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Lake Mead, Las Vegas
A 45-minute drive from the glitter of the Strip, the north shore of massive manmade reservoir Lake Mead—with its rainbow-hued rocks and vast desert vistas—is a must for local gay sunbathers. Summer temperatures can soar above 110 degrees, and shade is at a minimum, so pack a beach umbrella and a cooler for drinks.
How to get there: Drive south to Henderson, turning east onto Lake Mead Parkway, following it to North Shore Road, turning left toward Overton. After five miles, turn right on the gravel 8 Mile Road, which leads to a parking area. Walk north for several hundred feet to the beach. (Photo by Flickr user 23535767@N04)
Hippie Hollow , Austin
Students and hipsters descend on the 19,000-acre, greenish-blue Lake Travis (a man-made reservoir), where nudity is officially permitted and pleasure boats blare dance music. Steep limestone cliffs descend precipitously; underneath are numerous sandless flat perches where you can spread out a blanket.
How to get there: Head west about 12 miles along Highway 2222 from Austin, watching for the signs. Park and follow the path left along the shore, past the mostly hetero nudist section, and then scamper along the rocks around the bend.
Hollywood Avenue Beach, Chicago
Officially called Kathy Osterman Beach, the more informally named Hollywood Avenue Beach offers panoramic views of Lake Michigan and ample facilities (changing rooms, volleyball courts, lifeguards, outdoor showers, restrooms) in the shadows of high-rise apartments.
How to get there: Hollywood Beach is at the confluence of Hollywood Avenue and North Lake Shore Drive, a 10-minute drive from gay hoods Lakeview and Andersonville. Gays congregate at the south end of the beach. (Photo by Flicker user mebs09)
Oval Beach , Saugatuck, Mich.
The so-called Provincetown of the Midwest, Saugatuck is home to this stunning golden expanse of sugary sand that hugs the breezy, shrub-covered, mostly undeveloped dunes of Lake Michigan's eastern shore.
How to Get There: Take Ferry Street north from the neighboring town of Douglas and follow the signs, or take the ferryboat from downtown Saugatuck to one of the nearby beach trails. From the parking lot, walk right (north) to the gay section. (Photo by Flickr user designsbykari)
Hanlan's Point Beach , Toronto
After brutally cold winters, Torontonians shed layers on the breezy Toronto Islands, a partially developed, tree-shaded archipelago south of downtown's bustling Inner Harbour. Gays and straights congregate on the smooth sand of Hanlan's Point, the westernmost island, which has a narrow, city-sanctioned nude beach, bike and walking trails, and ample picnic areas.
How to get there: Take a 10-minute ride on the Toronto Island Ferry from the docks at the foot of Bay Street and Queen's Quay. From the ferry, follow signs along the pedestrian walkway to the clothing-optional beach. (Photo by Flickr user teriandtom)