photo (c) Kathleen Conklin
When it comes to traveling, queer folks are a lot like straight people. We want to dine well, have a good time, and be safe doing it. Some of us travel to meet new people or strut our single selves, whereas others simply want to enjoy the company of their significant other in a new setting.
The Pacific Northwest is generally very welcoming to LGBTQ travelers – at least in the urban centers – but for those of us who are visibly queer, it’s important to do the research beforehand.
If you and your sweetie want to take an easygoing, weekend trip within a day’s drive of the Seattle area, look no further. Each town on this list is gay-friendly and offers low-key opportunities for socializing and adventuring away from the urban spotlight.
The cafes and galleries of Langley are brimming with queer folks, mostly of the 55+ demographic. Businesses around South Whidbey are accustomed to seeing and serving gay families, and many Langley shops are owned by gay individuals. The city offers quaint waterfront views (try Village Pizzeria), high-quality lodging (Saratoga Inn) and easy-to-navigate activities (Whidbey Island Kayaking). While not ideal for people who like loud parties, Langley is perfect for a couples’ getaway.
Across the river from Portland is Vancouver, a suburbia full of affirming churches, lesbian potlucks and queer community groups like the Sexual Minority Leadership Roundtable. Unlike Portland, taxes are low, marriage equality is the law of the land, and happy hours are affordable. Great for couples who have graduated from the get-to-know-you stage, Vancouver offers enjoyable ways to sample being in a community but away from home.
Eugene is a college town, and you’ll find that most queer-friendly events are either hosted on the University of Oregon campus or are full of college students. Slightly more conservative than other cities on this list, Eugene is a place you can fly under the radar safely. You can sip on a latte at lesbian-owned Eugene Coffee Company or catch an LGBTQ movie with locals.
The Suquamish Tribal Lands, Port Madison Indian Reservation, WA
As of 2011, the Suquamish Tribe becomes the second tribe in the nation to officially extend marriage rights to same-sex couples, thanks to Heather Purser. But there is a long history in Native American cultures of recognizing queer people which predates colonialism. Visitors can discover lush landscapes (see Kiana Lodge) and indigenous architecture, enjoy a night out at Clearwater Casino, and bear witness to the fascinating living history of the Suquamish Tribe.