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

Ever wonder why the sky turns pink as the sun dips below an ocean horizon? It’s because queers rule the beach, that’s why! There’s something about sun, surf and skimpy swimwear that lures the LGBTQIA+ community to sandy shores the moment temps crack 70. (Perhaps it’s all the frolicking?) Plus, the USA is full of gorgeous beaches renowned for their queer followings (leave a comment if you don’t see your favorite one listed here), so when you’re ready to slather on sunscreen, here are the best queer beaches for when you wanna…

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

…see a true rainbow of diversity

Imagine a Brooklyn Pride Parade at a packed patch of sand where everyone strips down to swimsuits and jumps in the water. That basically sums up the scene on a steamy summer day at the People’s Beach at Jacob Riis Park in Queens. Young queers of every race, gender identify and jaw-dropping fashion choice flock here in summer to see and be seen while soaking up some stellar rays.
But… Plan for an Uber; it’s quite the trek on public transportation.

…leave your heart in San Francisco 

Foggy San Francisco isn’t always a sun worshiper’s paradise (especially in summer, ironically), but when sunny skies prevail there’s nothing quite like stunning Baker Beach. Expect jaw-dropping views of the Golden Gate Bridge, a rainbow of ages, races and body types, and some very frigid waters. Queers congregate on the north end—which is also clothing optional.
But… In summer, rolling fog might ruin your day.

…swim out to a floating booze barge

If beaches are defined by sand, we may need to rethink our definition on this one. Hippie Hollow at Lake Travis in Austin is more like a series of rock slabs leading down to a chilly, but gorgeous lake where twice annually, an event called Splash Days marks the beginning and end to summer with a full weekend of boozing, cruising and cavorting with tanned queers.
But… you’ll need a car. It’s about a 20-minute drive from the city.

…understand why the Midwest is best

Chicago is our kind of town (yeah, even in winter), but summers are like nowhere else. Angelenos tend to take the season for granted while New Yorkers use it as an excuse to flee the sweaty city. In Chicago, the favorite thing to do from June to August is simply stay put and that includes plopping one’s booty down at Hollywood (aka Osterman) Beach , a glorious, crescent-shaped stretch of sand frequented by hundreds of queer, corn-fed beach bods.
But… don’t try riding waves. There really aren’t any.

…roll right out of bed and onto the beach

Fort Lauderdale is famously “where the boys are” (although the city aggressively courts lesbians and trans people as well). And where they tend to hang out on sunny days (which are plentiful in this sun-drenched Florida city) is at packed Sebastian Street Beach, which just happens to be steps away from both the lion share of gay-oriented lodging, but also towering beach behemoth’s like the W Fort Lauderdale and the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort.
But… It’s illegal to drink alcohol on the beach (although people do it).

…hang at a strand steeped in stardom

Once upon a time in Delaware queer mecca Rehoboth Beach, aviator Louisa de Pont Carpenter, bisexual gal pal Tallulah Bankhead and other celebs used to cavort discreetly at her oceanfront property which became a quiet gay haven. By the ’80s, the scene moved to the end of the Boardwalk (near aptly named Queen Street) and today Poodle Beach (LOL) revels in sun-baked queerness.
But… Arrive early on summer weekends. This place fills up!

…erase your tan lines

And the winner for best nude beach in America goes to… San Diego? We’re as surprised as anyone that the best clothing-optional beach (for gays and straights alike) is in this sun-drenched military town. But thanks to a wide strand, gentle waves and relative seclusion, Black’s Beach is hands down (make that pants off!) the best beach in America for queers—and straights—to bare all.
But… The hike down is pretty awful. Seriously, be careful.

…hang at not one, but two queer beaches

Portland visitors, you are in for a treat! Not only does this city boast Powell Books, a mad food cart scene and breathtaking Mount Hood, but in summer, queer buns can be sunned at not one, but two LGBTQIA-frequented beaches! Collins Beach on Sauvie Island couldn’t be more idyllic and we love that women and trans people can be spotted in large numbers. Rooster Rock, meanwhile, offers a hidden (and oft-frisky) haven for the fellas. Oregon has lax nudity laws; clothing is optional at both beaches.
But… a rainy winter can make both beaches harder to access.

…lounge poolside instead

Love the scene, but hate the sand? Las Vegas has you covered. Long-running pool party Temptation Sundays at the Oasis Pool at the Luxor Hotel and Casino is a boisterous afternoon that took a break in 2020 (for obvious reasons), but gives visiting queers respite from the hetero day parties elsewhere on the Strip.  It’s a splashy affair full of Sin City high jinks like booze, loud jams and go go dancers, and includes an obvious perk the beach can’t deliver—unicorn floaties.
But… This “beach” only happens May through September.

…join a sunset drum circle

Little Beach in Maui is awesome. Seriously, just get here. Not only does the low-key crowd embody Hawaii’s aloha spirit, but the water is warm, the waves are just the right height and you’re thousands of miles from mainland drama. Best of all, every Sunday at sunset, a crowd of hundreds gather to beat on bongos, gyrate to flaming hula hoops and express themselves freely—as in completely freely; Little Beach is clothing optional (queers congregate on the north end).
But… You’ll need to fly a minimum 2,500 miles to get there.


Tagged: Austin, California, Chicago, Florida, Fort Lauderdale, Hawaii, Las Vegas, LGBTQIA, Midwest, New York, Oregon, Portland, San Francisco, Texas

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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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