(Idyllic Provincetown, Massachusetts Summer of 2023)
Palm Springs, CA
Recently, I was at a gay pool party in Palm Springs when the conversation of travel destinations came up. See, I had just spent a few weeks in the charming LGBTQ enclave of Provincetown, MA with friends who have homes in both Palm Springs and Provincetown, and the experience was magical.
From tea dance at the boat slip, to eating a lobster roll in the scenic Cape Cod town, the moderate weather was the perfect escape I needed to get through the dog days of desert heat in the Palm Springs summer.
Being a Palm Springs resident, I often catch the longing in people’s eyes who would love to stay in our beautiful desert oasis in the winter months and beyond. In the summertime, I tend to look for new areas to explore with a vibrant LGBTQ nightlife. Provincetown gave me inspiration to find other small towns in America to potentially experience.
Here is what I found:
Situated in the Outer Banks in North Carolina, Manteo is a charming little town that has hosted the Outer Banks Pridefest since 2011. Palm Springs residents can still catch this year’s pride fest which kicks off September 8th with dedicated spots to stay including Hotel Manteo, Kees Vacations, and Cameron House Next Door. According to Queer Local, “there are LGBT+ events throughout the year, a gay beach, and LGBT-owned and LGBT-friendly businesses.”
(Town of Manteo, NC from the Outerbanks.com Visitor Guide)
The Outerbanks even has a ferry to get you around and is surrounded by water, a short distance to the beach with warm summer waters.
Eureka Springs, AR
You wouldn’t think of Arkansas to be a haven for the LGBTQ community but Eureka Springs appears to defy all expectations. In 2022, CNN did a story called Inside Eureka Springs, the Bible Belt’s LGBTQ oasis. In addition, an author of the Queer in the world magazine wrote, “Oh honey, have you heard about the gem that is gay Eureka Springs? This quaint little town in Arkansas is a hidden treasure for all things LGBTQ+ and the Bible Belt’s LGBTQ oasis”
(Eureka Springs, AR. Pictured from Queer In The World)
Eureka Springs certainly has a lot of LGBTQ nightlife with Out Smart Magazine as far back as 2008 writing, “on par with Key West, Provincetown and Palm Springs as a gay vacation paradise.”
Saugatuck and Douglas, MI
The Midwest has an LGBTQ enclave with perfect weather for the summer. The towns of Saugatuck and Douglas located off of Kalamazoo Lake close to the shores of Lake Michigan offer a variety of things to do for LGBTQ visitors. Enjoy world renowned beaches such as Oval Beach in Saugatuck, shops and restaurants, arts, and other gay friendly businesses.
(Image of sunbathers on the beach off Lake Michigan from gaysaugatuckdouglas.com)
The website, saugatuck.com highlights the area’s welcoming nature by writing “For decades, our residents have welcomed LGTBQ visitors with open arms, making Saugatuck and Douglas the most gay-friendly small towns in Michigan.”
Lost River, WV
Last but not least is Lost River located at Wardensville, West Virginia. An unexpected location dubbed, “Provincetown on the Potomac” is being inhabited by DC Gays. The Washington Post ran a story on the subject called, New residents bring a taste of the city to a rural West Virginia town as did the New York Times, called In the Backwoods of Lost River, a Gay Retreat. Both interesting reads giving more context to the area.
(The Guest House Lost River Hotel and Pool)
The Guest House Lost River hosts a variety of drag shows and live DJ and music events for the community. While Lost River is not as popular as the more well known LGBTQ friendly beach community of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, the area is just a 2 hour drive from Washington DC and has become a rural gay mecca for the community.