Sign Up for Our Daily Newsletter
While some travelers may be postponing their next big vacation until 2021, the LGBTQ+ market segment is showing some signs of a faster recovery, according to a recently released survey by the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA). The study found that 68% of respondents in the U.S. say they would feel comfortable traveling again before the end of the year, and 56% are more likely to book a domestic trip.
Of course, the vacation experience will likely be different from pre-pandemic days, regardless of a traveler’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Given the current situation, everyone should expect new guidelines aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus — practices that include wearing masks and maintaining social distance. In addition, attraction reopenings and scheduled events are subject to change, so the role of travel advisors has never been more important as travelers navigate the new reality.
RELATED: A Must-Read Update on Gay Travel Trends
Pride events, for example, which would have been a big draw in many cities during the month of June, disappeared from most calendars. But some have been rescheduled, and several domestic destinations that are traditionally popular with LGBTQ+ travelers are making an effort to lure vacationers back in the coming weeks and months.
Here’s what some of the most popular LGBTQ+ vacation destinations are offering travelers today.
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.This sun-soaked beach destination was gearing up to host the first-ever Pride of the Americas when the coronavirus pandemic struck, making it one of the first major LGBTQ+ Pride events to be postponed or canceled this year. Happily, the massive gathering — which will draw participants from throughout the Western Hemisphere and beyond — has been rescheduled for fall 2021.
This year, the city is still planning to co-host (together with the city of Miami) the Outshine Film Festival, which will feature various film screenings on Oct. 8-18. Bars that serve food in Wilton Manors — the region’s nightlife hub — are open, but with occupancy restrictions, face mask requirements and social distancing guidelines in place. All beaches and gay-friendly hotels are open, as are all malls. Through Sept. 30, Fort Lauderdale is offering summer savings packages called LauderDeals, which include hotel accommodations and discounts on restaurants, spas and attractions.
RELATED: The State of LGBTQ+ Family Travel Today
Key West, Fla.LGBTQ+ Pride celebrations may be delayed this year, but that didn’t stop the city of Key West from unveiling four permanent rainbow crosswalks in June, a vibrant symbol of the destination’s long-standing popularity with the LGBTQ+ community.
Key West is in Phase 2 of Florida's reopening plan, which means that all hotels, restaurants, nightlife and attractions have reopened, but with social distancing and health-related guidelines in place (similar to Fort Lauderdale and Wilton Manors). Key West Pride, which had been slated for June, is postponed until Nov. 18-22, with a vibrant parade and lots of parties in the works.
New York CityThe Big Apple entered its Phase 2 reopening in June, so the city now offers outdoor dining as well as retail shopping. In addition, hotels that had been closed are also starting to reopen. Among the upcoming events is NewFest, the 32nd Annual LGBTQ Film Festival, which is scheduled for Oct. 21-27.
Travelers should note that New York State recently enacted a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone arriving from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average, or a state with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average.
Palm Springs, Calif.Hotels and resorts in the Palm Springs/Greater Palm Springs area began accepting leisure visitors on June 12 — including gay-popular properties such as La Dolce Vita, Santiago Resort and the Hacienda at Warm Sands.
Restaurants now offer dine-in service, and most stores are open, while three major LGBTQ+ events have been rescheduled for the fall: Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend (which now takes place Sept. 16-21), Cinema Diverse: The Palm Springs LGBTQ Film Festival (Sept. 20-23), and Greater Palm Springs Pride (Nov. 6-8).
San FranciscoCurrently in Phase 2b of its reopening plan, San Francisco is to open outdoor bars and indoor museums by June 29; indoor dining by July 13; and hotels in August.
This fall, travelers can prepare their best costumes for Halloween in the Castro, which takes place on Halloween weekend, and in December, hundreds of scantily clad holiday revelers will take to the streets for the Santa Skivvies Run, an annual, 1.6-mile charity event for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. The Folsom Street Fair, billed as the world’s largest BDSM street fair, is going virtual this year, with online events during the weekends of July 26 and Sept. 27.
West Hollywood, Calif.In line with the rest of Los Angeles County, the city of West Hollywood in the process of a staged reopening of businesses, with masks required, social distancing and capacity controls at the normally crowded bars and restaurants along Santa Monica Boulevard. Bars that serve food are open, and patrons should be prepared to have temperatures checked at the door.
RELATED: 5 Ways to Enjoy an LGBTQ+ Vacation in West Hollywood, California
While the opening dates for many attractions in the area have yet to be announced, as with any other destination, visitors can still find open-air diversions while exploring parks and the city’s colorful street art. In times like these, travel requires caution and creativity.