The New Normal: Picking a fresh gay summer vacation spot

Posted on 03 Jun 2015 at 8:25am

A few weeks ago, we listed a selection of places to travel this summer for getting your circuit party groove on. Well, consider this a companion piece to that one — and one that takes you off the beaten path.

You heard right. Skip Palm Springs. Forget Fire Island. Put P’town on hold. This year, you’re headed to a new LGBT-friendly destination for an unexpected getaway with all the perks to which you’re privy (though, because it’s summer after all, each is conveniently on the water). Time to get packin’.

Casino in San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico. Like playing the odds? They’re in your favor at the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, a stunning island property nestled in the middle of a bustling metropolitan city. From your home base in the heart of the trendy Condado neighborhood filled with shopping, international cuisine and nightlife, embark on adventures like ATV, horseback riding and zip lining at Haciendo Campo Rico by day, then let loose at night in Old San Juan at La Factoria. Santurce and La Placita of Santurce, the arts and culture center, is just a short taxi ride away, as is the El Yunque Rainforest. Seems like a lot to see and do, but there’ll be plenty of lazy beach time with your boo, too.

St. Maarten

St. Maarten. Although the Caribbean is breathtaking in landscape, some islands have ugly views toward the LGBT community (we’re looking at you, Jamaica!). St. Maarten, however, takes pride in its LGBT community, and several resorts, including Sonesta Ocean Point and Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa are now registered with the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA), the leading global resource in LGBT tourism. Both locations offer same-sex wedding ceremonies — if you want to tie the knot in flip-flops – with a Gay Wedding Institute-certified in-house wedding coordinator. Spend your first few hours as a legally bound couple canoodling in a private gazebo or partying down at an unforgettable reception at Ocean Point’s Azul Rooftop Bar.

St. Pete Beach, Fla. Not to be outdone by some of the flashier Florida cities, sunny St. Pete Beach allows for a different kind of vacay — one void of thumping techno music and throwback boardwalk body builders. The Spanish-influenced Hotel Zamora features a destination restaurant and rooftop lounge serving a locally sourced menu of creative tapas entrees; a marina; fresh-water pool; fitness center; and access to white, sandy beaches. Zamora also will offer a Beachside Pride package this summer in celebration of St. Pete Pride, June 26 to 28.

Norfolk, Va. boat Pride!

Norfolk, Va. Step out of the box this summer — and into a boat! — during the country’s only Pride boat parade, in Norfolk, Va. Part of PrideFest, June 26 and 27, the celebration by sea is open to all maritimers with access to a vessel. The Norfolk Waterside Marriott offers a PrideFest Hotel Package for the weekend, which includes a buffet breakfast for two guests daily, a $25 food and beverage credit per night at Shula’s 347, and self-parking. After you drop your bag, head out into Hampton Roads for waterfront activities, a thriving dining scene, and unique arts and culture.

— Mikey Rox

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