Many years ago, during March’s gray days, I piled in a car with two college friends, and bolted south to Daytona Beach for an impromptu, week-long, haphazard, beer-soaked Spring Break road trip. We slept in a car one night, got scolded by the police, got sunburned after sleeping off a hangover on the beach, and ended up finding the last room in a seedy motel that was full of bikers who loved to line up on their hogs outside and rev their thundering motors relentlessly. The trip was a mess, and as we drove back north at week’s end, our car broke down on the side of the interstate during an ice storm , forcing us to abandon the vehicle and hitch rides back north at a nearby truck stop. For real! And yes, we had a blast!
Now, it’s Spring Break season again, and I’m well beyond college, but my thoughts turn to great places to go for a beachy (or at least party-filled) getaway. Of course, as gay folks, we can pretty much turn any vacation into a rip-roaring hedonistic Spring-Break like affair. Maybe it’s in our genes?
Thusly, if today’s harsh times have you hankering for a getaway where you can unwind, indulge and misbehave like a coed with a beer bong, keep reading!
This legendary Florida beach town (just a short drive up from Miami) has long been a no-brainer for Spring Breakers. But over the last decade, it’s also evolved into one of the gayest places on the planet. Blame the gorgeous beaches, tons of bars and nightlife, and more gay-only resorts that you can shake a (ahem…) stick at! You can stay upscale, luxe and posh at a fancy gay resort, or the W or St. Regis, or you can get more steamy and check into a male-only clothing optional inn. And you’re guaranteed the weather will be fabulous, too! And in addition to tons of gay distractions (at your hotel pool or out on the town) there are also spas, killer restaurants, great shopping and the Everglades are nearby and worth exploring, too!
To plan your gay getaway, let their Rainbow Vacation Planner help: http://www.sunny.org/rainbow
Speaking of Florida, down at the very bottom tip of its keys is that captivating little resort town that’s been wooing folks like Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams and even Top Gun star Kelly McGillis. The vibe of this cocktail-loving town is sort of like New Orleans meets P’town—but sunnier! And Key West’s isolated geographic locale lend a sort of adventurous carnal fever, as well. After all, who’s going to know what you’re up to all the way down here? Climb aboard Saturday morning’s Gay Trolley Tour, or sign-up for a women’s-only dolphin cruise. That is, if you can set down that Planter’s Punch and step away from the bar. Not that you need to, necessarily…
It’s not a beach town, but who cares? Who does hedonism and escapism better than Vegas? Besides, your hotel is gonna have a luxe pool anyway… Plus, Bette Midler’s and Cher are just around the corner, after you finish your Emeril or Bobby Flay-cooked gourmet meal. And you can even hit a gay bar (or two or three) afterwards. Jackpot!
A teeming, sprawling metropolis of 20-million people may not seem like an obvious Spring Break destination, but the throbbing vibe of Mexico City is pretty intoxicating. There’s amazing food to be had, sassy gay nightlife options, and just the buzzing, whirling cacophony of a city with so much going on to seduce you. Go in the spring or the fall to experience great weather, as summer’s can be chilly. And you can even head out of town and climb ancient pyramids if you’re feeling outdoorsy. But think of this urban jungle as one big adventure. With tequila!
Okay, it’s a schlep to get to. And even with today’s manic airfare bargains, flying to Australia isn’t super-cheap. But to experience the world’s biggest, gayest version of a high-energy Spring Break-like event, you’ve got to head to Sydney’s big Gay Mardi Gras once in your life. This year’s festivities just wrapped up, so plan next year’s spring getaway now. Parades, the boat-filled Harbor Party, and hundreds of thousands of the most gregarious, fun-loving (and sexy) gay merry-makers in the world all converge for this annual bacchanalia. It sprawls from late February to mid-March. Let’s hope you’ve got the stamina to keep up!
Palm Springs / Dinah Shore / The White Party
Dinah Shore was a honey-voiced, well-mannered singer-turned-talk show host from the 1970s. That is, until she somehow morphed (posthumously) into the biggest, most raging all-lesbian party on the planet that takes over the swanky desert town of Palm Springs every spring. Yep, “the Dinah” draws thousands of women-loving women every year (this year from April 1-5) for a non-stop agenda of pool parties, dance bashes, shows and concerts, all put on by the biggest promoters of lesbian nightlife. Check out info from two of its biggest party-throwers, GirlBar and ClubSkirts!
If you’re a party boy, you visit Palm Springs over Easter for the annual White Party manfest. The Circuit still rocks for four days and nights when Jeffrey Sanker’s massive event dances into town. This year it’s their 20th Anniversary, and Lady Gaga and Kat Deluna are gonna be performing. Get your fluffy white-featured wings and bedazzled spandex pants ready!!! Brace yourself for pool parties, tea dances, and more lasers and beats than you can endure.
Wait? Why go to a Texas college town (even one as uber-cool as Austin) for Spring Break? Well, if you’re a music junkie, March’s South By Southwest (usually referred to as just SXSW) has evolved into just about the best festival in the world to hear indie bands, as well as big acts. Unfurling from March 13-22 this year, you’ll just be challenged to figure out how to fit in all the shows you wanna catch. Plus, there’s a SXSW film festival, to sate your movie jones. With a band blowout such as this comes endless parties, and you can’t see bands without swilling down beer too, right? Ah, it’s a non-stop party for your ears and your liver!
An Atlantis Cruise
Toss a few hundred gays on a boat, add sunshine, cocktails, dance parties, shows by drag queens and Broadway divas (Patti Lupone on a cruise ship? Very Anything Goes!) and you’ve got a modern-day Spring Break for the 30-something homo set. Even folks who say they never, ever thought they’d enjoy a cruise—even a gay one—tend to come back from these seafaring house parties glowing and happy. And, as often as not, in love! Romance on the high seas lives!
St. Patrick’s Day is only a week away, so if you’re planning to join the thousands who pour into Savannah for this wacky Southern city’s annual mega-party, you better hurry! Of course, anytime of the year is a pretty great time to visit this historic, eclectic Georgia coastal town; good food abounds (thanks Paula Deen), there are quirky locals and a flair for fun and drama are ubiquitous (Heard of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil? That ain’t fiction.), and the city is a scenic mosh of shady squares and charming architecture. And come March 17th the whole place turns into a raucous street party. I hope you like green beer!!! Cheers!
New York City
Maybe NYC isn’t as wild as it used to be… Many of the big dance clubs have vanished, and yes, the recession is hitting the Big Apple hard. But nonetheless, if you wanna visit a town where there’s a zillion things to do, where folks stay out partying until 4am on a Sunday night, and where there’s no shortage of cute men and available lesbians, you’d be hard-pressed to beat New York City. Besides, foxy tourists from Europe and South America are always on-hand, and they wanna taste some American cuisine while they’re here. Fun drag-hosted club nights abound, too! And there’s even some new life in the East Village to please the burly, mustached types. Heck, even Madonna’s back to hitting the gay nightlife lately. And spring brings a new batch of Broadway shows to woo you… Take advantage of the cheap airfares and hotel specials while you can!
Rio de Janeiro
Brazil is—shocker!—home to some of the sexiest people in the world. And when they hit the beach, right where Copacabana meets Ipanema, it’s a buff and tan fleshfest. Plus, Rio’s the home of mojitos and caparinhas, and they seriously know how to throw a party. Carnival in February and March. And in October (when it’s springtime down south), the Gay Pride Parade turns all of the strip lining Copacabana Beach into a throbbing, bustling nonstop party of thousands of revelers, floats cranking music and full-on sexiness. Flying down to Rio for Spring Break? Why not?