Tours and destinations designed for the LGBTQ community are taking off this summer across the country. From white-water rafting trips to organized wine tastings, summer travel options abound for LGBTQ visitors.
Put some dust on a ranch in southwestern Colorado, where guests ride horses, learn to herd steers, fly-fish for trout, swim, bathe in a hot pool, just relax with a good book or sip a cocktail while taking in the breathtaking glory of the San Juan Mountains.
Ranch riders are on hand to guide riders of all skill levels to trot along well-maintained trails and through mountain meadows.
To unwind, there’s wine tasting in the nearby fun town of Durango. Gay travel stays at the Colorado Trails Ranch are organized by HappyGayTravel.com.
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Venture into the wilderness of the Bitterroot Range of the Rockies on a mountain getaway from Gay Travel Idaho. With hikes, hot springs, and horseback riding, the tour explores Idaho’s remote and pristine backcountry. Moose and elk are a frequent sight. Travelers stay in cozy log cabins and dine at an on-site all-inclusive restaurant. The tour is offered by HETravel.com.
HETravel also offers gay group rafting on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, a rafting trip on Idaho’s unspoilt Salmon River, and a gay Glacier National Park adventure that features alpine trail hikes, hiking, and hiking. horseback riding, rafting and ziplining on a mountain overlooking Lac aux Poissons Blancs.
California LGBTQ Vacations: More Than Just Wine Country
In Northern California’s famed wine country, Out in The Vineyard, a gay-owned tourism and events company, helps visitors enjoy the area’s best wineries, restaurants and accommodations that cater to the LGBTQ community. Trips organized by Out in The Vineyard can be short, like a day, or long, like a week or more.
The weekend of July 15-17 is Sonoma Wine Country’s Gay Wine Weekend, featuring wine tours, dinners with winemakers, receptions, a wine auction, and even a drag queen brunch. . The event has been canceled for the past two years due to COVID, but organizers say they are making up for lost time this year with a big celebration.
Go glamping at California’s Highlands Resort, which began in the 1930s and became a gay campsite in the 1980s. Its fully-equipped canvas tents contain king-size beds and comfortable porch chairs, while its charming cabins feature vintage features such as chrome light fixtures, Formica tables, and inlaid linoleum floors. Set in the redwood groves along the Russian River, this peaceful resort is within walking distance of Guerneville’s restaurants, shops, and nightlife.
In New England, travelers can hone their queer visual skills with a two-day queer photography course with Nikki Smith, professional photographer, athlete, and LGBTQ climbing advocate. Participants can use any type of camera, from smartphones to DSLRs.
The same recreational non-profit, the Venture Out Project, organizes trips such as trans and non-binary hikes, queer overnight canoe expeditions for paddlers of all skill levels, and a trip called “Queer Plus-Size Backpacking with Improbable Hikers” which accommodates size 2XL hikers and with slower paces, breaks and other options to make the outdoors accessible and enjoyable.
Michigan LGBTQ Destinations: Come to the Beach
Stop off at West Michigan’s gay destinations of Saugatuck and Douglas on the shores of Lake Michigan to enjoy the sand dunes and beaches. The gay-friendly oval beach frequently features in the ranking of the best beaches in the country.
In Saugatuck is the 33-acre Campit Outdoor Resort that caters to the outdoor-loving LGBTQ crowd. It has swimming and hiking, with family times reserved during the week and on adult-only weekends. Not far away is The Dunes Resort, where guests can play drag queen bingo, be entertained by cabaret performers, sip cocktails at tea dances, and let off steam at karaoke.
Each year the Dunes Resort hosts Go Girl Saugatuck! – a women’s weekend with entertainment, workshops, music, comedy shows, dancing and more. The nearby campsite is at the LGBT CampIt Resort, which welcomes all members of the LGBTQ community, especially women. It has primitive campsites, cozy log cabins, retro vintage trailers, RV hookups, and a five-bedroom dormitory on 33 wooded acres and a large heated pool.
How about a ranch experience?
Strap on a Stetson and head to Rainbow Ranch, a nearly 700-acre LGBTQ campground near Groesbeck, Texas. There are primitive campsites and cabin rentals as well as hiking, fishing and swimming opportunities. The Ranch hosts separate “Summer Splash” weekends for men and women, with games, food, drinks and entertainment, and the “Boots, Kilts & Beards” party for the weekend of the Father’s Day is not to be missed.
Relax on an island
Puerto Rico is also an ideal island destination for LGBTQ travelers. Discover the artistic gay village of Santurce in San Juan, taste tapas at the Bear Tavern, relax at the Xteamworks gay sauna and visit the chic Condado beach. Stay at the Coqui del Mar gay guesthouse, which proudly calls itself “the strangest place in the Caribbean”.