7 fall travel ideas for retired circuit queens

Two men at a park.

To avoid crowds, save money, and enjoy fabulous weather, fall is a particularly ideal time to travel. In some cases, gay travelers will forgo beaches overflowing with bikini-clad boys and a circuit party (or five) for a quieter, more romantic getaway.

We rounded up seven underrated yet novel destinations that offer a more laid-back kind of adventure for your autumnal travel plans. The kind that is more likely to call upon books, sweaters, and hiking boots than sunscreen, speedos, and pool parties…

Puerto Vallarta

Playa De Los Muertos beach and pier
Playa De Los Muertos beach and pier is close to the famous Puerto Vallarta Malecon, the city’s largest public beach

Fall is a great time to visit Puerto Vallarta as the summer rains subside and the blistering heat finally relents. The season also enjoys a plethora of street festivals, all of which have both a local and a gay flavor. The Blue Chairs area of the beach will still bustle, but now you’ll actually be able to finish that Andrew Holleran novel you’ve had on your bedside table for the last six months. The bars of Zona Romantica will still thump late into the night, but now you can savor some of the world’s best tequila with a friend rather than fight for a spot a the bar and dance floor.

Playa Los Muertos

*The* PV spot to hang out The southside of the beach: look for the blue and green chairs in front of the Blue Chairs Resort · Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico


Blue Sunset Rooftop Bar

At Blue Chairs Resort Malecón 4, Zona Romántica, Emiliano Zapata · Puerto Vallarta, JAL 48380
(322) 222-5040

Burlington, Vermont

Burlington, Vermont

If the word Vermont makes you think of green rolling hills, patchwork farmland, and quaint New England towns, you aren’t far off. But Burlington is also a modern metropolis – with a population of same-sex couples that is far above the national average. It has become a nationwide marriage destination for its combination of natural beauty and liberal social climes; the perfect combination for throwing the wedding of a lifetime.

In the fall, Burlington is a twofer. You get a bit of urban style but you also get the colors of autumn, and we don’t just mean pink. The huge maple trees are resplendent in red, yellow, and green. So take a drive through the countryside and spend the evening in one of the most gay-friendly towns around. If you are seeking alpine adventure, the Green Mountains are perfect for a day of hiking. The quaint town of Stowe is home to Vermont Ski Week.

Vermont Pub & Brewery

Serving handcrafted beers 144 College St · Burlington, VT 05401
(802) 865-0500

Moose Meadow Lodge

Adirondack-style lodge 607 Crossett Hl · Waterbury, VT 05676
(802) 244-5378


Ferris Wheel in Orlando

Let’s face it, Walt Disney put Orlando on the map. Most everyone has made the trek to Disney at one point in their lives, and admit, you’ve probably done it too if only for Disney Gay Days. Today Orlando has much more to offer than Disney with a zillion theme park choices, Sea World, Universal Studio resort, a growing live music scene, and yes, a fun gay bar and club scene. Fall is an ideal time to visit as the Florida humidity recedes, and the kids are back in school and somehow that makes for a less overwhelming tourist presence.

RELATED: See how cities across the globe memorialized Orlando’s Pulse Massacre

Enzo’s On The Lake

Great Italian food with lakeside location 1130 S. Hwy 17 92 · Longwood, FL 32750
(407) 834-9872

Castle Hotel, Autograph Collection

Castle-themed hotel for the queens 8629 International Dr · Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 345-1511


photo via kymagirl

Although sometimes overshadowed by its omnipotent neighbor, Washington DC, Baltimore does have its own special mojo. It is the hometown of quirky queer filmmaker John Waters, after all. Baltimore’s growing gay and lesbian community offers gay bars, nightlife, and shopping.

But it is also so much more. Steeped in history, Baltimore is the largest city in Maryland and has several sightseeing options of interest. Mount Vernon is considered the gay district with bars, restaurants, inns, and museums. The gay community is very active in Baltimore with an all-male performance group, a gay bookstore, and many cultural and political events. There are also several romantic waterfront locations, including the Harbor (pictured), which is filled with great restaurants and a wonderful museum. All of this proves that Baltimore ain’t called Charm City for nothing.


Queer “Cheers” 6037 Belair Rd · Baltimore, MD 21206
(410) 599-1952

Club Charles

A step back in time 1724 N Charles St · Baltimore, MD 21201
(410) 727-8815

Russian River

Two men sipping wine outdoors

The Russian River town of Guerneville has been a gay resort area since the early 1970s and features a number of gay hotels/resorts and campgrounds as well as a collection of small but popular bars. In the summer it is host to a series of popular weekend events, from gay softball tournaments to bear parties.

By September, around grape harvesting season, the pace slows considerably. The sun is less intense, and the resort prices drop. It becomes more of a quaint river town, less of a rollicking weekend hotspot.

Similar to many other gay escapes, by day you’ll find the boys lounging around the resort pools, and by night they hit the dance floors and bars. The Russian River is nestled in old-growth redwoods so be sure to swim, float or paddle your way on the river between sipping those cocktails.

Guerneville Lodge

Renovated cabins on the river 15905 River Road · Guerneville, CA 95446
(707) 869-0102

Sophie’s Cellars

One-of-a-kind wine shop 20293 Highway 116 · Monte Rio, CA 95462
(707) 865-1122


A lake in Hamburg

In addition to the seedy possibilities that a port town invariably offers, and for all its chart-topping wealth and provincial-cosmopolitan feel, Hamburg has a definite air of sexiness about it. Germans have a certain reputation for an indefinable, lust-inducing Old World confidence, and gay-positive sex-embracing Hamburg has it in spades. It ranks as Germany’s second largest city after Berlin, and like its southeastern neighbor boasts an impressive CV of gay history and culture. While it can’t match Berlin’s culture or booming queer scene, it boasts cheaper hotel rooms, a less frenetic pace, and millions of gallons of wonderful German beer, which is never a bad thing when Oktoberfest is approaching. Cheers!

136° (136 Grad) (at Bahnhof Pauli)

Party party party Spielbudenplatz 21-22 · Hamburg 20359


Toms Saloon

Former Iconic leather bar: next generation Pulverteich 17 · Hamburg 20099
(402) 803-056


A backpacker in Santiago Chile

There are more than 50 active volcanoes in Chile, but some of the hottest action can be found in its capital, Santiago. A cosmopolitan destination in South America, Santiago boasts a diverse gay community, with many visible bars and clubs.

While Santiago can’t yet compete with Rio or Buenos Aires for the sure vivacity and multiplicity of gay life, it is an under-appreciated gem, growing both in social tolerance and as an international destination. Fall is a particularly great time to visit because it’s essentially spring there, and while there are fewer shirtless men, the balmy weather makes heat stroke a lot less likely.

Gays in the city tend to gravitate towards the bohemian sensibility of the Bellavista district (and some parts of neighboring Provincia), with funky shops and upscale restaurants wedged between after-hour clubs and bathhouses.

Homophobia is in a steady decline as several non-profit organizations work to bring a lively pride parade into the city and to foster equality. Recently, its current conservative president, Sebastian Piera, featured a gay couple holding hands in one of his campaign ads.

Espacio Bunker

Circuit music haven Bombero Núñez 159 · Santiago, CL
(562) 737-1716

Fausto Discotheque

One of the oldest gay discos in Latin America Av. Sta. María 832 · Santiago, CL
(562) 777-1041
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