Gone are the days where gay singles and couples traveled on the down low to places they would be least likely to be harassed or ostracized. Now, gay friendly travel is as out in the open as the singles and couples happily embarking on cruises, flights, and one-of-a-kind adventures around the world. The US is not to be left out – we’ve got quite the handful of gay friendly cities among our 50 states, and we’ve narrowed it down to four gems. While you definitely don’t have to be gay to fully appreciate the beauty and fun of the top gay friendly cities in the US, these four are chosen for their unique contributions to gay civil rights.
Nestled among fringe theaters and historical mansions, Capitol Hill is a must see when you’re in Seattle. Located near Lake Union and Downtown Seattle, Capitol Hill has been voted one of the top places to visit in Seattle (for everyone!). Every year Three Dollar Bill Cinema hosts a Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. This year’s event will be held in October the 9th through the 19th. Also check out Volunteer Park and stop for brunch at Witness.
A couple of years ago, Jennifer Cast, an early Amazon employee and lesbian mother of four, asked her former boss (billionaire founder of Amazon) to donate money to the same-sex marriage cause in Washington State. He responded by agreeing to donate 12 times more than she initially suggested, and now same sex marriage is legal and recognized in the state.
San Francisco, California
Perhaps the most well-known gay district in the country, The Castro (on Castro Street between Market and 19th Street) is the place to see and be seen in San Francisco. Whether you’re dancing at Badlands, brunching at Frances, mellow hanging at Blackbird or Lex, there’s no doubt you’ll have a great time in the Bay.
As one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, San Francisco is a great place to visit besides the gay scene. The city also has world class food, killer views, not-to-be-beat attractions, and is a short drive to Napa Valley – wine mecca of California. Plus, one of the biggest gay pride parades and celebrations takes place in San Francisco on June 28th-29th. Up Your Alley Street Fair July 27.
For your San Francisco history, Harvey Milk was the first openly out politician in the US. He served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1978 and was assassinated in his post (along with the mayor of San Francisco). Harvey Milk is widely remembered for advancing gay rights.
Los Angeles, California
Drive down the California coast to West Hollywood for a gay-friendly retreat in Southern California. From drinks at the Abbey, dancing at Eleven Bar and Nightclub or the Frolic Room, to Sunday brunch at Hugo’s, there’s so much going on in West Hollywood. Los Angeles is always the #1 or #2 tourist destination for the United States, and West Hollywood capitalizes on this with great food, art and improv comedy shows, and non-stop concerts.
West Hollywood is particularly famous for being haunting grounds of a number of famous gay actors and actresses. Rumor has it that Lady Gaga hangs out at the Abbey. Also, every year Los Angeles hosts the GLADD Media Awards to highlight the appearance and impact of the LGBT community in the media.
San Diego, California
The Hillcrest neighborhood is putting forth a solid effort to unseat The Castro as the top gayborhood in the US. University Avenue has a shuttle system to take patrons from one end of the neighborhood to the other, exploring the dozens of restaurants, bars, independent shops, and clubs in between. Many of the businesses in Hillcrest are gay owned, and there’s even a new gay brewery called Hillcrest Brewing Company (with beers that rival the rest of them!). Notable spots are happy hour at Baja Betty’s, brunch at the (infamous) Hash House A Go Go, and dancing at Rich’s. The popular Gossip Grill moved into a much bigger space and now has two bars, a dance floor, and outside seating, right in the heart of Hillcrest.
The San Diego Gay Pride Festival is a must! The city puts a lot of effort into the parade, the festival and all the events surrounding the celebration. The festival is held in Balboa Park and has three stages with dancing, food vendors, and beer tents, not to mention one of the longest parade routes. The rest of San Diego has so much to offer, too! Balboa Park, Seaport Village, La Jolla, and plenty of kid-friendly activities mean your San Diego trip can include the whole family.
Providence, Rhode Island
Looking for a nice, quiet, gay-friendly city on the East Coast? Providence is a college town, a collection of ethnic communities, and is one of the fastest growing gay populations in the country. A high number of restaurants, many performing arts and theatrical organizations, and a thriving underground music scene make Providence the ideal place to escape for a long weekend. The Providence Gay and Lesbian Film Festival takes place every year in August – which is also a wonderful time to visit!
Providence had the first openly gay mayor of any US State. David Cicilline won his seat as an openly gay man, and recently left after serving his 8 year term; the city was also (briefly) the largest American city to have an openly gay mayor.