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Exclusive | Chill out at these cool destinations

Exclusive | Chill out at these cool destinations

It's been a hot summer and you're craving a cool breeze, a hot beach, and some time away from the grind. Things are a whole lot cooler at refreshing gay-adored getaway destinations Vancouver, B.C.; Ogunquit, Maine; or California's Russian River region.


Vancouver

With plenty of long summer days and nights, kept cool by Pacific breezes, Vancouver is an ideal place to saunter streets, parks and beaches till it's time to take to the sidewalk tables of its myriad restaurants.

Cool down
The chic, friendly Pacific Palisades (1277 Robson St.; 604-688-0461: www.pacificpalisadeshotel.com; fromC$155) is the perfect destination for days off. Book into the bold turquoise and crimson penthouse, swill a delicious Zintini in restaurant Zin and have your cares soothed away with a poolside massage.

Breeze through the menu
Dive into C (2-1600 Howe St.; 604-681-1164; www.crestaurant.com; C$37+) on the waterfront just across False Creek from Granville Island. Try the scallops wrapped in octopus bacon or the virtual seared oyster as ferries chug by outside.

Chill out
Vancouver's two newest gay venues, The Majestic (1138 Davie St.; 604-669-2013) and lounge 1181 (1181 Davie St.; 604-687-3991; www.tightlounge.com), are welcome additions to the buzzy Davie strip. Sip strong cocktails on the patio at the voluminous Majestic or be seen at slick 1181 across the street.

Cool off
Splash in Stanley Park's outdoor pool (Stanley Park Drive) or on clothing-optional Wreck Beach (UBC; www.wreckbeach.org).

Ogunquit
An in-the-know gay resort tucked into an idyllic and picturesque slice of Maine's rocky coast, Ogunquit even has a dedicated gay section to the beach. The bar scene is tiny but fun.

Cool down
Admiral's Inn (Rte. 1; 207-646-7093; www.theadmiralsinn.com; from $59) strikes a convivial note with its six-person hot tub, clothing-optional pool and deck, and cocktail bar and full-service restaurant. A new 44-room building was added in June 2007, as well as a fire pit.

Breeze through the menu
Pop into the Old Village Inn (250 Main St; 207-646-7088; www.theoldvillageinn.net; $18-$24) for traditional Yankee fare.

Chill out
The gay-popular piano bar at the Front Porch Cafe (intersection of Route 1 and the beach road; 207-646-3976; www.thefrontporch.net; $9-25) offers an appetizing evening venue.

Cool off
Stake your space on Ogunquit's 3.5 miles of glorious sandy beach or stroll the mile-long ocean-side footpath, Marginal Way to Perkins Cove, a collection of shops and eateries.

Russian River
A more rustic summer retreat than other, more popular gay-resort destinations, the emphasis here focuses on the great outdoors. Just as life on Fire Island is defined by the New Yorkers who use it as a regular weekend escape, life on the river is defined by the San Franciscans who overwhelmingly dominate the summer population here.

Cool down
Russian River Resort or "Triple R" (16390 Fourth St., Guerneville; 707-869-0691; www.russianriverresort.com; from $85) is by far the most popular lodging option, with 24 rooms featuring private baths and color TV. The property, which received a major facelift in 2006, features a heated pool, hot tub and the Triple R Bar and Grill restaurant, as well as the Promenade Pool Bar and BBQ.

Breeze through the menu
River's End (11048 Highway 1, in Jenner; 707-865-2484; www.ilovesunsets.com; $19-38) is roughly 10 miles west of Guerneville. Its wonderful ocean views, where the Russian River meets the Pacific, are worth the winding drive. A strong local wine list adds to its attraction.

Chill out
While taking a moonlight stroll through the woods followed by a soothing hot tub under a starry sky is the primary nightlife, there are some other options. At the cruise bar Rainbow Cattle Company (16220 Main St., Guerneville; 707-869-0206; www.queersteer.com) you'll find a mix of gay women and men enjoying pinball, pool, and riotous games of "Steer Tag."

Cool off
Many resorts offer river access. If yours doesn't, you can pay a day-use fee at another resort, or use public or secluded beaches. The beach in Guerneville is mostly straight but gay-friendly, and it's popular with families with children. Smaller beaches at the resorts or Wohler Bridge are popular with gays.

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