South Beach? Been there, done that. Ibiza? It’s only seasonal. San Francisco? Who hasn’t been? While some of the world’s most-loved gay friendly destinations have lured the LGBT community for years—even decades—there’s a new crop of cities that’s dangling a rather large, gay carrot. And gay travelers are biting. From Liverpool in the UK to the Catskills in Upstate New York, several destinations are on our radar as burgeoning hot spots for the gay community, thanks to a spike in friends of the family visitors, new gay bars, gay-friendly attitudes and general attractions that keep travelers making the trek.
Out Escapes , a new travel web site that features gay-friendly, discounted hotels, a platform for gay events around the world and Gay Tripper travel lifestyle blog , offers their list of the best new emerging gay destinations every traveler should have on their radar.
Catskills, New York
Less than two hours from New York City, the Catskills is our best pick. It has been wooing gay travelers since the 80s but it recently went through a major renaissance and with good reason: the ground-breaking legalization of same-sex weddings in the state of New York. Couples are flocking to get married or even honeymoon at romantic inns and explore the rural getaway, and the Catskills is no less than welcoming. It’s chockfull of rolling valleys and well appointed hotels with a terrific farm-to-table culinary scene and a whole lotta sky. It’s also the perfect getaway from New York City where couples can reenact their best Dirty Dancing moments (the movie was set here) and gaggles of friends can immerse themselves in plenty of outdoor adventures.
One of the coolest towns is Roxbury, and the gay scene is flourishing, many thanks to gay couple Greg Henderson and Joseph Massa, who own the Roxbury Motel (www.theroxburymotel.com). Opened in 2004, this trendy inn recently added 9 brand-new themed suites, each paying tribute to popular 60s and 70s TV shows and movies, a nod to the era when the Catskills were at the peak of their time. Joe and Greg’s background is in theater and design, so don’t expect camp. Instead, the suites are whimsical, visually commanding and, sure enough, blatantly fun.
Next door to Roxbury is the lesbian owned Public, a cool, funky restaurant serving farm-to-table dishes. It’s best to come early as daily specials sell out fast, and we mean before 7 PM. Everything in Roxbury generally shuts down by 9 PM.
But its the daytime that’s the most alluring. Outdoor adventures abound, including plenty of hikes at Kaaterskill Falls, a man-made beach, the highest zipline in North America and several lakes that make the perfect backdrop for your Facebook cover photo.
While Roxbury is experiencing a renaissance, Sullivan County is also seeing an uptick in gay travelers. It’s always been a gay-friendly destination (up to 70 percent of businesses in Narrowsburg Village alone are gay owned and there’s even an Out&About local guide distributed in shops, lounges and antique stores, as well as a website exclusively for gay visitors: www.outinthecatskills.com). The gay community continues to thrive, hitting the natural setting for hiking and canoeing and setting up camp at one of the several gay-owned B&Bs. Speaking of B&Bs, don’t be fooled by Ecce Bed & Breakfast (www.eccebedandbreakfast.com). It’s more like a luxury boutique hotel. Perched 400 feet high on a bluff overlooking the Delaware River where eagles soar, the hotel has five contemporary rooms (some with whirlpool tubs and private terraces), free mini bar and cozy beds. The 60-acre property exudes romance with a private hammock area and a stone cliff etched with initials and names from lovers dating back to the twenties.
Sullivan County is also majorly historic. It’s here the legendary Woodstock Festival took place in 1969 (yes, the festival did not happen in Woodstock). The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts celebrates the iconic concert and sixties history with educational and fun multimedia and memorabilia right on the very site.
And, believe it or not, there is nightlife! The Dancing Cat Saloon and Catskill Distillery produces the popular Peace Vodka, and the restaurant/lounge is a hot spot for locals and visitors alike. Who knows? You may run into Michelle Williams or Mark Ruffalo, both of whom own homes here.
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