Friday, May 24, 2024
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Six safe and queer-friendly destinations to visit this Christmas

Some of the prettiest, safest and LGBTQ-friendly places to visit for the festive season.

Looking for a picture-perfect Christmas town to visit this year? With travel rules and regulations changing by the month in the US as local officials come to grips with the coronavirus pandemic, here are a few ideas for atmospheric adventures to take in the cozy ambience that makes Christmas the happiest season of the year.

These towns really get into the holiday spirit with public light displays, holiday decorating, winter markets and craft fairs, presenting scenes that are definitely Insta-worthy. But before you book be sure to check the travel rules for each state. Many hotels require you provide proof of a negative test for Covid-19 that is less than 72 hours old prior to check in. Check tourism websites for the latest updates on 2020 Holiday events, as some may be effected or cancelled due to coronavirus precautions.

Sonoma County is open for the Holidays
Petaluma, California

December in Sonoma County is magical especially in the pretty town of Petaluma, which is not far from lesbian-centric Guerneville. Town squares and streets are decorated for the holidays, twinkling lights float al fresco over restaurants, and tasting rooms serve the finest local wines and spirits. Sonoma Coast Spirits has launched Peppermint Vodka, Peanut Butter Whiskey and Pumpkin Spice Vodka crafted in small batches in Petaluma, all of the products are gluten free and vegan.

Enjoy magical tasting experiences under the Winter Wonderland Tent at Muscardini Cellars, where visitors are surrounded by a dazzling display of 2,000 sparkling lights, stunning silver snowflakes and twinkling olive trees. Celebrate the holidays with the Muscardini family’s seasonal wine and sensory jar experience, a delicious wine and chocolate pairing from Master Chocolatier Chef Sebastian Beline of Paris. Visitors and residents are asked to continue to wear face coverings in public and practice physical distancing. Please be sure to review The Safe Travels Promise before visiting. For travel ideas visit sonomacounty.com.

Yuletide is the New Mexican name for Christmas in Taos, NM
Taos, New Mexico

Yuletide in Taos is the name given to all the unique New Mexican celebrations that happen during the holiday season. This charming and picturesque town in mountains of Northern New Mexico experiences snowfall during winter that gives the charming streets even more atmosphere. Imagine the candle-lit farolitos that line the streets in front of old adobe shops and homes casting a warm glow onto the snow and feeling as though you had stepped back into yesteryear. Some of the unique traditions of the holiday season may already have ended but the area boasts so many fine artisans and artists that shopping for arts and crafts, especially textiles, jewelry, pottery and much much more is a perfect way to spend Christmas. A visit to the gorgeous adobe mansion that is now the Millicent Rogers Museum is a must. While there is no central gay scene in Taos there are many gay-owned and friendly establishments and the town is safe and welcoming. Travel restrictions are currently in place but subject to change so check here and visit taos.org for itinerary ideas.

Downtown Pittsburgh welcomes you this Christmas
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh was the shooting location for the new Kristen Stewart LGBTQ holiday movie Happiest Season. This charming city on a river is very LGBTQ-friendly and the good news is it’s open for business. “The PGH Commitment is our lifelong pledge to you, demonstrating how the Pittsburgh tourism community will always prioritize your health and safety” says a statement on the tourism website, which also has a section dedicated to Covid policy and precautions. While some holiday-themed events will be virtual this year, there are many Christmas-themed pop-ups and mainstays on in December including holiday markets, competitive holiday window displays, the cocktail trail, and iceskating in Downtown Pittsburgh. For something as colorful as Christmas lights, visit the Andy Warhol Museum, which has reopened and has its own safety measures in place. And there are always fabulous accommodation options like the LGBTQ-friendly Kimpton Hotel Monaco, which has its own Covid safety protocols on property.

Ann Arbor is a foodie town | Photo: Visit Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Ann Arbor, or A2 as locals call it, is lovely in winter with plenty of “Christmas in the village” events and sights to take in, courtesy of the generosity and hard work of local business owners and community leaders. The shopping on Main Street is pretty terrific for local and imported goods, and A2 as well as nearby Ypsilanti have great antiquing, craft beer and foodie scenes. Like many places, Ann Arbor has had to limit public freedoms and implement protocols because of the pandemic. Many fall and winter events have gone virtual this year. Some famous Christmas events, such as Handel’s Messiah, was canceled. For their Covid toolkit and to see just what the state restrictions currently require, go here.

Rhode Island is displaying full Christmas spirit this year
Providence, Rhode Island

In Providence and throughout Rhode Island folks are getting into the Holiday spirit with lots of outdoor events including iceskating at the BankNewport City Center, Downtown’s Open Air Saturdays, or just window shopping at the city’s many beautiful boutiques and stores. Providence is in the middle of a food revolution so enjoy a hearty meal at one of the many excellent restaurants. And for some truly lavish Christmas decorations you cannot possibly beat a tour of the Newport Mansions which have been decked out with hundreds of poinsettias, evergreens, wreaths and the gardens decorated with twinkling lights. The sumptuous show is on until January 3, 2021.

While Providence is in Phase III of its reopening there are still statewide mandates in place. For Rhode Island’s policy on dealing with coronavirus go here.

One of Manhattan’s iconic Christmas sights
New York, New York

As one of the first cities in the world to face the pandemic and flatten the curve, New York City has bounced back after going into a strict and prolonged lockdown under the tutelage of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. But it’s not over yet and residents and visitors have been warned to play it safe during the holidays and avoid large gatherings and indoor events. Getting around is so easy either by walking or on the socially-distanced subway system, and many of the iconic Christmas sights, such as window shopping along Fifth Avenue or the tree at Rockefeller Center and free and outdoors. The beloved gay bars of the Big Apple have mostly closed with establishments such as Club Cumming streaming its events. But some of the finest restaurants are serving hearty holiday fare and doing it safely and socially distanced, such as woman-owned Beatrice Inn in the gay-friendly West Village. And it’s not all about Manhattan. There are many winter getaways on offer in New York State as well. To find out what’s on open and welcoming travelers, go here. But before you leave home be sure to check out the information and resources for travelers during Covid.

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