southern city is chock full of history and acceptance. One of the oldest gay bars in the United States, Cafe Lafitte in Exile, has been LGBTQ+ friendly ever since the Prohibition era, way before the acronym was all-encompassing. Check out our guide to an LGBTQ+ friendly trip to New Orleans to plan your next trip.
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