Posted on 05 May 2011.
The world’s borders continue to open up for us. With changing attitudes about our community comes more safe, open-minded environments in which we can be ourselves – and even (gasp!) hold our partner’s hand in public.
What better time than the summer travel season to Xplore this broadening spectrum of possibilities within our grasp?
So we present to you an expanded version of our Xplore section with an in-depth look at a destination to fit every type of trip, whether you’ve got a day to kill or you’ve got ten of them.
Enjoy Fenuxe’s 2011 Summer Travel Guide. And here’s to a season full of open roads, open skies and open minds!
Day Trip: North Georgia
What shopping destination is within driving distance and includes Aeropostale, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss, Kenneth Cole, Michael Kors, Saks Fifth Avenue and Aldo? Is it Lenox? Phipps? Try Dawsonville. It’s the day trip treasure known as the North Georgia Premium Outlets.
The outlets are the perfect place to snag deals on some of the hottest summer fashions. They’re just a one-hour zip up 400 then Dahlonega Highway and you’re there and ready to explore.
Over 140 stores are packed into the massive complex, all buzzing with shoppers humming around high on bargains. In addition to the other stores mentioned, you’ve also got Aeropostale, Brooks Brothers, Polo Ralph Lauren, Cole Haan and a brand new DKNY store to satisfy your fashion fix.
And don’t worry too much about feeling unwelcome or uncomfortable seeing as you’re a big old homo in North Georgia. “Family” visits are common at the outlets and there’s a larger gay community in the region than you would think. If you’re not sure about someone being gay or not, just test them with our secret handshake (we have one of those right?).
While you’re up there, you might as well take advantage of the natural beauty right around the corner. Amicalola Falls State Park is just 20 minutes north of the outlets and worth every minute. The falls are the tallest cascade in the Southeast and you don’t need a sherpa to get up there. There’s an easy pathway or a more challenging trail with staircases to choose from if you’re feeling daring.
If by some miracle you still have time to kill on your day trip, make the half-hour drive east to Dahlonega and visit the gorgeous Blackstock Vineyards & Winery and Three Sisters Vineyards. There’s no reason you can’t add some vino to the carload of apparel you picked up.
As you drive back down 400 with your haul of goodies, you’ll be happy knowing the sun hasn’t even set yet and – after a glass of your new wine of course – there will still be time to go out in the city showing off your latest fashion finds.
The Overnight: Savannah
In the land of Spanish moss and the southern charm of the Georgia coast, Savannah is located a pleasant four-hour drive away, making it perfect for an overnight excursion. If you leave first thing in the morning, you can be in Savannah in time for a late lunch at one of the cafes along the river walk.
Why stay in a boring hotel when you can check into one of the many gay friendly bed and breakfast houses? Notable among them are the Victorian mansions in the historic district like Park Avenue Manor and Azalea Inn & Gardens.
When it’s time for dinner, choose one of the many top notch restaurants the city has to offer. You probably already know about Lady & Sons, celebrity chef Paula Deen’s flagship restaurant. But make sure to try the gay friendly 606 East Café, conveniently located downtown.
After dinner, brace yourself for a ghost tour. You can board an actual hearse and ride through the streets of Savannah while your driver details horrific stories of murder, mayhem and the Civil War. You’ll learn there are enough skeletons in Savannah to populate every closet south of Macon.
Then shake off the chills with a few cocktails and dancing at Club One, a gay bar one block from the river. They also have drag shows and occasional theater productions in the early evening. Or for a quieter atmosphere in a gay setting to end your night, stop by Blaine’s Back Door, a cozy laid back bar with a neighborhood feel to it.
Upon an early rise the next morning and breakfast at your B&B, ride out to Tybee Island to find some white sand and breakers. The beaches are beautiful and the water is refreshing.
Lunch will surely beckon after your morning on the beach and some shopping at the many souvenir shops and galleries on the island. Café Loco, located just after you cross the bridge onto the island, is excellent. The shrimp boats bring their catch straight to their private dock and the crab cakes are to die for.
If you don’t give in to the temptation to stay another night – and you will certainly want to – you can be back in Atlanta in time for the Armorettes at Burkhart’s.
The Long Weekend: Las Vegas
If you’ve got some off days to burn coming up, the time is right to book a long weekend trip to Las Vegas – home of just the right amount of debauchery and excess for a blowout gay weekend.
With just over a four-hour flight to make and a three-hour time change, you can be wheels up after a relaxing breakfast in Atlanta then be checked in and on the prowl for a party in Vegas by noon.
It’s a laid back atmosphere for gay visitors to Vegas, so you won’t have to worry much about booking your stay in a non-gay-friendly hotel. It’s apparent pretty quickly that “come as you are” is the overall way of the city. But if you prefer accommodations specifically for us, try the Blue Moon Resort just off the strip. It’s the city’s only hotel exclusively for gay men and features a can’t-miss lagoon style pool, spacious sundeck and cascading waterfall.
The summer gay party season is in full swing at the city’s seemingly unlimited number of opulent hotels. Hit up the luxury-laden Bare Pool Lounge for Heaven, their gay dance party going down on the last Saturday of each month.
Everyone wakes up and does it all over again on Sunday, with two popular pool parties drawing the gays their way. Rumor Boutique Hotel has a new Sunday pool and brunch called Sunkissed, and the Luxor offers Temptations at their dazzling pool.
And you won’t find anything resembling a Vegas gayborhood, but the closest thing to it would be an area of town nicknamed The Fruit Loop. It’s populated by a gay bookstore and gay clubs including the swanky Piranha Nightclub. If you like your edges a little more rough, visit the collection of bars in The Commercial Center District – just keep your wits about you.
Don’t forget the shows in residence including Celine Dion, Elton John, The Lion King and several different Cirque du Soliel productions to choose from.
So the opportunities available for an unforgettable three or four-day gay stay in Vegas are clearly abundant. The trick is fitting all the clubs, parties and shows in before you board the flight back home to Atlanta.
Oh yeah, and we hear people gamble there too.
The Weeklong: Cabo San Lucas
For your week-long getaway, you want a place to stretch your legs, be pampered and not think about anything that doesn’t have to do with sparkling sun, crystal clear blue ocean, tan skin and frozen drinks containing tiny umbrellas. Grab your passport and some SPF 30 and get out of the country for a week of unbridled luxury at the gay hotspot Cabo San Lucas.
The celebrated city at the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula is just a four-hour flight away from Atlanta. It’s quickly overtaking Cancun and Puerto Vallarta as the gay Mexico destination of choice.
Beauty is in the name and in the air at the elite Villa Bellissima. The immaculate hillside villa is welcoming to all, including the occasional celebrity. Gaze out on the Pacific from the terrace or allow the bright Baja light to shine in on you through the large expanses of glass surrounding you in your roomy paradise. Just make sure to soak in the sun down by the infinity swimming pools.
While the temptation to lounge all day in the sun getting girl-drink-drunk will be hard to resist, there are sights to see outside of your villa – specifically where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez. El Arco de Cabo San Lucas is the calling card of the city, welcoming all who arrive. The uniquely stunning rock formation is a must-see and is frequented not only by sightseers but sea lions and other marine life as well.
Cabo nightlife doesn’t get going until late, so rest up and relax for awhile before venturing out into the night. Follow the sound of the pumping music to Los Jarros for some classic gay dance beats.
If you’re looking for a more upscale night out, check out Friday nights at Passion Club at the ME Cabo resort. It’s an unofficial gay night but one which attracts a sizable crowd of chic partygoers.
After a week of sun, sand and unforgettable sights, you’ll be well rested and ready to revel your Atlanta family with your tales from Cabo.
The 10-day: Tasmania
For your extra long excursion, you need more time to plan so it’s the trip you’ll never forget. Lucky for you, Australia’s summers are from December to February, so the time is right to start arranging your once-in-a-lifetime trip to the island of Tasmania.
Distant locales call for more effort on your travels, so be prepared for a full 24 hours of flying before you get to Hobart International Airport. But don’t worry, the payoff is worth it.
Like most places in the world, “Tassie” was not always gay-friendly. But locals have turned a corner in recent years and have made the island a welcome place for gay residents and travelers alike.
You’ll be traveling all over the island during your stay but check into the Henry Jones Art Hotel during your stay in the capitol city of Hobart. This former jam factory-turned-first class hotel is right on the waterfront overlooking Sullivan’s Cove and is Australia’s first dedicated art hotel.
Nightlife is within walking distance of the Henry Jones, like the Hope & Anchor Tavern, who host a gay night on Sundays. Just a few blocks away is the dance club Lalaland, who are always welcoming of anyone but have specific gay nights every other Saturday.
But there’s more to Tasmania’s charm than nightlife – there’s the wildlife. Freycinet National Park is a two-and-a-half hour drive up the coast from Hobart and is famous for the turquoise water and white sandy beaches of Wineglass Bay. There are also award-winning wineries up and down the east coast of the Tasmania.
Tasmania offers all you can imagine for the adventurous gay soul who is ready for the trip of a lifetime. As you make your way back to Hobart at the tail end of your trip, your camera full of unforgettable memories, it will become quickly apparent – the world is changing, and Tasmania’s beauty is matched only by its efforts at opening their arms to us.