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We’ve all been cooped up for months and we all want nothing more than to “sashay away” to somewhere different. Two words: National Parks! Not sure that’s your thing? What if we told you most of them allow booze? Oh, now you’re listening. In fact, the first and second verified people to visit every U.S. National Park are both queer. So yeah, getting back to nature is a pretty gay thing to do. True, not all parks are equal on the Kinsey Scale, but these 6 will have you screaming, “We’re here! We’re queer! Aww look, there’s a deer!”

Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

RELATED: Visit our LGBTQIA travel hub for welcoming hotels, the ultimate queer events calendar, inspiration, and more!

Fire Island National Seashore: New York

Fire Island, New York

You already knew Fire Island is the gayest place on earth. Did you also know that its two queerest communities—Cherry Grove and the Pines—are part of the 26-mile Fire Island National Seashore? That means they are within the National Parks System! It will be a different summer on the island for sure, but  if you’re looking to break out the bikini, it can still happen. Beaches are open, Pines Pizza is serving up to-go slices (not that you eat carbs) while the Canteen is serving takeout booze. You will hardly be alone. Many vacation rentals are already at capacity thanks to New Yorkers who flocked here in spring while NYC busy was flattening the curve.

Joshua Tree National Park: SoCal

joshua tree national park-

What makes this Mojave treasure queerer than a drag queen riding a unicorn? Because it’s a favorite homo day trip from gay desert mecca Palm Springs. In fact, several local LGBTQ hiking groups host regular treks through the park. Entrances, roads and parking lots, trails, campsites and most bathroom facilities are now open. Don’t miss Skull Rock or the Cholla Cactus Garden, and make sure you swing by lesbian-owned roadside cafe La Copine for takeout. It’s the most celebrated restaurant in the Mojave (although its owners typically close shop in July and August to escape the high temps).

ALSO: Be sure to earn rewards on every trip—join Orbit Rewards!

Gateway Arch National Park: St. Louis

City of St. Louis skyline. Image of St. Louis downtown at twilight.

Never been to a Hamburger Mary’s? Oh girl, get out more. Picture a glitter-infused, LGBTQ burger franchise featuring all-beef patties with cheeky names like Buffy the Hamburger Slayer and checks served in a high heel. Now imagine one literally right across the street from a National Park. The park, of course, is home to the magnificent Gateway Arch and also the Old St. Louis Courthouse where the Dred Scott case took place. Stroll the grounds, grab takeout from Mary’s, then follow the Arch’s westward-ho lead and head a few miles west to visit the Transgender Memorial Garden.

Canaveral National Seashore: Florida

You wouldn’t think an uninhabited barrier island in the middle of Florida would be a gay hangout, but it definitely is. That’s thanks to Playalinda Beach, one of just a handful of clothing optional beaches in the Sunshine State. Only 75 minutes from Disney World, Playalinda is perfect for those days when you want to ditch Orlando’s 100 lakes for a stretch of sand full of sun-burned cakes. As for the scene, picture hippies, heteros and homos buff bathing across a full mile of unspoiled Florida coastline.

Stonewall National Monument: New York

Stonewall, NYC, Greenwich Village

With the stroke of a pen, President Obama created the first LGBTQ National Monument at the site of June 1969’s historic Stonewall Uprising—the riot that sparked a milestone chapter in the LGBTQ struggle for equal rights. Today the monument encompasses a 7.7-acre area in the heart of New York’s Greenwich Village that includes the Stonewall Inn, Christopher Park, and the surrounding streets where the events of June 28-July 3, 1969, occurred. The park is open, and a stroll around the Village, where rainbow flags are everywhere, is enjoyable anytime of year.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area: SF

GGNRA, San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge

Not to spook you, but did you know that Alcatraz Island, which sits within the 82,000 acres of protected lands surrounding the San Francisco Bay Area, is allegedly haunted by the ghost of an American solider who was sent to the notorious prison in 1931 for the crime of sodomy? Yup, it’s true. It’s also true that Golden Gate National Recreation Area includes numerous LGBTQ beach hangouts like super inclusive North Baker, Lands End, Marshall Beach (frequented mostly by gay men) and Black Sands Beach located within the Marin Headlands—all within the queerest city on earth!

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Tagged: California, Florida, Midwest, National Parks, New York, Palm Springs, St. Louis, Uncategorized

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Jason Heidemann

Jason Heidemann

Jason is a Lead Content Specialist for Expedia Group, and manages content initiatives across numerous Expedia-owned brands. His work has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Time Out, the Huffington Post, Chicago Magazine, Passport and many others.

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