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New Frontiers: 3 States For Wedded Bliss

New Frontiers: 3 States For Wedded Bliss

For those celebrating upcoming nuptials or even singles looking for unexplored territory, these states each have their own vibrant cities, roaring hot spots and scenic routes.

MARYLANDKnown to gay travelers primarily as the state that gave us John Waters and the late, great Divine, Maryland's hub remains Waters and Ms. D's hometown, Baltimore, aka The Charm City.

First, the food: Obviously you'll want to try the wide variety of crab cakes, but we've also had great success at the outdoor terrace at Regi's American Bistro at 1002 Light Street and couldn't resist the oysters at the upper-scale but never-snobby Ryleigh's Oyster, and there's no shortage of fine, affordable dining in Mount Vernon, Baltimore's gay epicenter. The Helmand, an Afghan restaurant on N. Charles Street, comes highly recommended, as does Sammy's Trattoria. After dinner, you can have a wedding dance at "the gay entertainment complex" Grand Central, a structure massive enough to fit its name, or perhaps enjoy a quiet evening over drinks at the more divey Drinkery or another neighborhood bar, Mixers.

Once you're ready to turn in for the night -- or stay in for the night, whatever the case may be -- we recommend the gay-owned Scarborough Fair Bed and Breakfast, a converted early-19th century structure that's convenient to almost anywhere you'd want to visit, or there's also the more ornate, harbor-side Inn at Hendersons Wharf, part of the Harbor Magic hotel chain.

Those looking for some fresh air and exercise should take a short trip to Gunpowder Falls State park and check out the name-sake waterfall, hike the verdant trails or stroll by the reservoirs - swimming is technically forbidden, but maybe if no one's watching? Further north of Baltimore, there's Patapsco Valley State Park, or about 25 miles south of town you can rock climb around the Appalachian Trail near Annapolis. Singles may even be lucky enough to spot a cadet romping around the woods.

And while you're touring around Maryland, why not take a short road trip over the border into Delaware, where gay Rehoboth Beach is waiting to help you swim and tan to your heart's content -- weather permitting, naturally.


MAINEOgunquit has long been a go-to destination for gays heading north to The Pine Tree State. It's there that gays and lesbians have been vacationing and setting up home for decades. That's where retiring gay Congressman Barney Frank and husband Jim Ready spend much of their time. So too do about 44,000 other LGBT people who descend in the summer months upon the town whose name translates from an Indian word meaning "beautiful place on the sea."

While the beach is reason enough to visit, you'll need a place to stay while trekking around Maine. We had great success atAdmiral's Inn, a charming bed and breakfast and hotel that boasts a health club, massage services and two pools.Moon Over Maine B&B, a 19th century home located in the center of town, is also a great place to rest your weary head, or whatever else you may do in a hotel room, as is the gay-ownedGazebo Inn, an 1847 farm house about a mile outside of town. And be sure to check out the homemade granola atDragon Fly Guest House, a gay-owned B&B founded by a couple who actually met in Ogunquit.



Bucksport, Maine. Courtesy Maine Office of Tourism

When it comes time to chow down, the charming, European flavored 5 O'Clock Bistro offers surf and turf and seafood bruschetta fitting for the state, though with a price that may not be best for the budget conscious. There's Jonathan's, serving dinner Wednesday through Sunday only, where diners get a more contemporary ambiance and more seafood, as well as a gluten free menu. And Arrows indulges the ultimate foodies with a 10-course meal served in a 1765 farmhouse. The men who own Arrows also operate MC Perkins Cove, where the ocean views are as much an attraction as fresh as the menu.

For the husbands and husbands or wives and wives looking to celebrate with a night on the town, sleepy Ogunquit doesn't have a booming nightlife, a good time can be found at the dance clubMaine Street, while quieter drinks can be sipped on at theOld Village Inn orFront Porch, where upstairs you'll also find live piano music.

In addition to Ogunquit, visitors to Maine may want to check out Portland, one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the nation, and home to the venerable Blackstones gay bar, while Camden up the coast offers a less well-known, and therefore less-crowded, get-away. If you head that way, check into the Camden Harbour Inn, another gay-owned establishment, and find a table at their French restaurant, Natalie's. At least then you'll know your night is off to a good start.


WASHINGTON STATEThere are two experiences awaiting visitors in Washington State, an urban adventure in Seattle or a romp in majestic mountains and valleys.

Those looking for a city vibe should bum around the Queen City, a town as cosmopolitan as it is bohemian, a melange of the grunge, tech, granola and yuppie flavors that have converge on this Pacific city over the decades. The waterfront and its sprawling Pike Place Market are requisite destinations for first time visitors, while regulars and newbies alike will want to stroll around the nine-acre Olympic Sculpture Park to view an impressive permanent collection that includes Alexander Calder, Mark di Suvero and Beverly Pepper, among others.

Capitol Hill, the gay epicenter of a remarkably inclusive city, boasts all the restaurants and shops you could want. In need of some one-of-kind items for a new home? Find them atArea 51, a beloved design and home decor hot spot at 401 East Pine Street. Want some cheap duds while helping the community? Check out theLifelong Thrift Store - proceeds go to the Lifelong AIDS Alliance. And fight for equal rights and support HIV/AIDS activism? And theMelrose Market has a slew of unique stores in which shoppers can roam, Blackbird has fantastic men's wear andThe Elliott Bay Book Company will help you stock up for any rain you may face in this famously wet city.

You'll naturally have to eat while in Seattle, and we suggest Quinn's, where diners are treated to sophisticated pub food, like hand-cut fries, wild boar sloppy joe and seared foie gras. Seafood lovers will want to try to manila clams, Neah Bay halibut or the cumin marinated corvina at lesbian chef Christine Keff's organic restaurant, Flying Fish. Delicious and affordable burgers can be found at world famous Dick's Drive-In, and vegetarian noodles can be found at In The Bowl.

Nights out can be spent sipping on cheap and strong drinks at the friendly R. Place on East Pine Street, at Pony's Patio on Madison or down the road atThe Madison Pub. Dancing can be found at The Cuff and Neighbours, while more upscale beverages can be found at The Lobby Bar.

The morning after, we suggest you grab a coffee at Macrina Bakery before taking a short road trip toMadison Park Beach to soak up some sun and all the gay boys who line the sparkling the ocean in the summer.

This brings us to the more adventurous spirit found in Washington State. Those looking for a challenge should try for a climb up Mount Rainier in the Cascade Ridge that stretches down from Canada and into California. Lower on the mountain you'll find an understandably popular slope called Paradise, while further up you'll move into expansive snow fields that lead to base camps for a potential summit. No matter how high you get, the views of the subalpine valleys and pine forests are unbeatable. Be sure to stop by the BaseCamp Grill for a last bite before you have to subsist on trail mix and peanut-butter sandwiches.

And seeing the lasting damage from when nearby Mount St. Helens blew her top in 1980 is jarring for even the most world-weary traveler.



Mt. St. Helens

Further west, in the more temperate, rain forest region, we suggest an intensive hike through the Hoh Rainforest or along the ocean at Olympic National Park, and a stay in the gay-friendlyKalaloch Lodge's rustic yet refined cabins overlooking the beach. Wild life like sea otters and bald eagles abounds. We've also enjoyed a spin through the ill-namedCape Disappointment State Park on Inwalco's Long Beach Peninsula. Or there's always rafting down the Columbia River. Wet Planet offers reliable tours. And while you're near the Olympic Peninsula, why not refuel at the vegan cafe Darby's or a more romantic meal at Waterstreet Cafe and Bar? You can then reward yourself with a drink at capital city Olympia's venerable gay bar Jake's or the more hipstery Brotherhood Lounge.

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