Gay Vacations in Washington, D.C.

Night view of the Washington Monument from the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC
View of the Washington Monument from the Jefferson Memorial (Adam Jones/Digital Vision/Getty)

Washington DC Highlights

  • Consider the train. Amtrak's high-speed train, the Acela, travels from D.C. to New York in under three hours (when it’s not delayed). It can be a lot less of a hassle than flying.
  • Visit during the quieter congressional recesses. Lawmakers break for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, July 4th, and the entire month of August. Mid-March through June is the busiest time in D.C., with things generally kicking off as the cherry blossoms bloom around the city's Tidal Basin each spring. August can have cheaper hotel rates as well.
  • D.C. has a very gay-positive tourism board—go to for LGBT highlights, neigborhoods, and events.

If you are ever going to feel a sense of patriotism, it will be in magnificently planned Washington, D.C., where there seems to be a breathtaking monument around every corner. You can also be proud of your gay history here, too: Nob Hill, the nation’s oldest gay bar still in operation, was founded in 1957 and remains a favorite with students from Howard University. In 1965, America's first gay civil-rights demonstration took place in front of the White House, with picketers dressed in business suits. The city’s Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance is the nation’s oldest continuously active LGBT organization. And in 1991, the nation’s first Black Gay and Lesbian Pride Day happened here.

You could spend days and days and still not see everything on the National Mall, the gorgeous space between the U.S. Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial. Most of the buildings of the Smithsonian are on the Mall, as are the National Archives (home to the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights), and the Washington, Jefferson, and Roosevelt monuments. In D.C. you’ll find a museum for any mood, from the National Museum of the American Indian to the National Museum of Women in the Arts to the National Gallery of Art to the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Despite its reputation as a businesslike, buttoned-down, and even sleepy town, D.C. is one of gayest destinations on the East Coast. Sure, it may not have the hip nightlife of New York or Miami, but scores of LGBTs call the place home. The city even has an Office of LGBT Affairs and an aggressive, gay-focused tourism campaign. Although gays are scattered across town, the main hub remains the traditionally queer area of Dupont Circle, with Capitol Hill also drawing its fair share of family. Visit in May for the huge, four-day Black Pride Festival and the Reel Affirmations LGBT film fest. The multi-faceted Capital Pride Festival is held in June.

Published: 17 Jul 2008 | Last Updated: 17 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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