Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Family FriendlyWashington DC

10 Queer-Friendly Family Vacations

When planning a family vacation, most parents usually check to make sure their chosen vacation destination is safe and has plenty of kid-friendly activities, including opportunities to educate the entire family about local history, food, and culture. However, there are additional factors to consider if your child or children identify as LBGTQ+.  

The truth of the matter is, even in 2024, queer or gender non-conforming people may still feel uncomfortable or even unsafe in many places in the world. This fact can add another layer to vacation planning. As a mother with two children in the “alphabet mafia,” knowing which destinations are fun and safe is a top priority.  

If you’re planning a spring or summer vacation soon, here are 10 places in the U.S. that you should consider for your next queer-friendly family getaway.  

Portland Oregon neon sign
Portland, Oregon Neon Sign (Photo Credit: Free-Photos from Pixabay)

Portland, Oregon

The largest city in Oregon, Portland is considered the perfect destination for hipsters, outdoorsy people, and vegans — it is also known for being quite weird with its penchant for promoting artists and expressionism. The charming neighborhoods give it a small-town vibe, but it’s gained a reputation as possibly America’s greenest city, according to BusinessInsider.com. 

Notable for its vegan-friendly spots and climate-change activism, the City of Roses is also known for its thriving lesbian communities like Burnside Triangle ­– also known as the Pink Triangle. You’ll find a large Pride celebration every June, and there are also semi-regular events such as the Portland Queer Film Festival and fun karaoke nights at a number of bars, including Scandals.  

When it comes to family activities, kids of all ages will enjoy the Oregon Zoo and other kid-approved destinations like the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Oaks Amusement Park, and Glowing Greens, an indoor blacklight miniature golf course. Enjoy outdoor adventures in this bike-friendly city. Bike or hike the Lower Macleay Trail or visit Mt. Tabor Park, home to more than 80 species of trees. 

Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City (Photo Credit: Yilei "Jerry" Bao on Unsplash)
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City (Photo Credit: Yilei “Jerry” Bao on Unsplash)

New York City

Iconic tourist attractions, diverse ethnic food, trendsetting fashion, and award-winning Broadway performances are a few reasons why New York City is at the top of many vacationers’ bucket lists. You can find Queer cultures woven throughout the city, especially in prominent neighborhoods, such as Greenwich Village, Chelsea, and Hell’s Kitchen. If you want to explore LGBTQ+ history, visit the NYC Aids Memorial at St. Vincent’s Triangle or check out Stonewall Inn, the historic landmark and site of the Stonewall riots in 1969, a cornerstone of LGBTQ+ human rights. 

For family fun, check out the view from the Empire State Building, take a high-speed boat ride on the Beast to catch a glimpse of Lady Liberty, check out the jaw-dropping views from Edge NYC, the highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere. Visit one of the city’s dozens of museums. Dinosaur fans will love the American Museum of Natural History or budding art aficionados will enjoy a visit to the world-renown Metropolitan Museum of Art. And if your kids are anything like mine, you will also want to catch a Broadway show. 

Band playing in the French Quarter in New Orleans
Band in the French Quarter in New Orleans (Photo Credit: Morgan Petroski on Unsplash)

New Orleans

A visit to New Orleans may not seem like a family-friendly destination, but there is so much more to NOLA than Bourbon Street. In this historic Southern city, the people are friendly, the food is outstanding, and the neighborhoods are charming.  

On a stroll through the French Quarter, tourists will see plenty of Pride flags waving. Enjoy the quintessential drag brunch at Broussard’s or the Pontchartrain. Plan a trip in June when the city buzzes from the excitement of its annual Pride celebration.  

To keep adventurous children entertained take the Honey Island Swamp Tour and watch alligators swim right up to the edge of your boat or spend a few hours at the Audubon Zoo and Aquarium of the Americas.  And don’t forget to save some time for music! While many of the jazz clubs are reserved for 21 and up, Preservation Hall has multiple shows every day for young audience members. 

Toronto skyline
Toronto skyline (Photo Credit: ElasticComputeFarm from Pixabay)

Toronto

In Canada, Toronto has the largest queer population in the country, and in 2017,  it came in third as the ‘World’s LGBT-friendliest city, according to Huffington Post

If you plan your visit for May, you may want to consider attending the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival, but there are plenty of activities to enjoy all year long.  Catch a show at the Buddies in Bad Time Theatre. If you have book nerds in the family, stop by the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, home to some of the most unique books and manuscripts in the country. If you want to spend some time outdoors, take a stroll along Moccasin Trail Park, where you catch a glimpse of the colorful mural known as Rainbow Tunnel.  

Sandy beach with Golden Gate Bridge in the background
Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco (Photo Credit: Natalie Chaney on Unsplash)

San Francisco

Known as a cornerstone city for championing LGBTQ+ rights, San Francisco overflows with history in places like Pink Triangle Park and Memorial, the GLBT History Museum, and Orphan Andy’s. But don’t forget, the city also has high-quality shopping and tons of fantastic eateries. The first city in the country to legalize gay marriage, San Francisco is a great queer-friendly vacation spot for families. 

A trip to Muir Woods is an awe-inspiring outdoor adventure with its old-growth Redwoods towering overhead, and a visit to see the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in person is a must. You can also visit kid-favorite attractions like the Bay Area Discovery Museum, San Francisco Zoo, and Mission Dolores Park. 

Equity mural in Charlotte, North Carolina
Equity mural in Charlotte, North Carolina (Photo Credit: Bruce Emmerling from Pixabay)

Charlotte, North Carolina

The Queen’s City is known for its welcoming spirit. Even though North Carolina may not be the first place you think of when considering queer-friendly destinations, Charlotte is actually a pretty progressive place and has passed non-discrimination legislation.  

A visit in August can coincide with the city’s Pride celebration, and there are other LGBTQ+ attractions. Catch a performance of the One Voice Chorus or time your visit to watch the Charlotte Royals, the local gay men’s rugby team, play a game or two. Kids of all ages will enjoy a day spent at Carowinds amusement park or the U.S. National Whitewater Center. For shoppers in the family, spend a few hours at South Park Mall.  

Parents looking for options to keep their child’s brain stimulated should consider an educational visit to The Discovery Place or Imaginon, which includes the Children’s Theater of Charlotte, touted as one of the nation’s top theaters for families.  

Cherry blossoms with the Washington Monument in the background.
Cherry blossoms with the Washington Monument in the background (Photo Credit: Andy He on Unsplash)

Washington, DC

Logan Circle and Dupont Circle are not only two well-known gayborhoods in the nation’s capital, but you’ll also catch a number of drag brunches through the city at local bars, Trade and A League of Her Own. In October, drag queens show their Pride every Halloween for the Annual 17th Street High Heel Race. Straight allies, families, and friends of the local LGBTQ+ community line the street to watch the first heel cross the finish line. 

The District is home to dozens of fun museums and venues that will keep kids busy and entertained, including the National Zoo, National Air and Space Museum, International Spy Museum, and the newest addition in the District, the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Don’t forget to stop by the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, too! The United States Botanic Garden may interest kids who’d like to hang out in a butterfly garden, or parents may consider a visit to the National Children’s Museum. 

Exterior view of the Denver Art Museum
Denver Art Museum (Photo Credit: Kwin Mosby)

Denver 

The Mile High City has mountainous panoramic views. At 5,280 feet above sea level, you can expect majestic mountain vistas, cooler temperatures, and fun activities like Drag Bingo at Hamburger Mary’s. Those visiting in June can attend Denver’s Pride put on by the Center on Colfax. 

Outdoor enthusiasts can hike along the 1.2-mile loop in Red Rocks Park, which connects to longer trails for moderate to advanced hikers. Take a stroll through Denver Botanic Gardens to see a variety of garden designs, including the Japanese-inspired Bill Hosokawa Bonsai Pavilion and Tea Garden. For teens who like to shop, stop by Cherry Creek, which has 160 shops, including dining options for a bite to eat. 

Providence, Rhode Island Skyline
Providence, Rhode Island (Photo Credit: Michael Denning on Unsplash)

Providence, Rhode Island

Founded in 1636, Providence is one of the oldest cities in the United States. It is full of historic buildings and has an eclectic, artsy vibe. While Puritans may have settled here and discovered the city, it is quite queer-friendly and trends younger – at least during the school year with eight colleges in town.  

Parents can take the kids to the Providence Children’s Museum and explore the hands-on exhibits or spend some time at India Point Park where kids can swing, slide, and play in the sandbox while the grown-ups enjoy the harbor view. If you are a family of foodies, make sure you visit Little Italy and enjoy Italian cuisine favorites at restaurants such as Joe Marzilli’s Old Canteen.  

Aerial view of Honolulu, Hawaii
Aerial view of Honolulu, Hawaii (Photo Credit: Cosmin Serban on Unsplash)

Honolulu

If tropical weather is calling to you and your family, a trip to the 50th state in the Union may be in order. Honolulu, a bustling metropolis, gives you the option of spending days on the beach or living the urban life. The Hawaiian city is very gay-friendly with a prominent LGBTQ+ center, and there are even a few gay beaches to enjoy such as Queen’s Surf Beach, a popular surf spot.  

One recommended place for families to visit is Kapiolani Park, the largest public park in the state. In addition to its jogging paths, soccer fields, and picnic spots, Kapiolani Park is also home to the 42-acre Honolulu Zoo. Parents may also consider taking the kids to Bishop Museum for an immersive history lesson about the Aloha State.    

Dara Brewton

Dara left her job as an ophthalmic assistant and dove into the freelance writing world four years ago, and she hasn't looked back since. Her work includes launching her own blog, writing travel articles for various publications, and a stint as a deputy editor for a progressive news site. When she isn't banging away on her laptop, you can find her reading a script, trying to keep her plants alive, or watching BBC shows.

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