New year, new travel memories. From rooftop drinks in a Southern legend to Central American jungle adventures, there’s fun to be had for every budget (and every time constraint!). Florida is close to some of the top destinations for 2018. If you haven’t made your travel itinerary for 2018 yet, pack your bags; here are five places where you can make the most of your new year.
Adventure should be at the top of your list. The trek to Central America is worth it for a getaway in this tropical country, touring San Jose and the gay-friendly area of Manuel Antonios. Book a room at the gay-owned Hotel Villa Roca (www.villaroca.com) with hillside rooms and apartments featuring picturesque views. Take time to lounge at the country’s beautiful beaches or by the hotel’s infinity pool au natural before a night out on the town. Club Karma (www.facebook.com/karmaloungema/) is a popular bar to hit for a night of dancing. For the morning after, stop by Cafe Milagro (elpatiodecafemilagro.com/) for a freshly roasted cup ‘o Joe before setting off on a jungle tour with Gaytours Costa Rica (www.gaytourscr.com). Bilingual tour guides will take you on a hike or zipline through the jungle canopy, ocean kayaking or even a whitewater rafting trip for those who are really ready to feel the adrenaline.
If you prefer to stick around the Sunshine state, there are staycation ideas a’plenty so you don’t have to venture too far. Curio by Hilton’s lovely Waterstone Resort & Marina (www.waterstoneboca.com) in Boca Raton is ideal for a romantic weekend away to refresh. Sip afternoon cocktails from the hotel’s Rum Bar in a poolside cabana, followed by dinner reservations at Boca, the hotel’s award-winning restaurant with water views. Rent bikes in the afternoon to make a quick jaunt to the beach for a picnic or sandy stroll, then head to downtown Boca to explore the shopping, nightlife and restaurant options at Mizner Park (www.miznerpark.com). Cuisine options are international, so whether you’re craving Asian, Mexican, French or German, you’ll find a dish to satiate that craving.
Find a new way to explore Florida’s Gulf Coast. The best way to see Tampa Bay, of course, is by boat. Make a weekend reservation with Boatsetter.com to charter a boat (and a captain if you don’t have your sea legs)—think Airbnb for boats. You can choose an overnight stay or an afternoon out on the water to see what the two cities by the Bay have to share. Spend an afternoon rambling along the downtown waterfront on Beach Drive in St. Petersburg, stop for proper afternoon tea (along with lunch or dinner) at the recently renovated Cassis American Brasserie (www.cassisstpete.com) and catch a movie at the Sundial. Make your way across Tampa Bay for an evening show at the Straz Performing Arts Center (www.strazcenter.com) and end the night with a night cap at Southern Nights (www.southernnightstpa.com) in Tampa’s gayborhood Ybor or a night of live drag and dancing at Enigma (www.enigmastpete.com) in St. Pete.
Get away for a short trip to NOLA. The city may have a debaucherous reputation—which may not be entirely untrue if you’ve heard of the annual gay celebration Southern Decadence during Labor Day weekend—but the city also has a glutton of delicious restaurants and sites to see. Check in at the boutique hotel Catahoula (www.catahoulahotel.com/), right outside the French Quarter. It’s a modern spot with cozy bars, restaurant and rooftop space for relaxing before you take on the nightlife. Dine out at Domenica (www.domenicarestaurant.com) for an elegant meal of traditional Italian cuisine cooked up with local ingredients. There’s no warmer welcome to the city than stopping by for a drink at the gay bar Good Friends (www.goodfriendsbar.com). Located right in the middle of the French Quarter, the bar is complete with a pool table, dance floor, balcony for checking the, ahem, scenery from above and access to some of the best bartenders New Awlins has to offer.
Why not take a trip up north for a little fun, eh? Toronto is one of the gayer cities in the world. Spring and summer are a lovely time to visit. Opt for a stay at the artsy boutique Gladstone Hotel (www.gladstonehotel.com), close to both the city’s queer neighborhoods, Church and Wellsley (home to its monumental Pride celebration each summer) and Queen Street West. Spend a night immersed in queer performance at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (which frequently turns into a dance party after hours to raise money for good causes) (www.buddiesinbadtimes.com). Eat out at Supermarket (www.supermarket.ca)—no, not your typical grocery stop—Toronto’s East-meets-West fusion restaurant and bar in Kensington Market. Enjoy a shared-tapas-style meal that's perfect for couples or a group of friends before a night out on the town.
Wherever you choose to spend your 2018, take time to see new sights, make new friends and indulge yourself.