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Pride Journeys: Cape Cod/Provincetown

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By now, most of you know I march to the beat of my own drummer, so when I decided to visit a summer time destination in the winter, people weren’t surprised. Cape Cod is known for attracting throngs of LGBTQ beach and party goers to its northmost tip, Provincetown. Having never been to P-Town, the locals found it surprising that I would visit during the winter, when the towns population is a fraction of what it is during the summer.

My first stop on my Cape Cod journey was the town of Hyannis, located about mid-way up the cape. On the suggestion of a friend of mine, I booked a stay at the Sea Street Inn, a lovely 5-bedroom bed and breakfast located just blocks from the ocean and minutes away from the historic Kennedy Compound.

Sea Street Inn in Hyannis on Cape Cod. (Sea Street Inn)

The Sea Street Inn is not your typical B&B. Upon arrival, I was greeted by the proprietor Adrian and offered a lobster roll as a ‘welcome to the Cape’ gift. The property was designed by Adrian and his wife Xenia in 2018 and features a beautiful art gallery, sitting area and dining solarium where guests can enjoy breakfast or their morning coffee. Adrian is a classically trained French chef who studied under Jean-Georges Vongerichten, so the Sea Street Inn offers a dinner menu that rivals any 4-star restaurant. I had the opportunity to sample some of the best food in recent memory including a delectable smoked trout and brie dish in addition to a crab BLT.

A short drive from the Sea Street Inn is the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum, a multimedia exhibit designed to highlight the days JFK spent on Cape Cod relaxing with family, entertaining world leaders and sailing on the ocean, one of his favorite hobbies.

The entry to the JFK Museum in Hyannis on Cape Cod. (Joey Amato/Pride Journeys)

The Museum’s exhibits feature videos and photographs spanning the years 1934 to 1963. In addition to photography, an orientation video narrated by Walter Cronkite depicts the President’s experiences on the Cape.

I decided to take an afternoon adventure to Nantucket on the high-speed ferry, which whisks you to the oasis in about an hour. Even in the winter, Nantucket is gorgeous. With limited time to explore the island, I wasted no time and headed straight to the Whaling Museum to view their Festival of Trees exhibition which transforms the museum into a festive winter wonderland for the entire month of December. The highlight of the museum is the Whale Hunt Gallery which explores all aspects of the demanding and dangerous trade of 18th century whaling. Although I am against this trade, it was an important part of the area’s history. The centerpiece of the gallery is the skeleton of a 46-foot male sperm whale, which died on Siasconset beach on January 1, 1998.

The centerpiece of the Whale Hunt Gallery in the Nantucket Historical Association’s Whaling Museum is the skeleton of a 46-foot male sperm whale. (Nantucket Historical Association)

Nantucket is filled with wonderful boutiques and family-owned restaurants. I asked around and almost everyone on the island recommended I try the Lola Burger at LoLa 41. It was probably the most expensive hamburger I have ever ordered at $22, but the perfectly cooked burger was served with Cabot Cheddar Cheese, a red onion compote, and foie sauce. One of my favorite things to do is pair a burger with a nice glass of Pinot Noir. It was the perfect way to end my journey before heading back to the mainland.

About halfway between Hyannis and P-Town is the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, a small museum which also serves as a nature education center which is worth visiting if you have some time to spare on your way up the cape. The museum offer guests a variety of programs, classes, lectures, panel discussions, and interactive exhibits that reveal the many facets of Cape Cod’s natural wonders.

Driving into Provincetown for the first time was magical. I felt like I was exploring a small island town filled with narrow cobblestone streets, dozens of art galleries, quaint restaurants and of course LGBTQ establishments. The more time I spent in P-Town, the more I began to realize why people are in love with this destination. You feel like you’re in a gay oasis a million miles away from the rest of society and free to do whatever you want, without judgement. Even the straight community that visits the town is accepting of LGBTQ people and everyone is extremely welcoming and friendly.

One of my first stops in P-Town was the Provincetown Art Association & Museum, a collective gallery exhibiting the works of local artists, many of whom identify as LGBTQ. One half of the space is dedicated to museum caliber works while the other half serves as a gallery space where people have the opportunity to purchase local art.

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The gallery at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum. (Provincetown Art Association and Museum/Facebook)

There are many lodging options in P-Town, but I decided to stay at Land’s End Inn for its location at the tip of the peninsula. My room, which was called the Library Room, offered unobstructed views of both the sunrise and sunset and is located just a few minutes from Herring Cove Beach. Antique lovers will be in heaven at Land’s End Inn. Its décor is more traditional than I usually enjoy but lends nicely to the property’s rich history. In addition to complimentary breakfast, the Inn also offers a daily wine reception where you can mingle with other hotel guests.

Winter at Land’s End Inn in Provincetown on Cape Cod. (Land’s End Inn/Facebook)

Surprisingly, 2018 was the first time Provincetown held a gay pride festival. I guess when the town is gay all the time, people didn’t find the need for one. This year’s festival is scheduled for May 30 through June 2. Last year’s festival featured a rainbow laser installation, a disco dance party and a pride sashay/stroll.

Bear Week will take place this July and is an annual gathering of…bears. It’s one of the largest and busiest theme weeks in Provincetown, attracting tens of thousands of men and hosting dozens of parties and shows. Another fun event is P-Town’s annual Carnival, which will take place August 15-25 and celebrates the towns LGBTQ culture.

The Pilgrim Monument has the best views in Provincetown

To get the best view of the town, climb to the top of Pilgrim Monument which was constructed to honor the Pilgrims’ first landing in Provincetown. President Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone in 1907 and the 252-foot tower was completed in 1910.

The only thing I didn’t like about Provincetown was the cost of food. An inexpensive dinner can easily run about $30. I tried finding a few less expensive places to dine and stumbled upon Canteen. Try their homemade clam chowder, you won’t be disappointed. If you want something sweet, head to Purple Feather Café and indulge in one of their special desserts or famous white hot chocolate.

The Canteen on Commercial Street is open seven days a week, serving up hearty and healthy breakfast, lunch and dinners. (The Canteen/Facebook)

During my stay, the gay bars were a bit slow, but this is something that I expected. Visiting in the winter helped me navigate the town easier than during the summer months and when I return, I’ll feel like a local. If you aren’t into crowds but still want to get a feel for the town, I would recommend visiting during shoulder season…May or October. Otherwise, be prepared for one non-stop party if you decide to visit this summer. I know I’ll be back!

Enjoy the Journey!

Pride Journeys is an LGBT travel website dedicated to sharing travel reviews and news of interest to the LGBT community. For more info, visit www.PrideJourneys.com.

Joey Amato is the publisher of Frugayity, a personal finance advice website geared towards helping the LGBTQ community live a more frugal life and save for the future. Amato has been in LGBTQ media for over a decade, having published his own lifestyle magazine UNITE in Nashville and Indianapolis. He is also the publisher of Pride Journeys, a syndicated LGBTQ travel column and website. For more information, visit www.frugayity.com.

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Pride Journeys: Palm Beach

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On my recent visit to The Palm Beaches, I wanted to explore parts of the region I hadn’t had the chance to visit when I lived in the area a little of a decade ago. Palm Beach County encompassed dozens of cities and towns, each with its own unique charm and attractions. While most people think of Florida’s beaches as the main attraction in the Sunshine State, Palm Beach County stretches all the way to the Everglades in the west and has developed into one of the top agri-tourism destinations in the country.

Delray Beach

The Yamato-kan, a Japanese style house in the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens (Fragments / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0)

I began my trip in Delray Beach, the town I used to live in. One of Delray Beach’s hidden gems is Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. Guests get to experience authentic Japanese culture and stroll through acres of lush trails transporting them to a different land. I didn’t even feel as if I was in Florida as I spent time at the reflection pond, the bamboo forest, or the old museum. While in Delray Beach, head to the Pineapple Grove arts district, a stretch of downtown devoted to art galleries, cafes, and boutiques. Swing by City Oyster on Atlantic Avenue for lunch and try order the Lobster Roll. You will not be disappointed.

West Palm Beach

Front angled view of redesigned Norton Museum of Art in February 2019, designed by Foster & Partners. (Nigel Young / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0)

From Delray Beach, head north on I-95 – or jump on the Tri-Rail to West Palm Beach and visit the Norton Museum of Art. During my visit, the museum was exhibiting Origin Stories: Photography of Africa and Its Diaspora, a collection that confronts the intertwined relationship between identity and colonialism in communities across the African continent. The museum also contains a permanent collection of Asian and European artwork.

After the museum, take a walk along Clamatis Street, the dining and entertainment hub of West Palm Beach or journey over to Palm Beach Island, where the world’s wealthiest people go to play during the winter months. Mansions and sprawling estates surround the island which includes many historic properties including the Flagler Museum, The Breakers and Mar-a-Lago, which was originally built for cereal company heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post.

The Hilton West Palm Beach is the ultimate place for convenience and comfort. Hilton West Palm Beach is the very embodiment of refinement, located within the epicenter of Downtown and connected directly to the Palm Beach County Convention Center. (Discover ThePalm Beaches)

There are many hotels located on Palm Beach, but they can get a bit pricey depending on the time of year you visit. A great option is the Hilton West Palm Beach, located across the street from Rosemary Square and within walking distance to many of the area’s main attractions. The luxurious property features a grand lobby, large fitness center and massive outdoor pool, perfect for a nice relaxing dip after a long day of sightseeing.

Table 26’s Zucchini Pasta, featuring roasted heirloom tomatoes, pine nuts, and basil pesto. (@libbyvision / Table 26 Palm Beach / Facebook)

Grab dinner at Table 26, one of West Palm Beach’s most popular LGBTQ-owned restaurants. My guest and I began our meal with the Squash Blossoms and Burrata & Tomato salad, a simple yet delicious selection that is always a favorite of mine. For dinner, we wanted to order something a little on the lighter side, so we opted for the Zucchini pasta prepared with roasted heirloom tomatoes, pine nuts, basil pesto and shaved parmesan. If you are in the mood to grab some cocktails, head to The Mad Hatter Lounge located in Lake Worth, a town known for its thriving LGBTQ culture. Lake Worth is also home to Compass, the area’s LGBTQ community center.

Jupiter

Welcome Center building entrance at Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter. (Discover ThePalm Beaches)

After grabbing a morning coffee, head to Jupiter, about a 20-minute drive north from the hotel to the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary. The free attraction relies on donations to help maintain the property and support its animals. Last year alone, the sanctuary cared for over 6,000 animals who arrived to the facility, which was established to care for sick, injured and orphaned wild animals, while promoting wildlife and habitat conservation. All of the animals at Busch Wildlife Sanctuary are native to Florida.

PonTiki boat cruising the Loxahatchee River with the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse in the background. (@yourdailynaturefix / PonTiki Boat Cruises / Facebook)

While in Jupiter, head to Lucky Shuck for lunch and grab a table with a view of the intracoastal waterway. The restaurant offers wonderful service, fresh and simple food, and a relaxed island time environment. I decided to try the Ceviche Trio, prepared three different ways and was so surprised at the differences between each of the preparations. For dessert – yes, I had dessert for lunch – try the Key Lime pie served with a coconut meringue and passion fruit glaze. It was one of the most delicious items I had on my entire visit. After lunch, jump on the Love Street Outdoor Center PonTiki Cruise a few steps from the restaurant, for a 30-minute or hour-long cruise around Jupiter inlet before heading back to the Hilton for some R&R before dinner.

A tiger playing at the McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary. (McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary)

Although it is easy to navigate West Palm Beach via public transportation, I would recommend renting a car if you really want to explore the destination and some of its most popular attractions including McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary. The guided tours are so informative, and guests learn the stories of each animal and how they arrived at the Sanctuary. Whereas Busch Sanctuary only cares for animals local to the region, McCarthy’s is home to a variety of animals from all corners of the globe including Amur leopards, Bengal tigers, lions and even a snow leopard. Many of these animals were illegally owned and taken in by the sanctuary as they can’t be allowed into the wild.

All of the animals are well cared for and were quite friendly and playful. The jaguar was purring during our entire visit and the beautiful white tiger was rubbing up against the encloser seeking some attention from us. In addition to big cats, the sanctuary also houses exotic birds, lemurs, and a feisty fox.

Worth Avenue is an upscale shopping district in Palm Beach, Florida. (Discover ThePalm Beaches)

No trip to Palm Beach would be complete without a shopping spree or stroll along Worth Avenue. High-end boutiques such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Akris line the street. Even if you don’t want to shop, it is still a fun experience to window shop and watch the parade of exotic cars that drive up and down the avenue.

It takes a good week to explore the destination, especially if you want to visit numerous cities and attractions. One of my favorite times to visit Florida in general is the spring and fall, as the weather is divine.

To book your West Palm Beach gaycation, visit www.Orbitz.com/pride

Enjoy the Journey!

Pride Journeys is an LGBT travel website dedicated to sharing travel reviews and news of interest to the LGBT community. For more info, visit www.PrideJourneys.com.

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Pride Journeys: Iceland

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The only way to describe Iceland is…magical. It truly is. Iceland is like no other place I’ve visited in the world. It’s topography, climate, people, culture, history, and nightlife blended together make Iceland a surreal adventure that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. In my case, this is my second visit to the country, and probably not my last.

The first time I set foot on the island, I was on a mission to see the elusive northern lights. While they evaded me during that visit, this time was different. I didn’t see Aurora dancing through the sky, but I did see a hint of the lights, enough to make me stop and stare in awe of their beauty.

One of Iceland’s many strengths is its people. I met an incredible group of people who helped make this visit extremely memorable, including openly gay Icelandic pop star Friðrik Ómar, who invited me to his Christmas concert. Although most of the concert was in sung in Icelandic, many of the songs were recognizable, including a fabulous version of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas”. Friðrik was a former contestant on Eurovision, and it was easy to see why. His vocals and stage presence were extraordinary, reminiscent of George Michael.

Reykjavík

Situated on a hilltop near the center of Reykjavík, Hallgrímskirkja is the largest church in Iceland and among the tallest structures in the country. (Ferdinand Stöhr / Wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Book your stay at the Reykjavík Konsúlat hotel located in the heart of the downtown Reykjavík, just a short walk from all of the city’s main attractions including Harpa concert hall, Sun Voyager and the iconic Hallgrímskirkja cathedral, the largest church in the country which and towers over the center of Reykjavík. Its 240-foot-high tower provides a wonderful 360° view of the city. Visitors can either walk up the stairs to the top or pay a small fee to use the elevator.

Our spacious room at Reykjavík Konsúlat included a walk-in shower, king bed with ultra-luxurious linens as well as a seating area. Every day the hotel offers a complimentary happy hour as well a delicious breakfast buffet, featuring a variety of local specialties including smoked salmon. The hotel also offers a nice fitness center as well as bath house complete with sauna and hot tub. Don’t get too excited, bath house means something completely different in Iceland than it does in the United States.

South Coast

Going to Iceland in the winter is an adventure. It definitely isn’t a relaxing trip; more like a journey to the most extraordinary ends of the earth you will ever discover. With that in mind, book a full day private excursion to the South Coast with Friend In Iceland. Our wonderful guide Gunnar picked us up from our hotel in a Mercedes mini-bus and we were off to explore a part of the country I hadn’t been to on my prior visit.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Suðurland, Iceland. (Pixabay)

The nearly 9-hour tour took us to Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls where we had the opportunity to stand at the base and feel the power of these natural wonders. Next, we journeyed up to the top of a cliff which provided views of the ocean as well as a rock formation jutting out into the sea which connects to Reynisfjara black sand beach. Words can’t describe how beautiful this moment was. I’m almost in tears again just thinking about it. The waves crashing on the beach coupled with a clear sky and mesmerizing sunrise made for an absolutely majestic view.

Gunnar then brought us to a cute restaurant where we had lunch which consisted of pizza and a sandwich, not typical Icelandic cuisine, but it was delicious non the less.

Reykjavík is home to one gay bar, called Kiki. Although it was closed during this visit due to COVID-19 restrictions, we did happen to meet the owner who invited us back to the country this summer for their pride celebration. 2022 marks the 23rd annual Reykjavík Pride, which is held in early August. The festival attracts over 100,000 people to the city for a week-long celebration including a festival, parade, and numerous parties.

Golden Circle

Wake up early the next morning and get ready for your next Icelandic adventure in the Golden Circle. Although this region is easily drivable from Reykjavík in the summer, I wouldn’t recommend venturing on your own during the winter months as many of the roads are icy and the weather can be quite spontaneous. One moment it will be sunny and then 30-minutes later you can find yourself in a winter storm with 40-mile per hour wind gusts.

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Begin your Golden Circle tour with a trip to Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO heritage site and home to Gullfoss, also known as the ‘Golden Waterfall’, one of the most beautiful and powerful waterfalls in Iceland. I recommend descended the stairs to the lower viewing area to really comprehend the size and scope of this natural treasure. Not too far away is Geysir, Iceland’s version of Old Faithful. The geyser erupts about every 7 minutes, so keep your camera ready.

Finally, end your tour with a snowmobile ride on the Langjökull glacier. This is also something I didn’t experience on my first visit, and I can honestly say it was one of the coolest (literally) experiences of my life. We had to jump off our luxurious tour bus and board a souped-up monster truck looking bus which transports you to the glacier where a team is ready to outfit you with protective gear and teach you how to use the snowmobiles. The hour tour of the glacier will make you feel like you were on another planet. There are points where the sky and the glacier meet, and you can’t tell them apart. I was fooled by a few optical illusions a few times.

Iceland can be inexpensive to get to, but then very expensive while you are there, so please plan accordingly. Food and alcohol can add up really quickly, so pace yourself when visiting the bars. One of my favorite restaurants we visited in Reykjavík was Noodle Station. Guests can order soup three ways: with chicken, beef, or just vegetables. It is the perfect way to end a long day spent playing in the ice and snow and quite affordable. Do your research before visiting to find some of the city’s hidden gems and cheap eats.

Icelandair offers direct flights to Reykjavík for relatively low prices from Boston, New York, Chicago, Raleigh-Durham, and a few other U.S. cities, so check their website regularly to catch a great deal.

Enjoy the Journey!

Pride Journeys is an LGBT travel website dedicated to sharing travel reviews and news of interest to the LGBT community. For more info, visit www.PrideJourneys.com.

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Pride Journeys: Atlanta

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Joey Amato at Olympic Park in Atlanta. (Joey Amato/Pride Journeys)

Almost everyone has been to Atlanta at some point or another. Whether for a conference or just passing through the Hartsfield-Jackson airport, the busiest airport in the world, Atlanta sees more than 100 million visitors per year. As the largest city in Georgia and one of the largest in the country by population, Atlanta has exploded to become an economic powerhouse. Skyscrapers are popping up throughout the city and many Fortune 500 companies have a presence in the region. Of course, the city is known for their hometown favorites: Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines and Turner Broadcasting System, which was founded by none other than Ted Turner, who’s name is everywhere in Atlanta. Turner has a downtown street named after him as well as 3 namesake restaurants – Ted’s Montana Grill – just in the Atlanta city limits.

Joey Amato at Olympic Park in Atlanta. (Joey Amato/Pride Journeys)

Not too far from the downtown restaurant is Centennial Olympic Park, home of the 1996 summer Olympics. The park is adjacent to three other incredible attractions: the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola and National Center for Civil & Human Rights.

On this visit, I decided to first swing by World of Coca-Cola, which gives visitors a wonderful overview of the history of the brand, talks about the secret formula and of course offers the opportunity to sample Coca-Cola products from around the world. If you time your visit right, you may even get a chance to take a picture with their mascot, the Polar Bear.

The Center for Civil and Human Rights in downtown Atlanta

Next, I stopped by the National Center for Civil & Human Rights, a museum I had visited in the past. This time I was given a tour by the Executive Director for the LGBTQ Institute at the museum. Although the Center doesn’t have a specific LGBTQ exhibition, it does talk about the fight for LGBTQ rights throughout the years. The Center also houses the largest collection of papers and artifacts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and has recently expanded their offerings to include a human rights training program for law enforcement officials as well as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) experiences for workplaces.

One of my favorite things about Atlanta is MARTA, their public transportation system. It is one of the most efficient and inexpensive in the country, easily connecting travelers from the airport to all parts of the city including Buckhead, where I was staying for this visit.

While the Buckhead neighborhood isn’t known for its LGBTQ nightlife, it is however known for its abundance of luxury shopping. Lenox Square is one of the most upscale malls in the country and boasts retail boutiques including Fendi, Louis Vuitton, and Prada. Don’t forget to bring your credit card!

The entrance to the Kimpton Sylvan Hotel in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia. (Buckhead ATL / Instagram)

The reason I chose to stay in Buckhead is because I wanted to check out the brand new Kimpton Sylvan Hotel. The mid-century modern property is a short ride, or 20-minute walk to the MARTA station and features a rooftop bar, daily social hour with complimentary wine as well as a 24-hour fitness center with Peloton bikes for those looking to work off some calories. Speaking of food, I would highly recommend the Charred Cauliflower + Cucumber from Willow Bar located just outside the hotel lobby.

The Kimpton brand is known for being one of the most LGBTQ-inclusive hotel brands in the country so whenever I have the chance to stay at one of their properties, I usually do. They are also a global partner of IGLTA.

This September, Atlanta will host the IGLTA Global Convention. The International LGBTQ+ Travel Association will welcome guests from around the globe to midtown Atlanta for possibly the first in-person LGBTQ convention since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Registration is now open through the IGLTA website. I’ve been to this convention numerous times and can’t wait to see all my friends and colleagues in the same room once again.

Midtown Atlanta is the epicenter of LGBTQ culture and nightlife in Atlanta. There is no lack of bars and restaurants here. Some standouts include Joe’s on Juniper, Blake’s on the Park, and My Sister’s Room, a two-story lesbian-owned dance bar which has become a favorite among Atlanta’s LGBTQ community.

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The High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia. (High Museum of Art, Atlanta / Facebook)

The Midtown neighborhood is also known as the cultural hub of the city with over 25 different arts and cultural venues and more than 30 permanent performing arts groups residing in the area including the Grammy-winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and the world-renowned High Museum of Art.

Joey feeding an elephant at the Atlanta Zoo. (Joey Amato/Pride Journeys)

Not too far away is Zoo Atlanta, an AZA accredited facility home to over 1,000 animals. Having a deep love for animals, I decided to take the elephant encounter, a one-hour experience that gives visitors a behind-the-scenes look at how zoo staff care for these majestic animals. During the program, we learned about the elephant’s behaviors and even had the opportunity to feed them. In this case, Tara was especially fond of the lettuce that I was giving her.

Ponce City Market, located in the historic Sears, Roebuck & Co. building, is an indoor/outdoor market that offers dozens of dining and retail options. (Ponce City Market / Facebook)

After touring the zoo, head over to Guac y Margys, an LGBTQ-owned restaurant located along the Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail. Everything I tried here was on point, from the house-made guacamole to the slow roasted pork tacos. If you are in the mood to sample a variety of different cuisine, check out Ponce City Market, located in the historic Sears, Roebuck & Co. building. The indoor/outdoor market offers dozens of dining and retail options including my favorite, Botiwalla Indian Street Food.

Atlanta is truly a multi-cultural destination that needs to be explored in its entirety. Venture away from the tourist-focused neighborhoods and meet the locals. You are sure to find surprises around every corner.

To learn more, visit www.discoveratlanta.com.

Enjoy the Journey!

Pride Journeys is an LGBT travel website dedicated to sharing travel reviews and news of interest to the LGBT community. For more info, visit www.PrideJourneys.com.

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