When it comes to emerging gay destinations, New York State offers plenty of havens that are a simple exit off the highway. Such places like Hammondsport, Buffalo, Rochester, Ithaca, Sullivan County, Hudson Valley and Long Island are thriving with festivals, restaurants, hotels and nightlife suitable for anyone who wants to embark on a gay-cation.
Below are more details on what you can expect in each of these fabulous destinations:
More and more gay couples are heading to Hammondsport for a romantic weekend away to relax and rejuvenate. Located in the heart of Finger Lakes Wine Country, Hammondsport is an artsy town that was recently voted "America's Coolest Small Town" by readers of Budget Travel magazine. Often described as something straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting, Hammondsport's scenic beauty, world-renowned wine, and inspiring artists make it a timeless treasure. For more information, visit http://www.corningfingerlakes.com/on-the-map/places/hammondsport
The Black Sheep Inn in Hammondsport welcomes same-sex couples with open arms and scrumptious food. Chef and innkeeper Deb Meritsky has created amazing packages, featuring everything from a sailing excursion to a hot air balloon ride, sure to enhance any romantic getaway. When you've had your fill of adventure, relax at the new Spa and Arbor - an outdoor oasis where rejuvenation is found at its very finest. Be pampered with massage oils, sugar scrubs and more - all made by local artists and herbalists. The Black Sheep Inn can also help you arrange a wedding for you and 28 of your closest friends and family on the grounds of our Inn.
Finger Lakes Wine Country has been recognized internationally for its wines. Not only was it named "the world's most beautiful wine region" by readers of Budget Travel, but it earned a place on Shermans Travel's list of Top Ten Value Destinations in 2011, making it the world's most affordable wine region, as well. Wine tasting at Keuka Lake wineries can either be a fun afternoon for a group of friends on a wine tour, or a romantic experience for the couple who wants to linger over a glass of award-winning Riesling while viewing stunning vistas outside the winery's window.
It's no surprise that GayCities.com named Buffalo, N.Y. its Best Up and Coming City last year!
It starts with world-class modern and contemporary art at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery; architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan and H.H. Richardson; the incredible National Garden Festival, featuring more than 1000 gardens; and some two dozen theaters, presenting everything from LGBTQ plays at the BUA Theater to touring Broadway musicals at the fabulous Shea's Performing Arts Center.
When you add in 400 independently-owned restaurants; LGBTQ bars in Allentown and drag shows at Club Marcella; Babeville, hometown girl Ani DiFranco's performing and visual arts center housed in a converted church; great B&Bs, like the gay-owned Parkside House; luxurious boutique hotels, like the Hotel @ The Lafayette; and our enormous Pride Festival, Buffalo is the perfect getaway for your next gay-cation!
(For weddings check out www.lgbtbuffalo.com - it's your one-stop guide to everything you need to know, from open and affirming houses of worship to reception sites to accommodations.)
For more on LGBTQ Buffalo, please check out: www.visitbuffaloniagara.com/lgbt.
Rochester is the third largest city in New York, home to a fabulous and flourishing gay and lesbian community. Located on the cusp of New York States Finger Lake region and Lake Ontario, there is never a shortage of activities for any season.
The Park Avenue corridor of Rochester's downtown is considered the gay area, offering chic dining, drinking and entertainment with a range of great bars and clubs. During the day, and within walking distance to Park Avenue, one will find historic sites, museums, galleries as well as shopping and theater. With many active gay and lesbian groups and events being held throughout the year, the gay pride festivities are accepted and celebrated not only within the gay community but far outside as well.
Now in its 20th year, ImageOut: The Rochester Lesbian & Gay Film & Video Festival's 10 day festival features more than 40 programs and 90 films from around the world. ImageOut is Upstate New York's longest running lesbian and gay film and video festival and will run this year from October 5-14. ImageOut informs, entertains, educates, and enriches filmgoers through the exhibition of film and videos by, and about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. The festival encourages lesbian and gay filmmakers, who, as a group, are rarely seen in mainstream media. It is an opportunity to record and preserve the stories and histories of LGBTQ lives and to foster collaborations and conversations to break down social and cultural barriers concerning lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
The Advocate ranked Ithaca a top-10 city for gays & lesbians. Beyond the gorges and waterfalls, Ithaca features a civilized art scene, great food, year-round theater and respectable gay-friendly nightlife for a small town. Some top LGBTQ picks are:
Felicia's Atomic Lounge is the unofficial HQ of Ithaca's cultural scene. The signature locavore cocktails (try the sage-Riesling cocktail), acoustic music and great vibe that make up this hot spot are courtesy of owners Amelia Sauter and Leah Houghtailing.
The Oasis Dance Club is a surprisingly hot rural dance club. They offer a wide array of dance music plus live jazz, blues, karaoke and so much more. Every night is a little bit different and LGBTQs are always welcome.
Gay-owned Juniper Hill and its American Expressionist Gallery is the perfect romantic getaway for relaxation, intimate celebration and a tranquil retreat from everyday life. Shermans Travel nominated this luxurious Bed & Breakfast as #1 top 10 Lakeside Retreat in the Finger Lakes.
Gay and lesbian couples have long visited and settled into our beautiful and easily accessible Sullivan County Catskills. It's less than two hours from Manhattan - and affords couples country escapes in any season. Many businesses are gay-owned and gay friendly.
Outdoor enthusiasts come for the clean, fresh mountain air and fun in rivers, lakes and streams. There's white water rafting and tubing on the Delaware River and kayaking, canoeing or motor boating on any of a number of lakes including White Lake and Swinging Bridge Lake.
Culture lives here, too. See arts galleries and exhibits in Narrowsburg at the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance, Callicoon Fine Arts in Callicoon, at Livingston Manor's Catskill Art Society, Barryville's Brookhouse Gallery and Wurtsboro's Red Eft Gallery. Music and theater offer great escapes. The NaCL Theater in Highland Lake presents plays and cutting edge contemporary performances from around the world. Bethel Woods Center for the Arts at the site of the 1969 Woodstock Music festival hosts diverse, culturally rich performances, educational and community programs, and more as well as an award-winning Museum about Woodstock and the '60s. Forestburgh Playhouse offers professional summer theatre with Broadway musicals and plays in an historic 125-year-old air conditioned barn-theatre. Post-show show dining, cocktails and cabaret in the adjoining Tavern is a must.
When the crowds are gone, you'll love the intimacy of the Sullivan County Catskills. Not to be outdone by the warmth of a cozy fireplace at a charming inn or B&B. And, whatever season you choose to visit, you certainly won't go home hungry. From Barryville to Wurtsboro, there's brick oven pizza, Greek, Japanese, Korean, Italian, contemporary and more. You can even savor the aroma of roasting coffee beans wafting across Kauneonga Lake.
The Hudson Valley is known to be an LGBTQ-friendly destination with incomparable amenities and just a short and easy drive north from NYC. Whatever your tastes, from pounding disco to rushing streams to quiet strolls on country roads and forest trails, we have it in abundance. Come spend some time in the Hudson Valley and relax. For an extensive list of accommodations, restaurants and things to see and do for a fabulous gay-cation, visit Big Gay Hudson Valley.
Just off the coast of New York City, Long Island offers a close but comfortable getaway from the Big Apple. The most popular vacation destinations in Long Island are the North Fork, with its picturesque wineries, and of course the Hamptons for its privileged beach homes. Other areas to know about are the North Shore, once so famous as home to the rich that Fitzgerald set his novel The Great Gatsby there, and the South Shore, which tends to be more diverse and popular for its beaches. Of course, just off the South Shore is the hedonistic Fire Island, which can be accessed by ferry from Sayville or Bay Shore.
The Long Island gay community tends to be well-established and socialize beyond just the bar scene. The strongest pockets of gays are probably in Sayville, East Hampton and Glen Cove. Long Island is also very excited to have the opportunity to welcome same sex unions (since Marriage Equality is now law in NYS) that the Long Island CVB launched a special weddings website with a special emphasis on gay weddings. For a listing of LICVB members wishing to extend a special welcome to you, visit http://www.discoverlongisland.com/visitors/ThingsResult.aspx/minor/WEBLGBT/section/weddings.