7 gay-friendly off-season destinations that are easy on the wallet
Summer has bid us adieu, but that’s no reason to put your luggage away. There are lots of great LGBT-friendly destinations to consider this fall, many of which are more affordable than they were just a month ago. (Resort communities hate the term “off-season,” but travelers love it.)
What new adventures should be on your itinerary? Peep our picks below, and start planning your getaway today, from warm climes to more autumnal.
Puerto Vallarta. With the majestic Sierra Madre Mountains on one side and Mexico’s picturesque Bay of Banderas on the other, the four-Diamond, luxury beachfront CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa is a sight to behold. And now that it’s become the first hotel in the area to earn a certification in LGBT Service Excellence from Out Now Global, there’s no reason to consider any other accommodations. Available experiences include cultural immersion programs, tequila tastings, voluntourism opportunities like sea-turtle rescue programs, beachside dining, and more. Rates start at an eye-rubbing $89 per night so you can live la vida loca without going broke-a.
Palm Springs. Did you know that it’s estimated that between 30 and 50 percent of Palm Springs residents are LGBT? It goes without saying that this vacation destination is LGBT friendly, of course, but there’s more to the famed desert resort city than meets the eye. For starters, it offers one of the largest selections of gay-owned and affordable B&Bs in the world; you really can’t go wrong. Throw in the Cinema Diverse LGBT Festival (September); Greater Palm Springs Pride Weekend (November); an array of cultural, outdoor, and low-cost adventure options, and you’ve got an autumn weekend to remember.
Charlotte, N.C. This probably isn’t a place that pops into your head when you’re considering a gay-friendly getaway … but maybe it should be. The Queen City (how fitting, right?) recently hosted one of the largest gay Pride festivals in the Southeast with more than 100,000 attendees. And there are innumerable LGBT- friendly activities to fill your must-do-and-see list, like watching gay athletes in action on the Charlotte Royals rugby team and the Charlotte Roller Girls derby team; catching LGBT-focused performances by the Charlotte Pride Band and Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte; dining at historic local restaurants; and exploring the nightlife scene with stops at The Scorpio, Petra’s Piano Bar & Cabaret and Bar 316.
Washington, D.C. The nation’s capital might not seem like an attractive place to kick your merry gay feet up, but you might be surprised to learn that the District of Columbia was recently voted one of the most gay-friendly cities in America. The Embassy Row Hotel, located in the Dupont Circle gayborhood, embraces that title by welcoming with open arms LGBT travelers looking for a getaway with a splash of urban glitz and glamour. There are more than 80 restaurants, galleries and retail shops within steps of the hotel, and it now offers the only rooftop pool and terrace in the area. Special deals run occasionally (like book two nights, get the third free), and the Drag Queen Brunch Package is three snaps in a Z-formation.
West Virginia. Feeling a bit rugged this autumn? Roll up your sleeves in McDowell County, W. Va., where you can get down and dirty with ATV riding, world-class trout fishing, railfanning, visits to historical sites like the Pocahontas Exhibition Coal Mine, state parks and forests and golf (which isn’t that rugged, but still fun nonetheless). To lay your pretty homo head at night, consider the Elkhorn Inn & Theater, a 14-guest room, historic “Coal Heritage Trail” inn in Landgraff, the owners of which say has “always been LGBT friendly!” Rates start at $120 per night for free continental breakfast and charming rooms that feature antique claw-foot tubs.
Finger Lakes, N.Y. If you’re a fan of fall foliage and all the cozy activities associated with the season, you’ll feel at home in the Finger Lakes region of New York, which has several LGBT-friendly hotels certified by PurpleRoofs.com. Take in the breathtaking views on land by biking or hiking, on the water via boat or soar high above it all with hot-air balloon and gliding rides. Gay inclusive accommodations in the area start at $99 per night and include The Inns of Aurora, Argos Inn, Black Sheep Inn, Vintage Gardens B&B, William Henry Miller Inn, and Blackberry Inn Bed & Breakfast.
Vermont. For those who enjoy staying healthy and active, New Life Hiking Spa has just what the doctor ordered. This multi-award-winning, all-inclusive and affordable resort features packages that range from the two- to four-night Mini Vacation, five- to 10-night Jump Start Getaway, and the 11-or-more-night Weight Loss Retreat. Packages start at $219 and include lodging, meals, full days of activities, and spa services.
P.S. If you’re not the type to sit around and meditate, however, gay-owned Trevin Farms in Sudbury, Vt., is probably more your speed. At this “Green Hotel in the Green Mountain State,” you can learn about today’s small farms, milk goats, make cheese, and party like it’s 1899 for $110 per night and up. •
— Mikey Rox
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 19, 2014.