Las Vegas, Chicago, West Hollywood and Philadelphia. Four exceptionally inclusive cities that ought to be on the list for any LGBT+ traveller looking to craft their dream holiday.
Why does Las Vegas, Nevada consistently rank as one of the top vacation destinations for LGBT+ travellers? Its 24/7, 365 commitment to welcoming party people with open arms, however they identify, certainly has something to do with it. Rolling residencies by some of entertainment's biggest divas, from Christina Aguilera to Cher, Mariah Carey to Lady Gaga might well play a part.
Could it be a thriving LGBT+ scene that encompasses a world of inclusive experiences, such as outdoor adventures in some of the most spectacular terrain on Earth, sensational drag brunches, and community-building conferences and expos? Or is it Las Vegas's mission to give its visitors world-class, well, everything, whether you're into sushi, shopping, shows or pool parties? The answer is, of course, all of the above plus something uniquely Vegas – an open invitation to live and love life without limits.
Chicago’s got world-renowned museums and galleries locked down. Its enviable theatre culture includes a comedy scene that regularly nurtures global superstars. Then there’s that breathtaking, big-city architecture. And let’s not forget a stubbornly three-dimensional approach to pizza that's as unique as it is deliciously addicting. In short, Chicago, Illinois, deserves to be on every dream holiday shortlist. It's also home to one of the most inclusive LGBT+ communities in the USA, and host to some of the country's largest Pride celebrations.
As far as LGBT+ hubs are concerned, you'll want to make tracks for the neighbourhoods of Andersonville and Boystown. With its concentration of locally owned businesses, boutiques, bakeries and bars, diverse and distinctive Andersonville is fast becoming a hub for Chicago's lesbian community and one of the North Side's most popular neighbourhoods. Boystown, meanwhile, is one of the largest LGBT+ communities in the USA – an unforgettable place to party, shop, dine and belt out showtunes (Sidetrack, we're very much looking at you).
The fact is, whoever you are and whatever makes you happy, you'll feel right at home in Chicago.
First things first: West Hollywood, California, (WeHo to its friends) is not to be confused with Hollywood. This wonderfully walkable,1.9 square mile city in the heart of Los Angeles is as accessible as it is central with some 19 hotels catering to a range of budgets. Oh, and did we mention WeHo is also the beating heart of the City of Angel's LGBT+ community?
Back in 1984, when the world was awash with stonewash, West Hollywood became the first majority-gay municipality in the USA. Fast forward to today, and more than 40% of WeHo's residents identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or fluid, making it an incredibly welcoming and inclusive neighbourhood, and a natural focal point for LA's Pride month celebrations.
From Boystown on Santa Monica Boulevard to the iconic Viper Room on the Sunset Strip, West Hollywood is an unforgettable place to be yourself and craft the holiday of a lifetime.
Within 20 minutes of exiting Philadelphia International Airport, Pennsylvania you'll be in the heart of the USA's first World Heritage City among friendly, no-nonsense locals. And it's been that way for a good while.
Just over the way from Independence Hall and close to the Liberty Bell you'll see the historical marker, honouring the Annual Reminder – the country's first major LGBT demonstration that pre-dates the Stonewall Riots by four years. Pioneering campaigner, Barbara Gittings, worked and made her home in the city.
Just a few blocks away in the Midtown Village lies the Gayborhood - whose charming community feel is truly something to experience. Outside of Center City, meanwhile, both New Hope in Buck’s County, and the bustling Fishtown are fast-becoming vibrant LGBT+ enclaves.
Make Philadelphia your ultimate Pride destination. Hit up Reading Terminal Market for all your foodie needs, become a cheesesteak connoisseur, see some extraordinary art, shop like you mean it, and make new friends and amazing memories in the City of Brotherly Love.