As you try to figure out this winter weather, start planning to put it behind you for a much-deserved spring fling
Weather-wise, it’s been an insane winter in the ATL. Coat, jacket, sleeves, shorts? Ugh! We give up.
But no matter what the skies decide to deliver the next few weeks, there’s a silver lining in a cloud right over gaytown, and it has your name on it: Spring Break.
Whether you’re in school and get a proper week, or you are young at heart and need to get away from your day-to-day doldrums, we peeked in on Gay Travel at About for the most popular destinations for gay men that either warm you up, or give you a real winter wonderland – before Atlanta has a chance to see either.
The quirky, historic community at the southern tip of Florida (it’s actually in the Caribbean, about 80 miles from Cuba), Key West has been a mecca for gay travelers for more than a half century (and it discreetly cultivated a “family” following long before that). As a spring break option, it has a lot going for it – it’s among the warmest destinations in the country, so even when cooler temps prevail elsewhere in Florida, Key West tends to remain ideal for beach-combing and sunning by the pool. The palm-shaded community abounds with gay bars and funky restaurants.
Palm Springs, California
The top gay resort destination in the West, the dry and sunny desert community of Palm Springs offers easy access to spring breakers in this part of the country. The city’s airport has direct flights on most major airlines from numerous major hubs, and it’s also within a two- to three-hour drive of Los Angeles and San Diego. Although the city’s many clothing-optional gay resorts and pulsing nightclubs have made it a top vacation destination this time of year, until recently, it tended to attract a somewhat older crowd. Hello, daddy!
Western Ski Towns
As America’s top ski regions go, Colorado is tops for gay spring breakers. It’s home to several ski resort communities with popular GLBT followings, including swanky Aspen, stunning Telluride (which hosts Telluride Gay Ski Week from late February through early March), and diverse and accessible Vail. Although somewhat less noted among gay travelers, ski hubs like Crested Butte, Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs, Durango, Winter Park, and Pagosa Springs also make terrific spring-break skiing getaways.
Unless you’re attending one of the aforementioned gay ski weeks, none of these towns is going to wow you with gay nightlife or GLBT parties, so planning a spring break adventure to a Colorado ski town works best for small groups of buddies vacationing together.
The Mexican Riviera city of Puerto Vallarta – long a major winter retreat among gay travelers – is one of the safest for tourists in the country. With weak local currency versus the U.S. dollar, makes Puerto Vallarta remarkably affordable – even for students with limited funds. Puerto Vallarta isn’t quite the spring-break mecca that Cancun is, but keep in mind that Cancun draws a predominantly hetero crowd. For gay partying, Puerto Vallarta has lots to offer.
Florida’s Other HotSpots
Florida has plenty of superb gay spring break possibilities beyond the charming resort town of Key West (see above). Fabulous Fort Lauderdale was the state’s original Spring Break party hub before the city classed things up in the 1990s, but it remains popular with students in March, thanks to the wealth of clothing-optional resorts and gay bars. Miami holds its famed gay Winter Party Festival in early March, Orlando has Walt Disney World (where Disney Gay Days takes place in early June) and myriad other theme parks, and the twin cities of St. Petersburg and Tampa (photo) both enjoy a lively gay scene and offer solid value both in terms of places to stay, cheap flights, and inexpensive dining.
Cali Road Trip
The coast of Southern California – from San Diego (photo) up through Laguna Beach, Long Beach, Santa Monica (and, by extension, Los Angeles and West Hollywood), Malibu, and Santa Barbara – provides some of the most dazzling scenery in the country. It’s perfect for road-tripping, and that’s one style of spring breaking that can be incredibly fun for the right group of friends. The great thing about hopping in the car and spending a night or two in these gay-friendly cities dotting the California coastline is that you can combine partying and relaxation with rugged adventure and memorable sightseeing. The big-city stops along the way offer tons of gay bars and shopping as well.
New England Skiing
Spending spring break on the snowy slopes of some of America’s top ski resorts can be tremendously rewarding. New England has several fine areas for this pursuit – from Stowe and Killington in Vermont to the several resorts of the White Mountains in New Hampshire to Sugarloaf and Sunday River in Maine. New England ski areas not only have great slopes – they’re in a very gay-friendly part of the country.
Money No Object?
The common assumption about spring break travel is that the focus should be on economical destinations, where college students of limited means can potentially afford to spend a few days, or perhaps even a week. But not all spring breakers are strictly constrained by tight budgets, and if you’re in a position to spend some dough, consider such intriguing tropical resort destinations as Hawaii (Honolulu for an urban partying experience, the other islands – Maui, Kauai, the Big Island – for nature), Costa Rica, or the Caribbean.
Among landlocked U.S. cities, the glitzy metropolis of Las Vegas gets plenty of attention from gay spring breakers. It’s easy to get here, as it’s served by virtually every airline with direct flights from all over the country, and it’s within a half-day’s drive of Southern California, Phoenix, Albuquerque, and Salt Lake City. It’s fairly easy to find cheap hotel rooms, and there’s no shortage of opportunities to party, whether at Sin City’s many gay and gay-friendly nightclubs, or gambling in casinos.
Vegas has a wealth of noteworthy restaurants, from high-end celeb-chef palaces of haute cuisine to bargain-priced dives and 24-hour buffets. Some find Vegas brash and irritatingly noisy and commercial, but the glamour, neon, and energy are much of the fun for many visitors.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Almost a gay sister city to the ATL, the many gay bars and clubs around the French Quarter and just downriver in the Faubourg Marigny area of New Orleans has an incredible food scene, all-night gay bars, quirky and distinctive shopping, and a fine mix of gay-friendly hotels in all price ranges. For social butterflies and groups of friends traveling together, New Orleans is a reliably fun and exciting urban getaway.
Sources: GayTravel, about.com