Last updated: 07:00 PM ET, Fri September 04 2015

3 Wild (and 2 Low Key) Destinations for Your Gay Bachelor Party or Honeymoon

Features & Advice | Jay Deratany | September 04, 2015

3 Wild (and 2 Low Key) Destinations for Your Gay Bachelor Party or Honeymoon

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

As any American with a pulse knows, gay Americans are finally enjoying the same marriage rights as our straight counterparts. But as the old saying goes, with equal marriage rights come equal wedding-planning responsibilities.

Now that the fight for marriage equality is behind us, we can devote ourselves to more pressing issues­­ like where to go for our bachelor parties and honeymoons!

Here are three destinations to keep the party going for you and yours, as well as a couple more relaxed locales for a more intimate and less exhausting celebration vacation.

New Orleans

Photo courtesy of New Orleans CVB

While New Orleans is largely known for its boobs-for­-beads economy during Mardi Gras, make no mistake: the Big Easy is also big on gay nightlife. For the historically ­minded, swing by Cafe Lafitte, the nation’s oldest continually operating gay bar in the U.S., located in the picturesque French Quarter. Though steeped in gay history and boasting an exterior that looks straight out of a postcard, Cafe Lafitte is by no means just a relic of the past – frequent appearances from adult film stars, and its 24/7 operating hours (like many bars in the city), mean that there’s always something fun happening here.

If you’re looking for a more­­ “traditional” gay bachelor party experience, swing by the Corner Pocket, a gay bar featuring an all­-male cast of dancers parading around in all their glory. While the Corner Pocket has all the trims and trappings that you’d expect from a gay strip club, the atmosphere is surprisingly wholesome and fun­ loving – ­­just be prepared to part with some of your inhibitions and spending money as you get in on the fun!

If your group is looking to dance the night away, ask around or check local music listings for a bar featuring one of New Orleans’ “Sissy Bounce” stars like Katey Red, Big Freedia, or Vockah Redu. Bounce is a hip hop genre native to New Orleans that features fast­ paced repetitive lyrics and faster­ paced rump ­shaking known as “bouncing” or “twerking.” While hip hop has a reputation for homophobia, New Orleans’ Sissy Bounce is created by its LGBT residents and its shows are known for welcoming gay party­goers from all walks of life.

Key West

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Some refer to the Key West as “the gay Mecca of Planet earth,” and even a brief visit will prove that reputation to be well­ earned. Boasting a bevy of drag clubs and gay bars just a stone’s throw from some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, Key West has a vibrant gay nightlife and a beautiful climate that adds to its carefree, anything­-goes vibe.

801 Bourbon is an excellent destination for a gay bachelor party. Located in the heart of Old Town, this gay stalwart features drinks, dancing, karaoke and bingo. 801 Bourbon also boasts the largest drag shows in Key West, with two shows nightly featuring some of the best (or at least longest­-working) drag queens in the region. And as even a casual consumer of drag will tell you, drag shows are equally enjoyed by the gay and straight members of your wedding party – just remember to tip your queens!

Another venue that is sure to please everyone in your party is the Green Parrot Bar. While not explicitly a gay bar, the self-described “sunny place for shady people” has a seen-­it-­all, done-­it-­all ethos that welcomes all manner of partying, gay or straight. Share a beer with a local before taking to the dance floor during one of the nightly live music performances, and get the bartender to tell you the story of the iconic “smirk” painting outside. And if you happen to have left any unlucky friends home during your celebration, you can wave to them while you mug for the webcam that continually streams during the bar’s operating hours.

For the morning after, nurse your hangover with a cocktail on any of the picturesque beaches that brought the gays flocking the Key West in the first place!

San Francisco

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A wild bachelor party or honeymoon needn’t be in a tropical climate. Why not celebrate your newly­-legal gay wedding in the temperate but libertine hotbed of gay nightlife by the bay, San Francisco?

The city’s most famous gayborhood, The Castro, is rife with gay bars, shopping destinations, gay-­friendly hotels and all manner of fun things to hold the attention of you and your friends. If your party is mixed gay and straight, Hi Tops is a gay sports bar that appeals to a variety of demographics. With the suggestive slogan “Cold Pitchers, Hot Catchers,” Hi Tops is a fun saloon that doesn’t take its fun ­­or its masculinity ­­too seriously.

If you’d like to meet some locals, take in some sun, and engage in grade ­A people watching (featuring eccentric San Franciscans often clad in outfits that leave little to the imagination) head to Dolores Park in the Mission neighborhood. This south end of the park, known winkingly as the “Fruit Shelf” is as picturesque as it is gay­centric.

San Francisco is also home to world­-class DJs and some of the most popular gay dance parties in the world. Hard French, a long-running monthly outdoor dance party, is a local favorite that draws friendly indie­-minded gays intent on having a good time that can often last till sun­up. Check their website, and see if their party coincides with your trip.

Saugatuck-Douglas, Michigan

Sometimes a bachelor party or honeymoon needn’t be a full­ throttle party adventure, but a chance to relax, reflect, and enjoy some good times with people you love.  Saugatuck-Douglas, Michigan is a great destination for just such a honeymoon or bachelor party.

Nestled among gorgeous and often ­overlooked beaches along Lake Michigan, Saugatuck is a haven for Midwesterners that is rapidly earning a reputation as a gay destination for people from all over the country.

Treat yourself and your guests to a retro nightclub experience at the Dunes Cabaret Room, a traditional piano­ and­ chanteuse cocktail lounge located at the Dunes Resort. For a more laidback daytime activity, visit one of the area’s several vineyards and wine-tasting rooms – though you may not have heard about it, Southwest Michigan has a vibrant and burgeoning local wine scene.  And if you’re celebrating during the summer months, be sure to carve out ample time to take in the white sands and fresh waters of Saugatuck-Douglas’s famous beaches.

Martha’s Vineyard

While most people think of Provincetown when planning an Atlantic gay getaway, its southern neighbor, Martha’s Vineyard, is also extremely gay-friendly. Renowned for its breathtaking vistas and relaxed, casual pace, Martha’s Vineyard is a great place for friends in your wedding party to reconnect, relax, and spend quality time with one another. While it’s harder to maintain a vacation on a budget here than other gay locales, for couples who have saved up for their honeymoon, Martha’s Vineyard delivers an unforgettable beachside experience.

The Terrace at the Charlotte Inn offers a variety of local delicacies in a posh fine dining restaurant experience. If you’re looking for a fun DIY dinner project for your friends, consider organizing a traditional crab boil. Procure some live crabs from the family­-owned Edgartown Seafood Market, and boil them in beer, onions, sausage, and spices (with the permission of the owners of the bed & breakfast, of course!), and eat them standing over a table covered in newspapers. Don’t forget the two most important staples of any crab boil: Old Bay seasoning and plenty of beer!

For a shopping excursion, swing by Midnight Farm, an eclectic gift shop featuring a wide range of unique objects d’art, rotating interactive exhibitions upstairs, and jars of its famous mango lime salsa. You may even get lucky and spot Carly Simon, a Martha’s Vineyard resident and Midnight Farm co-­owner!

Weddings are, at their core, celebrations of love, so it’s no surprise that they often coincide with spirited celebrations on the part of both the betrothed and their companions. These destinations are sure to please the party animals in attendance and the hopeless romantic you’re about to marry. Either way, planning your honeymoon or bachelor party should reflect your impending marriage: fun, exciting, and relaxing for all parties involved.


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