July 25, 2014

Gay Travel: 3 Destinations To Escape The Summer Heat

A summer sunset with the sun lowering in the distance.



When the city streets sizzle, it’s time to get the heck out of town.

Crowded urban centers are really the last place you want to be at the height of summer heat.  If you’re anything like me, you’d rather be somewhere close to a large body of water, a breezy back porch and gorgeous views.

And you’d much prefer if that idyllic place was friendly to gay travelers.  So, for your vacationing pleasure, we’re highlighting 3 of the most gay-friendly vacation spots in the country.  Read on to find out what makes them special and a few of our suggestions of what to do when you’re there.


Gay revelers at the Boat Slip in Provincetown, MA.


1. Provincetown


Sitting at the very tip of the Cape Code peninsula, Provincetown is a culturally eclectic, art-filled dream of a vacation spot.  And considering that the U.S. Census Bureau declared it the gayest city in America (based on the number of registered same-sex couples), you could say that it’s hospitable to the LGBT traveler.

Though your association with Cape Code might be well-heeled, conservative country club types, rest assured that Provincetown is anything but ordinary. Known by insiders as P-Town, this tiny coastal city boasts over 20 miles of pristine Atlantic coastline and is a great destination for singles, couples and families.

Highlights:
  • Atlantic House – Commonly known as the oldest gay bar in America, A-House was established in 1798 and became officially gay-friendly in the 50s, but had a reputation for being open to “alternative lifestyles” in the early 1900s. It’s truly a town institution and offers patrons an outdoor patio, a classic pub, a leather bar and a dance club. And don’t miss the photo of Tennessee Williams taking a nude stroll on P-Town’s beaches.
  • Carnival Week – OK, so this might not be what you’d call “relaxing,” but the annual gay festival is something you simply have to see at least once in your life.  Every August, the quaint town hosts about 90,000 visitors who come to celebrate this gay Mardi Gras that is much more than a pride parade.
  • Art House – Before booking your trip to P-Town, be sure to check the schedule at the Art House.  From drag shows to standup comedy to musical performances, this venue always has something worth checking out.

Gay men posing for pictures at the beach in Fire Island Pines.

2. Fire Island


Fire Island Pines
Just a hop, skip and a jump from NYC, Fire Island is the perfect pastoral, car-free escape for stressed city dwellers.  One of the best things about the New York barrier island is the fact that they’ve banned cars – it feels like you’ve stepped back in time as you breath the exhaust-free sea air and get where you need to go on your feet, a bicycle or golf cart.  Plus it has the same natural beauty as The Hamptons without any of the pretension.

As you may know, the island has a rich, gay history and was seen as a safe and happening vacation spot for gay travelers starting in the 50s.  That reputation remains the same today with 2 thriving gay communities calling the island home – Cherry Grove and The Pines. Visitors can stay in these communities or in one of the other many vacation rentals or hotels on the island.

Highlights:
  • The Sunken Forest – Doesn’t the name alone make you want to explore this rare ecological gem?  Located just a few hundred yards behind the shore, the unique holly forest is full of beautiful fresh water bogs, local wildlife, and cool shade.  It offers an unexpected, peaceful escape from the bustling beaches nearby.
  • Kismet – Ocean Beach is the most popular town, so its beach is usually the most crowded.  If you just want a chill day on the beach, I recommend Kismet. There are a couple of good dining options and it’s easy to find a spot to park your towel.  And if you’re feeling daring, the island’s nude beach in Robert Moses State Park is just a short walk away.
  • Ocean Beach – Once you’ve had your fill of snoozing under a beach umbrella and you want a little more action, head to Fire Island’s most happening area.  Rent a rusty old beach bike and ride down the main drag as well as the tranquil side streets full of beautiful homes. And park your bike when you’re ready to take part in the booming nightlife.

Gay men posing for a photo in their bathing suits in Saugatuck, Michigan.


3. Saugatuck



Saugatuck - the art coast
Tucked inside the southwest coast of Lake Michigan, just a couple hours’ drive from Chicago, is this hidden jewel of a beach town.  To Midwesterners, the Saugatuck-Douglas area has long been known as a peaceful, summer escape, but many outside the region have yet to discover it.

Known as the “Art Coast” these two adjoining towns are famous for their artist colonies and stunning beaches – in fact, Saugatuck’s Oval Beach was recently named by Conde Nast Traveler Magazine as one of the 25 most beautiful beaches in the world.  Boasting their own gay-friendly travel site, the area certainly welcomes gay travelers with open arms.

Highlights:
  • The Dunes – While you should absolutely visit the actual sand dunes the area is famous for, we’re talking about the gay resort that includes live cabaret performances, a nightclub and a poolside bar.  And you don’t have to be an overnight guest to enjoy the nightlife there.
  • Oval Beach – Don’t take Conde Nast’s word for it, visit Oval Beach yourself.  If you’ve never seen Lake Michigan, then you’ll be in for a surprise – it’s such an expansive body of water that you’d swear you were on the ocean.  This particular stretch of coast is gorgeous and has everything you need for comfort – bathrooms, public parking and a classic concession stand.
  • Express Yourself Art Barn – If you’re at all artistically inclined, this is your dream come true.  And as this is Michigan’s Art Coast, it would only be right to get in on the action.  For just $8 (plus material costs), you can create a work of art in your pick of medium: mosaic, jewelry, glass, painting or pottery.  They’ll even ship your piece to you so you don’t have to worry about hauling it home.
Is it merely a coincidence that some of the most gay-friendly summer travel destinations are also some of the country’s best?  We think there’s probably a connection there.

Wherever you decide to roam this summer, we wish you safe and happy travels!



Jay Deratany is a hotelier, attorney, screenwriter, film producer, and human rights activist.
Jay Deratany
We are thrilled to welcome new contributing writer Jay Deratany, to the Jive in the [415] blog.  Jay is a busy man who wears many hats – in addition to owning The Kirby - one of the only luxury boutique hotels in Saugatuck, Michigan, he is a successful attorney, screenwriter, film producer and human rights activist. The Kirby is a modern hotel and wine bar housed in a Victorian mansion in the heart of Douglas.  

You can find Jay on Google+ , and be sure to visit The Kirby Hotel website.



straight talk in a queer world.            jiveinthe415.com

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