NYT: The New or Not So New Wave of Gay Destinations


The New York Times today covers the lesser-known gay destinations: Douglas and Saugatuck, Michigan; Ogunquit, Maine; Eureka Springs, Arkansas; Guerneville, California; Rehoboth Beach, Delaware; Asbury Park, New Jersey; Pahoa, Hawaii; Asheville, North Carolina; and Sullivan County in upstate New York, noting that the internet has caused these pockets of gay culture to become more well-known.

GogoThe Times makes sure to note, of course, that despite the far-flung aspect of some of these destinations, there’s still the requisite go-go boy, which is either sad, hot, or hysterical depending on your perspective.

So, if you’re not up for the well-trod destinations of Provincetown, Key West, Fire Island, or Laguna Beach, and you’re looking to be around gay people you may have more choices than you think. It’s great to see these smaller destinations covered. I grew up in Chicago and visited Saugatuck a handful of times when I was a child, but I’ve always wanted to revisit.

Anybody know of other small gay destinations around the country that aren’t covered in the article? If so, or if you’d like to voice your opinion about some of the places covered in the article, please do so…


  1. Rad says

    My partner and I recently discovered Ogunquit ME, and found it to be quite charming and very low keyed. It was just a marvelous “long weekend get-away” destination. Nary a go-go boy in sight, however there is a piano bar and the local drag characters that mingle up and down the quaint avenues. Everything is very much walk-able.

    The other place not listed here is St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay FL, featuring a rather “rustic”… okay… dated gay (St. Pete) resort, plenty of gay night life and of course, near pefect tropical weather. Go-go boys a plenty, access to some of the most pristine beaches in the Western hemisphere (Ft. DeSoto, where one might happen upon a clothing optional area or two). It is… mature, yet lively. Pack light. Leave your inhibitions and pretenses at home. Though I lived there (St. Pete), I don’t care to move back, but it is a fun place to visit.

  2. Joe says

    Rehoboth Beach has no go-go bars (even the last go-go bar in Baltimore, Atlantis, is gone) but we do have Sunday Tea. Tea Dance usually includes a hot lifeguard or two who will let you do shots off of their body parts. Complaint: why did lifeguards stop wearing speedos?

  3. Wayne says

    Austin, Texas is one of the best Gay friendly places to visit. Nice bars, and even the straight bars are mixed with The Gays, and then there are the gorgeous lakes/rivers/hills. Hippie Hollow is out on Lake Travis, and it’a a natural limestone park, lots of cliffs, clear blue water, and it’s the only nudist park in Texas… great fun, HOT guys, and the best sunsets in the state.

  4. says

    I was surprised to hear Ogunquit Maine as a lesser known gay destination. I have been going for years and meet guys from all over the world. It has 3 nightclubs in town and all thre are gay, gay, gay. :O)

  5. says

    What a great article about the smaller destinations that are out there. If anyone’s planning on a trip to Saugatuck, my partner and I would love to have you at our B&B. There are so many great, gay-owned businesses in the Saugatuck/Douglas area along with one of the best beaches going. Just a fantastic little town for a nice getaway. Gay Family Week just finished up this week and was another huge success.
    Click on my name or visit our website at http://www.beechwoodmanorinn.com.

  6. Shan says

    My partner and I make a trip to Rehoboth every year (we live in Baltimore). We love it. Its very gay friendly with nice mix of straights. The gay community ranges from the DC/Baltimore time share crowd, older permanents and some out of towners. Other benefits are DE tax free shopping and the outlet malls which are a 20 min ride from the beach.

  7. says

    Northampton, Massachusetts — not just for lesbians anymore! Dozens of great restaurants, amazing art museums, galleries and great biking and hiking all within 10 miles of each other. 2.5-3 hours from NYC; less than an hour from the Berkshires.

    Still a quiet little secret with a handful of famous residents. http://www.explorenorthampton.com

  8. says

    Saugatuck, Michigan is a fantastic get away. My first trip we walked the beautiful Michigan Dunes. That night we made a small bond fire and was surprised to see the Northern Lights over the lake horizon. The gay campsite there is a testament to queer innovation. Usually kitchy only with more color and dance music. My favorites were the tents. Everything matching like a Bloomingdales display window.

    I will also give props to RAD’s mention of St. Pete, FL as a good destination. I spent a fantstic weekend at Bedrocks bar years ago on Treasure Island there. Fantstic gay beach where they serve you drinks in the sand.

  9. Mike in the Tundra says

    When I lived on the East Coast, I loved going to Rehobeth. We found an absolutely great, gay bed and breakfast. Also if you go, you will discover The Poodle.

  10. Mark says

    Went to P-town and Ogunquit for the first time about ten years ago…hated P-town, thought it a glorified gay Eaton Centre, overpriced, over commercialized and quite simply, well, um, over.
    Ogunquit on the other hand was amazing and I continue to visit. Highly recommended!

  11. says

    As a DC-Maryland native, Rehoboth has a place in my heart. When you’re young, you’re likely to go there with family to enjoy the beach during the day and hit the boardwalk games and rides at night. But as you grow up, you start to realize that there’s a whole other world there, starting when you take a long walk down the beach and find yourself suddenly amongst a bunch of hot, oily men in tiny swim suites. That would be “Poodle Beach” on the north end, with an absence of screaming children and a presence of beach volleyball and rainbow sunbrellas.

    I agree with Shan’s description of the crowd there. Rehoboth/Lewis is a popular retirement community, so a lot of gay people from DC, Baltimore, and Philly retire there. The locals tend to be a silver set, all knowledgeable, leather-skinned, and very friendly. Every summer, tons of vacationers from VA, DC, MD, PA, and NJ descend on this tiny little resort town, which is always really exciting, because the place is totally deserted during the winter.

    Cloud 9, the Purple Parrot and 59 Lake are all bars with small dance floors. The former two often have drag shows. The Frog Pond is popular with the ladies, while the Blue Moon is the most popular destination for guys. Aqua is almost entirely made up of a large outdoor deck/patio and features super-cute shirtless cocktail waiters, many of whom are straight and smile charmingly at the flirty comments and gropes from their tipsy (but tip-happy) customers.

    Some of the biggest dances and events happen at the roomy but dryly-named “Rehoboth Beach Convention Center.” That’s the closest space to a large club that Rehoboth has to offer, but the gay community makes very good use of it.

    Also, you can enjoy the fact that many of the shops, cafes, and restaurants in town are owned by gays and lesbians.

  12. Dave says

    What a bad fag I am. I don’t go to destinations because of the homosexual population, I go for the history, culture, or natural beauty. I might as well start screwing women, I guess.

    Why must everything we do be “gay”? Why can’t we just be gay people who do things, instead of people who have to do gay things?

  13. says

    Did we forget about the West?

    I’ve always heard that Santa Fe is a great gay destination. I’m from Boulder, CO and I must say that it’s both beautiful and very gay-friendly. Denver has a growing respectable gay scene, too.

    The most surprisingly boring place for gay vacation has to be Las Vegas.

  14. PSMike says

    Been to so many of these places over the years, and had a great time at all of them. Loved Rehobeth…had this great, old time seedy vibe like the S.Jersey Shore. Michigan is great….like Beach #1 in Erie, PA’s Presque Isle, but on a MUCH cooler scale. The really great little place listed is Eureka Springs, Ar. I only went once….but if you want to just chill in a really beautiful, and largely unknown part of the country, it’s worth a visit. I was there during the winter, and it was so gorgeous. The Ozarks… (yeah yeah laugh..lol) are really beautiful if you live anywhere near them…

  15. says

    Guerneville, California? That is the tiny town central to the Russian River Resort. The town might not be known, but Russian River not known? Only to those who don’t know about Fire Island.

  16. GBM says


    A lot of people probably go to gay places so they can relax, and be openly romantic and flirtatious with someone they like without having to worry that someone might have a problem with it. I’m with you actually; I’ve never gone to a gay vacation spot, but I did once have an uncomfortable experience at a B&B. The owner was kind enough to my partner and I, but she was obviously uncomfortable with housing 2 fags in the same bedroom (and also a proud owner of all of Tim LaHaye’s books). The rip itself was a nice enough but also palpably strange, and we didn’t feel especially welcome.

  17. says

    Well, it’s pretty small and very gay, but I was introduced by my ex to a small mountain town in Eastern PA called New Hope a few years ago. It was mostly older professionals, but that also included older gays. Also, it had (I think) two gay bars. I went to one and it was fun. My ex and I also walked around the town. They have quaint shops and small winding streets. It was really cute.

  18. Mike says

    Yellow Springs, Ohio is a nice weekend getaway, especially for the ladies. Home of very liberal Antioch college and even comic David Chapelle, it serves the greater Cincy/Columbus/Indy area. For nightlife nearby Dayton is alot of fun. Check out one of the best clubs I have been to (yes, I do travel) called Masque.

    For more of a city vibe, Columbus has around 20 gay bars/clubs. Something for everyone. A blue city in a purple state. Think Austin in red Texas but larger, 15th largest in the country to be exact and 2nd largest gay pride in the Midwest behind Chicago. See historic German Village and artsy/gay Shorth North.

  19. Sean says

    Pahoa Hawaii? If you mention to one of the locals here in Hawaii that it is a gay spot, they would be like “What have you been smoking”? However, it is an extremely beautiful place, right next to a black sand beach (yes, a black sand beach) and the active Kilauea volcano.

    Pahoa Hawaii is also a federal “Weed and Seed” area and is one of the top commercial areas for marjuana purchase in the nation. If anything its reputation for marjuana smoking and drug commerce far outweighs its awareness as a gay spot. But the locals over in Pahoa are really chill and laid back.

  20. Barry says

    New Hope in Buck’s County Pa and when I lived in Florida New Smyrna beach had a nude gay beach way out at the end of the state park. I’m pretty sure it’s still there. Ogonquit is beautiful, been there before. I now make it down to Rehobeth often living in Philly and all.

  21. Barry says

    I just saw the post with Columbus Ohio and agree. Ohio State University is there and its got a great little gay communitee, very fun and German Village is a great place to get gardening inspiration, take your camera!

  22. Mike says

    It’s humorous to read of the NY Times’ discovery of “gay” resorts, when some of these destinations have been hangouts for the LGBT crowd for generations, if not centuries. For example, Saugatuck was an “artist’s colony” from the time it was founded in the 1850’s.

    My partner and I spent the July 4th holiday there for the 4th time in the last 5 years. He’s originally from Michigan, but I’d been reading about it and wanting to visit it since I came out in the 1970’s. I don’t think we met anyone else from the Eastern half of the country during our entire week there. But, there were men from every midwestern city you can think of.:-)

    I visited Ogunquit 25 years ago and considered it a gay mini-resort then. For whom is this a “new” gay destination? Same with Guerneville, Fort Lauderdale, and Rehobeth Beach.

    I’m skeptical of the Times’ listing of Pahoa (Hawaii) and Jeffersonville/Livingston Manor (NY) as gay destinations (Does anyone know differently?).

    The only place on the paper’s list that I’ve heard about and which genuinely seems to be a “new” gay destination is Asheville. I’ve heard that the “quaint” factor and LGBT presence has been turning an originally rather redneck small city into a place to check out. Hopefully, we’ll make it there soon.

  23. Trevor says

    I agree with the Eaton Center comparison for Ptown. When I was there over 10 years ago I recall this…can’t-slow-down…vibe in town. However, the outlying environment was lovely and if I did run across another gay person in the dunes (!?) or trails, the idea of being among a fellow tribesman (or woman) during my time for r&r is just right.

    I live in Toronto and don’t think we have anything like that close by without having to cross the border. In these days of Homeland Security and the Patriot Act I am hesitant to the likelihood of border official hostility shown to ‘people like us.’

  24. ReggieH says

    Rehoboth is a great place, and my partner and I try to go every year. And I’ll second Austin as well,the only city in Texas I’d ever consider moving to! And both places have more going for them than just being gay friendly, Dave. GBM is right on about ‘being ourselves’ and why some of us enjoy certain places more than others.

  25. says

    Eureka Springs, Arkansas is a beautiful little swiss-style village in the Ozarks and they are very gay-friendly. My boyfriend and I were there just over a year ago where he suprised me with a commitment ceremony at one of the cutest little B&Bs.

    For that reason alone, Eureka Springs is one of my favorite cites anywhere.

    So I guess I’m just commenting to vote for Eureka if any of you are considering it.

  26. Sean R says

    Thanks to everyone for these tips on gay-friendly destinations, they’ve given me food for thought. My partner and I hope to visit the States in 2007, so it might be nice to explore somewhere away from the usual tourist destinations sans go-go dancers!

  27. Nick says

    Midtown Altanta, where I would say about 80% of the population is gay. Theres shopping that can be done off of Monroe and Piedmont road and Virginia Highlands. Lots of clubs etc. there. There are many places around Atlanta that also have gay sensibilities such as Chatanogua, TN, Greenville, SC and Savannah, GA.

  28. Kevin says

    Callicoon NY in Sullivan County NY is great. My partner and I bought a house there 2 years ago and love it. Of course we thought we were being pioneers only to find a huge network of gay men who have settled into homes in the country. Most of us are weekenders – the town itself is right on the Delaware River the bars and restaurants are all gay friendly or gay. Trendy little boutiques and shops are open all over the are. Our town is also proud to offer the 5th annual Day to Be Gay. I must admit I thought they meant “happy” when I saw the sign for the first time. Surprise surprise I was wrong. I count down the hours every week just to get up there. The rest of the NYC boys dont know what they are missing. Its only 2 hours NW from the city.

  29. Jack says

    My boyfriend and I just got back from a wonderful trip up North. We stayed in a small town, just East of The Porcupine Mountains, right on Lake Superior. The place is Mountain View Lodges in Silver City, MI. The owners were fantastic and made our stay a very pleasant and memorable one. They were very gay friendly and accept all people as they are. Their cabins were awesome. Very modern and clean and fully equipped. This was one vacation my lover and I will not soon forget. Look them up. You will absolutely love it there.

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