We all know that places such as New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, Washington, DC, and Miami/Fort Lauderdale are considered to be some of the queerest cities in America, if not on earth! The abundance of Pride festivals, LGBTQ+ clubs, resorts, and so forth, make these cities a top choice for many queer travelers. 

Sometimes your budget may not allow you to plan an expensive getaway in Miami, or perhaps you just want to find a new, fun, exciting city to explore. Well, that’s why some travelers are ditching major metropolitan areas as vacation options to choose another city nearby. That’s where “Second Cities” come in. This year, the “Second City” travel trend already seems to be increasing, as many travelers are starting to realize there are so many great destinations with fewer crowds, a slower pace, and a myriad of experiences to uncover!

Here are four “Second Cities” for you to explore, along with some lovely hotel options! 

Georgia: Instead of Visiting Atlanta, Visit Savannah
Savannah, Georgia (Photo Credit: Tyler Edic / Unsplash)

Atlanta has lots of LGBTQ events year-round, and is considered by many to be the Queer Black Mecca of the South, but have you ever thought about Savannah, Georgia? 

According to the Visit Savannah website, “Savannah is a charming LGBTQIA+ oasis welcoming all with open arms regardless of identity. Its long history, including LGBTQIA+ history, is just waiting for you to explore it.” 

Aside from the fact that Savannah is the place home to the late and legendary Lady Chablis of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil fame, it’s also a charming southern escape from the big city vibes of Atlanta. Savannah is a quaint city rich with history and numerous culinary delights. Historic downtown Savannah is where most of the city’s culture lies, and it’s where you will find Perry Lane Hotel

Perry Lane Hotel is constantly redefining the traditional Savannah hospitality experience, offering well-traveled guests a refreshed take on luxury and a genuine taste of Southern warmth. Within close proximity to a myriad of attractions such as the Broughton Street retail corridor; Savannah Riverwalk; Forsyth Park, the District’s largest greenspace; numerous museums and galleries; and Savannah College of Art & Design, there is something to do for all ages. 

On property, in addition to stunning pet-friendly accommodations, find a show-stopping pool on one of the city’s top rooftops, which also includes Peregin bar and lounge; signature restaurant, Emporium Kitchen & Wine offering innovative dishes with worldly ingredients including vegan and vegetarian options; a cozy library with an honor bar; expansive art collection; guitar lending program with Benedetto Guitars, and more.

Virginia: Instead of Visiting Washington, DC, Visit Charlottesville

With a host of queer events scheduled year-round and the future location of the next World Pride, DC is becoming the nation’s favorite new queer city! But have you ever considered Charlottesville? 

According to gayrealestae.com, “Charlottesville is a city with a thriving and diverse LGBTQ community.” Just over two hours from America’s capital, Charlottesville offers travelers a bit more of a quiet and quaint backdrop to explore the historic landmarks that were crucial to America’s foundation. With bucolic hills set against the towering Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlottesville is home to sprawling wineries, the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the historic Mitchie’s Tavern, the Kluge Ruhe Aboriginal Art Museum, and more. 

While visiting, stay at the recently renovated Keswick Hall, a beautiful luxury resort featuring an 18-hole championship golf course, a brand-new spa, the farm-forward restaurant Marigold by Jean-George, a resort farm, a magnificent infinity pool, clay tennis courts, and more.

Florida: Instead of Visiting Miami-Fort Lauderdale Area, Visit Palm Beach

The Miami-Fort Lauderdale area is well-known for all of its “Gay Fun in the Sun,” despite Florida’s intent to not “Say Gay.” But Palm Beach is the slightly smaller version of what you’d get in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area! 

Part of Florida’s Gold Coast, Palm Beach is an idyllic destination for travelers seeking warm, sunny respite from the winter chill. With easy access from Palm Beach International Airport and a plethora of shopping, dining, and beachfront access, Palm Beach provides a relaxing getaway apart from Miami.

When visiting Palm Beach, look no further than the Forbes Five-Star Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa. Situated on a private beach with seven acres of oceanfront, guests are met with champagne, breathtaking ocean views, and cooling tropical breezes upon arrival. Indulge in the warm Florida sunshine in a private cabana, relax in sumptuous accommodations designed by Jonathan Adler, and achieve ultimate relaxation at the award-winning Eau Spa.

Texas: Instead of Visiting Houston or Dallas, Visit San Antonio

Houston and Dallas are both considered to be two of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the otherwise conservative state of Texas, and both cities host two of the state’s largest annual LGBTQ Pride festivals. But there’s another city that tops the list of LGBTQ-friendly cities in Texas: San Antonio. 

San Antonio has often been overshadowed by larger cities in Texas, but the city is now having its big moment! This dynamic and continually evolving culinary destination is the only UNESCO City of Gastronomy in Texas and one of two in the country. 

Leading the culinary charge is James Beard Award finalist Steve McHugh, known as San Antonio’s most celebrated chef, who helms the kitchen of Landrace at Thompson San Antonio – Riverwalk, and whose menu showcases regional Texas producers. A dramatic addition to the San Antonio skyline, Thompson San Antonio – Riverwalk is in a new luxury hotel situated on the famous Riverwalk, in the city’s emerging Arts District, just steps from Tobin Center for the Performing Arts and a growing neighborhood of galleries. Upstairs, from its 20th-story perch, The Moon’s Daughters restaurant and lounge offers Middle Eastern-inspired dining in an indoor-outdoor setting with panoramic city views from Chef Robert McHugh. 

What’s more, the hotel features a stylish living room bar; a show-stopping pool deck with a bar, luxury cabanas, and music activations; and a luxurious full-service spa.

Looking for more alternatives to big cities? Consider visiting one of the towns found on our list of 22 LGBTQ+-friendly small cities in the U.S.