This summer, trade shoveling snow for bead tossing in New Orleans, swap Beltway traffic for roping a sexy cowboy in New Mexico or trade the humdrum neighborhood bar for the opening of the world’s largest gay nightclub in Vegas. Here are a few scintillating ideas to flirt with before packing your bags for your summer vacation.
Bear Town Weekend
June 6-9, Portland hosts the 18th annual Bear Town Weekend, where an average of 400 bears and bear lovers come out to celebrate at events such as the Pirate’s Booty UnderBear Dance, Taste of Portland, the “Shed the Shirt” T-Shirt Exchange, Bingo with the Sisters and the Mr. Oregon Bear Breakfast. The registration for all events is $125. Some other events to check out that weekend include the Rose Festival and Portland’s Fleet Week.
Where to stay: The Jupiter Hotel is the host hotel for Bear Town weekend
Queer Walking Tours
Looking to do something active this summer? The Toronto Queer Walking Tours company was created to highlight how the gay community has evolved over time to inhabit different parts of Toronto. You will have the opportunity to walk neighborhoods such as Allan Gardens and Gay Village, with tour stops at the Glad Day Bookstore, Village gay bars and the Canadian Gay Lesbian Archives. The mission of the company is “through knowledge and education we can better understand what makes up a queer community and how the past has changed the way we see ourselves and others.” The tours run year long and range from $10-$20, or hire a private tour guide, which starts at $50.
Where to stay: The Delta Chelsea Hotel Downtown is located near the Village
Out at Universal Studios
Party promoter Tom Whitman is throwing the ninth annual Out at Universal/Wonderland party, which takes place at Universal Studios Theme Park on June 8. Explore your wild side by trying some of the Universal Studios attractions, such as Transformers 3D The Ride, the Simpsons Ride and Jurassic Park The Ride, all of which will be open to guests. The main dance party takes place from 10 p.m.-4 a.m., which is hosted by Club Papi, Masterbeat and Tom Whitman Presents. The presale price for the Out at Universal/ Wonderland party pass is $85. Other events during Wonderland Weekend include an exclusive Beverly Hills estate pool party, Saturday afterhours and a Sunday tea dance.
Where to stay: The SLS Hotel in West Hollywood is located near the gay nightlife
If you are thinking of visiting Vegas this summer, it would be wise to do so on June 15, where the world’s largest gay nightclub will be unveiled. Located in downtown Las Vegas, Krave Massive will be an astonishing 80,000 square foot venue, which will feature five individually themed dance rooms, a state-of-the-art sound system, huge video walls, along with high-tech special effects. What separates this gay nightclub from the rest is that it is not only a dance space, but it will also be home to a gay comedy club, a retail store, a multi-purpose room, a lesbians-only dance lounge, as well as the country’s only LGBT movie theater.
Where to stay: The Wynn Las Vegas has its own dedicated LGBT concierge
San Francisco-based Olivia Travel bills itself as the world’s “premier provider of lesbian cruise, resort and adventure vacations.” It has several lavish summer trips planned including a cruise to Ireland and the Scotland British Isles (July 18-25), a Provence-to-Burgundy Riverboat Cruise (July 30-Aug. 6), several exotic fall adventures and a wide array of 2014 trips planned as well.
Visit Olivia.com for full details. Or call 800-631-6277 or 415-962-5700. Monthly payment plans are available.
Sante Fe, N.M.
During the weekend of Aug. 9-11, the New Mexico Gay Rodeo Association presents its 22nd annual Zia Regional rodeo, which consists of events like bull riding, steer wrestling, bareback bronco riding and calf-roping. Witness some of the light-hearted camp events, including wild drag steer-riding, steer decorating and a comical display of putting underwear on goats. The weekend comes to a close with a dance at a local bar or host hotel. Tickets are around $25 for the two-day event.
Where to stay: Host hotel TBD
Northalsted Market Days
On Aug. 10-11, visitors to Chicago will be able to experience the largest two-day street fair in the Midwest. The Northalsted Market Days event spans six city blocks and features about 40 musicians, including Olivia Newton-John, The Pointer Sisters and Karmin. This live music festival is free, with a suggested donation of $8. The event draws a lively, upscale crowd featuring more than 400 food and arts and crafts vendors.
Where to stay: The Amalfi Hotel is located 4 miles from Northalsted
Tropical Heat and Womenfest
Key West, Fla.
In a city where the chief of police is gay and rainbow flags wave proudly throughout the island, it only makes sense for Key West to be the host of two hot week-long summer parties: one for the girls and one for the boys. Tropical Heat takes place Aug. 15-18, and became known for its clothing-optional pool parties and snorkeling trips. Events taking place this year include toga parties, a wild drag show, “not your grandmother’s bingo”, a dungeon fetish party and the “Name Our Cock” fundraiser, which benefits Key West wildlife.
The 31st annual Womenfest takes place Sept. 3-8, where an estimated 5,000 women participate in weeklong arts and music events. Womenfest has become a popular spot for women’s groups, such as Sister Funk and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls. Each night, lesbian bands play at four or five nightclubs, which are free. There are sunset dinner cruises, clothing-optional snorkeling and kayaking, a comedy show at the Cuban-owned San Carlos Institute and mechanical bull-riding at Cowboy Bills Honky Tonk Saloon.
Where to stay: Alexander’s Guesthouse is a gay and lesbian resort