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The 10 Best LGBTQ-Friendly Towns in the U.S.

These spots are known for their welcoming atmosphere and celebration of the LGBTQ community.

When you think of the quintessential American town, you probably think of a neighborly atmosphere, a lively main street, and perhaps an annual parade or two. Many towns like that are popular vacation destinations, especially during the summer when you can catch local fireworks or visit a beach. But members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning or queer (LGBTQ) community also have to consider the atmosphere of the places they're thinking about visiting, as well as safety. To help narrow down your vacation-planning, we've compiled a list of the best LGBTQ-friendly towns in the U.S., where members of the community and allies will feel right at home. Read on to learn about 10 welcoming places worth a visit.

RELATED: The 12 Most Romantic Cities in the U.S. You Should Visit With Your Partner.

Asbury Park, New Jersey

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First up on this list is a small beach town in central New Jersey. The LGBTQ community found a place for themselves in this coastal spot, which is now home to top-rated restaurants, bars, and hotels. The annual Jersey Pride LGBTQ+ parade and festival has been held there since 1992, but the gay presence in Asbury Park dates even further back than that.

"You had gay clubs in Asbury Park in the 1930s when you couldn't have them," Asbury Park historian and author Kathy Kelly told The Asbury Park Press, "and part of that was because we were a resort town. … [The current site of] Bond Street Bar was a women's bar in the late 1930s."

Even in the '70s, amid violent race riots and when it was "the least safe place in New Jersey from a perception perspective," Asbury was also a place of solace for the gay community, Kelly added.

Today, Asbury is thriving, with drag events at Georgies Bar and nightlife at Paradise. Members of the LGBTQ community will feel welcome in AP, whether you're interested in soaking up the sun on gorgeous beaches, strolling the boardwalk, or visiting the fun and quirky shops on Cookman Avenue.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

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This quirky town in Arkansas pops up on many lists of the top towns to visit—and its welcoming attitude to the LGBTQ community is yet another reason to add Eureka Springs to your travel bucket list.

"This is a tiny town in the Ozarks, with a huge queer population and representation," Matt Kirouac, travel writer "with a queer agenda," tells Best Life.

He continues, "Most of its population identifies as LGBTQIA+, and it's such a progressive oasis in a red area. Rainbow flags all around the historic downtown, a rainbow staircase that's popular for photos, and Eureka Live is a huge gay club right in the middle of it all, with drag queens regularly traveling from throughout the region to perform."

RELATED: 12 Best Cities in the U.S. for Outdoor Adventures.

New Hope, Pennsylvania

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If you head west from Asbury, you'll hit New Hope, Pennsylvania, which sits right on the NJ and PA border along the Delaware River.

The town is touted as "committed to promoting diversity and inclusivity" in Bucks County, with an "eclectic," gay-friendly community. It's another that has historically been a destination for members of the LGBTQ community, especially creatives, and it's now an artsy spot where you can pop in and out of fun shops.

Additionally, Lambertville, New Jersey, is another LBGTQ-friendly destination that you can walk to from New Hope. Both towns were dubbed ideal spots for a "gay getaway" by The New York Times. In both Lambertville and New Hope, you'll also find no shortage of gay-friendly restaurants and bars, as well as spots to catch a show, including Bucks County Playhouse and Music Mountain Theatre.

Provincetown, Massachusetts

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Likely the most well-known LGBTQ-friendly destination in the U.S. is Provincetown, Massachusetts. According to Maartje Hensen, (they/she), writer of The Pride Atlas, it's actually a destination for gay travelers from around the world.

"Yes, many gay men go to Provincetown, but it's also a great place to go to as a lesbian traveler. It's really an LGBTQ+ friendly town in the USA. Maybe the most LGBTQ+ friendly in the whole country? We let you decide for yourself!" Hensen writes in a April 2023 blog post on The Best USA Lesbian Vacation Destinations.

There's also a whole host of LGBTQ-friendly events held there, including the annual Provincetown Carnival, Bear Week, and Single Women's Weekend, the last of which is organized by Provincetown for Women.

If you can't time your visit to an event, don't worry. No matter when you visit, the nightlight and drag performances won't disappoint.

"Popular LGBT performers like Miss Richfield, Miss Conception, Varla Jean Merman, and many others do summer-long runs at the cabarets here, like the Post Office, the Crown and Anchor, and the Palm Cabaret," Jeff Gundvaldson and Brian Van Wey, co-owners of Brand g Vacations, tell Best Life.

They continue, "Walking Commercial Street (the boulevard that runs astride the water) is a popular day and nighttime activity, since it's always buzzing. And for those looking for a little amour after-hours, hanging out on the steps of Spiritus Pizza is a great place to make a new friend."

RELATED: The 12 Quirkiest Small Towns in the U.S.

Guerneville, California

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On the West Coast, you'll find Guerneville, which Kirouac points to as a "historic queer summer destination for San Franciscans."

"Located in the redwoods, along the Russian River in Sonoma County, it started as a logging community before gay men started summering here. It's basically the Provincetown of California," he says. "Now, the small town flies rainbow flags year-round, numerous businesses are queer-owned (like The Boon Hotel, Solar Punk Farms, and Rainbow Cattle Co. dive bar)."

It's also home to Equality Vines, which is co-owned by Jim Obergefell, Kirouac points out. The winery works with others in the Sonoma area, creating wines such as Love Wins and Rosé the Riveter and sending proceeds to different LGBTQ organizations in the area.

Saugatuck, Michigan

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The Midwest is also home to LGBTQ-friendly towns, including Saugatuck, Michigan. On its official site, it's touted as an "LGBTQ Getaway," with rainbow-painted crosswalks and benches and several gay and lesbian-owned restaurants and shops.

"In Saugatuck, diversity isn't just acknowledged; it's celebrated," April Welch Pennell, Seven Corners Travel Insurance sales agent, says. "My wife and I have navigated various reactions throughout our journey, but the warmth and acceptance we experienced in this town were unparalleled. It was a powerful reminder of the profound impact inclusivity can have on individuals and communities alike."

Welch Pennell recommends checking out the "vibrant art scene" in Saugatuck, Lake Michigan beaches, and Saugatuck Dunes State Park.

"This quaint lakeside haven not only stole our hearts but also left an indelible mark on our journey as a couple. What transpired was beyond our wildest dreams—a community that not only welcomed us but embraced us with open arms," Welch Pennell explains.

LGBTQ Travel blogger @courtneytheexplorer's created a video recommending "gay things to do" in Saugatuck, which include staying at the LGBTQIA+ resort The Dunes Resort and having lunch at Guardian Brewing Company.

RELATED: The Best and Worst Places in the U.S. to Be LGBTQ.

Key West, Florida

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At the southernmost point of the contiguous U.S., you'll find another LGBTQ-friendly town in Key West, Florida. It's known across the world as a "gay mecca," the Florida Keys & Keys West travel website states—and it's known for the warm vibe (literally and figuratively) that it offers visitors.

"Key West is a great US lesbian vacation destination if you want to relax. But also if you want to be active and go on the water for some water sports," Hensen writes in their blog post. "The island is known for its relaxed vibes and for being very tolerant and welcoming."

You can also celebrate LGBTQ history in this destination, touring the Tennessee Williams Museum, which memorializes the playwright who lived openly in the gay community there. Even better, you can spend a day laying out on beautiful beaches, including gay beaches like Smathers Beach and Higgs Beach.

Palm Springs, California

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Headed out West? Palm Springs, California is a destination with plenty to do—and a well-known LGBTQ-friendly atmosphere.

"Perhaps the most LGBT+-heavy town in the U.S. (more than 40 percent of residents identify as LGBT+), Palm Springs is a desert resort community with incredible offerings," Gundvaldson and Van Wey say.

You'll have your pick of LGBTQ-friendly hotels, bars, and restaurants, and you'll want to make time to stroll down Arenas Road. According to Gundvaldson and Van Wey, you can find any vibe you're looking for on this street. Keep an eye out for singers and drag queens at clubs such as Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret and the McCallum Theatre.

"The town council happens to be almost entirely LGBT (including trans), and they have made the city an incredibly safe and welcoming spot for everyone in the community," Gundvaldson and Van Wey explain. "The neighboring communities of Rancho Mirage, Cathedral City, Palm Desert, etc., are also extremely LGBT-friendly, albeit with a smaller gay resident population."

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Wilton Manors and Fort Lauderdale, Florida

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While they're more like small cities, the area of Fort Lauderdale and Wilton Manors in South Florida still deserves a spot on this list.

"In my experience, all the major US cruise ports offer the LGBTQ+ community a warm and friendly welcome," Andrew Hayward, non-executive director of Panache Cruises, tells Best Life. "Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale), though, stands out as the crème of the crop and is arguably the most gay-friendly cruise port in the world. With a diverse gay community of its own, vibrant night clubs, superb food venues and an eclectic art scene, this is a cruise port for both fun loving gay and straight cruisers alike."

Just north of Laudy you'll find Wilton Manors, or WilMa, which also deserves a shoutout, thanks to the the strip of LGBTQ-owned bars, restaurants, galleries, and shops on Wilton Drive.

"All are tailored to the needs of the LGBTQ+ community, and it's a great place to spend a weekend," Hayward says. "Be sure to raise a toast to the hypersexual Ernest Hemingway, the famous writer, when you are in town! "

Fire Island, New York

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Wrapping up this list is another longstanding haven for the LGBTQ community: Fire Island, New York.

"Only located two hours away from Manhattan, New York City, there is a small car-free island with only about 300 residents. Most of those residents are part of the LGBTQ community. But many tourists and summer residents love to go here," Hensen writes.

You'll find a range of gay beaches and the town of Cherry Grove, which the U.S. National Park Service highlights as "America's First Gay and Lesbian Town."

"The whole island is super welcoming and accepting. It has great vibes, and is a great place to be yourself and enjoy life," Hensen explains.

Abby Reinhard
Abby Reinhard is a Senior Editor at Best Life, covering daily news and keeping readers up to date on the latest style advice, travel destinations, and Hollywood happenings. Read more
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