New Cities Top LGBT Vacation Destination List

In the past, lists of top LGBT vacation spots or places to live were no surprise: cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and New York were in the top five over and over. But things have begun to change, and the 2016 LGBT vacation destination list contains some surprising cities. In a survey done by Gogobot, a number of cities that are considered second-tier have taken over the list, replacing the more well-known LGBT cities.

Breaking Down the City List

New Cities Top LGBT Vacation Destination ListAtlanta has topped the 2016 list, which some may find surprising due to the various recent battles over LGBT rights in the south. However, the city is one of the largest in the region and has a very diverse population. Coming in second is Minneapolis, followed by Boston and Austin, Texas. Boston should come as no surprise—it has always been a very popular with the LGBT community. Austin, however, is another liberal city in a fairly conservative state that serves as a haven for gays and lesbians in Texas. Later down the list are Dallas and Washington, D.C., both of which are known for their good-sized LGBT populations. Tampa, Florida, completes the list.

Why are gay and lesbian tourists visiting these cities instead of San Francisco and New York? Some may actually be looking for places to move to, while others have visited the larger cities in the past and have no desire to do so again. There’s also a cultural shift into going smaller and looking to more local destinations and shops, something these second-tier cities are more apt to have.

Getting Their Names Out There

Another factor that may have had an impact on these rankings is marketing. A number of cities have begun marketing themselves as LGBT friendly destinations that actively want LGBT tourists and residents. This is especially true in states like Georgia and Texas, where city officials may be concerned that they are being stereotyped by the actions of other southern states. Dallas has spent years building up its friendly reputation, for example, and Austin is working to replicate their success.

Of course, that’s not to say that LGBT tourists have abandoned New York or San Francisco completely. Those two cities still remain a major draw for LGBT tourists, but the expense of both cities has certainly impacted the number of people who can afford to spend long holidays there. These second-tier cities tend to be much cheaper to visit and to live in.

Living in South Dakota

South Dakota isn’t one of the states a lot of people talk about—it’s not often in the news, and it is only really known to be the home of Mount Rushmore. However, there are many who call the state home, and there are those who may be considering a move to South Dakota. If you’re one of them, you probably want to know what the state’s take on LGBT rights are. You may be surprised about how liberal the state is in some ways and dismayed about how conservative it is in others.

Legality of Same-Sex Sexual Activity

Living in South DakotaThis is one area in which South Dakota is very liberal. While the Territory of the Dakotas, which the state was originally part of, did ban all sodomy in 1862 regardless of the gender of those involved, it actually legalized all consensual acts in 1976. Very few other states took that position, with some enforcing sodomy laws up until Lawrence v. Texas in 2003.


Unfortunately, South Dakota is on the conservative end of the marriage debate. Voters passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman in November of 2006, and it wasn’t until the Supreme Court ruling in June of 2015 that same-sex marriage was recognized in the state.

There was a lawsuit filed in 2014 petitioning the court to recognize same-sex marriage. The judge found in January of 2015 that the plaintiffs’ rights were being deprived, but while she ruled in favor, she also immediately stayed the ruling so that the defense could make their appeal. In June, following Obergefell v. Hodges, the entire case became moot and same-sex marriage became legal in the state.


Any individual in South Dakota can adopt. The state has no laws or prohibitions on same-sex couples adopting or on second-parent adoption.

Legal Protections

The state has no laws that actually address discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. No hate crime laws deal with either issue, either. There are a few cities and counties that does specifically address discrimination in regards to sexual orientation. Both Sioux Falls and Brookings have sexual orientation discrimination laws, as does the county of Minnehaha. The county of Oglala Lakota has protections in place based off of both orientation and gender identity.

Recently, the state did introduce a “bathroom bill” similar to the one that has caused many issues in North Carolina. However, the governor vetoed the bill after meeting with a number of transgender teens.

The Gayest Cities in the South

Thinking about moving to the south? While it’s true that many of the southern states do tend to be more conservative, and a number of them have made headlines with their anti-LGBT stance, there are some cities in the south that are very diverse and welcoming. The south can be beautiful, and if you’re a history buff, it’s full of fascinating places to visit. There are also a number of large corporations headquartered in cities like Atlanta and Miami, so the south has plenty of lucrative jobs. Here are some of the gayest cities in the south that you might think about moving to.


The Gayest Cities in the SouthThe country music capital of the world, Nashville, Tennessee, is also home to a good sized LGBT population. You’ll find many of them in The District, the gay part of the city that features plenty of LGBT bars, clubs, and other businesses. The large number of colleges and universities in the city, including Vanderbilt and Tennessee State, bring in a number of young, accepting students to the area, too.

New Orleans

Home of Mardi Gras, it should come as no surprise that New Orleans, Louisiana, is a major LGBT destination. But while many people visit the city, it also has a good sized permanent gay and lesbian population. There are many different parties, parades, and other events in New Orleans that will certainly appeal to those who love glamour and glitz.


Austin, Texas, is where to go if you’re a part of the LGBT community, want to live in the south, and are in the technology industry. It’s been called the Silicon Valley of the South because of all the different tech companies there, which has also made it one of the fastest growing U.S. cities. Music is also big in Austin, giving it the title of the Live Music Capital of the World. It’s no wonder that the city is sometimes referred to as “Gay Austin.”


Head to the north of Texas and you’ll find Dallas, a city home to one of the largest U.S. LGBT populations. It’s also the location of the Cathedral of Hope, a huge LGBT church. The center of the LGBT community in Dallas is Oak Lawn, a quiet neighborhood featuring a number of LGBT-owned stores, boutiques, and restaurants. As a part of the huge DFW Metro area, there’s plenty to see and do in the area, too.

These are just a few of the large cities in the south where the LGBT population isn’t just welcomed, it’s growing.

What Does Philadelphia Have to Offer?

Thinking about moving to Philadelphia?  The city has a lot to offer anyone, and it should come as no surprise that it’s very LGBT-welcoming.  After all, the city does share its name with one of the first major mainstream movies to discuss LGBT themes.  The City of Brotherly Love is a popular travel destination, but it’s also a popular place to move to.  With 1.5 million people, Philadelphia is a large city and is also quite liberal.

LGBT Rights in the State

Philadelphia Has a Lot to Offer the LGBT CommunityPennsylvania is a fairly liberal state, something that is reflected in Philadelphia.  Same-sex marriage has been recognized since May of 2014.  Even before then, Philadelphia was one of the few cities that created “life partnerships” for those who were not married but wanted to be recognized as being in a committed relationship.  The city and the state also allow adoption by single people regardless of orientation and, since 2002, has recognized same-sex second-parent adoptions.

An executive order, the first in the country, was issued in 1975 protecting LGBT people from discrimination as far as state employment goes.  This order was updated in 2003 to include gender identity.  The state also passed a law in 2002 adding sexual orientation and gender identity to its hate crimes law.  However, information regarding agriculture was included in the bill, and the state Supreme Court was later forced to declare it void due to this addition.  Unfortunately, no new hate crimes law has been passed

Despite the executive order, the state still has no laws regarding discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  Several bills have been introduced to change this, but none have passed.  Philadelphia, however, has had a comprehensive non-discrimination policy on the books since 1982 regarding sexual orientation and since 2002 for gender identity.

The Gayborhoods of Philadelphia

As a huge city, Philadelphia does have a few neighborhoods that are considered gay ghettos.  One of the largest is Washington Square, a great neighborhood with many historic houses.  A number of businesses and other destinations are within walking distance.

Another popular LGBT neighborhood is Center City.  This is considered the main LGBT business district and is full of shops, restaurants, and other businesses owned by LGBT people.

Then there’s Pennsport.  This diverse neighborhood is one of the perfect places to raise a family.  You’ll find plenty of parks and other areas for children here.  It’s close to Center City, which means you’ll never be very far from businesses and cafes, plus it’s near the river.