Here are the top gay vacation spots
1. Asheville, North Carolina
This colorful North Carolina city is surprisingly gay, with rich literary roots and a tremendous B&B culture. Many inns are gay-owned, including 1889 WhiteGate Inn and Cottage, Cedar Crest Inn, and Hill House Bed & Breakfast. At night, stop by O.Henry’s, the oldest gay bar in the state. But don’t confuse age for mustiness—under new ownership, O’Henry’s had a complete renovation last year. Other favorite spots loved by locals and visitors alike are Scandals (for dance parties and drag shows) and woman-owned Tressa’s Jazz & Blues (for the music).
2. Eureka Springs
You might be surprised to discover one of the Heartland’s favorite small-town gay getaways in the heart of the Ozarks, closer to family-values-dominant Branson than to any major cities with a sizable gay population and three LGBT Diversity weekends each year. But this hilly, historic Arkansas town that’s also – oddly enough – very popular with conservative Christians draws many gay visitors from Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Kansas City, St. Louis, and Dallas. It’s also a town that’s easy on the bank account, with a multitude of affordable B&Bs, casual barbecue and Mexican joints, and inexpensive antique shops. Even the grand 1905 Basin Park Hotel has rooms starting under $100. The popular, lesbian-owned Pond Mountain Lodge & Resort is one of the most tranquil, scenic accommodations in town.
3. Salida, Colorado
The laid-back Colorado Rockies mountain town of Salida is something of a sleeper on this list – it has no gay scene or GLBT-oriented accommodations to speak of. However, it’s a beautifully situated community with a vibrant downtown abundant with art galleries, kayaking and skiing outfitters (it’s close to Monarch Mountain Ski Area and less than 100 miles from Breckenridge and Crested Butte). And it’s far less pricey, and more relaxed than Colorado’s more famous resort regions – another gay-friendly small town that’s similar in scope and vibe is Ouray, which is famous for its ice-climbing. In Salida, lodging options are cheap if fairly nondescript – reliable bets include chains like the Hampton Inn & Suites Salida and the Super 8 Salida.
4. Columbus, Ohio
Considered the gateway to the gay Midwest, Columbus prides itself on being a youthful and educated destination for LGBT travelers.
As the “art and soul” of Columbus, the Short North is a vibrant cultural and business community home to several of the city’s best known gay bars and restaurants. One of those well-known watering holes is the Union Café, a Short North hotspot with great food, friendly staff and stiff drinks. It’s usually packed and always fun, with a weekly schedule of drag shows, drink specials and showtune singalongs. (If musical theater ain’t your bag, then try Axis Nightclub across the street.)
5. Madison, Wisconsin
Outdoorsy, friendly and progressive, Madison—nicknamed “Mad City”—has an ever-changing gay community. Daytime destinations in this walkable college town include coffeehouses and A Room of One’s Own, a feminist bookstore and coffeeshop.