Out Traveler Awards: Time to Vote
By OUTTraveler Editors
Welcome to the 2013 Out Traveler Awards. We have 18 categories, with questions and nominees chosen by editors at Out Traveler, Out, and The Advocate. We'll pose a category each day this month and ask that our worldly readers lend us their opinions. That's right, the readers choose the winners. Question number one is at the bottom of this page; come back every weekday, until December 4, for a new category. Polls close around December 11, with winners announced the week of December 16. Get voting, travelers!
Top Global Destination (country):
Which county offers LGBT travelers the best combination of access, entertainment, hospitality, acceptance, and affordability?
From London to Manchester, the U.K. offers thousands of years of history, a vibrant theater scene, a progressively accepting culture, and an extreme ease of access both into and within Britain itself. It’s no coincidence that the U.K. hosts some of the largest Pride celebrations on the planet, and acts as a gateway for travel into Europe.
Probably one of the most misunderstood destinations, this southeast Asian destination is gaining popularity for its tropical weather, beautiful coastline, rich history, and emerging LGBT scene, especially in the urban areas. The cheap cost of living helps negate the cost of travel to Asia, which makes Vietnam a prime destination for those looking for an adventure, not just a vacation.
The charming, vibrant, and sexy secret of South America offers the unexpected. Though rural areas can still be conservative, urban centers like Buenos Aires cater to LGBT travelers who take advantage of the favorable exchange rate. Enjoy the Latin culture and cuisine by day and non-stop dancing at night. The luscious rainforests and beautiful waterfalls give reason to abandon the city for a day trip.
Undeservingly settled in the travelers’ shadow of Australia, New Zealand is a diverse set of Islands that pride itself on preserving its vast and natural beauty. A prime destination for the traveler not seeking to settle down in an urban environment, New Zealand offer everything from hot water beaches to breathtaking vineyards. Even if you’re not the best photographer, the scenery in N.Z. will do most of the work for you.
Open-minded and welcoming, Sweden is the center of Scandinavia. A great city best explored on foot, Stockholm is a relaxing getaway that caters more to the café culture than the clubbing lifestyle. But the capital city’s architecture and history aren’t the only draws; the rest of the vibrant country offers a host of activities from wildlife safaris to winter ski trips. Sweden is a country known for its progressive LGBT views and legislation, and its fusion of art, culture, and cuisine make it a top draw for any traveler.
One of the world’s most popular gay destinations, Spain not only offers an enticing climate, but most everything else one can want. While Madrid and Barcelona provide a plethora of rich art, architecture, and insatiable Spanish cuisine, the beaches of Sitges and Ibiza are not too far away. With a never-ending array of festivals, Spain can be as relaxing or exhausting as desired. Connected by the most extensive high-speed rail system in Europe, it’s easy not to spend your stay in one spot. And rightfully so. Spaniards are known for their acceptance, making Spain the gay hot spot of southern Europe.
Most Amazing U.S. Destination (Large City)
This city offers a a feeling that can't be found anywhere else on Earth.
Whether on a budget or on a roll, Las Vegas can be as relaxing or extravagant as you want it to be. Most every major airport in the U.S. offers a direct flight to this adult playground, that itself offers unrivaled shopping, dining, entertainment, and, of course, gaming. The only thing Vegas can’t offer is a bit of reality. That’s a pill you swallow at work the day after you get home.
Endless entertainment and nonstop nightlife aren’t all that Miami has to offer. Home to one of the world’s favorite beaches, it’s also the place for dining, clubbing, and shopping. The city comes with a price, but it also comes with a large gay community and a growing cultural scene.
There are few cities that guarantee a great time, but New Orleans might be at the top of that list. And not just for it’s Southern Decadence festival and the world-famous Mardi Gras. If you’re looking for culture, music, history, and enough fellow LGBTs to wet your whistle, head to the Big Easy.
New York City doesn’t sleep and you wouldn't either if you were the center of the universe. From Central Park to SoHo, Times Square to Brooklyn, the city has countless neighborhoods to explore and fall in love with. If you're a theater buff, you're in the right place, and Hell's Kitchen is the queer neighborhood of the moment, with a enviable restaurant scene.
Combining big city sophistication with a smaller town's friendliness and manageability, Portland offers more than a progressive attitude and a great cup of coffee. It’s no wonder book stores still thrive in the city that slows life down long enough to enjoy the finer things. And in Portland, those finer things are usually custom made right where you find them. From the coffee to the beer to boots, Portland knows how to live.
The nation’s most accepting city is the place for beauty everywhere you look; be it the architecture or the people. It's eminent walkability makes it easy to leave a watch and a map behind and just stroll. Every neighborhood offers something different, and it never gets old seeing a cable car whizzing by or a techie sending an email on his glasses. If you want character, you got it.
Whether you’re in the air an hour or an eternity, which airline provides the all-around best experience from booking to baggage?
Air New Zealand
It’s the airline that brought you the Skycouch “cuddle seats,” need we say more? From safety videos featuring rugby teams, to memory foam in business class, there’s a reason to find yourself onboard an Air New Zealand plane. They also hosted a same-sex marriage in the air!
As it gets set to merge with US Air, American has rebranded itself, hoping to show us something new. And it has. With new premium class cabins on the marquee flights from New York to the West Coast, it’s an airline of choice for the avid long distance and business traveler. Making delays more than bearable, the luxurious Admiral’s Club lounges offers a reason to miss your next flight.
If you’re on top of your trip, booking early with BA can usually offer unexpected savings when flying from most major cities into Europe. For those transatlantic business travelers, the new Club World business class experience offers the newest in-flight technology that could only be balanced out with an afternoon tea. How British.
As industry competitors struggle with mergers, Delta is posting profits for a reason: the first airline to allow passengers to use their portable electronic devices from gate to gate, Delta prides itself on catering to the customer. If you aren’t afraid to pay a little more to tailor the flight specifically to your needs, then you’ve found your airline. Several variations of both business and coach let you choose how you fly when you fly.
Flying Blue doesn’t mean feeling it. The airline that prides itself on legroom and leather seats, also happens to be the first airline to bring travelers live TV, so you don’t have to plan your trip around the big game (or Ellen). With your first checked bag flying free of charge, couch no longer has to mean second class.
Headquarted in Chicago, but operating out of 10 hubs worldwide, United Airlines has the reach to get you to your destination, even if it’s a world away. Not having to rely on multiple carriers means more frequent flyer miles with the same carrier, which hopefully translates into more travel. With industry-leading loyalty programs, and a new commitment to customer service, look for United to gain a growing loyalty.
A perennial favorite, Virgin, like its owner Richard Branson, spares no expense. Leading the way with high quality entertainment options, including an interactive system offering touch-screen meal orders, it’s difficult not to feel like you’re already on vacation from the minute you step into this lounge/plane.
Best Hotel Chain
Which hotel chain makes you relax when you see their logo or walk through their doors?
For the cool kids and those who will forever sit at the popular lunch table. Gay-owned, this Portland-based chain caters to the hipster in all of us. Even if you're not part of that scene, it's hard to dispute their brilliantly decorated rooms, cozy lobbies, and choice restaurants.
Is there another hotel chain with as strong a brand identity? Synonymous with quality, Hilton Hotels & Resorts are reliably clean, comfortable, and stylish, from New York to Dubai. The chain is also very LGBT-supportive; they most recently hosted events at Chicago's Market Days event, in Boystown.
Joie de Vivre
With hotels in California, Hawaii, Arizona, and Illinois, Joie de Vivre has the market on West Coast cool and Chicago sophistication. Our favorite property of theirs may be the Saguaro Palm Springs, a colorful oasis in the desert.
Based in San Francisco, Kimpton is the country's largest chain of boutique hotels. But their properties never have a "chain" feel. You've probably stayed at the Hotel Monaco in Chicago, Philly, Seattle, or D.C., or the Hotel Palomar in L.A., San Francisco, or Dallas, without realizing it was a Kimpton. The company has a great reputation, especially among LGBT circles, who value their equal employee benefits and HIV philanthropy.
The company behind both the Courtyard by Marriott properties, and the luxurious Ritz-Carlton hotels, is a giant in the industry. The Maryland-based chain has a long history of being LGBT-inclusive.
Hip, without being aggressively so, the W had endeared itself with its swank properties in some of the world's coolest cities. Not only will you be proud to bring people back to your room at the W, you know you can get a good meal at the restaurant downstairs and a nice massage at the Bliss spa before you check out.
Best Small Hotel or Resort
Aside from the chains, what are the smaller resorts that have you coming back for more?
The Grand Resort and Spa
This Fort Lauderdale property lives up to its name. The largest gay-owned and operated men's resort hotel on the beach in F.L. is first-class luxury all the way. It may be a gay resort but it's not about dirty, dark corners, instead it features spa treatments, tasteful rooms, a crystalline pool, and a friendly clientele.
This male only, clothing optional Key West resort boasts an attentive staff, ultra clean and tasteful facilities, and some pretty sexy amenities (health club complete with sauna and steam room, free drinks during Happy Hour, a 24 hour café, and complimentary “adult entertainment” channels in your room.) "Hot Naked Sundays" at the Island House is the hottest, all-male pool party in town.
Jules et Jim
Besides being the name of a '60s-era movie, Jules et Jim is a boutique hotel in Paris's gayborhood, the Marais. Ideally located near the Pompidou Centre and several Metro stations, this stylish hotel personifies Paris.
Located in Maui's verdant north coast, this resort is all about relaxation, rejuvenation, and peace. Originally built in 1909, this gorgeous resort has no TVs, but plenty of fresh local food, yoga classes, and quiet spots for meditation.
Sultriest Place on Earth
Which city offers LGBT visitors a sultry, steamy, and sexy slice of life?
There’s nothing like the taste of forbidden fruit. And Havana, which has historically forbidden U.S. tourists, still attracts tens of thousands of Americans each year, who are yearning for a smoke of their famed cigars and a bite of the burgeoning LGBT scene in the Caribbean’s most populous city.
When the night falls, the heat rises in Miami, one of the southernmost cities in the United States. Its beaches and famed clubs are teeming with well-muscled torsos that are sun-kissed by day, and later kissed good night.
It doesn’t get much hotter than New Orleans, whose Cajun French culture offers a special spice to this Southern city. In the land of perpetual Spring Break and Southern Decadence, the liquor never slows and revelers reveal all for rainbow beads and a shot on Bourbon Street.
Rio de Janeiro
As one of the most popular gay destinations in the world, gay Rio de Janeiro takes beach culture to another plane. With its year-round warm temperature and breath-taking landscape, Rio has become a mecca for those seeking beautiful, bronze Brazilian bodies and the warm embrace of an outdoor sauna.
Hottest Gay Beach
It’s not just about the size or which is easiest on the eyes, it’s about which piece of sand holds that special place in your heart.
Rio de Janeiro is made for wearing little to no clothes and Ipanema Beach is part of the reason why. Ringed by mountains and populated by the beautiful people, it's no surprise Ipanema is regularly named the sexiest beach in the world.
Made up of two distinct resort towns, the small barrier island on the coast off Long Island is as hot as the name suggests. Though it’s a small adventure just getting here, once your sandals hit the boardwalk you’ll realize the journey’s well worth it. From the Pines to the Grove, there’s enough nudity and partying to keep you beyond busy at the beach.
Just 30 a minute drive from Barcelona, and host to the Gay Carnival, Sitges and its beaches is one of the reasons you packed for Spain in the first place. L'Home Mort is one of Sitges most beloved beaches and it's a gathering point for some of Europe's most gorgeous gay men and women.
Pu’u Olai Beach in Makena State Park in Maui is easy to miss, but difficult to forget. Even for Hawaii. This little gem is a sanctuary for those wishing for a little privacy and a lot of fun. Though the beach tends to be as much of a gay/straight mix as it is a nudist/surfer mix, just head furthest from the entrance to find the boys of summer. Usually a great little crowd awaits, with lots of impromptu dancing and singing (and special cookies and brownies sold to the sunbathers).
One of the few gay beaches in Southern California, this two mile strip of sand is a good place to escape the heat of another summer in the city. Head towards the volleyball courts and as soon as the board shorts start turning into boy shorts, you’ll know you’ve found your crowd. Though it’s ok to forget your shorts altogether, most gays forget that there’s an ocean, so just don’t forget your cooler and your stereo.
Most Decadent Annual Destination Party
Which famed party serves the most eleganza?
Celebrating its 14th anniversary, Aqua Girl is a weekend-long party in Miami that benefits the Aqua Foundation for Women, which supports wellness and scholarships for Florida’s LGBT community. Ladies from international locales flock to Florida for this worthwhile cause, which has the added benefit of pool parties and dance events in the city’s premier hotels and clubs.
Black and Blue Festival
Touted as the world’s largest dance festival to benefit the gay community, the Black and Blue Festival annually draws up to 70,000 people to Montreal during Canada’s Thanksgiving weekend. Raising funds for and awareness of HIV and AIDS, the festival is a non-stop succession of dance parties, including the Jock Ball, the Leather Ball, the Military Ball, and the crown jewel Black & Blue event. Even the critics are raving.
Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend
Known informally as“The Dinah,” the world’s largest lesbian party attracts over 10,000 international visitors annually to Palm Springs, Calif., where the popular music festival is held. Many prominent LGBT organizations, including GLAAD and the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, have joined forces with The Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend, throwing lavish parties and events that raise awareness of social issues.
As the largest HIV and AIDS fundraiser in Europe, the Life Ball is truly a spectacular spectacular, attracting an international A-list crowd of politicians, celebrities, and public figures such as Elton John, Liza Minnelli, and Catherine Deneuve for its opening ceremony. Each year, the Viennese fete presents a different lavish theme, such as this year’s “Scheherazade,” which encourages guests to don their most elegant, outlandish, and outrageous ensembles for a good cause.
Each year, thousands flock to Palm Springs for the White Party, a weeklong celebration of fashion, art, and music that has grown to become the largest fundraiser for HIV and AIDS in the world. A-list DJs, entertainers, and celebrities descend on the city for the party’s electronic music scene, in which revelers dancing to David Guetta wear white, or not much at all.
Ultimate Luxury Hotel/Resort
What place is worth breaking the bank on your vacation?
Aria Resort and Casino
The star of Las Vegas's mammoth City Center complex, the Aria is a tasteful and comfortable oasis of gaming, shopping, shows, dining, and drinking. Designed by Caesar Pelli, the 61-story property features oodles of artwork, including a lobby piece by Maya Lin. The hotel's stellar restaurants include concepts from Michael Mina and Julian Serrano, as well as the romantic and luxurious Sage eatery.
Eco-friendly glamour and luxury in Vietnam? Yes, indeed. At the Six Senses Con Dao resort, you'll be among an archipelago with verdant trees, bamboo structures, and pristine beaches. The five-star resort is within a national park and was named one of the world's top eco-lodges by National Geographic Traveler.
Located on the golden sands of St. Martin, this Orient-Express resort epitomizes heaven on Earth. If you got the friends and the cash, grab one of the three-bedroom cottages that overlook the crystalline water of the Atlantic. There's no shortage of restaurants, bars, and spa treatments available, as well.
Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong
This jewel of Hong Kong has been a focal point of the city since 1963. The luxury property is celebrating its 50th birthday this year, with plenty of specials, including a package in the Oriental Suite, a body spa testament for two, a champagne breakfast, and a special 1963 dinner menu, with a 21st-century twist. Not only cosmopolitan, this hotel is known for being especially gay-friendly.
Sir Francis Drake
You can do the bohemian San Francisco experience in Haight-Ashbury; the queer S.F. experience in the Castro; or the luxurious S.F. experience at the award-winning Sir Francis Drake in Union Square. This is quintessential San Francisco, with the humming city around you, but absolute comfort and luxury inside.
This brand-new property has an uptown/downtown vibe that appeals to younger visitors craving luxury, with a little hipness on the side. The building was designed by Roman and Williams and features warm wood and leather accents, black glass bricks, an absence of wall art, portable soundsystems, a lending library, and local mobile phones for guests. There's a restaurant, Kingside, on the ground-floor and a rooftop bar is on the way.
Which island destination is the best place to snorkel, play, and explore?
Gorgeous coral reefs are just a stone’s throw from the shoreline of Curacao, a Caribbean island with political and cultural ties to the Netherlands. Apart from snorkeling, swimming, and diving, visitors can explore an historic 18th-century Dutch village, stroll its many pristine beaches, or visit the island’s LGBT-friendly destinations, including the gay bar Otra Cosa and Mambo Beach.
Millions of tourists migrate annually to Maui, the second largest island in the state of Hawaii, which now recognizes marriage equality and markets itself as the perfect honeymoon destination for gays and lesbians. In Lahaina, visitors surf both wind and waves or patron the many shops and restaurants by the wharf. Maui teems with natural wonders as well, including a dormant volcano. Out travelers can also find a lively nightlife destination in LuLu’s in west Maui, renowned for its “booty shake” contests, or sunbathe in the nude at Little Beach.
San Juan Islands (Washington State)
Just off the shore of Washington state, the San Juan Islands are comprised of hundreds of islands and rocks, which can be easily explored by boat or kayak. Bicycling, hiking, and whale- and orca-watching are other popular activities in this unique Northwestern archipelago, as well as its San Juan Island National Historic Park. Cozy cabins and bed and breakfasts line the islands’ nearly 500 miles of shoreline, making this a perfect escape for couples, writers, and lovers of nature.
Turks and Caicos Islands
The motto of this tropical collection of islands is “Beautiful by Nature” — and with good reason. Turks and Caicos is under consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its rich biodiversity that includes exotic and indigenous flora and fauna. In addition to nature lovers, the islands are also a draw for scenesters and celebrities, who flock to this corner of the Caribbean for its annual Turks & Caicos Music and Cultural Festival or to find relaxation in the many world-class resorts on the island of Providenciales.
Formerly maintained by the U.S. Navy, Vieques has been largely protected from the development seen in other areas of the Virgin Islands, allowing it to have dozens of pristine and secluded beaches. Its Bioluminescent Bay, which glows a neon blue nightly, is an American national natural landmark as well as one of the many draws of the Puerto Rican municipality, which has recently attracted an influx of LGBT visitors, residents, and shopkeepers who are drawn to the island’s privacy and beauty.
Rumored to have been christened “The Fat Virgin” by famed explorer Christopher Columbus, Virgin Gorda is one of the largest landmasses in the British Virgin Islands, although it remains relatively secluded. Among its natural marvels is a cluster of granite boulders known as The Baths, which are evidence of the island’s volcanic beginnings, as well as its sparkling waters that are ideal for swimming and snorkeling.
Best Adventure Getaway
Which place offers the least complacent vacation?
For such a tiny country, Belize has an amazing variety of climates and natural habitats that support a wild variety of animals. Eco-tourism remains a major industry there, with everything from hiking to helicopter tours.
Known as a green paradise, Costa Rica, like nearby Belize, is a nature-lover's paradise. With volcanos, bird-watching, snorkeling, and zip-lining at your feet, there's no way a Costa Rican vacation can be passive.
Whether your idea of adventure is bungee jumping or sampling new wine, New Zealand is an explorer's paradise. N.Z. is all about nature's wonders, but with creature comforts always near by.
A bit closer than Belize and Costa Rica is Mexico's Mayan Riviera, with plenty of opportunities for the adventure-seeker. How about underground rafting in a water cave or exploring the region's numerous cenotes or sinkholes?
Swimming and snorkeling aren't the only ways to get your kicks: how about racing down the side of a mountain as the wind whips your face? The best place to do that may be Telluride, Colo., where there is skiing, snowboarding, dog sledding, and ice climbing.
Favorite Family Destination
Where do you feel comfortable bringing your brood?
There’s no better family destination than the fun- and fantasy-filled theme park Disneyland, which provides Anaheim with a wealth of international tourism each year. But the California city also boasts a newly renovated downtown of fashionable stores and restaurants, and is only minutes from the Pacific Ocean and seaside excursions.
The home of Ernest Hemingway. World-class resorts. Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville.” There’s something for every member of the family in Key West, known as “The Conch Republic” as well as the “Southernmost City In the Continental United States.” Featuring lively gay bars, drag revues, and several queer festivals, Key West boasts an LGBT-friendly atmosphere both day and night, with some of the country’s most stunning sunsets and sunsets in-between.
Provincetown is host to the nation’s largest LGBT family weeks, which occurs annually in the summer. But all year round, visitors can enjoy art galleries and boutiques on Commercial Street, or whale watching and other seaside activities along the Cape Cod National Seashore. This gay resort destination also has many LGBT-owned inns and bed and breakfasts where guests can rest in comfort.
From the San Diego Zoo to the natural wonders of Black’s Beach, San Diego boasts a number of family-friendly destinations, including Legoland California, SeaWorld, Balboa Park, and The Old Globe theater. There are also a number of exciting LGBT festivals throughout the year such as Pride, Hillcrest Mardi Gras, and the Citifest Street Fair.
As one of the largest cities in Canada, Vancouver has all the cultural attractions of a world-class city, including the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Vancouver Maritime Museum, the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, as well as a professional orchestra and opera house. The city boasts all the attractions of the gay centers of Davie Village and Commercial Drive and is also only minutes from outdoor adventures in the mountains and coast.
Best City after Dark
Which city is the hottest after the sun goes down?
As one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the world, Amsterdam boasts a dazzling array of nightlife, bars, and cannabis cafes that are sure to please any out traveler. The city is host to many world-famous clubs, including Escape, Paradiso, and Sugar Factory, that attract celebrity DJs and techno enthusiasts from across the globe.
Revelers can twerk until dawn in the many dance halls of Berlin, particularly in the Schoneberg district, which has been a gay beacon for more than a century. Today, Germany’s capital is throbbing with sexual liberation and a truly international flavor that permeates every club, café, and cruising locale.
With neon lights beckoning travelers to headliners like Celine Deon and Britney Spears, Las Vegas has remarketed itself as a must-see LGBT destination. Its burgeoning gay nightlife also reflects this transition, with casinos like The Cosmopolitan and Luxor staffing its nightclubs with gorgeous go-go boys and girls that keep the party going all night long.
The bourbon-soaked streets of New Orleans host a constant parade of revelers frequenting such infamous hotspots as Oz and Bourbon Pub. Or just party in the open air, particularly during festivals like Mardi Gras and Southern Decadence that draw out travelers from around the world.
New York is infamously known as the city that never sleeps, and with good reason. From evening to night to early morning, visitors can enjoy the glamour of world-class gay clubs like XL or venture to Brooklyn for the flavor of hipster mainstays like Sugarland and Metropolitan. Although watering holes are legally required to close their liquor bottles at 4 a.m., there’s always an after party, and an after-after-party, in New York City.
Dubbed the “Manhattan of the Middle East” by The Huffington Post, Tel Aviv has emerged as one of the world’s gay meccas, attracting thousands each year to sun on its gay Hilton beach and moonlight in its dozens of bars and nightclubs. From Apolo to Shlagzana to Evita to Gilda, there’s a venue for anyone seeking to dance the night away with
the beautiful people of Israel.
Incomparable Gay Neighborhood
What gayborhood has you coming back for more?
Chicago's friendly gayborhood doesn't feel as sceney as other cities. There are plenty of restaurants and bars to keep one busy, while the heart of the city is just to the north (and available via the El). The area's gay cred will definitely be bolstered by a planned LGBT hotel.
Boystown (West Hollywood/Los Angeles)
The sun doesn't orbit around Santa Monica and Robertson boulevards, but for some gays it does. High-caliber restaurants, some owned by reality stars, and a bevy of restaurants and nightclubs, notably The Abbey, ensure the Strip is hopping every night of the week.
The center of gay Madrid bustles with cosmopolitan cafes, bars, and tapas restaurants. A central subway station provides accessibility and Madrid's general inclusivity make it feel less ghettoized as other LGBT neighborhoods. Chueca is getting ready for its time to shine, as Madrid prepares to host 2017 World Pride.
Sometimes referred to as "Gayxample," this beautiful Barcelona neighborhood teems with life, just as you'd expect in such a warm and friendly city. Like Madrid, the action starts late--with dinner at 9 or 10, and dancing until dawn. Eixample is what disco naps were made for!
The Mission (San Francisco)
The area between Dolores and Valencia streets is turning the gay focus from the Castro, which sometimes seems stuck in the days of Harvey Milk. Diverse and unpretentious bars popular the neighborhood, which also has some seriously delicious food. Mission Dolores Park is the place to see and be seen.
Ultimate Gay Honeymoon Destination
Which city is the most romantic destination for newlyweds?
Millions of tourists migrate annually to Hawaii, which now recognizes marriage equality and markets itself as the perfect honeymoon destination for gays and lesbians. In Maui, visitors surf both wind and waves or patronize the many shops and restaurants by the Lahaina wharf. Kauai is more quiet, but offers some of the most gorgeous scenery in the state. The Big Island offers volcanoes and the world's best coffee. Oahu is home to Honolulu and the surfing paradise of the North Shore. Don't forget about smaller islands like Molokai and Lanai.
London’s West End is more than just a thriving culture of theater and gay nightlife. There are many historic inns and hotels scattered throughout district as well as the rest of the foggy city, providing lovebirds with the perfect nest throughout their stay. From Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey to the London Eye, the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe,
London is host to a multitude of romantic destinations for any lover of history, arts, and culture.
If you want a beach honeymoon that includes a shot of history, this Greek isle is a winning bet. With hills reaching to the sky, white houses and churches dotted all over them, and sparkling blue water at your feet — the water of Elias Beach comes to mind — Mykonos feels like heaven. The ground you step on and beach you frolic on are the same spots enjoyed by Greeks over 3,000 years ago.
Ponta Dos Ganchos, Brazil
Situated on a peninsula off the Brazilian coast, Ponta Dos Ganchos is one of the world’s most exclusive resorts, with breathtaking views of sea, sand, and sky. Its charming bungalows offer a perfect place of seclusion for newlyweds, and the resort even offers the use of small private islands for a romantic dinner for two.
From the Golden Gate Bridge to the streetcars that line its hilly streets, the city by the bay is teeming with charm and romance. As a center of LGBT revolution, San Francisco also boasts landmarks and history that will lend added significance to the meaning of any same-sex union. And don’t forget the food. Some of the best restaurants in the United States are located in San Francisco, one of which is sure to be the perfect venue to get the first taste of married life.
You might have fallen in love with Australia's capital after viewing Muriel's Wedding and then visited the city and realized it's just as glamorous and magical as depicted in the film. There are nightclubs and restaurants, of course, but also verdant beauty, with an abundance of parks, botanical gardens, and the glorious harbor; all of which make for a truly unforgettable honeymoon.
Best Cruise Line
Not to be confused with that phrase you drunkenly utter just before getting shot down at the bar again. We’re talking about ships and water, people.
The cruise line that claims to offer “Freestyle Cruising,” Norwegian helps you enjoy your own vacation on your own terms. Whether you prefer to spend the trip in a suit and tie, or just a bathing suit, the choice is yours as you can catch a sunrise from your own private balcony or enjoy a wide range of entertainment from Broadway shows to adults-only clubs.
One of the most hospitable cruises in the business, Princess continually goes above and beyond to make their guests feel like… well, a princess. With over 100 itineraries to offer, and more than 300 ports to choose from, Princess is the relaxing alternative to all-dude, all-party all the time. With exclusive features like “Movie Under the Stars,” Princess is large enough to suit any needs you might have, whether it’s a great meal on the deck or a relaxing afternoon at the spa.
This Miami-based cruise line has carried over 50 million people around the world, including Alaska, Bahamas, and, of cours,e the Caribbean. Royal Caribbean offers all kinds of luxe packages, but there are also three- or four-night specials that will only cost you a few hundred dollars.
Most Awesome Cruise Excursion
For those wishing to be out to sea, but never out of things to do.
Al and Chuck Drag Stars at Sea Cruise
Riding on the Royal Caribbean's Splendour of the Seas, this trip brings you up and close personal with numerous Drag Race stars, performing and partying together. Next year's journey travels through Dubrovnik, Croatia, Turkey, Santorini, the Greek Isles, and Venice.
All the Atlantis adventures promise sun, sweat, and sexy men. Dance till dawn, sleep a few hours, and check out the ports of call, from the Caribbean to South America to the Far East. It doesn't happen until March, but we're excited for the exotic Bali to Singapore cruise.
Disney Cruise Line
If you’ve got the kids in tow, there’s simply not a better option. With world-class hospitality, legendary service, and all of the magic of Disney, this one of kind voyage lets adults be adults and kids be kids. With deck parties, fireworks, and an adults-only pool, there’s never a lack of options for just adults, just kids, or the whole family together.
If it's not enticing enough to be around thousands of like-minded women on a luxurious boat, this year Olivia Travel upped the ante for their 40th year. The company hosted a huge floating party to the south Caribbean. Legends like Billie Jean King, Edie Windsor, and Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer added historic and political significance to all the fun.
Pride of the Ocean
If you can’t decide between an LGBT film festival and a cruise, why not combine them? No really, they actually combined them. In addition to great films, the LGBT specific cruise line offer luxurious and fun things to do, including delicious dining options, bars and lounges, a casino, spa, pools, and fitness center.
Robin Tyler International Tours and Cruises
These under-the-radar adventures are led by political activist Robin Tyler and her wife Diane Olson. These journeys travel to exotic places like Myanmar, Botswana, and Jordan. The next trip, in 2015, will include men for the first time since its inception in 1990.
Where to Go Next
These are the breakout destinations of 2013, but which one is the hottest new place to visit?
Long overshadowed by Brussels and Bruges, this Dutch-speaking Belgian city is coming into its own. In the last few years, Antwerp has developed into a major arts and fashion center in Europe, luring the gays like St. Patrick.
Beautiful and bike-friendly, Copenhagen is filled with shiny, happy people — the city is one of the most joyous in the world, according to studies. With quaint streets packed with restaurants, bars and shops, it makes sense.
This star of Texas had the world's eyes on it when the world mourned JFK 50 years after his assassination. But the city has changed immensely since then, becoming a culinary and arts powerhouse, with an influential and friendly LGBT community.
Straddling Europe and Asia, Istanbul is like no other place. It's cosmopolitan and exotic; safe, but seemingly a little dangerous. The markets are open-air, the Bosphorus River scenic, and the people gorgeous.
A finalist for the next Gay Games, Limerick — the third most populous urban area in Ireland — is filled with small-city charm. The city is 1,200 years old, but still modern, with gay bars and clubs.
Everyone loves South America, but Uruguay is usually passed over for Brazil or Argentina. The capital, Montevideo, has an old-world feel, with a very high quality of life. There are beaches, museums, art galleries, and architecture, including numerous Art Deco structures.
A hop, skip, and a jump from D.C. and New York, Philadelphia has many charms to offer, including its colorful gay village. The city, which markets itself heavily to LGBT visitors, is stocked with museums, art galleries, and a walkable cityscape.