21 Great LGBTQ Summer Destinations

Pool at Palm Springs' Margaritaville Resort. (photo by Paul Heney) (Photo by Paul Heney.)
Paul Heney
by Paul Heney
Last updated: 6:00 AM ET, Sun June 20, 2021

Summer Travel

What does summertime hold for queer travelers who have been vaccinated and are eager to start traveling once again? There are many possibilities, from beaches to mountains to urban delights, but the reality is that domestic locations may be the most accessible. Here are 21 options for the LGBTQ crowd, with an eye toward U.S. locations-along with a few accessible international options thrown in.

Rehoboth Beach, Del.

Although this town's been a queer destination for years, in 2021 it's become much more widely known, as President Biden has a beach home here. Camp Rehoboth on Baltimore Avenue always has details on the latest LGBTQ happenings, from scheduled happy hours to mini-golf get-togethers. This stretch of coastline is both welcoming and gorgeous, and visitors will have plenty of nightlife, cuisine and galleries to sample. The area is easily accessible by car from Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.


Year after year, Maui ranks in one survey or another as the best island in the world, and with good reason. The spirit of Aloha is strong here, and visitors can relax to their heart's content on a golden beach-or they can find plenty of outdoor adventure here, too. While there isn't the queer nightlife you'll find on Oahu, the island is extremely welcoming, and LGBTQ travelers will feel very comfortable on Maui. The upcountry area is a hidden gem that many tourists miss, but it boasts surprises from galleries to wineries to lavender farms.


Given the Georgia capital's reputation as a center for the civil rights struggle, it's always an educational choice for queer visitors. But that doesn't mean a trip to Atlanta won't include lots of options for fun, too. From numerous queer bars to world-class museums and attractions to simply playing frisbee in Piedmont Park and people watching, there's something for everybody. Plus, the city is hosting the IGLTA's Annual Global Convention from September 8-11 this year.


Iceland is a popular destination for the LGBTQ crowd, thanks to its incredible geologic diversity, unique culture and queer-friendliness. Agencies like Pink Iceland specialize in putting together itineraries, not to mention weddings. Start off in Reykjavik, the interesting capital, and head to other adventures from there, such as the iconic Blue Lagoon Iceland. This geothermal spa's majestic, healing geothermal seawater is enriched with silica, algae and minerals. Day visits to the Blue Lagoon are available starting at $45, or guests can get complimentary, premium access by booking a stay at Silica Hotel, a hotel designed for well-being with 35 modern guest rooms that offer stunning views of the surrounding volcanic terrain.


One of the biggest events for LGBTQ families is Family Week, held each summer in Provincetown, on the very tip of Cape Cod, about 120 miles from Boston. Family Week 2021 is currently on-and scheduled for July 24-31. This is said to be the largest annual gathering of queer families, and many participants return year after year, thanks to the friendships they make.

Fort Lauderdale

Florida is one of the places that has seen a huge increase in tourism over the past few months. A great option is the gay mecca of Fort Lauderdale, which includes the popular nude beach Haulover Park Beach and Sebastian Street Beach. The region has the highest concentration of same-sex households in the country, so you know you'll feel welcome here, whether on the sand, in boutique shops, at the art gallery or in restaurants.

Palm Springs, Calif.

Located 100 miles east of Los Angeles, this desert beauty is a world away, with stunning mountain vistas at every turn and a ton of incredible eateries. Summertime is hot here, but that also means value pricing-and there are pools galore, providing welcome relief. What's more, you can escape to the higher mountain elevations, which also means a more reasonable temperature for hiking and exploring. The area features a dozen different gay resorts, each with different vibes.


Chicago's huge gay pride festival runs from June 25-27 this year, but that's not the only event of note for queer travelers this summer. Come for Chicago Black Pride from July 1-5 or Market Days Chicago in Boystown from August 6-8-not to mention many additional suburban celebrations, focusing on lesbians, families, the arts and so much more.

Oregon's Coast

Driving California's scenic Highway 1 is a bucket list item for many, but its neighbor to the north, Oregon, has its own spectacular coastline-more than 360 miles worth. Dotted with cozy towns like Lincoln City and Newport, visitors can sample the many bed & breakfasts, take in endless views, hike, enjoy whale watching and more. Plus, easy access to Portland, Crater Lake and the Columbia River Gorge provides even more world-class vacation options.

San Francisco

Late summer might be the nicest time of the year to visit the City by the Bay. Events like the Folsom Street Fair will be different this year, with Folsom Street Market on July 25 and Folsom Street Presents: MEGAHOOD21 on September 26. And San Francisco Pride will happen throughout June in smaller localized events, such as Pride Movie Night at Oracle Park. But the city's endless restaurants, great LGBQ nightclubs and Mediterranean-type vistas will still be there to charm all visitors throughout the summer.


Hawaii's most populous island is also its center of gay life, with a thriving local queer scene and a popular annual Pride parade and festival, this year scheduled for October 15-17. Queer families will also enjoy the island's innumerable activities, as well as Disney's Aulani resort, with its own manmade coves and a unique snorkeling experience.


Whether you're looking to celebrate by laying on the beach or trying every margarita at the JW Marriott Cancun's extensive list, Cancun and the Riviera Maya will take care of you. One of the hottest international destinations over the past six months, travelers have been raving about how seriously hotels and restaurants here have been taking the pandemic, from mask-wearing to thorough cleaning practices. This is a popular queer destination, due to its progressive attitudes, and it will score big with LGBTQ travelers all summer long.

Bellevue, Wash.

Situated between the expansive wilderness of central Washington and the bustle of downtown Seattle, Bellevue is a perfect home base for queer travelers looking for a fun weekend in the Pacific Northwest. Check out the W Bellevue as your home base, with floor-to-ceiling street art by world-renowned artists-and sweeping city and lake views from an open-air bar at the back of the property. Bellevue also features its own art museum and botanical garden and is convenient to Woodinville, the area's wine country.

Clearwater, Florida

Along with neighboring St. Petersburg, this growing LGBTQ hotspot on Florida's sunny gulf coast has so much to offer. The beaches here are picture-perfect, and the area is dotted with gay-owned businesses, not to mention nightclubs. St. Pete Pride, held every June, is actually Florida's largest, with more than 200,000 visitors. This year, the event will be spread out over four weekends, providing plenty of opportunities to visit and show your colors.

Saugatuck, Mich.

Sometimes described as "the Midwest's version of Provincetown," this lovely beach town is full of money, boats, wonderful restaurants and plenty of queer travelers (along with nearby Douglas, Mich.) You can also wander the shops and galleries or relax poolside at The Dunes Resort, a modern gay resort with a fantastic pool and entertainment complex. The area has long been a getaway for Chicago's and Detroit's LGBTQ communities, but it's worth exploring for travelers in other parts of the country, too.


This southern charmer, with its easy access to nearby Tybee Island (and its endless beaches), is one of the cities in the country with the most sense of place. From the ever-expanding riverfront to the city's numerous squares to the architecture, there's plenty of places to soak in Savannah's rich history and culture. Spend a morning wandering Bonaventure Cemetery and you'll feel like you've fallen into the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.


Denver has a little bit of everything, from incredible art museums to fantastic shopping to stunning outdoor activities. The city's LGBTQ bars range from country western themed to drag queen bingo, and you can stop for a quiet romantic drink or hit the circuit parties. Check out a concert in the lovely Red Rocks Amphitheatre or go further afield for a day trip to nearby Boulder, Colorado Springs or Rocky Mountain National Park.

Asheville, N.C.

If hiking and waterfalls are your cup of tea, look no further than Asheville, which has turned into a fun artsy center amidst North Carolina's western mountains. Embraced by LGBTQ travelers for years-not to mention making multiple lists of best places to retire-you'll never tire of the city's numerous foodie spots and microbreweries. What's more, the whole area is served by an expansive network of Bed & Breakfasts, giving couples a romantic getaway option.


This ABC island in the Southern Dutch Caribbean is home to more than 35 cove-like beaches, stunning clear-blue waters and some unique colonial architecture. With a diverse heritage spanning 55 different cultures (including Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese), the island's "Live and Let Live" attitude always prevails here. Curaçao, one of the pioneers in LGBTQ travel in the Caribbean, held its first-ever Pride event in 2013, and it has been growing ever since with additional events and partners joining every year; the 2019 event had 1,000 attendees, a big deal for a small island!


The islands of Hawaii will continue to be hot travel destinations this summer, and lush, green Kauai is a great choice for queer travelers looking for quiet, relaxing days by the pool, excellent snorkeling in clear waters or hiking on the wild NaPali coast. With many exotic foreign locations off-limits due to travel restrictions, this is a good time to check out our own beautiful slice of paradise, complete with shave ice and spectacular sunsets.

Anaheim, Calif.

With Disneyland re-opening its gates, queer families will find a couple of new hotels in the area, including The Westin Anaheim Resort and the Element Anaheim Resort Convention Center (both opening in June). Gay Days Anaheim is generally held the first week of October, and at least with the weather here, we can cheat and still call that summer. Meanwhile, nearby Los Angeles' 2021 Pride is focused on the theme of "Thrive with Pride," hosting multiple events throughout the summer.

What does summertime hold for queer travelers who have been vaccinated and are eager to start traveling once again?

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