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

Can’t we all use a mini-break right about now? Day trips are just the ticket for a change of scenery, and perfect for overnight jaunts sans airports. For LGBTQIA travelers, it’s also prime time to discover new, gay-friendly destinations where local communities welcome you with rainbow colors. Here are our favorite flash trips from big cities for you to explore now.

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

Guerneville, CA

TRAVEL TIME 90 mins from downtown San Francisco

Take your pick of scenic drives from San Francisco—either oceanside via HWY 1, or US-101 through charming Petaluma—to reach Guerneville. Sonoma County’s beloved LGBTQIA enclave is perched on the Russian River, nestled between wineries, Pacific shores, and spectacular redwood forests. Start your visit with a treat at one of the tasty shops inside Guerneville Bank Club, then hit gay-owned Equality Vines to taste some of Sonoma’s top vintages (reserve in advance). Grab an Oprah-endorsed biscuit or hearty salad at Big Bottom Market for lunch, and feast on a Korean fried chicken sandwich from retro-fab Pat’s International for dinner. Guerneville’s go-to gay club R3 is currently renovating, but plans to reopen in spring 2021 with better-than-ever karaoke, drag shows, and dancing till the wee hours.

STAY Lodging at lesbian-owned Boon Hotel + Spa is a breath of fresh air, with standard or fireplace suites, pool and hot tub, and breakfast included. (P.S. Dogs are welcome, too!)

Northampton, MA

TRAVEL TIME Less than 2 hours from downtown Boston

Few queer-friendly cities can compete with out-and-proud Northampton. It’s a small city that’s home to such a high proportion of LGBTQIA-identifying residents, some consider it a queer mecca, especially for lesbians. From Boston, artsy “NoHo” is just two hours westward across Pioneer Valley. Enjoy the mellow vibes, stroll tree-lined streets, check out the Campus Arboretum at Smith College, or bike/hike the 11-mile Norwottuck Rail Trail along the Connecticut River. The Emily Dickinson Museum is temporarily closed, but you can still get literary at Broadside Bookshop. Grab a pint at lesbian comic Kate Clinton’s favorite pub Fitzwilly’s, or a bite at Thornes Marketplace. Just don’t expect to find a dedicated “gay bar,” because in Northampton, that’s every place.

STAY A 10-minute drive south in Holyoke is the gay-welcoming D. Hotel Suites & Spa, featuring cozy boutique accommodations, indoor pool, breakfast included, and two restaurants.

Long Beach, CA

Women couple in LA

TRAVEL TIME 45 mins from downtown Los Angeles

Move over WeHo! Lively Long Beach is luring Angelenos with its everyday gayness, including out gay Mayor Robert Garcia, a bustling LGBTQIA Center, a mega Pride festival each May, and nearly a dozen queer bars. Along E. 4th Street’s colorful “Retro Row,” browse dozens of kitschy and vintage shops. Refuel at Hot Java Coffee Shop, or if the time is right, at Art Du Vin wine bar (now open with limited hours). Grab a boss sandwich at either Heritage or Foundation sandwich shops, both serving hearty grub great for lunching at Harvey Milk Promenade Park and Equality Plaza on E. 3rd Street. Cap off your visit with happy hour or Sunday brunch gay-owned Hamburger Mary’s, always a sparkly time.

STAY The Queen Mary ocean liner–turned–hotel is temporarily closed, so check out nearby Hotel Maya – a Doubletree by Hilton Hotel, featuring harbor views, firepits, and an outdoor pool.

Milwaukee, WI

TRAVEL TIME 90 mins from downtown Chicago

Up Lake Michigan from Chicago, fall for Laverne and Shirley’s hometown and its friendly LGBTQIA community. “Brew City” earned its name as the home of classic beer brands like Miller and Pabst, but these days, upscale breweries double as delicious gastropubs. Reserve your heated riverfront “hop hut” for lunch at Lakeshore Brewery, then head down the RiverWalk for incredible, edible souvenirs at the famous Wisconsin Cheese Mart. Downtown gay club This Is It! is a must for sassy drag shows and daily drink specials, but Walker’s Point is home to Walker’s Pint, the long-running, lesbian-owned neighborhood hangout local’s love.

STAY Industrial-chic style beguiles guests at the Iron Horse Hotel, named for its spot along the railroad, and taking leather and exposed-brick décor to the next level.

Norfolk, VA

TRAVEL TIME Less than 4 hours from Washington D.C.

Norfolk may be off-the-radar for many LGBTQIA travelers, but this harbor city is brimming with culture, and well worth a day (or overnight) trip from D.C. Roam through the Waterside District and Granby Street by foot or bike, and duck into MJ’s Tavern for a brew break. Head a few blocks over to Colley Avenue in Ghent, the gayborhood that’s home to local faves like upscale-Mexican Luna Maya Restaurant, and The Wave nightclub (closing early at 10pm, these days). Don’t miss a stop in historic Hampton Roads across the James River, where the new black- and lesbian-owned 1865 Brewing Company will open on Mallory Street in early 2021.

STAY Check into Hilton Norfolk The MAIN for slick lodging in a waterfront location, home to the city’s only rooftop beer garden, Grain.

Tagged: California, LGBTQIA, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New England, San Francisco, Virginia

Note: Orbitz compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Kelsy Chauvin

Kelsy Chauvin

Kelsy Chauvin is a travel writer specializing in LGBTQIA interests, as well as gastronomy, culture, cannabis, and more. Her work has been featured in an array of publications including Fodor’s Travel, Afar, Condé Nast Traveler, Lonely Planet, EDGE Media Network, and Passport. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter: @kelsycc.
Kelsy Chauvin

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