Inclusive vacation experiences for LGBT travelers

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Travel tours and destinations designed with the LGBTQ community in mind are taking off around the country this summer. From white water rafting trips to curated wine tastings, summer travel options abound for LGBTQ visitors.

Kick up some dust at a dude ranch in southwest Colorado, where guests ride horseback, learn to rope steers, fly-fish for trout, swim, soak in a hot pool, simply relax with a good book or sip a cocktail while taking in the breathtaking glory of the San Juan Mountains. 

Ranch wranglers are on hand to guide horseback riders of all skill levels to trot along well-tended trails and lope across mountain meadows.

For relaxation, there’s wine tasting in the nearby fun-filled town of Durango. Gay travel stays at the Colorado Trails ranch are organized by

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Venture into the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains’ Bitterroot Range on a Gay Travel Idaho Mountain Getaway. With hikes, hot springs and horseback riding, the tour explores Idaho’s remote, pristine backcountry. Moose and elk are a frequent sight. Travelers stay in cozy log cabins and dine at an all-inclusive onsite restaurant. The tour is offered by

HETravel also offers gay group rafting on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, a rafting trip on Idaho’s unspoiled Salmon River and a Glacier National Park Gay Adventure that features hiking on alpine trails, horseback riding, rafting and riding a zipline high on a mountain overlooking Whitefish Lake. 

California LGBTQ vacations: More than just wine country

In northern California’s celebrated wine country, Out in The Vineyard, a gay-owned tourism and events company, helps visitors enjoy the area’s best wineries, eateries and accommodations that cater to the LGBTQ community. Trips put together by Out in The Vineyard can be short, as in a day, or long, as in a week or more. 

The weekend of July 15 to 17 is Sonoma Wine Country’s Gay Wine Weekend, highlighted by winery tours, dinners with winemakers, receptions, a wine auction and even a drag queen brunch. The event has been canceled for the last two years due to COVID, but organizers say they are making up for lost time this year with a grand celebration. 

Go glamping at California’s Highlands Resort, which started in the 1930s and came out as a gay campground in the 1980s. Its fully outfitted canvas tents hold king beds and comfortable porch chairs, while its delightful cabins have throwback vintage features like chrome fixtures, Formica tables and inlaid linoleum floors. Located in the redwood groves along the Russian River, the quiet resort is a short walk to the restaurants, shops and nightlife in Guerneville. 

In New England, travelers can perfect their queer eye skills with a two-day course in Queer Photography with Nikki Smith, a professional photographer, athlete and LGBTQ climbing advocate. Attendees can use any type of camera, from smartphones to digital SLRs. 

The same recreational nonprofit, the Venture Out Project, operates such trips as trans and non-binary backpacking, queer canoeing overnight expeditions for paddlers at all skill levels and a trip called “Queer Plus-Size Backpacking with Unlikely Hikers” that accommodates hikers size 2XL and up with slower paces, breaks and other options to make the outdoors accessible and enjoyable. 

LGBTQ Michigan destinations: Come to the beach

Make a stop at western Michigan’s gay destinations of Saugatuck and Douglas on the shores of Lake Michigan to enjoy the sand dunes and beaches. Gay-friendly Oval Beach frequently is listed on rankings of the country’s best beaches. 

In Saugatuck is the 33-acre Campit Outdoor Resort which caters to the outdoors-loving LGBTQ crowd. It has swimming and hiking, with family-friendly times set aside during the week and adults-only weekends. Not far away is The Dunes Resort, where guests can play drag queen bingo, be entertained by cabaret performers, sip cocktails at tea dances and let loose at karaoke. 

Each year, the Dunes Resort hosts Go Girl Saugatuck! – a women’s weekend with entertainment, workshops, music, comedy shows, dancing and more. Nearby camping can be found at the LGBT CampIt Resort, which welcomes all members of the LGBTQ community, especially women. It has primitive camping sites, cozy log cabins, vintage retro trailers, RV hookups and a five-bedroom bunkhouse on 33 wooded acres, and a large heated pool. 

How about a ranch experience?

Don a Stetson and head to the Rainbow Ranch, an LGBTQ campground of nearly 700 acres located near Groesbeck, Texas. There are primitive campsites and cabin rentals as well as hiking, fishing and swimming opportunities. The Ranch throws separate “Summer Splash” weekend events for men and women, with games, food, drinks and entertainment, and the “Boots, Kilts & Beards” party for Father’s Day weekend is not to be missed. 

Relax on an island

Puerto Rico is a great island destination for LGBTQ travelers as well. Check out the Santurce artsy gay village in San Juan, taste some tapas at the Bear Tavern, relax at the Xteamworks gay sauna and visit the swanky Condado Beach. Stay in the gay-owned Coqui del Mar guesthouse, which proudly calls itself “the queerest place in the Caribbean.” 

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