Your Ultimate LGBTQ Fall Travel Guide

Monday October 12, 2020

Your Ultimate LGBTQ Fall Travel Guide
  (Source:Getty Images)

By Kelsy Chauvin and Matthew Wexler

You had to stay home, Now you want to travel. When you're ready, We're ready.
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Pride on the Half Shell in Providence
Seafood lovers, rejoice! Fall is here, which means Rhode Island's extra-yummy cold-water oysters are back in all their briny glory. In Providence, travelers will find tantalizing choices for bivalves all over town, especially in Federal Hill, home to fresh-catch restaurants like Providence Oyster Bar and Capri Seafood. Better still, they're walking distance from downtown gay bars, like snug watering hole Alleycat; the Stable, with its big courtyard; and several more.

But don't expect to find a designated gayborhood in this progressive city, home to eight colleges and eclectic art and design community. Instead, LGBTQ travelers should find warm welcomes across gay-friendly Providence, which was notably the first U.S. capital city to twice elect an out gay mayor (David Cicilline, who's now a U.S. representative). KC

Experience a Change of Seasons in Chicago
It's peak time to visit the Windy City. The slightly cooler temperatures make for great foot-friendly exploration as the city's green spaces slowly transform into autumnal hues. You don't have to travel far to experience fall foliage, just head to Lincoln Park, Morton Arboretum or the Chicago Botanic Garden (the Night of 1,000 Jack-o'-Lanterns runs October 14-18 and 21-25).

Head to Boystown where you'll find a convergence of LGBTQ-owned retailers, bars and restaurants, as well as the Legacy Walk, a self-guided outdoor LGBTQ history exhibit.

Now's the time to score a deal at some of the city's most exquisite hotels, from the mid-century-inspired Langham downtown to the Hoxton Hotel and Nobu Hotel in the West Loop. The sprawling Time Out Market offers a casual, curated selection of delectable Chicago finds. If you want to have an in-room, hotel picnic, consider takeout from one of the city's Michelin star restaurants. MW


Southern Sophistication in Atlanta
Before Netflix's "Queer Eye" reboot aimed the LGBTQ spotlight at Atlanta, the city was already a hotbed of rainbow-streaked happenings. From Midtown's main gayborhood to funky Little Five Points and the artsy enclave of Cabbagetown, "Hotlanta" always has more to explore.

Black Pride and Atlanta Pride celebrations will go virtual this autumn. At the same time, gay travelers can commemorate community power in person (with timed tickets) at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

Favorite watering holes like Blake's on the Park and beloved lesbian space My Sister's Room are a must, as is fried chicken at out-and-proud Atlanta chef Deborah VanTrece's Twisted Soul Cookhouse + Pours. KC

Falling for Pacific Pride in Honolulu
Breezy sunbathing, hiking to a waterfall, sipping drinks on a verandah -- Hawaii's everyday leisure options sound like a list of everything you'd rather be doing right now.

For gay travelers, the fun extends to flirty times on a gay beach like Queen's Surf, watching the sunset from Waikiki's famous Hula's Bar & Lei Stand, or catching a drag show at downtown nightclub Scarlet (now open with limited capacity and other guidelines).

Across Oahu, the LGBTQ scene gets even more colorful for October's annual Honolulu Pride. And while the festivities may be mostly virtual this year, the island's queer community spirit is as strong as ever. KC

Light Up the Night in Las Vegas
Sin City is emerging from its slumber with hotels and casinos opening at limited capacity and plenty of safety measures. Park MGM and Nomad Las Vegas have even gone so far as to become entirely smoke-free properties. There's plenty to explore outdoors, including a nighttime stroll through the Neon Museum, going off road in a pink jeep at nearby Red Rock Canyon, or operating excavators and bulldozers at Dig This, a five-acre experiential construction site.

While it's easier to score a table at some of the big-name restaurants, consider going off the Strip to check out nightlife entrepreneur Eduardo Cordova's latest LGBTQ venture, The Garden Las Vegas, located in the Arts District. At day's end, consider a spa treatment (with safety protocols, of course) in one of ARIA's private spa suites, complete with lounge area and private hot tub. MW

Capital Culture in Washington D.C.
It may feel funny that the epicenter of U.S. politics is a city that's packed with gay pride. The U.S. capital is home to the largest percentage of LGBTQ residents in the country, according to a 2019 UCLA study. Along with historic sites and landmarks dotting the city, queers traveling can fill their days strolling around the District Wharf, picnicking at the National Arboretum, or virtually visiting (for now) renowned institutions like the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Dupont Circle remains the go-to gayborhood, along with Logan Circle and the U Street Corridor. Don't miss a visit to the DC Center for LGBT Community just off U Street, browsing vintage housewares at Miss Pixies near Logan Circle, or the gay-centric weekend brunch at Annie's Paramount Steakhouse in Dupont Circle. KC


Escape to Green Greatness in America's National Parks
Access to nature and wide-open spaces is more important than ever these days. This fall, U.S. National Parks top many a travel list. For LGBTQ travelers, there may be a few surprising ties that lie within.

It's no secret that New York City's seven-acre Stonewall National Monument is the country's sole LGBTQ monument. But parks like Mississippi's Vicksburg National Military Park include the history of a cis-female, male-presenting soldier who fought to defend the Union. And Montana's Little Bighorn Battlefield summons the Cheyenne male two spirits (he' emane' o) who played essential roles in Native-American victories. The National Parks Service showcases many more stories in its LGBTQ America series and is sure to inspire unforgettable trips from coast to coast. KC

Take Manhattan, and Brooklyn, Too
New York City has just launched Neighborhood Getaways, described as the city's "most diverse, flexible and expansive lineup of offers ever." Hundreds of deals are for the taking through the end of 2020, including discounts for Harlem Heritage Tours, the New York Botanical Garden and self-guided audio walking tours. Head to Edge NYC to experience the highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere.

Support LGBTQ small businesses with a visit to a queer-owned restaurant such as bakery and café Baked, Fonda for Mexican food, or a sweet treat from Big Gay Ice Cream.

Hop the East River for a stay at the Williamsburg Hotel, William Vale or the Whythe Hotel, followed by a visit to the LGBTQ water hole Macri Park, which offers year-round backyard garden seating. MW

Heartland Surprises in Kansas City
Maybe you've heard rumors about KC's vibrant LGBTQ community, or loved seeing the Midwestern city's star turn on "Queer Eye." Well, honey, the buzz is real, and Kansas City is ready to show you its unique blend of heartland hospitality and queer sparkle.

Travelers can peruse history with a visit (currently by appointment) to the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America (GLAMA) at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, now celebrating its tenth anniversary. Then grab a bite at sophisticated Bistro 303, followed by local entertainment at favorite gay bars like Missie B's and Sidekicks. Weekend brunch is hearty here, so if the famous drag brunch at Hamburger Mary's isn't your thing, you can still indulge on Ragazza's "Big Gay Breakfast." KC

Resorting to a Spa Escape in Santa Fe
The air in Santa Fe is simply different. Perched 7,000-feet-high at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this arts-loving city was founded in 1610, making it America's second-oldest. LGBTQ travelers love vacationing here for the galleries, architecture, restaurants, and outdoor adventure with marvelous natural scenery.

Just off the town square, La Posada de Santa Fe is a modern resort-hotel built in adobe style, with roots dating back to the 1880s. You can sip cocktails in its original brick mansion, the Staab House, enjoy tapas in Julia's Social Club, or dine at the Patio restaurant by the courtyard pool. Spa Sage is La Posada's tranquil treatment center with a full menu and locally inspired services like the "Altitude Adjustment Massage" and the "Santa Fe Chocolate and Chile Wrap." KC


Bourbon and Barbecue in Louisville
All eyes were on Authentic earlier this month as the three-year-old colt galloped to win the 146th Kentucky Derby. Everybody loves an underdog, including LGBTQ travelers who have discovered Louisville's Southern charm and progressive mindset.

September marks Bourbon Heritage Month, which can be celebrated any time of year by exploring Louisville's Urban Bourbon Trail. Home of one-third of the world's bourbon supply, there's no shortage to sample, including Bulleit bourbon from Stizel-Weller Distillery, which opened on Derby Day in 1935 and reopened to the public in 2014.

The funky 21c Museum Hotel is welcoming guests and offers modern accommodations as well as an ever-changing art collection (now by reservation only), including the just-opened "BallotBox," a voting rights art exhibition curated by Skylar Smith. MW

Sun and Fun in Fort Lauderdale
Amp up your Vitamin D with some sunshine in Fort Lauderdale. Many businesses throughout Broward County have committed to the Safe + Clean pledge, ensuring that CDC protocols and social distancing measures are in place.

There are plenty of ways to unwind, including a gondola ride on the Intracoastal waterway, a stroll along the easy hike paths at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, or a private boat charter to explore the open waters. Once you've worked up an appetite, check out the spectacular Indian cuisine at Moksha, a modern brasserie serving up small plates and sharable entrees such as Tandoori-smoked salmon and the Moksha feast—a sampling of the restaurant's signature dishes.

The newly opened Hyatt Centric Las Olas is in the heart of pedestrian-friendly shopping and landmarks, including the historic Stranahan House Museum and Bonnet House Museum and Gardens. As of press time, Florida has entered Phase 2 of reopening, which means you'll find plenty of LGBTQ establishments responsibly reopening in Wilton Manors, the city's queer epicenter. MW

Rock it Out in Cleveland, Ohio
Ready for some Rust Belt realness? At one time, Cleveland was a manufacturing hub, but over recent decades and the continued expansion of the Cleveland Clinic, healthcare has become a leading economic driver of this lakeside city of nearly 400,000. The Schofield Hotel (part of the LGBTQ-friendly Kimpton brand) opened just a few years ago but celebrates its early-20th century roots with terrific architectural details.

No trip to Cleveland is complete without a visit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, where you can see memorabilia from queer music legends as well as the new exhibit "It's Been Said All Along: Voices of Rage, Hope & Empowerment." For more culture, the recently reopened Cleveland Museum of Art is currently exhibiting " A Graphic Revolution: Prints and Drawings in Latin America" through November 29.

Plenty of chefs have discovered northern Ohio's bounty. Get your burger fix with a visit to celebrity chef Michael Symon's B Spot — we recommend the Lola, topped with thick-cut bacon, cheddar, sunny side up egg and pickled red onion. For small plates and craft cocktails, The Flying Fig soars. MW


Check out our other LGBTQ travel guides to plan you next vacation.

Fierce and Fit: 5 Destinations to Work it Out
Ready to break a sweat or simply experience the great outdoors? Here are five destinations full of possibilities, each with an LGBTQ-friendly vibe for a safe, socially distanced fall getaway.

Live Here, Go There: 5 Road Trips to Get Outa Town
To help you refresh and decompress the gay way, we've compiled this tip sheet for your very own LGBTQ break from five U.S. cities. Gas up the car, pack up your travel cooler, and let's roll!

Culture Crave: Don't Miss These 7 Fantastic Outdoor Experiences
From coast to coast, many sites have reopened with plenty of queer-centric themed content and LGBTQ-owned businesses nearby to support. Here are a few fabulous attractions eager to welcome you in a pleasantly spacious way.

Sun in the Fun: 6 LGBTQ Beach Getaways
An end-of-season getaway may be just what you need to power through the rest of 2020. Check out our favorite LGBTQ-friendly beach destinations and tips for how to make the most of your vacation.

A Taste for Travel: 5 Must-Eat Destinations This Fall
Tired of feeding your sourdough starter? Here are five of our favorite delectable finds of the season, where you may even be enticed to double-order and take the seconds home for tomorrow's meal.

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Kelsy Chauvin is a writer, photographer and marketing consultant based in Brooklyn, New York. She specializes in travel, feature journalism, art, theater, architecture, construction and LGBTQ interests. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at .

Matthew Wexler is a senior editor at EDGE Media Network. Read more of his work at