My cousin and his long-time partner got married recently in Pacific Palisades in L.A. Both dressed in white tuxes, with flowers all around, it was such a normal (for lack of a better word) ceremony — so traditional, in fact, that my Mormon aunt and uncle attended it as if it were any other marriage. (These were the same people who voted for California’s anti-gay marriage amendment.) The heavily populated Golden State has helped make same-sex unions, legal here earlier this year, almost ordinary in the U.S. And it’s about time!
So whether you’re hitched or just want to have a honeymoon-style romantic vacation, here are my top 10 recommendations in California (my home state), perfect for cuddling up with your main squeeze.
1. Lake Tahoe –- This turquoise jewel deep in California’s majestic Sierra Nevada range is home to gay ski weeks and a longtime gay lounge. Rent a house or cabin on the North Shore for ideal seclusion.
2. San Diego –- This mellow, friendly city has great gay beaches, several gay-populated districts, multiple gay lodgings, and history and culture to boot. Bring your surfboards to catch some waves at gay favorites Black’s Beach or San Onofre Beach.
3. Santa Barbara –- Art galleries, Spanish architecture, and an affluent, progressive populace makes this a natural choice for a gay honeymoon. Be sure to spend time cuddling on one of the cliff-lined gay-popular beaches too.
4. San Francisco –- You’ll both leave your heart in the gayest city in America, ground zero for California’s gay marriage movement. Stay in cozy Victorian gay B&Bs, eat at excellent gay restaurants, take gay tours, and bask on gay beaches (at least when the fog rolls out!).
5. Palm Springs –- Although known for the sexual temperature of its lavish gay resorts, this queer desert hideaway is home to a number of couple-friendly gay lodgings, as well as elegant Mid-Century vacation home rentals.
6. Russian River -– A favorite getaway for bears and lesbians, this friendly area deep in the woods of northern California is the gayest rural area you’ll find in the U.S., with mellow queer resorts, bars and paddling on said river.
7. Big Sur –- Although it’s the site of recent brush fires (which thankfully didn’t totally destroy it), this quiet yet dramatic area — perched on impossibly sloping mountains spilling into the sea — is home to artsy, bohemian residents, gay-friendly beaches, and even gay vacation rentals.
8. San Luis Obispo — Slowly coming on the LGBT travelers’ radars is this gorgeous oak-filled college town halfway between L.A. and San Francisco, home to many gay businesses and a lovely gay-popular beach cove.
10. West Hollywood –- Known more for its randy nightlife than romance, L.A.’s queer enclave is nonetheless a tranquil locale (once you get off of Santa Monica Boulevard), with good-looking residential areas, shopping and above-par restaurants.
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Matthew Link is the Editor At Large for The Out Traveler magazine, as
well as a contributor to Newsweek. Having been to over 60 countries and
all 7 continents doesn’t keep him from getting on the next plane away
from his home in New York City.