By: Sally Norton
Traveling is exciting, but choosing a perfect place to visit is sometimes hard. That can be especially challenging for gay families, as they need to find a place that’s both kid-friendly and inclusive of gay couples. Luckily, many places across the USA are ideal for a city break and relaxation. There are also various tourist gateways with amazing nature where you can enjoy a weekend or a more extended trip with plenty of fun activities. Here are the top 5 domestic destinations for gay family-friendly travel so that you can find inspiration for your next trip.
#1 Portland, Oregon
Portland has a unique urban vibe and a vibrant gay community with dozens of LGBTQ-owned businesses. The city is welcoming and known for great food and plenty of gay-friendly restaurants. You should definitely visit the city’s east side, where LGBTQ culture thrives in pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, such as Hawthorne, Mississippi, and Alberta. That’s also where you can find countless hotels that enthusiastically welcome the LGBTQ community.
Portland has fun things for kids to do in every corner of the city. When the weather is nice, you can enjoy beautiful parks and playgrounds. On the other hand (in the case of rain and bad weather), there’s plenty to do indoors as well – from play areas to bowling alleys, skatepark, rock climbing gyms, a massive indoor soccer field, ice skating, etc. You can also visit the Oregon Zoo, with more than 2,200 animals who call this place home.
#2 Maui, Hawaii
Hawaii is a paradise on many levels and one of the USA states with a high percentage of the LGBTQ population. Worldwide travelers often rate Maui as the #1 island in the world, considering its laid-back atmosphere, friendly vibe, breathtaking views, and quiet beaches. This “Magic Isle” really has something for everyone, including gay families. It’s where you can enjoy stunning beaches and a plethora of water sports. You can book surfing lessons, explore offshore in an ocean kayak and take your kids on a snorkeling expedition to Turtle Town. There’s also a possibility to hop on a whale-watching boat. If you want to learn more about Hawaiian marine life, visit The Maui Ocean Center - the largest tropical aquarium in America.
While you’re on Maui, ensure to spend at least one day upcountry, which feels like another world. You’ll be surrounded by lavender farms and volcanic craters. You can also visit the Maui Tropical Plantation and book different kid-friendly tours, such as Atlantis Submarine underwater tour, the Maui Treasure Hunt or visit one of many interactive escape rooms across the island.
#3 Galena, Illinois
This quaint historic town is one of the perfect domestic destinations for gay family-friendly travel. Galena is tucked into the northwestern corner of Illinois, near Dubuque, Iowa, and it’s not far away from Chicago (3 hours by car). It’s located on historic Route 66, just off the Mississippi River, and it has an adorable downtown area. That’s where you can find several gay-owned hotels, a few farm-to-table restaurants, and live music venues. Galena has a welcoming atmosphere with plenty of small, charming shops and museums. It’s perfect for a weekend away from busy life. The lush surrounding countryside is well worth exploring with kids as well.
You can start your Galena tour by taking a sightseeing ride on a classic green and red trolley which will take you throughout the town. This destination has much to offer for outdoor enthusiasts, and depending on your kid’s age, you can enjoy various adventurous activities together, such as:
- Sunrise Balloon Flight – don’t miss this one for the most spectacular view over Illinois!
- Zip-lining – only for real thrill-seekers
#4 Key West, Florida
Key West is widely known as a gay mecca and one of the best domestic destinations for gay family-friendly travel. Even though Key West has plenty of nightlife options, gay couples with kids will find a lot more to do here than just partying here. You’ll be amazed by the number of kid-friendly places and things to do, all within a very accepting community. Some attractions not to be missed when visiting with kids are:
- Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
- Key West Aquarium
- Audubon House & Tropical Gardens
- Waterfront Playhouse theater
- Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum
- Key West Shipwreck Historeum Museum
- Key West Art & History Museum
For more fabulous adventures, you should hop on Conch Tour Train, as a unique way to visit the most popular places in the city.
#5 New York City
New York City consistently rates highly on families’ bucket lists, and gay families are no different. This metropolitan city is one of the best domestic destinations for gay family-friendly travel. It was home to the pride march of 1970, and it legalized gay marriages in 2011. It’s also a melting pot of culture, entertainment, commerce, media, and fashion. Must-visit kid-friendly attractions around the city include:
- Brooklyn Children’s Museum
- Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
- Hayden Planetarium inside the American Museum of Natural History
- Children’s Museum of Manhattan
Even though all parts of New York are interesting to explore, Manhattan Island is especially fun. It’s an iconic place where the Pride movement began back in 1969. The gay energy is strong here, and it’s reflected almost everywhere.
It really feels amazing to visit a place where the powerful and inspiring story of the LGBTQ pioneers began, especially today when gay couples are able to live freely and raise their kids with the same rights as everybody else. That’s one of the plenty of reasons why many gay families choose to Manhattan and start their life anew. If you happen to be among them and decide to become a resident of Manhattan, you’ll live in a cultural center for the LGBT experience and enjoy many benefits that come with it. NYC will offer boundless possibilities for you and your kids, along with a strong support system.
The Earth is full of unique destinations, and as gay families continue to grow in number, so does the list of places ready to welcome them with open arms. Everybody has a right to explore and enjoy different places and see how their kids view the world. We are used to the fact that the USA is so inclusive and accepting, and it’s not hard to find domestic destinations for gay family-friendly travel. And, fortunately enough, the whole world is becoming more inclusive as well.