Can you believe we’re almost halfway through 2019? Earlier this year, we asked over 1,000 people throughout the country about their favorite vacation destinations in the United States, and they broke it down based on category – including a consensus on the most LGBTQ-friendly cities – as seen in our infographic rundown here. In celebration of Pride Month this June, we’re doing a deeper dive into the top four LGBTQ-friendly cities to travel to outside of VacationRenter’s home base of San Francisco.
This month, cities all over the nation will be celebrating equality and inclusion for LGBTQ communities with bright colors, parades, block parties, and more. Pride Month serves as a commemoration for the Stonewall Riots, held on June 1969 in New York City, meaning this year marks the 50th Anniversary of this monumental spark in the gay rights movement. Take a peek at which destinations would be the best to check out during Pride Month below.
#4: Salt Lake City, Utah (8.80% vote)
Utah’s capital takes the cake for the 4th most LGBTQ-friendly city in the country. The city’s Pride Month Events kicked off early this month, with its Pride Parade and Festival lighting up the streets on June 1st and 2nd. Thousands of people came together to proudly represent the parade’s theme, “Exist. Resist. Persist.”
What comes as a bit of a shock is that the state of Utah itself is mostly made up of Mormons with incredibly conservative ideals, but the capital of Salt Lake serves as a safe haven for those who want to live an LGBTQ lifestyle without facing any stigmas or discrimination. On the Visit Salt Lake Official website, we found that that according to the Salt Lake Tribune, “Gay people in Utah come to Salt Lake City because it’s almost like an island of liberal progressiveness in a sea of conservative Mormon culture.” This idea alone is revolutionary enough to prove that even in a predominantly conservative culture, there is hope for inclusion for everyone.
If you plan to take a trip to Salt Lake City during any time of year, you’ll be welcomed with open arms into its thriving LGBTQ community. For gay-friendly nightlife, you can visit The Sun Trapp and Metro Music Hall, located downtown, right around the corner from one another. In mid-July, the Utah Film Center is hosting its 16th Annual LGBTQ Film Festival called Damn These Heels. In February of next year, you can also check out Gay Ski Week in the mountains of Utah.
For any LGBTQ couples trying to find a place to settle down, you can look into Salt Lake City as your next home base. In 2013, Salt Lake was acknowledged for having the highest rate of gay parents in the United States. According to one parent, aside from her daughter, there are several other students in her daughter’s school with same-sex parents, which can definitely help any child feel more comfortable in a learning environment. Plus, in 2016, Jackie Biskupski became Salt Lake’s first openly gay mayor, and is still in office today. We applaud Salt Lake City for taking big steps towards equality for the LGBTQ community!
#3: Baltimore, Maryland (11.92% vote)
Next stop? Baltimore! This northern city has a whole Calendar of LGBTQ Events that runs all year long, including a Miss Gay Maryland America Pageant that was held last April, and Baltimore Black Pride coming up in October. More importantly, up next on the calendar is Baltimore’s 44th Pride Parade and Festival. The Pride Parade will be held on Saturday, June 15th from 1:00pm to 3:00pm, with a block party to follow right after. In addition, for the first time this year, Baltimore will host a Pride Pet Parade to include everyone’s furry friends in all the fun. Last on their agenda of official Pride events, Baltimore’s Pride Festival will run on Sunday, June 16th from 12:00pm to 6:00pm and this kid-friendly event will include live music, performances, exhibits and food trucks galore! If you’re in the area, feel free to stop by and be a part of the celebration.
There’s a fairly diverse nightlife scene in Baltimore, and we’re excited to share the two most striking LGBTQ-friendly bars worth visiting. The first is W.C. Harlan, a speakeasy in the outskirts of the Old Goucher Neighborhood. This speakeasy is shaking up Baltimore’s craft cocktail scene, locally sourcing as many ingredients as possible, and innovating its recipes on a regular basis. Once you get inside, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a vintage hideaway with dimmed lights and jazz music filling up the atmosphere.
On the south end of Baltimore, you’ll find Rye in Fells Point: a cocktail bar with a delectable drink selection. Before W.C. Harlan came along, Rye proudly stood as the pioneer for Boston’s craft cocktail movement. They even offer group mixology classes, customized for each party. Painted in capitalized block letters on Rye’s brick walls, it screams “vote against prohibition” which sets the tone for a night consisting of more rounds of picturesque cocktails than you can count.
We also sought to find the best LGBTQ-owned restaurants in Baltimore, and among the handful of establishments listed on the Visit Baltimore Official Website, our must-try suggestion is Miss Shirley’s Cafe, with two different locations gracing the city of Baltimore. From the southern-style brunch dishes and self-titled “mornin’ cocktails,” Miss Shirley’s menu makes us want to try literally everything. Our top recommendations to start would be the Cucumber Basil Mojito and the “Get Your Grits On” – a dish consisting of cajun-spiced grits served with diced bacon, fried green tomatoes, and your choice of blackened shrimp or salmon.
#2: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (20.35% vote)
The city of Philly begins its Pride Month celebrations this week on Thursday, June 6th with a Rainbow Flag Raising Ceremony at 5:00pm and a Pride Kick-Off Block Party on Friday, June 7th at 6:00pm. To conclude a weekend of Pride fun, Philadelphia’s “Stonewall 50” Themed Pride Parade will be on Sunday, June 9th.
But the celebrations don’t stop there… The Please Touch Museum for children encourages the little ones to celebrate Pride Month too. On June 2nd, the museum hosted a Pride Family Festival for the whole family to enjoy, and on Sunday, June 16th they’ll be entertaining the kids with a Drag Queen Story Time.
Other Philadelphia Pride events include the Philly Pride Run on Sunday, June 9th where participants have the option to run either 5K or 1.5 miles. Registration is still open to anyone who is interested, and we know it will be a wonderful time! Finally, for our art fanatics, we highly suggest checking out Drexel University for the Stonewall @ 50 Exhibit, which will be open to the public from June 28th until July 26th. “Stonewall @ 50” consists of over fifty local LGBTQ artists who are coming together to showcase a multimedia exhibit honoring the 50th year since the Stonewall Riots. We’re excited to see all the creative installations these artists have been working on.
It’s not surprising that Philadelphia earns a spot as one of the most welcoming cities for LGBTQ folk considering they’ve officially dubbed a Philadelphian neighborhood, “The Gayborhood.” Don’t believe us? Look it up on Google Maps and see for yourself. The Gayborhood sits close to the city’s center where the William Way LGBT Community Center resides. This community center is a hub for all things LGBTQ-friendly in Philly.
In the Gayborhood, you will also find some of the best gay bars in the city, so keep reading for our Philadelphia Bar Hopping Guide. On South Camac Street, you’ll find Tavern on Camac, a piano bar with live music and nightly entertainment. Stop by to indulge in the $2 happy hour specials and vibe out to the smooth sounds of the piano. A three minute walk up the street is Woody’s, a vibrant dance club for anyone in search of a wild night out. For our final bar stop, around the corner from Woody’s, is Toasted Walnut, a karaoke bar where you can sing your heart out without being judged. Pride Month in Philadelphia sounds like it’s going to be nothing short of eventful.
Ready to book a trip to Philadelphia?
#1: Portland, Oregon (41.80% vote)
There are many great things about the city of Portland, but what tops it all off is that it earned its title as the #1 LGBTQ-friendly city in the United States, aside from San Francisco. If you’re thinking of planning a trip anywhere this June, we highly recommend making your way to Portland. The city’s official Pride Parade and Festival will be held on the weekend of June 15th, from Saturday until Sunday.
More exciting Portland Pride events include a free screening of Rocketman, a new biopic about the story of Elton John. The showing will be on Wednesday, June 12th at 6:30pm and although the special screening is free, attendees are required to RSVP here. There’s also a three-day block party from June 14th to 16th, and it’s only fitting that the block party will be on Harvey Milk Street, rightfully named after the famed San Francisco gay rights activist.
With so many top rated bars and restaurants in the city of Portland alone, it can be tough to zone in on which spots to try out on your trip. We went on the hunt for the best LGBTQ-friendly hangouts in Portland, and here’s what we found: for a daytime rendezvous, you could visit Vendetta, an open-air bar and patio, or Hobo’s – a restaurant and lounge that blends New Orleans culture with New York eats. For a nighttime adventure, we’re sure you’ll love Vault Cocktail Lounge’s seasonal house cocktails and Florida Room’s carefree energy.
You bet that Portland continues to celebrate the LGBTQ community even when Pride Month is over. To wrap up the summer, film lovers from all over the country will flock to Portland in September for its 23rd Annual Queer Film Festival. This film festival features short films, documentaries and motion pictures produced by members of the queer community worldwide. As a plus, proceeds from the festival are donated to local charities for the betterment of the community.
We hope everyone has a fun and safe Pride celebration. As for our fellow San Francisco residents: mark your calendars because our very own Pride Parade will be on Sunday, June 30th. Happy Pride Month!