Category Archives: Travel

By @ 10/03/19 in Ed Salvato, Gay travel, Travel
Ed Salvato in Aig travel report and skift AIG Travel partnered with Skift on the trend report The Business Imperative for ‘Inclusive Hospitality’ which examines why vulnerable travelers matter spr.ly/60121Du1k with insights from yours truly (the even included me in my own Q&A page!!) and Depart Smart. LGBTQ travel safety is important topic that we focus on at HospitableMe.

Ed Salvato in Aig travel report and skift

To learn more about what we do at HospitableMe, visit us online.



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By @ 09/23/19 in Ft. Lauderdale, Gay pride, Gay travel, Puerto Rico, Travel


LGBTQ travel Puerto Rico

AVENTURA! is a New, Inclusive LGBTQ Weekend in Vieques

Vieques is a sleepy beachside paradise off the coast of Puerto Rico where wild horses roam and tiny tree frogs sing. It’s an island famous for its black sand beaches and Caribbean sunsets.
And now it finally has its own LGBTQ weekend! 

On November 7-10, 2019, Aventura Vieques will kick-off a queer, rustic, sun-filled weekend full of food, art, culture and adventure!

Join us to and be part of queer Vieques history when we chill, party, dance and meet with LGBTQ people of all ages, races, body types, orientations and gender identities. No passport required for Americans!

San Juan’s New Winter PrideFest is Coming!
Escape the cold this winter and join us in Puerto Rico for WinterPrideFest, an epic four-day queer extravaganza celebrating love, culture, and diversity.

From December 12-16, 2019, we’ll be raving on the beach, dressing up for the NYC-style vogue ball, and snapping selfies with the stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race at the biggest LGBTQ club in San Juan.

Book your tickets now for Winter Pride Fest!

Fort Lauderdale to Host First-Ever Pride of the Americas
Fort Lauderdale will make history in 2020 by hosting the first-ever ‘Pride of the Americas.’  The inaugural event expects more than 350,000 visitors from Alaska to Argentina to convene on Fort Lauderdale’s sandy white beach.

The celebration will showcase conferences and symposiums, an international arts festival, concerts and a huge parade. Mark your calendar now and make plans to join us to celebrate Pride with some of the most incredible countries and people from North, South and Central America, along with the gorgeous Caribbean islands.

Pride of the Americas

The Chesterfield Palm Beach
The Chesterfield Palm Beach is an architectural gem which integrates British elegance with southern coastal charm. A one-of-a-kind boutique destination, each room and space in the hotel has its own unique charm and distinctive characteristics. From wonderful, light and breezy spaces that evoke a sense of English summer time, to the uniquely stylish chic.

LGBTQ TRAVEL SAFETY GUIDE
When traveling to a country where sexual orientation or gender identity is criminalized, queer people deal with layers of complexity. Our new, expansive travel safety guideaddresses safety for all LGBTQ travelers, with insights, anecdotes and recommendations from some of the most important and influential voices in the travel world.

Download a PDF version of the guide here: http://bit.ly/LGBTQtravelsafetyguide

Or download the mobile version in the free ManAboutWorld App

 

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By @ 07/31/19 in Gay pride, Gay travel, Paul Heney, Providence, Travel

 

Rhode Island Pride in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineWhile I’d heard some nice things about Providence, Rhode Island’s state capital and largest city, over the years, I’ll admit that I didn’t know a whole lot about it. I mostly thought of it as a cheap alternative airport to often-overpriced Boston Logan International.

Story by Paul J. Heney, MAW correspondent

But a recent weekend there, coinciding with Rhode Island Pride, completely sold me on this East Coast gem as an excellent getaway for LGBTQ travelers. Here are four reasons why you should put Providence on your list as a destination to check out.

  1. A thriving queer scene.

Walking around Providence was like being in a gay Disneyland at times. I was genuinely surprised at the number of out queer couples in the city —walking the streets holding hands, eating in restaurants, wandering the stores, chilling in cafes. I chatted with numerous locals, from restaurant servers to Uber drivers, hotel staff and people in clubs, and they all had positive things to say about how accepting the city and community is.

We hung out in several clubs, such as The Dark Lady, EGO Providence, and the Eagle, and they were crowded and lively. At a time when many smaller and mid-sized cities have gay club scenes that are dried up or gone entirely, it was refreshing to see such a thriving group of bars.

Check out Options magazine, published bimonthly, for the latest calendar of queer events. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the number of listings, from drag brunches to queer book clubs, as well as tea dances, happy hours and networking meetings.

  1. Arts to die for.

Providence has christened itself “The Creative Capital,” a cute nod to the city’s artistic side as well as its being the center of state government. And the moniker is well earned, with a wealth of art museums, galleries, performing arts spaces and urban murals.

From March through November each year, 27 of the city’s hottest art spots open their doors on the third Thursday of the month as part of Gallery Night Providence. And WaterFire Providence, a unique local arts celebration, revolves around the city’s downtown rivers, with more than 80 sparkling bonfires lit on the waterways.

Not to be missed is PVD Fest, an annual arts celebration in the city. It selects local artists to design and create arts installations, many of which remain in perpetuity, adding to the city’s cool urban vibe each year. Many of downtown’s mesmerizing murals are the result of previous years’ PVD Fest installations.

  1. It’s easy to get to and easy to get around.

Getting to Providence is fairly easy for much of the country. In addition to the aforementioned cheap flights to the city’s T. F. Rhode Island Pride in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineGreen Airport, Providence is an hour’s drive from Boston, as well as about three hours from most of the New York metro area. It’s within two hours by plane from much of the East Coast and Midwest, making it an easy weekend trip.

Providence is connected to Boston’s South Station via the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority commuter service, and within the city, grabbing a rideshare service is simple — or visitors can check out the local Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), which provides busing as far away as Newport or Kingston. But I found downtown Providence, including its lovely Arts District, to be very walkable and pedestrian friendly.

  1. Its annual Pride festival is simply incredible.

Providence’s annual Rhode Island Pride completely exceeded my expectations. Attracting well over 100,000 attendees, I was blown away by how many Boston-area celebrants were there. I’d have thought the big city folks would have turned up their collective noses at smaller Providence, but that wasn’t the case at all! In fact, I heard story after story about how much they loved attending both Pride celebrations, a week apart.

RIPride has a laundry list of pre-celebration events, from VIP parties to game nights to interfaith services. The PrideFest itself takes place downtown along the Providence River, with a long narrow outline that provides great water views at every turn. There are countless vendors, a huge main stage, a beer garden, and more.

But the highlight of the weekend for me was the Illuminated Night Parade. RIPride is one of only a few pride celebrations anywhere that features an evening parade. Floats and marchers are encouraged to dress up their displays with lights, glowsticks, fluorescent paints and the like. The result is really spectacular, with 100,000 attendees watching the festivities. At the conclusion of the parade, multiple areas of downtown were cordoned off for huge block parties, as music roared into the night until the wee hours.

And for those who managed to get some sleep, the post-Pride Drag Brunch was a great top off to the weekend, with this year’s event featuring Jasmine Masters from RuPaul’s Drag Race, as well as a half dozen very talented local performers.

 

 

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By @ 07/30/19 in Canada, Europe, Gay cruise, Gay pride, Gay travel, Travel

Some gays plan their gay getaways far in advance. Some plan last minute. Some go both ways. We’re those gays. But no matter which you are, we’ve got awesome recommendations for gay getaways to go to now. Next year. Or both!

Gay Getaways: GO NOW!

Atlantis Events takes on Europe with the Oasis of the Seas for the biggest European gay cruise ever. Meet guys from all over the world as this gorgeous Royal Caribbean ship sets sail for a trip of a lifetime. Amazing parties by night, and incredible ports by day. Enjoy bike rides in Mallorca, snorkeling in Capri, wine tasting in Provence and art walks in Florence. The ship departs on Saturday, August 25 and returns September 1.

Don’t miss this epic European journey. Book now and GO!

Join ManAboutWorld’s Billy Kolber (and up to 2,000 of our closest friends!) for the first full-ship LGBTQ+ charter with VACAYA aboard the five-star Celebrity Summit.

The ship will depart NYC on Sunday, August 11 and sail to Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Then, it’s a day in quaint Bar Harbor, Maine, and then two full days in fabulous Provincetown.

Kristin Chenoweth kicks off the departure from Cape Liberty, with lots of entertainment onboard and off — including an overnight call in Ptown to kick off their crazy Carnival week. Vacaya’s maiden voyage, promises a new kind of LGBT+ experience. Book now and GO!
Save & Close

Morocco should be at the top of any queer travelers bucket list! Take the journey with OUT Adventures from Casablanca to Marrakech.

The epic experience kicks off September 13 and lasts for 10 unforgettable days. Travel with a pack of gay travelers through desert landscapes and moody villages. Sleep in a hotel made of Saharan sand, picnic in mountain gorges, cook classic North African cuisine, and share memories that will last a lifetime. Book now and GO!

GAY GETAWAYS: GO LATER

Two continents. 35 countries. Five languages. One love. No matter who you who are, Greater Fort Lauderdale invites you to celebrate LGBT+ advocacy on the beach at the first-ever Pride of the Americas in 2020. All are welcome to fly their flag high, make an impact and radiate life. Join the ManAboutWorld team for this first ever Pride uniting our community from Arctic Canada down to Tierra del Fuego! Book your flights and accommodations today! 

Atlantis and Virgin Voyages will make history in 2020 when they embark on the first gay charter of the Scarlet Lady. The ship will set sail on May 31 – June 7, 2020 from Miami and traverse the Mexican Caribbean. Be one of the first to discover Virgin Voyages adult-only by design experience that will transform the cruise industry.

The Atlantis charter isn’t on sale yet – it’s not even listed on the Atlantis website. But trust us, you’ll want to be on this first gay charter of the Scarlet Lady, the revolutionary new cruising experience from Virgin. Mark your calendar and reserve your vacation days now.

Gay Wine Weekend 2019 just happened, and it was epic. If you missed it, mark your calendar now for next year. Called “One of the best events of the summer season,” Gay Wine Weekend takes over Sonoma Valley from July 18-21 for a 3+ day celebration of food and wine in Northern California’s Sonoma Valley!

Check out the 2019 details, and mark your calendar now.

The hosts of this super fun event look forward to meeting you Out In The Vineyard of “our” Wine Country!

The boys at OUT Adventures have an incredible safari planned for 2020! Their brand new gay tour of Kenya kicks off outside Nairobi – Safari Capital of the World – before venturing into the savannah. Here, authentic yet luxurious tents and lodges will provide shelter in Amboseli National Park and Masai Mara National Reserve. All meals are included on this excursion, including a fab Bush Barbecue. OUT Adventure trips sell out far in advance … so Book now and GO! 

Our very own Kenny Porpora will experience this fabulous OUT Adventures Kenya safari this August 2019. Follow his safari on Instagram at @wozels1102 and get a sneak peek at everything that awaits you in 2020.



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By @ 07/18/19 in Ed Salvato, Gay pride, Gay travel, Gay travel news, HospitableMe, LGBTQ training, ManAboutWorld, Travel, Travel safety
HospitableMe in the news

The simple act of flying a rainbow flag outside a meeting venue signals to LGBTQ+ attendees that they are welcome.

HospitableMe in the news: LGBTQ travelers have been a highly profitable niche for many years — today they are even more important, as the way they are represented, welcomed and treated can brand a destination as modern, progressive and desirable to a much broader population of future customers.

We are the industry leaders in helping tourism brands understand and meet their challenges and opportunities with LGBTQ travelers. We have been quoted in a number of pieces recently regarding diversity and sensitivity training, LGBTQ travel safety, LGBTQ travel, Pride travel and more.

Here’s a round up of HospitableMe in the news

PCMA Magazine: 10 best practices to make LGBTQ+ attendees feel welcome

Fox40Best places to travel to for pride

TravelPulse: This two-part article quotes us extensively and covers the topic of LGBTQ travelers in the luxury market space plus a follow-up piece on our #PrideTravel Twitter Chat in June 2019.

AARP:

LifeHacker.com: This piece looks at the topic of LGBTQ travel safety

Fox40Best places to travel to for pride

TravelPulse: This two-part article quotes us extensively and covers the topic of LGBTQ travelers in the luxury market space plus a follow-up piece on our #PrideTravel Twitter Chat in June 2019.

AARP:

LifeHacker.com: This piece looks at the topic of LGBTQ travel safety



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By @ 06/06/19 in Barry Joy, Gay travel, Jasper, Travel

Top highlights of Jasper by Barry Joy for ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineRead on for the top highlights of Jasper, Alberta, a little mountain town with a big heart, and even bigger adventures! Known as one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world, Jasper celebrates being ‘proud and free’ all year round. The community and local businesses are always happy to welcome visitors with open arms. If you need even more reasons to visit Jasper, here are some top highlights of what Jasper has to offer:

Motorcycle Tour

This is a super unique adventure where you dress up in butch leather gear and experience the thrill of riding either in the back seat or sidecar to explore the great Canadian Rockies. Tours vary from one to three hour options, and your personal guide/driver will stop along the way so you can take the most amazing Instagram pictures.

Jasper Pride Festival

This annual Pride celebration is one not to be missed. Jasper really puts on a show for Pride with all the dance parties, ski events, and more. Local residents and businesses decorate stores and the town, and truly become part of the celebration. Every year is unique but some of the special events this year included the Fruit Loop Mountain Party – a dance party at the 4 Peaks Night Club where you were able to meet a lot of locals and out of town visitors. There was a Pride ski day where you were encouraged to bring your rainbow and ski down the hill with a giant pride flag. And to cap things off, the annual pride party is themed each year, and the whole town really rallies together to make the night really special. They have special guest performances that keep the party going into the night.

Athabasca Falls

This 75’ waterfall in Jasper National Park, just west of the Icefields Parkway, is stunning. You can walk/hike the interpretive trail along the Athabasca River, and learn about the river and the waterfall. During the winter, the falls freezes, leading to natural ice formations.

Jasper SkyTram

If you are looking for perfect views of Jasper, the surrounding mountains, glacially fed lakes, and rivers, the Jasper SkyTram is the solution. The 7 minute enclosed flight is the longest and highest guided aerial tramway in Canada. At an elevation of 7,472 feet, it provides the most stunning views.

Miette Hot Springs

The hot springs is the perfect way to relax after a long day of hiking in the summer or skiing in the winter! Miette Hot Springs’ water flows naturally from the mountain at 129 degrees. This is also a great destination for hiking and watching the wildlife. Did you know that each Rocky Mountain Hot Spring has its own unique blend of minerals and temperature and is great for your body and soul?

Maligne Lake Boat Tour

This tour takes you across the crystal waters of Maligne Lake, allowing visitors to discover the world-famous Spirit Island, which is only accessible by boat. To preserve the area, walking onto the island is not permitted, but the scenery and experience are worth the trip.

Maligne Canyon IceWalk Tour

This three and a half hour tour is one of the most popular Jasper adventures. Your guide will take you to the bottom of the deepest canyon in Jasper National Park, where you get to see stunning frozen waterfalls and ice caves.

Columbia Icefields and Glacier Skywalk

The largest ice field in the Rocky Mountains, the Columbia Icefield, is perfect for everyone who loves being outdoors. Visitors can enjoy the scenery and local wildlife. Available guided tours also include the Glacier Skywalk, which leads visitors to a glass-floor observation platform, which boosts incredible views of the mountains.

This article was written by Barry Joy (aka asianmapleleaf) – an ambassador of all things travel. Barry was born and raised in Toronto and currently lives in New York City. Follow his adventures on asianmapleleaf.com or on Instagram @asianmapleleaf.

 

 

 

 

 

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By @ 05/23/19 in Dennis Hensley, Gay travel, Travel
Gay game night with Dennis Hensley and on ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineThe gay game

Try a gay game night next time you have a group getaway coming up–say P-Town, Palm Springs or Puerto Vallarta. Actually connect with your friends instead of just over-imbibing on everything and everyone being on their phones? Take along You Don’t Know My Life! a new party game co-created by ManABoutWorld contributor Dennis Hensley and game designer Jeb Havens.

Inspiration

The game was inspired by the offbeat questions Hensley developed over his years as a celebrity journalist for magazines like TV Guide, Out and The Advocate. A question is posed to the group, like “What kiss from your life felt like something out of a movie?” Everyone writes down a few sentences on a small sheet, the answers get mixed up and presented and then players take turns trying to guess who said what. Which one of your friends got a kiss on the cheek from an actual First Lady? Which got their tongue stuck in their prom date’s braces? Which kissed one of the Queer Eye guys in the back of an Uber? And once an answer is guessed, there’s always more to the story to gasp, drink and laugh over.

Gay game night with Dennis Hensley and on ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine“You spilled wine on Madonna!?”

So not only do you learn things about your longtime friends you never knew—“You spilled wine on Madonna? Really?”—but if you’re playing with people you’ve just met, you’ll feel like friends by the end. Travel-themed questions like: “When was a time you felt like you were in paradise?” “What’s something you’re really glad you have a photo of yourself in front of?” or “Vegas story. Go.” add to the good vacation vibes. And because the game box is about the size of a hardback novel, it packs easy, too. Learn more at www.youdontknowmylife.com

ManAboutWorld correspondent Dennis Hensley travels the world, gets into crazy situations and spills all in our blog. Check out a few of his other recent writings!

 

Gay game night with Dennis Hensley and on ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

Here’s Dennis either doing yoga or praying you’ll buy his gay game! 🙂



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By @ 05/16/19 in Dining/food/wine, Event, Gay travel, Sonoma, Travel
Gay wine weekend Sonomoa 2019 and in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine
Called “One of the best events of the summer season,” Gay Wine Weekend takes over Sonoma Valley from July 18-21 for a 3+ day celebration of food and wine in Northern California’s Sonoma Valley!
Tell me more about Gay Wine Weekend!

Celebrate with world class wine and culinary delights, music and dancing in a private estate vineyard, VIP receptions, wine Gay wine weekend Sonomoa 2019 and in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineexcursions, a drag queen brunch, wine auction and pool party in one of the most famous wine destinations in the world.

VIP All Access Passes Available and/or individual event passes.

The hosts of this super fun event look forward to meeting you Out In The Vineyard of “our” Wine Country!

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By @ 05/16/19 in Gay pride, Gay travel, James Careless, ManAboutWorld, Toronto, Travel

Windsor Arms Hotel in Toronto for Pride and in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineThis gorgeous Gatsby-themed 1927 small four-story hotel is a glistening gem in downtown (Bay and Bloor streets) Toronto. Just minutes away from the city’s Gay Village (Church and Wellesley), the uber-elegant Windsor Arms is a five-star hotel of just 28 suites; many of them having multiple rooms. (I stayed in a multi-room 700 square foot Deluxe Suite, which was worthy of Jay Gatsby.) The insides and outsides have been lovingly rebuilt and revived by new owner George Friedmann. Past prominent guests include Barbra Streisand and Elizabeth Taylor; you never know who you might see today! (Susan Sarandon and Ben Stiller were spotted here at a recent event.)

Rates

Given the Windsor Arms’ coterie of elegant suites, many fine restaurants and pampering facilities, and prime location (it is just off Windsor Arms Hotel in Toronto for Pride and in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineBloor on the surprisingly quiet St. Thomas Street), prices here are not cheap. During this year’s Pride Toronto festival (it runs June 1 to July 1, 2019), nightly rates start at US$292 (excluding taxes and fees) and hit $1335 for the 1500 square foot Windsor King suite. But think about it: This suite comes with a king and a double sofa bed. Split between two couples, you and your friends could have a super-luxurious and exclusive stay for just $333.75 each. That’s a bargain price for a small historic hotel so charming and different, you will love it as much as Babs and Liz did. It is worth noting that the Windsor Arms does not nickel-and dime its guests. The Wi-Fi is free, the in-room Nespresso coffee is quality, and the towels/dressing robes full and fluffy. Meanwhile, the hotel has been serving afternoon tea without fail since it opened in 1927; offering with delectable sandwiches, scones and pasties – and more fine teas than you ever knew existed.

Location

Given that is close to fashionable Yorkville, still sinful Yonge Street, and Toronto’s Gay Village – plus steps from the city’s subway lines – the Windsor Arms hotel could not be better situated for gays of all flavours and levels of daring. Want access to Toronto’s very best, most exclusive shopping? It’s here. Want to visit the Gay Village and sample everything from its edgy restaurants and clubs to steamy bathhouses and other no-longer-forbidden fruits? It’s just a short walk away eastwards on Bloor to Church Street, and then south to Wellesley and beyond. Frankly, if you are of a mind to get naughty during Pride Toronto, the Windsor Arms is a logical base of operations; given that is close to everything that counts.

Room/Bathroom

As mentioned above, the Windsor Arms’ rooms are all individually and beautifully decorated/furnished. Many of the rooms come with their own musical instrument for guests to play, from pianos in the largest suites to guitars and Celtic harps in the smaller ones. The bathrooms are also well-appointed with high-quality fixtures. For instance, the entry level, 550 square foot Junior suite features cream-colored walls with wooden accents (http://www.windsorarmshotel.com/suites/junior_suite//), residence-quality furniture, deep soaker tub, separate standing shower, and an acoustic guitar (which is regularly tuned). Like the high-priced suites, it also comes with ‘Butler Service’. This is a separate, lockable compartment beside the front door when food, towels, and other amenities can be discreetly delivered to without you having to interact with staff. Very useful if you are in the midst of naked passion and champagne suddenly arrives!

Gay Factor

Okay, so we’re talking about a very small, exclusive hotel in the heart of Toronto close to the Gay Village, with top-end decor, furnishings, amenities, food, drinks, and high tea; plus an indoor pool with fireplace and two floors of spa facilities? Plus Babs and Liz stayed here, and their photos adorn the walls. I mean, if you don’t get the gay factor here, I can’t help you. This is a perfect place for any gay or other LGBT couple, in a hotel with a reputation for welcoming gay guests with open arms. In fact, the only complaint I could find from a gay couple was that it was difficult to leave the Windsor Arms, because it is such a wonderful place to stay. (Friedman told me of one guest who called before arrival to ask for a bathtub full of Jello. The Windsor Arms’ only question to this request was to ask the guest, “what flavour?”)

About the CheckOut

ManAboutWorld highlights properties we have recently and personally stayed at, and is editorial, not advertorial. Like virtually all travel publications, we sometimes accept discounted and sponsored travel, but ManAboutWorld is beholden to no one but you. Our recommendations are based solely on the experience and opinions of our editorial team and trusted network, putting our readers’ interests above all. If you ever have an issue with anything we recommend, please let us know. We always have your back, and your travel satisfaction in mind. Read our full disclosure here.

This post originally appeared in 2016 and has been updated today by the original author, James Careless, based on a recent visit.

 

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By @ 05/07/19 in Chicago, Gay Illinois, Gay travel, Gay-Friendly, Illinois, LGBT Illinois, LGBT travel Illinois, Travel

Gay-friendly Illinois in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineGay-friendly Illinois is a big, important state full of hometown pride, queer culture, and adorable small towns. But what do you really know about Illinois? You’re going to say Chicago, right? We thought so.

And yes, Chicago is fabulous. But there’s so much more in this wonderful state to explore, and so we did! And what we found were small towns full of charm. Welcome, pivotal moments in American history. Iconic architecture. And a historic road called Route 66 (you may have heard of it) that helped change a nation and still captivates the world.

More Gay-friendly Illinois

This is just one of our many favorite stories and hotspots to help you discover gay-friendly Illinois for yourself. Begin your exploration here.

Enjoy a more immersive Illinois experience in the magazine:

ManAboutWorld is an app-based travel magazine by gay men which provides travel inspiration and trip-planning information for all whether you’re in the LGBTQ+ community or are an ally. It’s built exclusively for mobile devices and is not available in print. We first published these articles in the spring 2019 issue and make them available here for your enjoyment. The app and issues are all free. Download it for Apple devices or Android devices.

Photo: Ed Salvato



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By @ 05/07/19 in Chicago, Gay Illinois, Gay travel, Gay-Friendly, Gay-friendly Illinois, Illinois, LGBT Illinois, Travel

LGBTQ guide Chicago in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineLGBTQ Guide Chicago: Looking for a warm-weather getaway that offers a bustling urban environment, sprawling green spaces, public parks, and a sandy beach, steps from the skyline? Head to the heartland to experience Chicago’s thriving LGBTQ offerings

Each of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods offer distinct character and personality, with culture and history interconnecting to create a vibrant tapestry of community life.

Chicago has long been an epicenter for queer culture and Lakeview’s Boystown (the U.S.’s first recognized gay village) section remains one of the most vibrant gayborhoods in the nation. With dozens of queer bars, venues, and monuments, the neighborhood is a haven for LGBTQ residents and visitors. Its history of queer icons — from literary heroes like Lorraine Hansberry and Jane Addams to gay rights activists such as Henry Gerber — is inspiring. Their stories can be discovered on a self-guided LGBTQ Landmark Tour and provide a terrific frame of reference for what has become a robust LGBTQ community.

This summer, on June 29, Chicago will make queer history with the first-ever Pride in the Park Chicago in Grant Park. The event will feature celebrations of love and protest, live music performances by international and local talent, top queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race, artisanal food vendors and a fireworks show. About 15,000 are expected to attend.

The summer of LGBTQ also includes International Mr. Leather. From May 23-27, leather-bound attendees will descend upon the city, letting their freak flags fly, and capping off the festivities with the Black and Blue Party on Monday.

Early June will see the ANDERSONVILLE MIDSOMMARFEST. The Andersonville neighborhood is one of the most LGBTQ+-friendly in Chicago, and Midsommarfest is a street festival for the arts, retail, music and more in the area.

The BACK LOT BASH runs from June 28 – 30 (butting up against Pride in the Park this year) kicking off with a safe space for families to celebrate pride followed by a two-day outdoor music festival. The event is now in its 16th year and is one of the best-attended lesbian Pride events.

And finally, come end of June, the free and fabulous NAVY PIER PRIDE on June 29. The event consists of a full day of family-LGBTQ guide Chicago in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazinefriendly festivities in honor of the LGBTQ+ community. This event includes Storytime with Drag Queens, live performances, special film presentations, and a new “Queer the Pier” fashion and music show headlined by special guest CeCe Penistone.

Thanks to an easy-to-navigate elevated rail system (referred to as “the L” by locals), getting around town is convenient and affordable. Visitors can also quickly tap their way through apps like Uber and Lyft for personalized pick-ups and drop-offs. For those wanting to pre-burn calories in anticipation of indulging in deep-dish pizza or Chicago-style hot dogs, Divvy offers more than 580 bike share stations throughout the city.

Summer Sizzles

Chicago’s cultural calendar overflows throughout the year, but things really heat up in the summer with these annual signature events, providing a terrific anchor for a weekend getaway.

Chicago Pride Fest and Parade (June, 2019) – Mark your calendars for these back-to-back LGBTQ celebrations. Chicago Pride Fest (June 22-23) is a two-day festival the weekend before the actual parade on June 30, which marks its 50th anniversary.

Lollapalooza (August 2-5) – More than 170 acts descend upon eight outdoor stages for this mega-musical festival that dates back to 1991. Attendees get just as excited about the “Chow Town” food offerings, art market and merchandise.

Northalsted Market Days (August 10-11, 2019) – Boystown becomes a thriving street festival each August, packed with live music on four stages, more than 200 vendors, and plenty of rainbow pride.

Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival (September 19-29, 2019) – The festival dates back to 1981 and is the second-largest of its kind, including features, shorts and special appearances by the filmmakers.

Curtain Up

Arts lovers can hit a home run in Chicago, even if they’re not at Wrigley Field. This year shines a spotlight on live performance as the city declares 2019 The Year of Chicago Theatre. From Broadway musicals to storefront theaters producing new works, LGBTQ stories have a home in Chicago.

Pride Film & Plays – Located in the Pride Arts Center, the theater company produces works with LGBTQ characters and themes.

About Face Theatre – In its 20-year history, the boundary-pushing company has produced more than 60 productions exploring the narrative of the LGBTQ community.

Broadway in Chicago – Broadway’s best can be found in Chicago (and is often more affordable than its New York City counterpart). Pre-Broadway runs and national tours can be seen at five distinctly gorgeous venues throughout the city.

Mark Your Calendar:

Desire in a Tinier House (May 30 – June 29, 2019) – A world premiere about the challenges of maintaining a gay relationship in today’s culture. (Pride Film & Plays).

Falsettos (May 28 – June 9, 2019) – William Finn and James Lapine’s Tony Award-winning musical about an unconventional family at the beginning of the AIDS crisis. (James M. Nederlander Theatre).

Stay a While

From affordable to luxurious, hotel accommodations run the gamut and suit every style and budget. Here are three distinct picks to consider:

Hotel Lincoln – Steps from Lincoln Park Zoo, this boutique property features a rooftop bar and tons of quirky design touches.

Hotel Zachary – Wrigley Field architect Zachary Taylor Davis inspired this recently opened Marriott property (use those points!), which resides within a pitch of the famed baseball stadium and neighboring Boystown.

The Langham Chicago – Modern luxury reigns supreme at this stylish hotel located within an iconic Mies Van der Rohe landmark building.

ACME Hotel Company

The ACME is loaded with character and artsy touches, hipster vibes, and a super friendly staff. The chalkboards on the doors allow everyone to represent their true selves. But it’s really the location that’s paramount here: steps from The Loop, the mall, and the famous UNO’s.

Where to Eat

Wells Street Market – The newly opened food hall in the Loop offers something for everyone. Favorite bite: Furious Spoon’s shoyu ramen.

Bavette’s Steakhouse – Honoring Chicago’s long tradition as a steakhouse town, this swanky spot offers French flair and romantic enclaves for the ultimate date. Favorite bite: Chicago cut classic ribeye with béarnaise.

Southport Grocery and Cafe – Baked-from-scratch pastries and all-day breakfast can be found along with ancho chili-infused Bloody Mary’s at this Lakeview neighborhood spot. Favorite bite: grown-up pop tart with preserves and mascarpone.

Hot “G” Dog – Along with Chicago-style pizza, hot dogs are a Chicago staple. These artisan (and budget-friendly) options are a favorite among locals. Favorite bite: Chicago dog with a side of duck fat fries (weekends only).

From Dusk ‘til Dawn

Overwhelmed by so many amazing choices? Here’s an itinerary to jumpstart your weekend:

FRIDAY NIGHT:

Head to Sidetrack, the legendary Boystown video bar that has been the city’s go-to LGBTQ destination since 1982. Extend your getaway by a day to stay for Musical Monday, a standing ovation-worthy tradition.

A drink at Little Jim’s Tavern, the city’s first gay bar, is also essential. The bar has tons of old-school charm, local gays and daily drinks specials. And as far as legendary bars go, no pub crawl is complete without an Uber to Andersonville for some lesbian karaoke at Spyners Pub. By now, you’re plenty drunk enough to belt out some Journey.

SATURDAY:

The Legacy Walk, located in Lakeview, features 37 bronze memorial markers and interactive technology to connect with the people and places that have been instrumental in the nation’s LGBTQ movement. Check out the historic stroll during the day before heading to The Art Institute of Chicago for some of the country’s most stellar art. Be sure to visit the incredible 68 Thorne miniature rooms.

Come nightfall, head uptown to explore the city’s diverse collection of bars. Big Chicks is a friendly, low-key vibe that can be found Uptown with a different energy than Boystown bars. For the high-energy millennial crowd, Hydrate is a high-energy club with a stellar roster of DJs including former “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestant Nina Flowers. Also pop into Berlin, a “pan-cultural” late-night dance club open ‘til 4 a.m.

SUNDAY:

Drag reigns supreme at the Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club, a terrific spot for brunch (prix-fixe menu plus a la carte) and entertainment.

More gay-friendly Illinois:

This is just one of our many favorite stories and hotspots to help you discover gay-friendly Illinois for yourself. Continue your exploration here.

Enjoy a more immersive Illinois experience in the magazine:

ManAboutWorld is an app-based travel magazine by gay men which provides travel inspiration and trip-planning information for all whether you’re in the LGBTQ+ community or are an ally. It’s built exclusively for mobile devices and is not available in print. We first published these articles in the spring 2019 issue and make them available here for your enjoyment. The app and issues are all free. Download it for Apple devices or Android devices.



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By @ 05/07/19 in Gay travel, Illinois, LGBT travel Illinois, Travel

Inclusive art in elusive places in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineGay-friendly Illinois is rich with inclusive art, queer works, architecture and locales favorited by the LGBTQ+ community. If you’re looking to broaden your horizons or just your outlook on the art scene in the Prairie State, don’t hesitate. You’ll find plenty of breathtaking galleries and structures in and beyond Chicago from Lake Michigan to the Shawnee National Forest.

Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art

If you’re a city slicker at heart or not looking to step outside Chi-Town, check out Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art. Quite the mouthful for a place to see bleeding edge art by outsiders, whoever they may be. Intuit describes outsider work as “self-taught art, defined as the work of artists who demonstrate little influence from the mainstream art world and who instead are motivated by their unique personal visions.” Peek at their recent exhibits and you’ll see what they mean.

The gallery, located in Chicago’s River West neighborhood, has showcased the work of many queer outsider artists in its four stellar exhibitions a year. Intuit also hosts events focused on LGBTQ+ inclusivity and scholarship in addition to other lectures and educational programs. Be sure to pick up a copy of the gallery’s magazine, The Outsider, while you’re there for more information on its exhibits.

Art Gallery at the Center on Halsted

The Center on Halsted is a bastion for queer culture and community in the Midwest. Its deep history of activism and support stretches back to 1973, when it was a small, volunteer-run clearinghouse and meetup spot for gays and lesbians. It’s since burgeoned into a one-stop shop for cultural, technological and health services for the queer community in Chicago’s Lake View neighborhood, complete with two galleries featuring work by LGBTQ+ artists. You’re welcome to peruse the galleries on the center’s second and third floors during normal business hours or attend an opening night reception where you can schmooze it up with featured artists and queer community members.

Inclusive art in elusive places in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineARC Gallery in Lincoln Park

ARC Gallery is another sure bet in Chicago for art by queer artists. The gallery has been operated as a non-profit cooperative by a collective of women artists since 1973. Its mission is to not only nurture emerging and experimental art, but to raise awareness of social issues through its exhibitions, including issues facing the LGBTQ+ community. If you check out ARC, be sure to take a walk around the neighborhood—it’s in Lincoln Park, which is famous for beautiful, historic churches and neat brick row houses nestled up against urban park, and some of the city’s best restaurants and shopping, too.

Galena Main Street

If you’re looking for a weekend foray into the countryside, head to the little town of Galena, just 3 hours northwest of Chicago. It’s home to the gay-owned Jail Hill Inn, a 135-year-old, four-story brick building, loaded with history and charm, and overlooking the countryside. As you walk along Main Street past the red brick buildings that date back to Galena’s start as a mining town, be sure to check out Pinder Pottery, an artist-run shop and studio featuring pottery as functional as it is beautiful.

Farnsworth House

The Farnsworth House is a modernist architecture gem situated on a flood plain in Plano, Illinois, just an hour west of Chicago. The house confounded visitors when it was built in 1951 and continues to protest traditional notions of what a house should be while very much remaining, well, a house.

Dana-Thomas House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

Visit the Dana-Thomas House in Springfield, Illinois and soak in amazing architecture along with some fascinating and energizing queer-related history. The house is one of 13 Wright-designed houses along the Frank Lloyd Wright Trail, a self-guided tour of Wright’s incredible, culturally rich contributions to the area.

Susan Lawrence Dana, a progressive social dissident who would go on to fight for equal rights for women, commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to remodel her father’s house in 1902. The result was a breathtaking example of Wright’s work that catered uniquely to Dana’s female perspective. In the 1920s, the house became ground zero for political activism and women’s rights activities. Dana’s mark on progressive and enlightened thought in the region would remain for decades through activities, classes and lectures hosted at the house.

The house is open for tours most days for a suggested donation. Make a weekend trip when you can—Springfield is about three hours southwest of Chicago.

Starved Rock Lodge, Utica

A popular same-sex marriage venue is also one of Illinois’ greatest examples of the rustic stone and timber architecture popularized by 20th-century New Deal projects. Starved Rock Lodge, which proudly hosts gay marriages, may remind some visitors of summer camp—only more luxe. The lodge, positioned on a wooded bluff overlooking the Illinois River, was built in the 1930s by the Illinois Department of Public Works and Buildings to rival expensive private resorts and has been updated since to stay comfy. It’s an ideal place to stay for architecture and Americana enthusiasts who are looking to enjoy Starved Rock State Park, and it hosts numerous events and concerts throughout the year. Head to its website to see a schedule or book a room.

Morton Arboretum

The Morton Arboretum in Lisle is another favorite outdoor arts and wedding space for LGBTQ+ locals and travelers. Its sculptures and regular displays of natural artistry are regular featured in online queer publications. While some visitors come for the weird, whimsical sculptures of trolls across the property and related events (how about a troll hunt?), many visit for the simple, curated beauty of the arboretum’s natural grounds. Take a breath of fresh air at one of Illinois’ best-known queer-friendly outdoor spaces.

More Gay-friendly Illinois

This is just one of our many favorite stories and hotspots to help you discover gay-friendly Illinois for yourself. Continue your exploration here.

Enjoy a more immersive Illinois experience in the magazine:

ManAboutWorld is an app-based travel magazine by gay men which provides travel inspiration and trip-planning information for all whether you’re in the LGBTQ+ community or are an ally. It’s built exclusively for mobile devices and is not available in print. We first published these articles in the spring 2019 issue and make them available here for your enjoyment. The app and issues are all free. Download it for Apple devices or Android devices.

 

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By @ 05/07/19 in Gay Illinois, Gay travel, Gay-friendly Illinois, Illinois, LGBT Illinois, LGBT travel Illinois, Travel

Romantic LGBTQ getaways in Illinois in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineIllinois is home to a number of romantic, LGBTQ-friendly getaways within easy driving distance of Chicago, from kick-your-feet-up spots where you and your partner can take a breath, to hipster beer-and-bike meccas where y’all can let loose.

Galena: Vintage Shopping, Vintage Setting

Just three hours west of Chicago you’ll find Galena, a small but vibrant town known for its immaculate nineteenth-century architecture and bustling arts and shopping scene. For you antiquey gays who can’t get enough small-town charm, Galena is for you.

Plan to arrive early and check in to The Aldrich Guest House, a queer-owned five-bedroom B&B that’s hosted President Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. Owners Doug and Robert have warmly arranged and decorated each room with comfy beds, high-end linens and personal touches.

The Inn at Irish Hollow is another gay-owned B&B, an aspirational place to stay. From the cozy interiors, the three-course weekend brunch, the seven-course dinners, and the lovely and welcoming gay hosts, this is one of our favorite places in Illinois.

The gorgeous Jail Hill Inn is another option. A 135-year-old, four-story brick gem of a hotel perfect for couples looking for a romantic getaway. The hotel was rated the number 1 B&B in the United States on TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards.

Once you’ve dropped off your bags, head out to explore the small-town charm of Main Street, strolling hand-in-hand along the dozens of quaint shops nestled in historic, red-brick buildings. If you and your partner are looking to feather your nest, stop in at Pinder Pottery, where a small handful of local potters are spinning beautiful and functional pottery. At Common Cents Resale, old housewares and vintage furniture are restored, restyled and sold at reasonable prices.

After some light browsing, grab lunch at One Eleven Main, a farm-to-table hotspot with a seasonal menu featuring locally-sourced ingredients. But if Galena’s historic sites have you in the mood for something more traditional—or you’re trying to turn up the romance—try Fried Green Tomatoes. Despite its name, the restaurant serves up traditional Italian fare with a farmhouse chic ambience. Before you leave Main Street, pick up a bottle (or three) at Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery.

Spend the rest of your evening relaxing back at the hotel and wake up to their award-winning breakfast (with coffee brewed from a local roaster!) before heading home (or continuing on your Illinois journey!)

Galena remains one of Illinois’s top LGBTQ friendly cities, a charming, artsy, welcoming place that’s as quirky as it is inclusive.

Romantic LGBTQ getaways in Illinois in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineInstafamous in Pontiac

For Route 66 fanatics, your trip begins on Michigan Ave. in Chicago and stretches for 300 miles, filled with some of most interesting and ‘grammable spots throughout the state. Somewhere in the middle of the historic highway, you’ll find Pontiac, a small town hidden gem central to American culture, literature, and industry, from the Grapes of Wrath to the Beats and Disney-Pixar’s Cars.

You’ll want to book a room in The Three Roses Bed and Breakfast, situated in a pristine Victorian in the center of town. Or, if you’re looking for something a bit more modern and chic, check out the ACRESinn LOFT—an 1,800 sq.-ft. loft overlooking downtown Pontiac. Both options are relaxing, romantic settings close to all attractions including the Route 66 Association Hall of Fame & Museum. Be sure to peek around the backside of the building where you’ll find one of Illinois’s most iconic Route 66 murals (and unofficially the state’s selfie capital!).

You can have an early breakfast at Three Roses or take a short walk to Edinger’s Filling Station, a favorite diner among locals, with a vintage Route 66 ambiance serving homemade American breakfast and brunch dishes. They’re famous for their homemade pies, so save room for a slice.  

After breakfast, stroll with your better half down Main Street and pose in front of the many ‘grammable murals depicting Americana (including Coca-Cola, RCA Victor and the iconic line of Pontiac automobiles).

Beyond Pontiac, Route 66 extends down through Springfield and takes you through Alton, where Illinois meets Missouri. If you’re up for a classic American road trip, fire up your playlist and keep on truckin’ along Route 66.

Springfield: Love in the Land of Lincoln

Since this is the land of Lincoln, why not stay at the President Abraham Lincoln Springfield – a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel? It has a great location right in the center of town. Breakfasts here include house-made baked goods like blueberry muffins or buttery, flaky croissants.

In the morning, stroll past the cute, gay-owned Cardologist (a little greeting card and knick-knack shop perfect for sending postcards!) before settling in for a tasty meal at Incredibly Delicious, a locally owned French Bakery and Café located in the historic Weber House near downtown Springfield, Illinois. Founded in 1995, they specialize in artisanal breads, traditional croissants, handmade pastries, specialty cakes, and desserts. Their breakfast and lunch menu changes daily and pastry selections change seasonally. Be it savory or sweet, you will find your new favorite treat behind their doors.

Afterward, head just one block north of the hotel to the Dana-Thomas House — a Frank Lloyd Wright landmark — to tour its ornate, yet still-modern-feeling halls and rooms.

Continue your architecture lovefest with a guided tour of the recently-renovated Governor’s Mansion. Built in 1855, the mansion’s renovated exterior showcases the styles of the different governor’s that called the mansion home over the years. Tours usually last just over an hour.

For even more woodworking artistry, head to Sangmon Reclaimed, where local firefighters and veterans take the wood from torn down barns and reclaim it, rework it, and reimagine it as new pieces of art, architecture, and furnishings. A fascinating look at the Midwest traditions.

Once you’re up to the gills with house envy and dreaming of a nest with your partner, take a short cab ride or a decent walk (25 minutes or so) up South 6th Street to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. The library is mainly intended for researchers but the museum is a must-see for anyone, and particularly appealing to children if you’ve brought the family. Another short cab ride will take you to President Lincoln’s (and his family’s) final resting place, a monolithic, granite tomb in the Oak Ridge Cemetery.

For dinner, consider the upscale American Harvest Eatery, serving up familiar dishes with twists, all artfully plated and made from fresh Illinois ingredients. If you and your partner are looking for a night cap, hit up the Station House, a queer bar and dance club spinning great tunes.

Pontiac maybe be small, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in friendliness, local vibes, homecooking and history.

Urbana-Champaign: Beers, Bikes, and Beers

Millennial hipster queers will fall hard for Urbana-Champaign. Just over two hours south of Chicago, this college town is home to a variety of breweries, eateries, and arts and culture gems. Plus, there’s dockless bike sharing in the area so you’ll burn off those calories as fast as you consume them. (But, please, no drinking and biking!) Can it get more romantic than good food, delicious beer and (sober) biking?

If you’re looking for a charming, Southern feel, stay in the queer-owned Champaign Garden Inn. The Victorian Queen Anne-style mansion, surrounded by lush gardens, is a short walk (ahem, stumbling distance) from downtown Champaign, which makes it a safe bet if you’re planning to brewery hop.

Kick off your brewery crawl at the Riggs Beer Company, The Blind Pig Brewery, or Destihl Brew Works, recognized as three of the top breweries in Illinois. Wherever you go, do not skip the Sipyard, a beer garden in downtown Urbana operating out of a shipping container in the middle of an outdoor graffiti gallery.

For dinner, go big at the Black Dog Smoke & Ale House. While not romantic in the most traditional sense, nothing brings a couple closer than sharing a rack of ribs. They also have spicy southwest potato salad. Enough said.

One of Illinois’s most beloved twin cities, Urbana-Champaign is the future of the state, with a nod to the past, it’s always looking forward, whether it be art and breweries, or welcoming festivals and queer-owned hotspots.

Alton/Elsah: Charm on the Mississippi

Alton and Elsah are small-town twin cities along the Mississippi River on the Missouri border, about four-and-a-half hours south of Chicago. Their scenic, down-south feel and pace are well worth the trip on a long weekend—especially if you and your partner are looking for a respite from city life.

Nestled in the bluffs below the Great River Road, The Green Tree Inn in Elsah is a charmer, with hospitable hosts who’ve held numerous gay weddings at their property. Next door is a quaint general store stocked with incredibly hard-to-find sodas, sweets, cakes and any toiletries you might need.

Once you’re settled, drive the majestic Great River Route along the Mississippi River. It’s beautiful and relaxing—perfect for cranking some music and soaking in the views.

After your drive, ward off the afternoon sleepies with some award-winning espresso from Maeva’s Coffee, one of several community-oriented businesses in a former schoolhouse in Alton. Maybe split a piece (or heck, just get two slices) of their famous quiche while you’re there (there’s a vegetarian option, too!).

Then, for lunch, check out Weezy’s Bar & Grill for some good ol’ Route 66 kitsch. This roadside diner is a legend, and you’ll love their classic burger and fries while you snap pics of the Route 66 memorabilia that adorn the walls here.

But small towns don’t necessarily mean small nightlife. Bubby & Sissy’s is the big, gay exclamation point on Alton’s after-dark scene. The welcoming bar is known for its drag performances on weekends with special performances from the famous Shelby Right Back.

Elsah and Alton are quite the pair — so different with a shared sensibility and easy-going charm. There’s history here, but the towns also look forward, always evolving, always innovating, always welcoming.

More Gay-friendly Illinois

This is just one of our many favorite stories and hotspots to help you discover gay-friendly Illinois for yourself. Continue your exploration here.

Enjoy a more immersive Illinois experience in the magazine:

ManAboutWorld is an app-based travel magazine by gay men which provides travel inspiration and trip-planning information for all whether you’re in the LGBTQ+ community or are an ally. It’s built exclusively for mobile devices and is not available in print. We first published these articles in the spring 2019 issue and make them available here for your enjoyment. The app and issues are all free. Download it for Apple devices or Android devices.



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By @ 05/07/19 in Gay travel, Gay-Friendly, Gay-friendly Illinois, Illinois, LGBT Illinois, LGBT travel Illinois, Personified, Travel

Jonna Cooley in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineJonna Cooley is an LGBTQ trailblazer, a pioneer and an Illinois native. She grew up in Meredosia, and then moved to Springfield in 1979. She began working at the Phoenix Center, Central Illinois’ LGBTQ Community Center, in April of 2006. The center provides a variety of services and activities for the LGBTQ community, including youth groups, transgender support groups, and a parent group, among others. The organization also provides various social and educational events such as an LGBTQ Film Series, Springfield PrideFest and drag shows.

The center also provides safe, supportive housing for homeless HIV+ men and women, transitional housing for homeless LGBTQ individuals, a variety of prevention programming and counseling.

Jonna is also one of the people proudly responsible for bringing pride to Springfield. In 2010, she brought a group of people together because she thought it was time to talk about having pride in Springfield. The attendance was overwhelming and Springfield PrideFest was born.

The first event was on Harvey Milk Day in 2011, one city block of 3,000 people. Today, the event has grown to 4+ city blocks, food and drinks, vendors, a kid’s area, and a teen drag show competition. Last year there were an estimated 20,000 people in attendance. Jonna’s been with her partner, Lisa Tomasino, for 19 years. They have a daughter, Erin, who lives and works in Florida. They live in Springfield with their three cats: Doc, Cleo, and Oliver, and their big five-pound chihuahua, Dino.

We sat down with Jonna to chat about LGBTQ life in Springfield and how the city continues to inspire her.

Jonna Cooley: tell us about life as an out gay person in Springfield. Is there a strong sense of queer community here?

While Springfield is a capital city, it is small and surrounded by rural communities and farmland. I love that because I grew up in a small community and my grandparents were farmers. Springfield tends to have a conservative image, but I have to say that overall, I’ve found Springfield to be supportive of the LGBTQ community.

I think there is a strong sense of queer community here – in a small-town kind of way. On one hand, the LGBTQ community seems to be fragmented. There are a lot of people who hang out together, who do stuff together, but they may or may not participate in LGBTQ-focused events or even be out to others in the LGBTQ community. On the other hand, everyone seems to come out (pun intended) for PrideFest and there is always great support from all factions when Phoenix Center is in need of assistance. In addition, there have been successful gay bars in Springfield that seem to be another common gathering place.

How does Springfield standout from the rest of Illinois?

For a small city, we really have a lot to offer. We are the only city to have an LGBTQ Community Center south of I-80. There are Jonna Cooley's gay-friendly Springfield, Illinois in ManAboutWorld Magazineother groups and organizations, but there is no other not-for-profit facility to go to for services, housing, groups, counseling, etc. on a daily basis with full-time, professional staff.

In addition, Springfield is a clean and friendly city with a small-town feel. We have lots of history and great places to visit like Lincoln’s Home & Tomb, the Old State Capitol, the Dana-Thomas House, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Every time I go there, I say to myself, “I can’t believe this amazing place is in our great city!” We also have a lot of locally owned shops and food establishments that are amazing and unique, and great local theatre. At the same time, we don’t have a rush hour and you can get from one end of the city to the other in 15 minutes!

What are some places in Springfield that inspire you?

Having lived here 40 years, I still get a feeling when I drive down Capitol Avenue and see the capitol dome. My partner always says it never gets old, and it doesn’t. Just the sense of history here is inspiring—to think of all those who have walked the streets of Springfield before me, including Abraham Lincoln. I am always inspired walking or sitting in Washington Park or Lincoln Memorial Park where, regardless of the season, I find beauty in so many things.

What is it in Springfield that should entice LGBTQ travelers to visit. And how can LGBTQ visitors support the queer community when they visit your area?

Springfield PrideFest of course! It is free, family friendly, and lots of fun. Regardless of who you are, everyone should visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. It is a phenomenal experience as are the many other historical sites. LGBTQ visitors can support the queer community by visiting businesses and restaurants that are LGBTQ owned and/or supportive.

How would you like to see the LGBTQ community change or evolve, if at all, in your area? What’s missing? What could be better?

I would like to see us all work together to create an even greater LGBTQ community within our city. I would like to see more LGBTQ individuals get involved and be active and out in city and county government and in key positions to create change.

Tell us your perfect Springfield day.

An early morning visit to the amazing downtown Farmer’s Market, maybe grabbing breakfast with friends at D&J Cafe. Then going for a long bike ride on one of the many great trails or a walk at Lincoln Memorial Gardens, sitting at Café Papo or Vans and drinking an ice tea and reading a book. Finally, dinner with my amazing partner at one of our favorite places; maybe Nick & Nino’s or The Old Luxemburg.

What local tips do you have for people visiting Springfield for the first time?

Don’t miss the Lincoln Presidential Museum, Lincoln’s Home & Tomb and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Dana-Thomas House. Take a walk at Lincoln Memorial Gardens. Have a “horseshoe” (a local favorite food dish) or try the “fire brand” chili at The Chili Parlor.

Visit downtown Springfield. If in the summer, get tickets to the Springfield Muni—our great outdoor theatre. Whether you are here for a day or a week, do not eat at a chain restaurant. We have so many great local places.

More Gay-friendly Illinois

This is just one of our many favorite stories and hotspots to help you discover gay-friendly Illinois for yourself. Continue your exploration here.

Enjoy a more immersive Illinois experience in the magazine:

ManAboutWorld is an app-based travel magazine by gay men which provides travel inspiration and trip-planning information for all whether you’re in the LGBTQ+ community or are an ally. It’s built exclusively for mobile devices and is not available in print. We first published these articles in the spring 2019 issue and make them available here for your enjoyment. The app and issues are all free. Download it for Apple devices or Android devices.



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By @ 05/07/19 in Gay Illinois, Gay pride, Gay travel, Gay-Friendly, Gay-friendly Illinois, Illinois, LGBT Illinois, LGBT travel Illinois, ManAboutWorld, Travel

River City Pride, Peoria, Illinois in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

Pride season is upon us and there’s no shortage of inclusive events in the urban centers and historic townships of Illinois. Whether you’re looking for an excuse to get out of the city and support smaller LGBTQ+ communities or don’t want to stray too far from an “L” station in Chicago, the Prairie State’s strong queer community has you covered.

The Swedish Pride celebration in Chicago

While not a traditional pride, Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood throws its annual Midsommarfest every summer, an event that’s now so popular in the LGBTQ+ community here it’s become something of an honorary queer event. The low-cost, family-friendly event runs June 7-9 and will split its time between celebrating the neighborhood’s Nordic roots and its present distinction as one of Chicago’s best and most vibrant gay communities. Round up the crew (whether that’s bears or your kids, everyone’s welcome here!), practice your best Swedish greetings—Skål!—and get ready to dance around the Maypole.

Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey

The River City Pride Festival — you might know it as Whiskey City Pride — is Peoria’s annual celebration of the LGBTQ+ community. Just a couple hours southwest of Chicago, the event celebrates Central Illinois’ vibrant queer community as well as its legendary distilleries. It’s slated for August 3 at the Peoria Park District Glen Oak Amphitheatre and is a great excuse to get out of the city, enjoy the region’s famous whiskeys, Peoria’s fantastic park district, and celebrate all things LGBTQ+. The free event is put on in part by Peoria Proud, a coalition that promotes community unity through education and outreach.

A Decade of Pride in Urbana-Champaign

PrideFest, Urbana-Champaign’s annual pride celebration, is going strong in its 10th year as Central Illinois’ go-to queer celebration. The event features live music, guilty-pleasure food and family-friendly activities, so get decked out in your best rainbow duds come September. (The date for this year’s pride is still pending.) Check here for more information as the event draws closer. While Pridefest is a family-friendly event, Urbana-Champaign is a college town, so party-seekers should take note. Be sure to thank PrideFest’s organizers at the Up Center, a pillar in the region’s LGBTQ+ community, while you’re there!

River City Pride, Peoria, Illinois in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine
New Queer on the Block

There’s a new family-friendly pride celebration that started up just a stone’s throw from Chicago. The Buffalo Grove Inaugural Pride Parade in Buffalo Grove, just 40 minutes northwest of Chicago, kicked off June 2. The event was free and featured floats, live music, entertainment and a megadose of rainbow costumes and pageantry. The event garnered massive support from Buffalo Grove’s LGBTQ+ community and ally volunteers led by Molly, the queer 13-year-old who led efforts to bring Pride to her hometown. Check the website for next year’s edition and get out there and support an exciting new LGBTQ+ event.

Whether it’s in one of the most famous cities in the world or a small township of a few thousand, LGBTQ+ pride is everywhere in Illinois. Bring your kids, your friends, and your allies to celebrate some of the best small-town prides in America.

More Gay-friendly Illinois

This is just one of our many favorite stories and hotspots to help you discover gay-friendly Illinois for yourself. Continue your exploration here.

Enjoy a more immersive Illinois experience in the magazine:

ManAboutWorld is an app-based travel magazine by gay men which provides travel inspiration and trip-planning information for all whether you’re in the LGBTQ+ community or are an ally. It’s built exclusively for mobile devices and is not available in print. We first published these articles in the spring 2019 issue and make them available here for your enjoyment. The app and issues are all free. Download it for Apple devices or Android devices.

Photos: Cre8jax



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By @ 05/07/19 in Gay travel, Gay-Friendly, Gay-friendly Illinois, Illinois, LGBT Illinois, LGBT travel Illinois, Travel

Route 66 in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

Illinois is a state of undiscovered wonders. It will surprise you with its openness, dazzle you with its art, and astonish you with its depth of American history. When stepping out of Chicago and into the small historic towns, you’ll find iconic scenes you’ll need to capture.

When traveling around the Prairie State and especially along Route 66, you’ll find Illinois to be among the most Instagrammable places in America. You won’t want to miss some of these Insta-worthy spots:

Route 66 Mural in Pontiac 

The most famous route in America is loaded with iconic imagery, history, and art! Take a road trip through Illinois on Route 66 and discover LGBTQ gems along the way.

Gemini Giant in Wilmington 

The most fun selfie in the state is with the Gemini Giant. On a quiet, pretty street corner stands this colossal astronaut beloved by locals and tourists alike.

The Lincoln Family at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum in Springfield 

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum has many Lincoln wax figures depicting his life through the years: Lincoln as a boy, a young lawyer, a father, and a president. The likeness is extraordinary at the Lincoln Library and Museum. Pose with him as president, during his lawyer days, or in his dress-down clothes.

Lincoln’s Tomb in Springfield, Illinois 

Lincoln was buried in Springfield, and next to his tomb is a giant sculpture of his head. Over the years, so many people have rubbed his nose for luck it’s been discolored. It’s since become iconic and insta-worthy.Lincoln's tomb in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

Troll Hunt at Morton Arboretum in Lisle 

The Morton Arboretum is an outdoor public garden with a catch: the lush grounds abound with adorable, artsy and gigantic troll sculptures that make for terrific Instagram posts.

Piasa Bird in Alton 

Somewhere between Alton and Elsah is the Piasa Bird — a giant painting on the side of a rugged mountain cliff with lore as big as the art itself. Finding it is fun but snapping a selfie with it is mandatory.

White Squirrels in Olney 

The white squirrels of Olney are elusive and adorable — but if you can spot one and get them to sit still long enough for a pic, you’ll be the envy of Insta.

Downtown in Galena 

Galena’s downtown is something out of a storybook. The cobblestone streets, the art galleries and queer-owned shops and hotels make it a charming and inclusive jaunt from Chicago. Take a selfie in front of the iconic, century-old buildings for your perfect Insta moment.

Next time you’re in Chicago, take a trip outside the city and into the small towns of Illinois simply bursting with heart, charm, and history — and fill your Instagram stories with unforgettable images.

More Gay-friendly Illinois

This is just one of our many favorite stories and hotspots to help you discover gay-friendly Illinois for yourself. Continue your exploration here.

Enjoy a more immersive Illinois experience in the magazine:

ManAboutWorld is an app-based travel magazine by gay men which provides travel inspiration and trip-planning information for all whether you’re in the LGBTQ+ community or are an ally. It’s built exclusively for mobile devices and is not available in print. We first published these articles in the spring 2019 issue and make them available here for your enjoyment. The app and issues are all free. Download it for Apple devices or Android devices.



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By @ 05/07/19 in Gay Illinois, Gay travel, LGBT Illinois, LGBT travel Illinois, Personified, Travel

Josh Laskowski, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineJosh Laskowski is the sunshiney morning voice of WQQB FM “All the Hits on Q 96” in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. His parents have owned a record store in Decatur for 30 years and still going strong, something that’s fueled his appreciation for every genre of music imaginable from death metal to Motown; but didn’t provide a straight path to his DJ career. After working a corporate gig in Chicago, Josh became promotions director at WQQB. As luck would have it, an on-air position opened up two weeks later. Despite his early morning wake up — his first alarm goes off at 4:25am weekdays! — he remains a cheerful morning voice for all his Champaign-Urbana listeners.

Josh always sits on the board of directors of Champaign-Urbana Pride & Parade, an event he helped significantly expand. Josh also leads tours of kids and young adults to historic places across the United States. We caught up with Josh after a recent morning show to discuss how Champaign-Urbana inspires him and what makes it so friendly for local and visiting LGBTQ+ people.

What inspired you to become a DJ?

I always knew I wanted to be in media. I tried TV, but didn’t like it.  I like to talk, and I’m loud. Someone gave me a shot on a late night show on a Decatur radio station. Two weeks in, my promotions director was fired and I took over. That lead me to doing community events that bring people together, which lead me to emceeing Champaign-Urbana’s Pride celebration. The event has become a staple for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in September. It’s fun for those who wish to dance and party to the wee hours, but also fun for the family.

Tell us about life as an LGBTQ person in Champaign. Is there a strong sense of queer community here?

Yes, and having the University of Illinois in our backyard helps tremendously. I came from a more blue-collar area in Decatur, which wasn’t as accepting as it is here in Champaign-Urbana. The only gay bar here closed but its closing hasn’t really harmed the local queer community. We’d love to have such a space here but I still feel accepted everywhere. “Midwest Nice” is real. In terms of diversity, it doesn’t get as diverse in Illinois as it does here.  I feel I can go anywhere and be accepted.

How does Champaign standout from the rest of Illinois?

Part of it is the university. Another is the wonderful food scene. The breadth of local farm-to-table restaurant options is amazing. I Josh Laskowski, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazinecould go out every day for a month and never go to a chain and never go to the same place twice. Also of course the Pride celebration which was the first Pride parade downstate in Illinois outside of Chicago.

What are some places in Champaign that inspire you?

Because I go back to my music ties, the Virginia Theater is a gem in our community. I’m inspired by all the music coming through from 38 Special to Manhattan Transfer — a great spectrum of musical genres that comes to see us. I can see major performances including the Russian Ballet at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. We have an amazing monument of Lincoln near me in Urbana called “The Lincoln Lawyer” statue, which is is located in Carle Park across from Urbana High School. I’m inspired by all the learning that happens here. Champaign-Urbana is cultivating the next generation of leaders. We have an area called Research Park with many major companies recruiting here.

How can LGBTQ visitors support the queer community when they visit Champaign?

They should make plans to come down and see how we celebrate in September for Champaign-Urbana Pride Festival. Pride has become a staple for not only the community but also for University of Illinois faculty, staff and students. We celebrate Pride in September because the students are gone during the summer. Come and see how accepting people are no matter what you look or sound like. It’s an open and loving community. You can get that feel in general all over Champaign-Urbana but especially so in September for when we celebrate Pride in CU.

How would you like to see the LGBTQ community evolve, if at all, in Champaign?

We’d love to have rainbow sidewalks or cross walks! If Chicago and other large metros have them , why can’t we?! But I digress, I’d love to see a dance club open. C Street was the gay dance club and it closed so I feel like that’s missing. I’d love to see that club where it’s easy to go mingle with people looking for the same thing I am. We are only two hours from Chicago and Indianapolis and three from St. Louis so we have the best of both worlds, corn fields and small towns where everyone knows you and a quick drive to the city!

Tell us your perfect Champaign day.

It starts with brunch at Prairie Fruits Farm, a lovely farm whose restaurant (unsurprisingly!) offers a farm-to-table menu. You can also take a tour of the creamery. Then I’d go for a midday movie at the Virginia. We also have a great sports scene here with the fighting Illini. Then we end up downtown Champaign with a fresh meal at a local restaurant.

What local tips do you have for people visiting Champaign for the first time?

For the first time check Visit Champaign County and request a visitors guide ahead of time. Read it and follow it. It focuses on cool stories.  See a sporting event at the university. Go to the local theater. We have a reindeer farm in the county where you can interact with reindeer. Make sure to eat and drink locally. There are great local brews and extraordinary restaurants. Go local with more of my specific recommendations.

More Gay-friendly Illinois

This is just one of our many favorite stories and hotspots to help you discover gay-friendly Illinois for yourself. Continue your exploration here.

Enjoy a more immersive Illinois experience in the magazine:

ManAboutWorld is an app-based travel magazine by gay men which provides travel inspiration and trip-planning information for all whether you’re in the LGBTQ+ community or are an ally. It’s built exclusively for mobile devices and is not available in print. We first published these articles in the spring 2019 issue and make them available here for your enjoyment. The app and issues are all free. Download it for Apple devices or Android devices.



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By @ 05/06/19 in Gay travel, Gay-friendly Illinois, Illinois, LGBT Illinois, LGBT travel Illinois, Personified, Travel

Douglas and Richard in Galena Illinois and in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineDouglas and Robert, owners of the Aldrich Guest House in gay-friendly Illinois, have been together for just over 12 years. They had their Civil Union on their fifth anniversary, shortly after those were legalized in Illinois. A couple years later, when marriage equality passed, they converted it into a marriage. 

Both have been in the service/hospitality industry their entire lives – nearly 50 combined years. They both grew up in the Midwest — Douglas in Indiana, Robert in Michigan.

They initially considered Chicago’s Andersonville or Edgewater neighborhoods for their B&B, but after 11 years in Chicago, they wanted to get back to small town living. When they came to Galena, they found a community where everyone was open and welcoming and extremely friendly! They discovered the Aldrich Guest House on their first trip to Galena and it ticked all of the boxes.  They made an offer and a couple months later, they were the proud owners of Aldrich Guest House!

Built in 1845 as a one room, two-story house by a man named Cyrus Aldrich, a congressman and friend of Abraham Lincoln, the guesthouse is steeped in history. Now, Aldrich Guest House has five guestrooms and can accommodate up to 10 guests.

They’ve been voted one of the top 15 best bed and breakfasts in the entire United States and won first national runner up in a Breakfast at Aldrich House, Gelena, Illinois and in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazinenationwide breakfast competition. They’ve renovated the entire house (no more of that crazy wallpaper!) with the goal of creating a feeling that is relaxing yet elegant.

What they’re most proud of, though, is their unique style of service that is intuitive, personal, and professional yet unobtrusive. They’re always honored that guests choose to stay with us since they’re choosing to make us part of their story, plus guests are our favorite part of what we do.  We recently caught up with Douglas and Robert to chat about Galena, Illinois, small-town life, and the burgeoning LGBTQ community throughout the state.

How is Galena different from other places you’ve lived/visited?

Living in and visiting Galena helps you remember what a human pace is. Having lived in Chicago for so long, we had almost become immune to the hustle and bustle of the city along with the noise and crowds. It wasn’t until we went back to Chicago after our first trip to Galena that we noticed all of those things. Being in Galena definitely helps you slow down and appreciate the people and things around you.

Describe the impact the LGBTQ community has had on Galena over the years you’ve been coming here?

In Galena, we’re very fortunate as part of the LGBTQ community since there have been many before us setting the foundation for a culture of acceptance and equality.  In the 1940s, Galena was a small artist colony which was inherently very open and welcoming. One of the things that’s great for LGBTQ visitors is that there is NOT a ‘gay part’ of town or any ‘gay’ bars etc.  The reason that’s great is because the entire city is open and welcoming so we don’t need a gay section of town – it’s the entire place! There are several small lodging properties in addition to many shops that are owned by LGBTQ folks and even if the innkeepers, shopkeepers, or restaurants aren’t specifically LGBTQ, everyone is welcome. Truly, in Galena, being LGBTQ is a complete non-issue which is just how it should be as that’s what equality looks like!

What are some places in Galena that inspire you?

What we find most inspirational is the outdoors. Galena is situated in what is called the ‘driftless zone’ meaning that the glaciers never scraped the landscape into a pancake like in much of the Midwest. We have hills and valleys, the Mississippi River is just 3 miles away, along with miles and miles of great hiking trails.  Being able to connect with nature in such a grand way is a very special part of living and visiting Galena.

How can LGBTQ travelers support LGBTQ community here and Illinois in general?

The best way for LGBTQ travelers to support the LGBTQ community both in Galena and Illinois is simply by living however you’re most proud. By being you and being confident and proud of that, stereotypes, misinformation, and the taboo of being LGBTQ will continue to disappear as hearts and minds are changed little by little. Thankfully Galena is ahead of the curve, so the opportunity to support LGBTQ businesses by staying at welcoming bed and breakfasts, patronizing supportive stores, etc. is a very real thing in here and is greatly encouraged!

Do you have any tips for people coming to Galena for the first time?

Although there are less than 3,500 people that live here, Galena is not a one trick pony!  We have over 130 mom & pop shops and restaurants along our half mile long Main Street – the Helluva Half Mile! In addition to that, there’s an awesome history that can be experienced through tours of Grant’s Home, the Washburne House, and the Belvedere Mansion as well as the History Museum and Old Market House. If that’s not enough, the great outdoors can keep you busy as well from canoeing/kayaking on the Galena River to biking, hiking, and both cross country and downhill skiing in the winter…and that’s just in Galena not to mention all of the other wonderful places to experience that are within a short drive.  We’ve been here for nearly 5 years, and we still have a long list of things we want to do. So our biggest tip is to plan more than a day…or plan a day, but know that you’re going to want to come back again and again!

What are a couple of your personal hidden gems in Galena (and Greater Illinois, ideally outside of Chicago)? 

In Galena, there are two things that we love – Fritz and Frites Bistro and the P.T. Murphy Magic Show. If you only have an evening in Galena, those are two things not to miss!  Just 15 minutes outside of Galena is Elizabeth which has the Elizabeth Grand Antique Mall and Common Cents both of which are great places to find hidden treasures if you’re into antiques.  While you’re there, stop at E-Town for a great sandwich and visit the Apple River Fort where you can learn how, during an attack by Blackhawk in 1832, the men of the fort had to swallow their pride and let the women help defend the settlement and how the women’s participation is what actually kept the outpost from being destroyed.

What’s been your most embarrassing moment as a guest house owners? Any funny stories you can share?

This is a tough one! Having been in hospitality for so long, nothing really fazes us or surprises us anymore.  That’s part of what’s so great about being innkeepers and in hospitality – no two days are ever the same!

More Gay-friendly Illinois

This is just one of our many favorite stories and hotspots to help you discover gay-friendly Illinois for yourself. Continue your exploration here.

Enjoy a more immersive Illinois experience in the magazine:

ManAboutWorld is an app-based travel magazine by gay men which provides travel inspiration and trip-planning information for all whether you’re in the LGBTQ+ community or are an ally. It’s built exclusively for mobile devices and is not available in print. We first published these articles in the spring 2019 issue and make them available here for your enjoyment. The app and issues are all free. Download it for Apple devices or Android devices.



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By @ 05/06/19 in CheckOut, Ed Salvato, Gay travel, Orlando, Travel

Four Seasons Orlando in ManAboutWorld gay travel magzineCheckOut: Four Seasons. Geared towards families with children, this Four Seasons is the best resort in the area for visitors who need an oasis to retreat to after a day at the theme parks. A contemporary, airy 443-unit hotel set amidst 26.5 lush acres, this Spanish Revival property offers gorgeous vistas, a beautiful running area, five pools (including an adult’s only one), an outdoor lakeside restaurant and incredible views from many rooms and from the rooftop bar/restaurant of the theme parks in the distance — especially appealing during the nightly fireworks displays

Location

Orlando has a good amount of airlift from many major hubs making it super easy to access all year round and incredibly tempting during the interminable, dark winters in the northern U.S. Orlando airport is easy to access from the hotel. Once in Orlando you realize that — like Los Angeles — according to locals, everything is 20 minutes away by car. That more or less proved true during our recent visit. The charming lakeside downtown area is a touch farther and some of the theme parks are a little closer; but count on 15 to 30 minutes to get to most places. You can easily take an Uber. For the Disney theme parks, the hotel offers frequent free shuttles. Considering the gorgeous nature surrounding the hotel, it is best to plan to stay mostly on property with forays to the nearby parks.

Room/Bathroom

Standard rooms and bathrooms are big, airy and light drenched. The closets are spacious, and you’ll find plenty of shelf space in the bathrooms. We scored a one-bedroom King suite (room 1506) which was also quite large and offered a pull-out sofa in the living room. We loved all the little touches like a Nespresso machine for coffee and a wine-by-the-glass machine in the living room. And we especially loved the balcony with full view of the parks’ nightly fireworks extravaganzas. On a minor note we appreciated the free shoe and computer screen wipes in the rooms.

Four Seasons Orlando in ManAboutWorld gay travel magzine

Amenities

The range of amenities should tempt anyone to visit for a quick weekend whether or not you have kids and whether or not you Four Seasons Orlando in ManAboutWorld gay travel magzinegive a rat’s tail about Mickey Mouse. Luxuriate in the spa whose services are topnotch and whose prices aren’t as sky high as in other resorts in major cities. (Ask for Les, a very strong massage therapist.) The gym is huge with floor-to-ceiling views of the verdant property and has everything you need for a great workout. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the running course that laps around the lush, green property. We took a tennis lesson with the pro. Or rather one of us, ahem, watched while our partner took a tennis lesson. Hey, someone had to hand out the lemonade after the lesson! The property is so big and spread out that you don’t even notice the presence of children. Still, the adults only infinity-edge pool allows guests without kids to enjoy some nice 18+-only time, refreshing beverages and lunch.

For park enthusiasts, you’ll find a Disney Planning Center on the Lobby Level just across from the front desk, facilitating guests’ plans to experience the Disney parks, from tickets to dining reservations and special character events. We arranged our DISNEY FASTPASS+ selections  here and that really seemed the way to go in the park, allowing us to pretty much waltz by long (and sometimes very long) lines. Definitely plan your FASTPASS+ selections, or even better, book a VIP Tour Guide.

Gay factor

Four Seasons Orlando in ManAboutWorld gay travel magzineIt’s a Four Seasons so you can expect the same excellent, professional,  gay-friendly service that you always find among the team members of this global brand. The two of us enjoyed a romantic dinner at the restaurant, and the staff made it special. We also encountered a lot of other LGBTQ guests, a number of whom were attending a wedding with two Instagram-famous men who got hitched right there on the expansive lawn in full view of oohing and ahhing guests enjoying brunch on the terrace. We snapped on our “travel” apps (Grindr and Scruff) and found a number of other guys on property as well as many gay men throughout the area — both locals and visitors. Note that if you invite someone over they’d have to contend with parking which isn’t cheap. Orlando is super popular with LGBTQ people especially during the annual One Magical Weekend celebration the first Saturday of June and Gay Days which is in August. Also, the hotel doesn’t advertise it, but they have supported the victims of the Pulse Nightclub tragedy with donations.  

Rates

The rates can be high of course especially in summer and during school vacations but we found lots of times with relatively affordable rates ($300-400 per night). January through mid-February rates are often more affordable as is the month of May which features fabulous weather — not too hot or humid. Also visit the hotel site for special offers https://www.fourseasons.com/orlando/offers including 20% off advanced purchases and a “fourth night free” program. The hotel also offers a new “Explore a New World” Disney Gift Card Package, https://www.fourseasons.com/orlando/offers/disney-gift-card-package/ offered for May-Sept, inspired by the Disney classic Aladdin.

Ready to go

Click/tap here for rates and reservations at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort.  

About the CheckOut

ManAboutWorld highlights properties we have recently and personally stayed at, and is editorial, not advertorial. Like virtually all travel publications, we sometimes accept discounted and sponsored travel, but ManAboutWorld is beholden to no one but you. Our recommendations are based solely on the experience and opinions of our editorial team and trusted network, putting our readers’ interests above all. If you ever have an issue with anything we recommend, please  let us know. We always have your back, and your travel satisfaction in mind. Read our full disclosure here.

Photos by Ed Salvato

 

 

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By @ 05/06/19 in Cape Town, Correspondent, Gay travel, John Walker, South Africa, Travel

Top 5 south africa experiences in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineThese are the top 5 Cape Town experiences from our Australia correspondents John Walker and Gavin Patterson who visited last year.

Table Mountain Cablecar 

Carried to the top of this spectacular mountain by a state of the art revolving cable car, this iconic vantage point allows visitors to drink in the unsurpassed vistas of Cape Town’s breathtaking coastline. Free guided tours present an informative overview of the fascinating flora and fauna. Weather permitting, you might choose an abseiling adventure or a hike for your return journey

Gold 

Offering a traditional theatre restaurant experience in the heart of the De Waterkant district, Gold is a memorable evening of melodic tribal voices, colourful costumes, striking masks, and rhythmic folk dance. A visit here includes a selection of African foods, interactive performances and face painting by the friendly and attentive staff, offering exceptional photo opportunities.

Bo Kaap Street Tour

The pastel, candy coloured houses are the main feature of this photogenic quarter of the city. Our local guide Shiralene revealed a personal history of the descendants of the Cape Malay, muslim slaves, who settled here after emancipation in the early 19th century. We were treated to a traditional dinner in a family home as part of our tour. A unique experience not to be missed.

District 6 Museum and Company Gardens

If the fascinating and sometimes sordid history of Cape Town is your interest, don’t miss the tour of District 6 Museum recounted by locals who grew up during the time when thousands of people from this area were forcibly relocated under apartheid laws. 1n 1994 this museum became a place for reflection and contemplation of discrimination and injustice.

Cape Town Gay Bars

There is something for all tastes in this vibrant gay scene. Your night will be off to a great start with a meal at the Manhattan Club or a burger at Beefcakes before a more serious selection from some of the cheekiest nightclubs on offer. Crew Bar provides a shot of shirtless staff fraternisation while Versatile Bar offers a semi-naked tryst with patrons stripping to their bare essentials.

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