More Bang for your Buck :: Top US Gay Destinations

by Richard Frisbie

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday May 23, 2008

No longer are gay travel destinations within the US just Fire Island, P-Town or San Francisco, although they are still the grand old stalwarts of gay leisure. And now joining them on the pink itinerary are unusual places where gays can enjoy great food, culture and scenery, all with the special ambiance of everything from the serenity of chamber music to the pumping beat of the club scene. With three different geographic regions represented, driving or flying to these top destinations is easy. Just follow the links below to arrange a dream vacation.

Let the Music be Your Muse

To find the music in you try Austin, Texas. Long known as a collective for arts and culture, Austin is one of the few cities in the country to support a professional ballet, opera, symphony, and theater company. It is a Blue zone in a Red state, if you will, with a thriving gay population and a lively nightlife. While I'd avoid it in the hot humid days of Summer, this three season city will not disappoint. The University of Texas keep the demographics young on the thriving music and club scene of Sixth Street. It's time to get over your Texas prejudice and make a beeline for Austin.

Denver "Queen City of the Plains"

For the outdoorsman, or to find one, visit Denver, Colorado. Called the "Queen City of the Plains", Denver's Colfax-Capitol Hill section is a large gay enclave with restaurants, shopping and nightclubs to suit every taste. Denver's proximity to all the hiking, fishing and skiing the Rockies offer makes it a four season destination. New wings on the Museum of Contemporary Art, designed by David Adjaye, and the Denver Art Museum, designed by Daniel Libeskind offer all the exciting art, architecture and culture one could ask for. Next door Boulder, that young, hip college town of free thinkers is a destination in its own right. This is definitely a two-for-one trip; a place all appetites can be satisfied in the "Rocky Mountain High" of Colorado.

Philadelphia "City of Brotherly Love"

If you want horticulture, history and culture, Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, can't be beat. The region, including the Brandywine Valley, is so gay-friendly you'll think everyone you meet is gay. For the history buffs, the William Way LGBT Community Center on Spruce Street is the nexus of gay history in a city where the first Gay Rights demonstration was held in 1965, and one of the first anti-gay bias laws was passed in 1982. To celebrate this independence, stop at the Liberty Bell Center and Independence Hall to experience the true roots of our freedom. For horticulture, the Philadelphia Flower Show each Spring draws people from all over the world to a truly international event. In other seasons Longwood Gardens and Winterthur, plus arboretums and smaller gardens throughout the region offer spectacular blooms and events. The dancing fountains of Longwood, synchronized to music and occasionally fireworks, are the highlight of any visit.

Center City - the Gay Heart of Philly

For the urbanite, a tour of the narrow streets around Center City's Washington Square West will reveal the gay heart of the city. Here you'll be rewarded with great shopping, restaurants and clubs in a truly gay-friendly environment. With museums featuring the works of Andrew Wyeth, the eclectic art and object d'art arrangements of the Barnes Foundation and 200 other sites of interest, the Philadelphia area is a cultural Mecca.

Test your Sea Legs with a Gay Cruise

Outside the US, the best value in gay travel is still a cruise. Cruising is the most affordable and the most popular gay vacation choice today. With the dollar expected to continue to drop against the Euro, you could experience considerable savings by paying in advance with US dollars to lock in the value months before you go. The ship is your hotel and even your restaurant while you are in foreign ports, so expenses can be as minimum as you wish. Museum admissions and club minimums, along with an occasional drink and bite of food, would insure that your entertainment dollar goes a long way. There are cruise lines or theme tours specifically for gay men, (Atlantis) lesbians (Olivia) and even for families and friends. If you enjoy a mix of people, not just an homogeneous scene, the latter is your choice. There will be children, straight friends and relatives, plus gay men and women, all relaxed, enjoying the entertainment and events with a gay sensibility.

More Bang for Your Buck

Whether your interests lie in music, history, or the outdoors, the three destinations of Austin (TX), Denver (CO) and Philadelphia (PA) offer the widest variety of culture and entertainment for the best value. Include a cruise and you have four vacations that offer the biggest bang for your buck.

Richard Frisbie is a bookseller and publisher in New York State whose food & wine travel articles appear in LGBTQ and regional periodicals, as-well-as at, and He accepts free copies of books for review, restaurant meals to critique, bottles of wine and liquor for tastings, and all-expense-paid trips in exchange for articles about the destinations. He is paid for these articles. Richard promotes informed, authentic information about food, wine and travel, and does not allow the financial arrangements and/or sponsorship to affect his judgment. You can email him at: [email protected]