(Mirror) Venture out to the wild, wild west for two amazingly queer-friendly destinations: each with its own beautiful setting that will have you not wanting to catch that flight home. Experience delicious cuisine, unique lodgings and party with some good-looking locals—then tell us what you prefer more, the city views or the one of the locals!
(Civic Center Park, Denver)
For a city that has quite the reputation for the outdoorsy type, art lovers beware: Denver is calling your name. Choose to stay at the ART Hotel (TheArtHotel.com) in the Golden Triangle neighborhood and enjoy the hotel’s original works of 20th and 21st century artists hanging around the hotel.
The AAA Four Diamond Award winner features 165 rooms with city and mountain views. You’re right next door to the Denver Art (DenverArtMuseum.org), Clyfford Still (ClyffordStillMuseum.org) and Kirkland Museums (KirklandMuseum.org).
With a hotel shuttle that will take you within a mile of the hotel, it’s easier still to walk from your hotel, or Uber to the nightlife like Charlie’s (charliesdenver.com), a fun queer country bar where you just might spot a cowboy or two. You’ll want to meander through the nearby Civic Center Park (Denver.org/listing/civic-center-park/6823), a regular host to food truck rallies and outdoor concerts, and the shop-lined 16th Street Mall. For outdoors fun, there’s no better spot to soak up the sun under blue skies than Cheesman Park, a popular gathering spot for the LGBT crowd in the city, and close to the Denver Botanic Gardens (BotanicGardens.org).
A unique spot to Denver is Union Station (UnionStationInDenver.com), a glamorized version of what train travel must have been like in its heyday—you’ll find some of the city’s top restaurants, a few shops and a café inside the revitalized station. Tip: Get a train ticket for $9 from the airport to the station, making it even easier to get around without a car.
Food lovers will find plenty to rejoice about in Denver’s cuisine. Ranging from Portuguese and Spanish to Italian, there are so many options. A surprise find is the late-night vegan restaurant City O City (CityOCityDenver.com). This eatery with a coffee-shop feel is a casual spot to have a craft beer or glass of wine and gorge on veganized versions of your favorite dishes like chicken fried cauliflower and waffles, and, vegetable, sunflower seed and walnut burgers or seitan sausage and peppers pizza.
For an evening of fine dining, make a reservation at Panzano’s (Panzano-Denver.com), located in the Hotel Monaco Denver. Imbibe craft cocktails and indulge on authentic Northern Italian cuisine like the smoked burrata tortellini in a light basil cream sauce or the black pepper fazzoletti with butter poached lobster. Wrap up dinner with the Passionfruit Mousse and Denver will start to feel a lot like heaven.
For more info, visit VisitDenver.com.
West Hollywood, California
(Grafton on Sunset Pool, Los Angeles, California)
The sun seemingly never stops shining in Southern California, a perfect sunny, 72 degrees year-round. Surprisingly, you’ll find a bit of respite from the city’s hum at Grafton on Sunset (GraftonOnSunset.com), a boutique hotel right on the famed Sunset Strip. As the City of Angels gets a bad rap for traffic, WeHo—at 1.9 square miles, a city within a city—was rated the most walkable in California by WalkScore.com. It’s also easy to catch the Pickup, a free shuttle to hit the bars, or even bike around; no need for a car to get to all the surrounding restaurants, cafés, shops and nightlife.
Pop by Pearl’s Rooftop (pearlssunset.com), an open-air restaurant right down the street from Grafton for cocktails to start your night out on the right foot. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more delicious meal than at Laurel Hardware (LaurelHardware.com). This former hardware store-turned-trendy farm-to-table restaurant dishes up a creative take on New American cuisine with that distinctly L.A. vibe.
For nightlife fun, stumble down to Santa Monica Boulevard to check out the new Hi Tops (HiTopsBar.com), serving up some pretty, rugged men (a combination that’s only possible in L.A.). Micky’s (Mickys.com) is a fun option if you like go-gos and Fubar (Facebook.com/fubarlosangeles) for strong drinks. (Be sure to go for BFD night. You’ll be glad you did.)
Instead of falling into the tourist trap of the Walk of Fame, get your exercise by hiking up Runyon Canyon (LAparks.org/park/runyon-canyon). It’s a brisk hike with amazing views as your reward. Plus, you never know what celebrities you might see on the way up. Another place to view the city from the heights, àla “La La Land,” the old-school romantic Griffith Observatory (GriffithObservatory.org) is worth the line to catch the planetarium show and then grab a spot to see the sunset over Hollywood.
If you do decide to venture outside of West Hollywood, one highlight you don’t want to miss is the new Broad Museum (TheBroad.org) wntown L.A. The Broad is a free contemporary art museum across from the striking Walt Disney Concert Hall, and currently features Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirror Rooms. Definitely a must-see; stop for lunch at Grand Central Market and a ride up Angels Flight before you do.
For more info on visiting WeHo, go to VisitWestHollywood.com.
Check out SFGN'S Nov issue of TheMirrorMag