While I’d heard some nice things about Providence, Rhode Island’s state capital and largest city, over the years, I’ll admit that I didn’t know a whole lot about it. I mostly thought of it as a cheap alternative airport to often-overpriced Boston Logan International.
Story by Paul J. Heney, MAW correspondent
But a recent weekend there, coinciding with Rhode Island Pride, completely sold me on this East Coast gem as an excellent getaway for LGBTQ travelers. Here are four reasons why you should put Providence on your list as a destination to check out.
A thriving queer scene.
Walking around Providence was like being in a gay Disneyland at times. I was genuinely surprised at the number of out queer couples in the city —walking the streets holding hands, eating in restaurants, wandering the stores, chilling in cafes. I chatted with numerous locals, from restaurant servers to Uber drivers, hotel staff and people in clubs, and they all had positive things to say about how accepting the city and community is.
We hung out in several clubs, such as The Dark Lady, EGO Providence, and the Eagle, and they were crowded and lively. At a time when many smaller and mid-sized cities have gay club scenes that are dried up or gone entirely, it was refreshing to see such a thriving group of bars.
Check out Options magazine, published bimonthly, for the latest calendar of queer events. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the number of listings, from drag brunches to queer book clubs, as well as tea dances, happy hours and networking meetings.
Arts to die for.
Providence has christened itself “The Creative Capital,” a cute nod to the city’s artistic side as well as its being the center of state government. And the moniker is well earned, with a wealth of art museums, galleries, performing arts spaces and urban murals.
From March through November each year, 27 of the city’s hottest art spots open their doors on the third Thursday of the month as part of Gallery Night Providence. And WaterFire Providence, a unique local arts celebration, revolves around the city’s downtown rivers, with more than 80 sparkling bonfires lit on the waterways.
Not to be missed is PVD Fest, an annual arts celebration in the city. It selects local artists to design and create arts installations, many of which remain in perpetuity, adding to the city’s cool urban vibe each year. Many of downtown’s mesmerizing murals are the result of previous years’ PVD Fest installations.
It’s easy to get to and easy to get around.
Getting to Providence is fairly easy for much of the country. In addition to the aforementioned cheap flights to the city’s T. F. Green Airport, Providence is an hour’s drive from Boston, as well as about three hours from most of the New York metro area. It’s within two hours by plane from much of the East Coast and Midwest, making it an easy weekend trip.
Providence is connected to Boston’s South Station via the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority commuter service, and within the city, grabbing a rideshare service is simple — or visitors can check out the local Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), which provides busing as far away as Newport or Kingston. But I found downtown Providence, including its lovely Arts District, to be very walkable and pedestrian friendly.
Its annual Pride festival is simply incredible.
Providence’s annual Rhode Island Pride completely exceeded my expectations. Attracting well over 100,000 attendees, I was blown away by how many Boston-area celebrants were there. I’d have thought the big city folks would have turned up their collective noses at smaller Providence, but that wasn’t the case at all! In fact, I heard story after story about how much they loved attending both Pride celebrations, a week apart.
RIPride has a laundry list of pre-celebration events, from VIP parties to game nights to interfaith services. The PrideFest itself takes place downtown along the Providence River, with a long narrow outline that provides great water views at every turn. There are countless vendors, a huge main stage, a beer garden, and more.
But the highlight of the weekend for me was the Illuminated Night Parade. RIPride is one of only a few pride celebrations anywhere that features an evening parade. Floats and marchers are encouraged to dress up their displays with lights, glowsticks, fluorescent paints and the like. The result is really spectacular, with 100,000 attendees watching the festivities. At the conclusion of the parade, multiple areas of downtown were cordoned off for huge block parties, as music roared into the night until the wee hours.
And for those who managed to get some sleep, the post-Pride Drag Brunch was a great top off to the weekend, with this year’s event featuring Jasmine Masters from RuPaul’s Drag Race, as well as a half dozen very talented local performers.
Some gays plan their gay getaways far in advance. Some plan last minute. Some go both ways. We’re those gays. But no matter which you are, we’ve got awesome recommendations for gay getaways to go to now. Next year. Or both!
Gay Getaways: GO NOW!
Atlantis Events takes on Europe with the Oasis of the Seas for the biggest European gay cruise ever. Meet guys from all over the world as this gorgeous Royal Caribbean ship sets sail for a trip of a lifetime. Amazing parties by night, and incredible ports by day. Enjoy bike rides in Mallorca, snorkeling in Capri, wine tasting in Provence and art walks in Florence. The ship departs on Saturday, August 25 and returns September 1.
- Cruise NYC to PTown with VACAYA – August 11
Join ManAboutWorld’s Billy Kolber (and up to 2,000 of our closest friends!) for the first full-ship LGBTQ+ charter with VACAYA aboard the five-star Celebrity Summit.
The ship will depart NYC on Sunday, August 11 and sail to Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Then, it’s a day in quaint Bar Harbor, Maine, and then two full days in fabulous Provincetown.
Kristin Chenoweth kicks off the departure from Cape Liberty, with lots of entertainment onboard and off — including an overnight call in Ptown to kick off their crazy Carnival week. Vacaya’s maiden voyage, promises a new kind of LGBT+ experience. Book now and GO!
Save & Close
- Explore Morocco with OUT Adventures – September 13
The epic experience kicks off September 13 and lasts for 10 unforgettable days. Travel with a pack of gay travelers through desert landscapes and moody villages. Sleep in a hotel made of Saharan sand, picnic in mountain gorges, cook classic North African cuisine, and share memories that will last a lifetime. Book now and GO!
GAY GETAWAYS: GO LATER
Two continents. 35 countries. Five languages. One love. No matter who you who are, Greater Fort Lauderdale invites you to celebrate LGBT+ advocacy on the beach at the first-ever Pride of the Americas in 2020. All are welcome to fly their flag high, make an impact and radiate life. Join the ManAboutWorld team for this first ever Pride uniting our community from Arctic Canada down to Tierra del Fuego! Book your flights and accommodations today!
- Atlantis & Virgin Voyages 1st Gay Charter from Miami – May 21-June 7, 2020
Atlantis and Virgin Voyages will make history in 2020 when they embark on the first gay charter of the Scarlet Lady. The ship will set sail on May 31 – June 7, 2020 from Miami and traverse the Mexican Caribbean. Be one of the first to discover Virgin Voyages adult-only by design experience that will transform the cruise industry.
The Atlantis charter isn’t on sale yet – it’s not even listed on the Atlantis website. But trust us, you’ll want to be on this first gay charter of the Scarlet Lady, the revolutionary new cruising experience from Virgin. Mark your calendar and reserve your vacation days now.
- Gay Wine Weekend – July 18-21, 2020
Gay Wine Weekend 2019 just happened, and it was epic. If you missed it, mark your calendar now for next year. Called “One of the best events of the summer season,” Gay Wine Weekend takes over Sonoma Valley from July 18-21 for a 3+ day celebration of food and wine in Northern California’s Sonoma Valley!
The hosts of this super fun event look forward to meeting you Out In The Vineyard of “our” Wine Country!
- Plan a Once In A Lifetime Gay Safari – August 22-30, 2020
The boys at OUT Adventures have an incredible safari planned for 2020! Their brand new gay tour of Kenya kicks off outside Nairobi – Safari Capital of the World – before venturing into the savannah. Here, authentic yet luxurious tents and lodges will provide shelter in Amboseli National Park and Masai Mara National Reserve. All meals are included on this excursion, including a fab Bush Barbecue. OUT Adventure trips sell out far in advance … so Book now and GO!
Our very own Kenny Porpora will experience this fabulous OUT Adventures Kenya safari this August 2019. Follow his safari on Instagram at @wozels1102 and get a sneak peek at everything that awaits you in 2020.
Ed Salvato is an LGBTQ+ travel expert, published author, instructor at NYT Tisch School and Temple and chief content officer of ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine and HospitableMe (strategy, content marketing & LGBTQ education & training). Read his bio. Post comments below or send email. SCROLL DOWN FOR THE LATEST POSTS, STORIES & PIX.
You know how you can tell it’s LGBTQ Pride month? I was quoted in seven pieces in one week. I am quoted frequently but I wish publications would cover LGBTQ travel the OTHER 11 months of the year. Well, at least they focus on us in June.
TravelPulse: This two-part article quotes us extensively and covers the topic of LGBTQ travelers in the luxury market space plus a follow-up piece on our #PrideTravel Twitter Chat in June 2019.
- This piece covers the growing market for LGBTQ travelers who are over 50
- This piece covers how LGBTQ travelers can pick safe places to travel to
LifeHacker.com: This piece looks at the topic of LGBTQ travel safety
This event is over.
Thank you to all that participated. This chat about the timely and important topic of LGBTQ travel safety usually generates over 50 million impressions and reached nearly 5 million accounts.
#PrideTravel safety Twitter chat
How to participate:
- Use the accompanying graphic to promote the chat via your networks and platforms
- On Thursday, June 13 at 2pm log in to Twitter and join in!
- Be sure to include A1, A2, A3 etc in your response so we know which question you are answering.
- ALWAYS use #PrideTravel in every tweet so participants can see your response.
- If you’re traveling or in an incompatible time zone, please consider pre-scheduling your responses.
- Please direct message me to receive the questions.
Tell me more about Gay Wine Weekend!
Celebrate with world class wine and culinary delights, music and dancing in a private estate vineyard, VIP receptions, wine excursions, a drag queen brunch, wine auction and pool party in one of the most famous wine destinations in the world.
The hosts of this super fun event look forward to meeting you Out In The Vineyard of “our” Wine Country!
“For just about anyone in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) community like myself, the ad may have gotten our attention, especially in the dead of winter in New York City, but the decision to visit is much more complex. Will my partner and I be welcome? Can we hold hands or even just sit together on the beach without attracting unwanted attention? Would we be subject to judgment, eye-rolling, harassment or worse?” Read more!
I’ve been working with the TripAdvisor launch team of its new experience and I can finally share it with you! Follow me on TripAdvisor at @EdSalvato to see what I’ve added to my profile so far!
Planning a trip? Take me with you! I am now on TripAdvisor, sharing top travel advice, ideas and more.
Exciting news: You can now find all of my travel tips on TripAdvisor! Follow my profile to keep up with my adventures — and get inspired to start an adventure all your own.
The TripAdvisor launch is scheduled for today!
Boston’s seaport is the city’s hot new neighborhood, and YOTEL Boston is at the heart of it. Built on a platform of design and technology and inspired by first-class airline suites, Yotel delivers modern luxury in compact “cabins” whose ingenious use of space offers everything you need, at remarkably affordable prices. It’s a perfect match for the spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship and artistic endeavor that characterize the neighborhood. This CheckOut was originally published in ManAboutWorld’s summer issue and republished here.
Located between the beautiful waterfront and the historic Fort Point District, the seaport integrates repurposed 100-year old warehouses with modern architecture to create a vibrant, exciting new neighborhood that is home to some of the city’s best dining, shopping and art. The hotel is built atop the Courthouse Station of the Silver Line — a free 15-minute transit from Logan Airport. And many important locations are within walking distance: Boston’s South Station, serviced by Amtrak and Bolt Bus is a 10-minute walk. The Convention Center is about 12 minutes and the Institute of Contemporary Art is six minutes away, as is the Boston Harbor Ferry to Provincetown (The Bay State ferry is 15 minutes away). The gay bars of the South End are a best accessed by Lyft — a 10- to 15-minute ride depending on traffic.
YOTEL’s cabins start at 154 sqft — about the size of a standard cruise cabin but filled with savvy design features that make it feel much more spacious and luxurious. At the heart of the room is the adjustable SmartBed – like a cross between a futon, a luxury mattress, and a lie-flat airline seat. It slides from a couch-like reclining position to a queen size bed with the touch of a button. Set it to the perfect angle for lounging, and lay it flat for sleeping. Like a yacht, space is maximized with built-in furniture and storage solutions. Plenty of room is left for the bathroom, including a rainfall shower that could easily fit two, and stocked with premium amenities. If you require more space, upgrade to a Premium Queen Plus at 201 square feet or a First King at 318 square feet. If you’re really feeling royal, there’s a VIP suite with 487 square feet of space and a stunning 180º view of the city and harbor.
Technology is at the heart of everything YOTEL, and while the “Mission Control” staff is always available to help you, check-in/check-out is handled primarily by App and Kiosk; and emergency supplies or extra towels are delivered by YO2D2, the house robot! A Club Lounge on the ground floor and Sky Lounge Rooftop and Terrace offer casual dining, drinks and comfortable indoor/outdoor places to relax or work. The gym is open 24/7, and features free weights and cardio machines. A guided meditation is offered every Tuesday morning, and the wifi is free and fast.
We wouldn’t stereotype you by saying that the design, style and technology were clearly designed with gay travelers in mind, but YOTEL’s modern stance is perfectly suited for us, and we’re betting you too. It’s a bit farther than our old haunts from the (not-quite-so-gay-anymore) South End, but we’d rather be close to all the new excitement of the seaport, and we’re betting you would too.
Rates in Boston can be shockingly high when conventions roll into town, but figure a Queen Premium cabin is around $160 in the dead of winter, typically closer to $250-350, and as high as $550 (when a generic Hilton room might be $700). Save 10-15% and earn Flying Blue or Flying Club miles when you join Club@Yotel for free.
Ready to go
For rates and reservations at YOTEL Boston, visit the website.
About the CheckOut
ManAboutWorld highlights properties we have recently and personally stayed at, and is editorial, not advertorial. Like virtually all travel publications, we sometimes accept discounted and sponsored travel, but ManAboutWorld is beholden to no one but you. Our recommendations are based solely on the experience and opinions of our editorial team and trusted network, putting our readers’ interests above all. If you ever have an issue with anything we recommend, please let us know. We always have your back, and your travel satisfaction in mind. Read our full disclosure.