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Top gay and lesbian winter travel destinations
Whether you’re thinking about a weekender in the Carolinas or two weeks in Europe — you’ll find the best of the best here

by Walt Zerbe
People often ask — when’s the best time of year to travel? It depends on what you’re looking for, how much you want to spend, how far you want to travel and what kind of weather you like. We’ve included here a list of the most popular travel destinations here and around the globe for gays and lesbians. If you want to get away from the cold weather — there’s something here for you. If you embrace snow and cold, you’ll find plenty to your liking here, as well.

In the Carolinas
Probably the most beautiful town in the state, it offers a nice mixture of fascinating history (don’t miss the Biltmore House), beautiful geography (mountain scenery for days) and a burgeoning arts and LGBT community that’s gathered national attention as of late. Bars, restaurants and bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) in and near the center city district offer a welcoming environment for men and women. In the winter there are great skiing opportunties nearby — in the warmer months the colors of the foliage can’t be beat.

Stunning old world architecture plus the Atlantic Ocean — what more can you ask for? A handful of bars but a bevy of restaurants and B&Bs are available for the discerning gay or lesbian traveler. Generally tends to be a bit warmer than the rest of the state during the cold months but the best water skiing is during spring and summer. Boating excursions available year round.

In the Southeast
The largest city in the southeast, Atlanta has been attracting gays and lesbians in droves since the late 1960s. A huge LGBT community makes their home throughout the entire city where there are many popular bars and restaurants for gays and lesbians, as well as many B&Bs and welcoming, upscale hotels. Don’t miss a visit to the top of the Westin Peachtree Plaza for cocktails, a trek to nearby Stone Mountain for the stunning view or a stroll through the legendary Piedmont Park. Hot in the summer and generally moderate in the winter.

Architecture like crazy, big dance parties, nearly naked beautiful bodies, the sun, the sand and the ocean. Great getaway during the winter — it never gets cold here. Lay out by the pool at a posh Miami Beach hotel with just your swimsuit in the middle of January and you’ll swear it’s July in Atlanta. Great restaurants and lots of recreational activities from water skiing and boating to scuba diving and more.

In North America
A charming New England fishing village with piers jutting out into the harbor. A bustling art colony of revelry and romance. Provincetown has always danced to its own rhythm and today it’s music is louder and prouder than ever before. Here you’ll find young gays and lesbians alongside more seasoned couples marking 30, 40 or 50 years. Two moms or two dads might push by with their strollers. Leathermen, bears, dykes on bikes, transgender folk and lots of shirtless hunky boys — you’ll spy them all moving easily in the mix. No matter what scene you’re looking for, you can find it here. Best reserved for the warmer months, but quiet and inviting during the cold season.

New York City
The largest city in the United States and home to literally hundreds of thousands of gays and lesbians. The sight of the historic Stonewall Inn Riots in1969, New York’s Greenwich Village attracts throngs of LGBT tourists every year. The list of entertainment opportunities is endless. Live theater, endless clubs full of drag divas, a scene for every queer subset, plus some of the world’s most beautiful hotels and finest dining experiences. It’s beautiful when it’s cold and the snow’s falling, but be sure and bundle up.

San Francisco
The history, the museums, rolling hills, street cars, excellent dining opportunities and truly the epicenter of the queer American universe.
Lots of U.S. gay and lesbian couples have discovered the charm of Toronto since the country legalized same-sex marriage. Situated by Lake Ontario, Toronto is Canada’s version of New York City, though it does have its own distinctly Canadian style. Like New York, the international world is represented here with varios villages populated by Asians, Ethiopians, Middle Easterners and more, offering some of the most incredible dining experiences on the North American continent. The heart of the gay community is still the Church-Wellsley District, though gays and lesbians make their home throughout the city. Unlike much of Canada, Toronto can be more temperate during the winter, but don’t be fooled — this time of year the average temperature is around 25 degrees farenheit. Nevertheless, it’s still a beautiful city — just dress warmly.

International Destinations
Without a doubt Europe’s gayest destination. The world is at your fingertips and there’s absolutely nothing you can’t get or do here. Just an FYI for couples — like Canada — same-sex marriage is legal here. Average temperature there this time of year hovers right around freezing — which means there are great skiing opportunties nearby and plenty of ice-skating to be had in the city. The list of gay and lesbian accessibility is simply too long to print here.

The Thames, the Royal Family, Big Ben, Windsor Castle and all that fog. Couples looking to get married — England’s another destination that recently legalized same-sex civil marriages. While much of London’s gay community can be found in SOHO and Central London, there are gay bars and businesses all over the city. Fact of the matter is — you can get just about anything your heart desires in old London town. If you’re visiting this time of year — take a jacket or two — the temperature almost mirrors the Carolinas, ranging anywhere from the low 30s to the upper 50s.

Just ask any gay or lesbian who’s ever visited Paris and they’ll tell you there’s no other place like it in the world. The art, the food, the beautiful and friendly people abound (at least try boning up your basest general French greetings and you’ll get by just fine) as do a massive gay and lesbian scene throughout the city. For January and February the temperature is comparable to London.

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