With same-sex marriage legal for several years now, millions of gay, lesbian and trans couples are adding a honeymoon to their wedding plans. As recently as 2014, only about 55 percent of same-sex couples went on a honeymoon after their wedding ceremony, according to Community Marketing & Insights (CM&I), a San Francisco-based market research firm that tracks LGBT travel trends.
At the same time, the nature of gay travel is changing. Years ago, our community had to search for hotels and resorts that catered to gay or lesbian clientele. Baby boomers are still more likely to search out an LGBT hotel or B&B. Millennials don’t tend to seek them out as often and feel equally comfortable at major chain hotels.
The travel industry has also changed. It long ago realized that the LGBT community is a desirable demographic and began actively reaching out to our community through niche advertising. Marriott’s “Love Travels” campaign of LGBT outreach efforts has helped it go from the number five to number one in brand awareness.
Our community’s travel desires are as diverse as our population. In the end, the best spot for your honeymoon depends on what you want out of it. Do you want a private spot where the two of you can be alone, or do you want to explore cultural attractions together? Do you want to hit the clubs or the hiking trails, spend the day in bed or in a museum? That being said, there are some guidelines to follow; you want to go somewhere where it’s safe to show affection to your new spouse. You may have always wanted to visit Dubai, but since homosexuality is illegal there, it’s probably not a good honeymoon destination. Also, keep in mind your budget. Sure, jetting off to the beaches of Spain, or a tour of Asia sounds romantic, but not if you must eat ramen for a year to pay for it.
According to CM&I, Hawaii is the most popular destination for LGBT honeymoons. Its welcoming atmosphere and incredible tourism industry assure that there’s something for everyone.
The other top destinations, listed below, span all budgets and areas of interest. What they have in common is that they are welcoming to LGBT travelers and appeal to a variety of interests which have made them popular destinations for queer honeymooners.
Act Like a Tourist
If you don’t have the time or budget for an extended honeymoon, a weekend “staycation” in Wilton Manors, Fort Lauderdale or Miami might be the perfect solution. Book a room at an oceanfront hotel or a weekend stay at a local resort, such as Cabanas or the Grand. Try some new restaurants, take the water taxi or just shop ‘til you drop. You can do it all without the hassle of airline travel.
Keys to the City
Because it’s so close, it’s easy to forget that Key West is a major vacation destination for the rest of the world. It’s less than a four-hour drive to this tropical paradise. The colorful homes, cute shops, and numerous romantic restaurant options make this a romantic getaway paradise. Splurge for a room at the Casa Marina Waldorf or check into a quaint B&B, such as Alexander’s Guest House, then explore the island on foot, bicycle or (if you dare) scooter, then have a romantic dinner under the stars at Blue Heaven. Key West may be the end of the world, but it’s perfect for the beginning of your life together. Check out gaykeywestfl.com, a great resource.
The House of Mouse
Orlando is the amusement park capital of the world and we love a thrilling ride as much as the next person. With Disneyworld and Universal Studios just a few hours away, the two of you can act like a kid all day, hit some of the city’s top dining spots to eat like kings or queens and then get as busy as bunnies all night!
As mentioned above, Hawaii is the number one honeymoon destination for same-sex couples. Whether you hit exciting Maui, explore the more undeveloped Kuai or stay on the Big Island, Hawaii, you’re certain to create great memories. The center of gay life on the islands is Hula's Bar, which features a weekly gay catamaran cruise.
Depending on whether you want to lounge by the pool, take in shows, enjoy fine dining, gamble or hit the clubs, Las Vegas has it. Hell, if you want to combine your wedding and honeymoon in one, Vegas is famous for that, too. For those who want to go clubbing, the infamous “Fruit Loop” of clubs and bars is a draw. Mandalay Bay Resort has built a reputation as one of the most welcoming hotels for gay couples (so friendly, that its nickname is “Mandalay Gay”). Its Sunday tea dance, held poolside, is a big draw. For a list of events and businesses go to lasvegas.com and search LGBT.
Bright Lights, Big City
New Yorkers think it’s the center of the universe, and they aren’t far from wrong. New York City is the center of fashion, theater and the arts. It’s also the birthplace of the Gay Pride movement. Of course, you’ll visit Greenwich Village, but there’s also Times Square and the theater district, Central Park, the museums and art galleries and the clubs in Chelsea. And that’s just in Manhattan, hop on the subway and explore Park Slope and Williamsburg in Brooklyn. The Out NYC is a gay, straight-friendly hotel in Hell’s Kitchen, with chic, minimalist rooms and the enormous XL Nightclub. For a more intimate experience, check out the Chelsea Pines Inn. For a list of events and links to special deals, go to iloveny.com/lgbt or lgbtbrooklyn.org.
San Francisco, West Hollywood, Palm Springs and San Diego are among the top four favored California destinations for gay and lesbian travelers, according to a recent Travel Industry Association survey.
Puerto Vallarta may be a perennial favorite for LGBT travelers, but don’t overlook the east coast’s Riviera Maya. The region has many new, hip hotels including Thompson Playa Del Carmen, a 92-room boutique inn in the center of town, offering 27 separate beach suites to boot. The Viceroy Riviera Maya, offers a traditional Mayan wedding ceremony should you want a destination wedding/honeymoon combo. Nearby Cancún offers many options for all-inclusive resorts, and Cozumel is famous for its scuba diving and snorkeling expeditions.
C’est la Vie
Paris, the French capital is the city of romance, which makes it perfect for a honeymoon destination for gay and straight couples. In addition to the numerous museums and historical sites and fabulous shopping, the food is fabulous in the culinary center of Europe. It’s not known as “Gay Paree” for nothing. It has long been a refuge for the LGBT community; the Marais is the gayborhood, but the entire city is welcoming to the community. For more information, check out centrelgbtparis.org.
Spain on the Brain
It’s kind of difficult to select just one area of Spain to highlight when there are so many options ranging from bustling cities to serene islands to non-stop parties. Among the most popular places for the LGBT community are; Madrid, Spain’s gay cultural center (Chueca is the official gay neighborhood) and Barcelona, another bustling city, but with nude beaches. Sitges is a small town of about 27,000 with an active nightlife (think the Provincetown of Europe) and Ibiza, one of the best known islands is famous for its club scene and clothing optional gay beach, Platja des Cavallet, that can be reached by ferry.
It’s a bit of a hike, but Australia truly is the trip of a lifetime. Whether you enjoy life in the big city in Sydney, hit the beaches, snorkel the Great Barrier Reef or explore the outback you’re going to make memories that last a lifetime. Australia’s tourism bureau has an entire division devoted to LGBT travel. For more information, go to galta.com.au.
Hitting the High Seas
What could be better for a honeymoon than a cruise? Spend the morning enjoying your coffee on your stateroom’s balcony overlooking the ocean, take in a shore excursion or head to the pool to catch some rays. At night have a romantic dinner and catch a show. You can be in your own private world, or socialize to your heart’s content. On mainstream cruises, there are always LGBT mixers, or go to MeetMeOnBoard.com to find out about other gay couples traveling on your ship. If you want something a bit more organized, numerous travel agencies, such as; Pied Piper, Out Adventures and Aquafest book gay groups on mainstream cruises. These groups usually offer special entertainment and shore excursions specifically designed for an LGBT group and tend to draw more couples. RSVP and Atlantis book entire ships and often have more singles and more of a club scene atmosphere. Olivia Cruises are exclusively for women and R Family cruises are designed for families with children.