Top 10 Destinations for Gay Travelers


TravelNerd is kicking off Pride Month by highlighting underrated cities for gay travelers looking for fun. Instead of focusing on popular cities like New York City and San Francisco, we looked at underrated cities with thriving gay communities that boast great events and cultural sights.

Columbus, OH

Columbus may surprise you by being on this list, but the city is actually very gay-friendly, with a full 1.0% of households that have same-sex partners. Head to the Gay Pride Parade, Columbus Pride, on June 21 and 22, and participate in the Run for Pride 5k. Leading up to the pride parade, celebrate with various events like a screening on the film “You Are Not Alone” with the filmmaker.

Join the locals at the fun restaurant Level, a gay-popular lounge with Broadway Sundays.  Be sure to stop at the local LGBT community center Stonewall Columbus for events like Ballroom Dance classes and other games. Stop in the Short North neighborhood for galleries like 83Gallery and PM Gallery, which have ties with the queer community.

Minneapolis, MN

With a rating of 91 on the Equality Index and a gay household percentage of 2.3%, it’s no wonder that city is great for gay travelers. The Twin Cities’ Pride celebrations go on for a full week, starting June 19 to June 30. On June 29, check out the Pride Festival for drag shows, music and dancing, and on June 30, be sure to participate in the Pride Parade.

Stop in the North Loop neighborhood to find trendy boutiques and bars to mingle with the locals. Then head over the Loring Park for a day in the sun, and eat at the nearby Café Lurcat.

Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee is coming into its own as a travel destination with the largest pride festival in the nation, Pridefest, happening this year on June 7 – 9. Be sure to stop by to dance and see acts like the Indigo Girls. Additionally, the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee hosts an annual LGBT Film/Video Festival, usually in September or October.

For fine arts and performance theater, head to the Milwaukee Gay Arts Center. Art exhibitions switch every 6 weeks, and hours vary, so call ahead to make an appointment. Walker’s Point is the main gay residential areas and hosts many hot nightlife spots.

Providence, RI

New England has been a bastion of liberalism, and the city of Providence is no different, with a gay former mayor, David Cicilline, currently serving in Congress. Rhode Island’s PrideFest is coming up on June 15, complete with a parade. In downtown, AS220, a multi-use space with food, galleries and a printshop, which also houses a popular gay bar, The Stable.

Best of all, Providence is a short trip away from popular gay travel destinations like Boston and Provincetown.

Miami, FL

Miami is known for its hopping nightlife and gorgeous beaches, and it’s working hard to draw in the gay contingent. Stop by the LGBT Visitor Center in South Beach to find the latest events in town.  The world-famous White Party Week, November 27 to December 2 this year, is the most fun fundraiser for HIV/AIDS.

We know why you’re going to Miami: the beaches. 12th Street Beach is the most famous – and most popular – gay-friendly beach, but for those looking for a little more quiet, head 20 minutes north to the Haulover Beach Park. Warning: there is a clothing-optional section, for those a little shyer.

Portland, ME

Maine, one of the 5 states that have legalized gay marriage, has embraced the community. In fact, demographer Gary Gates at the Williams Institute named Portland, ME the third gayest city in the U.S., after heavyweights San Francisco and Petaluma, CA. On June 15, the entire city will celebrate the Southern Maine Pride Parade and Festival, complete with a mass marriage ceremony.

Be sure to participate in the town’s thriving arts scene with the sale from Maine College of Art’s Summer Art Sale on June 6 – 9 to purchase original art from MECA students, alumni and faculty. Then take a trip to the popular gay resort town of Ogunquit just 45 minutes away.

Atlantic City, NJ

While Atlantic City may be known for gambling and conventions, it’s currently resurging as a top travel destination on the Jersey shore. Since New Jersey legalized civil unions, Atlantic City has been focusing on drawing in LGBT travelers.

The first gay nightclub opened in 2011, the Prohibition Bar at Resorts Casino Hotel right near the Boardwalk. The Risque Atlantic City Pride Parade kicks off on the Fourth of July and lasts all weekend, and includes boating, shows and dancing.

Eugene, OR

Eugene, the second-largest city in Oregon after Portland, is a hotbed of counterculture, including a thriving gay community. Eugene’s PRIDE Annual Celebration is held on August 10 this year at Alton Baker Park on the Willamette River. Show up to enter a raffle, see live entertainment and eat lots of excellent food.

The Soromundi: Lesbian Choir of Eugene performs throughout the state. Check out Queer Eugene to find more events.

Lansing, MI

While Lansing doesn’t have the liberal cred of Ann Arbor, which is home to the University of Michigan, Lansing is the center of Michigan’s LGBT community. Michigan Pride is hosting the largest White Party in the state on June 7 – be sure to go for the outdoor foam party.

The Pride Festival is held in August, in Old Town, and provides vendors, food stations and even a beverage tent.

Las Vegas, NV

Sin City, the party-lover’s paradise. While Vegas is the ultimate getaway for all travelers, some attractions are now specifically catering to the LGBT crowd. The Wynn and the Encore provide “pride concierges”, and the Luxor has LGBT pool parties during the summer. Come June 15, Krave Massive, the world’s largest gay club will be opening with a massive bash.

The Las Vegas Pride Parade is later that the others, hosted on September 6and 7 this year. However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. Stop by June 22 for the SNAPI Saturday for dancing, Jell-O shots and a drag show, or July 3 for a family BINGO night.


Photo credit:Twin Cities Pride Parade

  • Megs

    I’m a college student and am needing a credit card to help with apartment expenses temporarily. Just to get stuff like a bed, dresser, household needs, etc. I can’t afford it all out of pocket so monthly payments would be awesome. What’s best for me??

    • NerdWallet

      I’d recommend a card with a 0% APR period. This means that you’ll have 6-12 months or so to make payments on your debt without having to pay interest. If your parents are willing to cosign for you, your best bet is probably to go for a card like the Citi Simplicity, which has no interest on purchases for 18 months (as of June 2013).

  • Anne M

    Which one is the best college student card to use not only in the US but perhaps in Europe? I was going to apply to the CITI Dividend just because I prefer that one over the Forward that has all those ThankYou points that I don’t have the time to use anyway. I have had already three different credit cards and one loan so I think I have a good credit for now. Thank you.

  • Heather Ware

    What credit score do you need to have to get one of these cards? I have a bad credit score, from what i can tell primarily because of student loans (which are still in the grace period). The last thing I want to do is hurt it further by applying and being denied a card. Should I try for a student card or a secured card?

    • NerdWallet

      Hey Heather-

      If possible, I would recommend getting someone with good credit to co-sign the loan for you. The in-between period before you’ve started paying off loans but after you’ve left college can be really tough, so piggybacking off of an established credit history is the way to go.

  • Adi


    What credit cards do you recommend for people just starting off, preferably without a co-signer? I am fairly new to the US and would be starting work in a couple of weeks. I have been looking at a few which require a security deposit. Do even these cards need some sort of history, or one can apply just straightaway. I have my account with Wells Fargo. Any suggestions welcome :)

    • NerdWallet

      Hi Adi,

      If you’re a recent immigrant, you might be best off with the Capital One Newcomers card. It’s meant for people who just moved to the US, and even though it requires a security deposit, it has no annual fee and you probably won’t need a co-signer. Here’s our review of the card:

      Best of luck!

  • Kathryn McKenna

    What if I have no credit? Do i have to have a cosigner to get a credit card?

    • NerdWallet

      If you don’t have credit, your best bet is to get a co-signer. You will need one if you don’t have a source of income, but either way, it helps you get a better deal.

      • Kathryn McKenna

        I have an annual income of 5,500

  • Melissa Hoffman

    What card would be best as a college student for making small purchases or about $200 a month, but not interested in Visa since it doesn’t work at my college?

    • Melissa Hoffman

      and i don’t have a co-signer

      • NerdWallet

        You’re probably best off with a secured credit card – the Capital One Secured MasterCard might serve your purposes well, since it has a pretty low annual fee and has a low security deposit at $200.

  • merve odemis

    I have no credit and need a card to build up my credit rating. I have an existing student loan which seems to disqualify me from most cards. Applied for several and got rejected so my credit score is probably even worse now. I have modest $1000/month income from my part time job that I will carry on with through the school year. I just need a card to build credit and one that hopefully has no annual fee. I don’t care about rewards programs or 0% apr. Which card would I have the best chance of getting approved for?

    • NerdWallet

      You might want to try a secured credit card, like the Harley-Davidson Secured, which has no annual fee. You can also check out our blog post on getting your first credit card for a few tips:

      Hope this helps!

  • DervayjaFullmore

    Hey, I have NO credit. I have a part time job which has an income of 500-600 a month. I have no co-signer. I need one with no annual fee. I’m starting a community college on August 27th and I need a credit card. Which one would be best? Also I’ll be making small purchases. (Gas, food, but one purchase will be big and that’s for a round trip plane ticket in December)

    • NerdWallet

      Your best bet is a secured credit card. If you don’t have any credit and don’t have a co-signer, you probably won’t be able to qualify for an unsecured card. The Harley-Davidson Secured has no annual fee and might be the best option.

  • wanyi

    Hi! I also have NO credit history, but I do have a part time job on college campus. I would like to start build up my credit history. I see that you always recomment H-D Visa Secured card of US Bank. But, I have a checking & saving account at BoA now. Can I apply for a BoA credit card? I see that they also have a Secured Card and a Visa card for Students. I don’t know which one I should apply. Or, should I apply for all of them? Can I set up a creditkarma account without credit card? Thank you so much!!

    • wanyi

      Also, I am not a US citizen nor a resident. I only have a student F-1 visa. Am I still eligible for H-D credit card? Thanks!

      • NerdWallet

        Hi there, you don’t need a credit card to set up a Credit Karma account. You can try applying for the Harley-Davidson Secured with your tax ID number instead of a Social Security number, and I’d recommend trying that before going with the Bank of America secured card, which has a $39 annual fee.

        • wanyi

          Thanks! I do have a SSN, but in the H-D application, I need to check the box to ensure that I am a US citizen or other US person, which means I cannot really check it. I have tried other banks and they ask me to be a US citizen or Non alien resident, too. Do you know any credit card that don’t need me to be a citizen or to have a green card?

  • Ross

    Hello, I am curious to know what kind of credit card I should get having no established credit history. I am a recent graduate from college and am working full-time and am looking to finally establish some credit history! It was recommended to me that I look at student cards, but since I have a full-time job and a steadier (and healthier) income, i’m wondering if I would be eligible for a non-secured card? Thank you so much for the help!

    • Ross

      …and no co-signer

      • NerdWallet

        Hey Ross,

        The income requirements vary, but typically if you earn more than $10,000-$12,000 annually, you can qualify for a credit card on your own. A couple of NerdWallet staff applied for and got the Chase Freedom as their first credit card immediately after leaving college.

  • Colt

    I have no established credit history but I make close to 16,000 a year. What card would be ideal for me to apply for? I have checking and savings with Wells Fargo if that helps.

  • elise bailey

    I’m 18 and in college with a part time job I don’t have a consigner and don’t want a secured card. What would you recommend?

    • Allen Clark

      Journeyman capital one credit card

  • Lauren Elaine

    My boyfriend is needing a credit card to be able to pay for a lawyer for child custody. He is 24, has no credit and is a college student. He has 3 on-campus jobs and makes between $600-$800 a month. He wouldn’t be paying the fee off immediately and would need a low APR. He also doesnt have a co-signer. What card would you recommend?

  • Megan Franklin

    I am about to start college and need a card to pay for tuition, books, and school related stuff. I don’t make much money, probably around $600 a month. I also don’t have a cosigner and have very little credit. Which one might be best for me?

    • Sage

      For Books and Tuition. Get a student loan. A student loan would have much better rates than a community college. Plus some student loans you will not have to pay off the loan while you are in college. Plus, some also give you a grace period after you graduate for up to 6 months or so.

    • castielstardisat221b

      Do NOT Use credit card to pay for tuition. If it’s possible apply for financial aid with FAFSA, and it’s thats still not enough, I’d reccomend using whichever student loans they offer you. Books you may be able to pay off with your card IF financial aid or financial aid book voucher wont cover them, but books can be very expensive, but I’m sure you know about paying off your monthly balance on time. It’s risky paying for school with a credit card, because you may catch yourself in more debt than you may be in already. I can’t say what may be best for you in terms of a card but just becareful. Too many college students fall into credit traps and mistakes

  • Anne Marie

    I am about to go back to school this fall and I have a not so good credit score. Which card is the best for without a co-signer if possible and little income. I need it for gas, school expenses and other necessities.

  • Laura Y

    I’m entering my last year of undergrad and am thinking about applying for a credit card to establish credit history. I am a full time student without a job or co-signer. Do you recommend applying for one or is this a bad idea?

    • NerdWallet

      Hi @lauraleey:disqus- It is always a good idea to start building your credit history sooner rather than later. Most student credit cards require either a proof of income or a co-signer if you don’t have a credit history. If you’ve had a personal loan (like a car loan or a student loan) where you’ve made monthly installment payments, then you may actually already have a credit score and will be able to qualify on your own. If this isn’t the case, you can start with a secured card to build credit:

  • Misunderstood

    I am a full-time student. I am currently working as an intern & I get paid $8.50/hr, bi-weekly & I also receive a monthly scholarship check for $1000. I have no cosigner & no credit. I am 21. What would be the best card for me?

  • Jessica G.

    Hi! So I’m currently employed as a nanny as well as going to school part time. I get paid under the table and am having a hard time figuring out what credit car would be good for me. I can show my bank statements from my visa debit card to prove that I do get am income but that’s about it. What card could I get without a cosigner?

    • Tyler Taghon

      Jessica, Send me a message and I will see if I can guide you along the right path.

  • Chris Robotham

    Hi! I’m a college student (just finished sophomore year) with a tiny bit of credit history (established a credit card at a department store last year, made one purchase that I immediately paid off) and not sure what kind of card to get. I’ll be making over 20k this summer at an internship, but that income won’t continue during the school year and won’t necessarily occur next summer. Do you recommend one of these cards, and if so, which one? Or should I apply to a non-student card? Thanks!

    • DonThayer

      If you always pay your monthly balance off, then I’d go for the card that pays you the most in reward value for your expenses. You can use the reward calculator at CreditCardTuneUp. com to see which cards will reward you the most for your spending.

  • Misael

    I just turned 18, and I’m gonna start college this fall 2015. I have no credit history and my parents don’t have a good credit history either, so I guess they can’t be my cosigners? I want a credit card to start building my credit by paying my phone bill, buying groceries and doing little payments like that. What credit card would you recommend to me?

    Also, I recently recieved a offert to get a credit card from a bank called FirstBank or something like that. Is it a good bank? Should I accept their credit card?

    I’ll be waiting for your answer :) thank you

    • TonyGray

      If you’ll be using the card for regular expenses and paying the balance off in full each month, then you’ll probably want the card that pays you the most cash back (since you won’t be paying any interest on the balance).

      You can use the reward calculator at CredítCardTuneUp. com to find which student reward cards will pay you more for your expenses.

  • pin

    wow that’s dumb

  • TheOneAwesomeGuy

    It’d be more helpful if you just answered instead.