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2019 might just be the queerest year ever in travel. How come? One word: Stonewall. The New York City bar uprising that kicked off the modern LGBTQ-rights movement turns 50 in June and you better believe nearly every Pride event worldwide will be celebrating, big time. Not that Pride events are the only reason to pack our bags. Between big cities, laid-back beach towns, exotic island getaways, and countries and states tiptoeing slowly but surely toward gay inclusiveness, here are 10 places we think you should visit in 2019.

RELATED: 10 hottest gay destinations for 2018

New York, LGBT, NYC

New York City

Singling out NYC as a hot gay destination is a no brainer. The city is gayer than a drag queen riding atop a rainbow-colored unicorn through a field of glitter. But 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, which means it may be Gotham’s queerest year yet. 2019 World Pride, happening June 1–30, will feature hundreds of parties and events across the city including film nights, art exhibitions, rooftop parties, conferences, culinary events, celebrity sightings (including Stonewall Ambassador Madonna) and more. The Pride March alone is expected to draw an estimated 3 million people—that’s, like, all of us.

Vienna, LGBTQ

Vienna, Austria

Austria’s elegant capital is the kind of city where gay men wear natty threads ripped from the pages of GQ, but with leather harnesses underneath. See for yourself when the city hosts EuroPride 2019 the first two weeks of June. Honoring Stonewall’s 50th, EuroPride will be huge. After checking off requisite Vienna sites like Schönbrunn Palace and architectural oddity Hundertwasserhaus, get Sachertorte and coffee at Cafe Savoy (a queer must), hit up bars like Felixx and the Eagle, sunbathe at the gay nude beach on the banks of Danube Island and check out Vienna’s totally gay traffic lights. Oh, and feel free to get married while you’re at it; same-sex marriages became officially legal as of January 1, 2019!

Nomad, San Diego, LGBTQ

Fuel up with Pride doughnuts from Nomad | Photo: Jason Heidemann

San Diego

California’s laid-back mecca for sun-drenched good times is never in a hurry to do anything, which is why it took awhile for San Diego to catch up to its sibling cities. But dang if this isn’t the most idyllic West Coast city to spend a queer summer weekend right now. Clothing optional Black’s is among the best LGBTQ beaches in the world, gay Hillcrest is as bumping as ever, and ‘hoods like North Park and Little Italy entice with top-nosh eateries, locally crafted brews and welcoming vibes. But it’s Pride Weekend that we fall for every time. Between the excellent beach and pool parties, the perfectly sized parade and festival par excellence, it’s one of the most blissful weekends in the gay calendar year.

Tokyo, LGBT

Tokyo

Tokyo’s LGBT scene is perpetually underrated, but 2019 brings a literal boatload of reasons to paint the streets a rainbow hue. Two high-profile gay cruises—Atlantis’ largest-ever Asian gay cruise and Olivia’s all-lesbian “Wonders of Japan” tour—both have grand finales in Tokyo in April. This means that nights out in the Ni-chome district of Shinjuku are sure to be even wilder than normal. Conveniently, the Atlantis cruise docks the same weekend as the 2019 edition of Tokyo’s gay pride celebration (April 28–29), one of the largest and most lauded in Asia.

Tacos Gay |Photo courtesy of Mark Chesnut

Guadalajara, Mexico

Take everything renowned about Mexico—including mariachi music, tequila, ancient ruins and amazing street food—and give it all a queer twist—that’s Guadalajara. Mexico’s second city is located within the state of Jalisco, which means it’s a cinch to combine with a trip to uber-gay Puerto Vallarta, and has the added bonus of being an under-the-radar LGBTQ mecca you need to check out now.  A night on the town begins in the Chapultepec ‘hood where drinks at bars like Open, La Minerva and El Condado should be chased with late-night eats at Tacos Gay—a gay taco stand. A side trip touring beautiful agave fields near the town of Tequila is a must and what the city lacks in beaches it makes up for with beautiful hotel pools.

LGBTQ, beach

Saugatuck, MI

A heavenly slice of Midwest idyll, the arts-focused towns of Saugatuck and nearby Douglas are nestled on Michigan’s stunning west coast (think swooping sand dunes and pretty harbors). Collectively these small-town charmers boast more than 140 LGBT-owned businesses, including the Dunes Resort, the epicenter of queer life and host to the women-oriented weekend Go Girl. Summer is high season (Oval Beach is oft fawned over as one of the best in America), but don’t overlook autumn when the leaves are crisp and the apple orchards and wineries are in full swing. Best of all, Saugatuck is just a three-hour drive from Chicago and Detroit.

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Malta, Europe

Malta

A burgeoning queer Mediterranean escape, Malta is officially a gaydar-worthy destination. The island nation legalized same-sex marriage in 2017, hosted the first ever LGBT + Tourism Summit in 2018 and for a third year, um straight, achieved the highest standards in LGBT rights according to the ILGA Europe Rainbow Map. Don’t expect bumping queer nightlife (this is a tiny country after all). Instead, think dreamy beaches, ancient fortresses and temples and queer-welcoming towns like capital city Valletta.

Lady Gaga, LGBT, Vegas

Lady Gaga “Enigma” at Park MGM | Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts

Las Vegas

The relationship between the gay community and not-queer-enough Vegas has always been somewhat of a bad romance. Dang, we just totally gave away our reason for including Sin City on this list. Yup, Lady Gaga will spend the bulk of 2019 parked at the Park Theater boasting not one, but two shows (“Enigma” and “Jazz and Piano”) right in the heart of the Strip and thus securing the city’s place as a must-visit destination for queers in the coming year. Also playing the Park in 2019? Britney and Cher. It doesn’t get any gayer.

Mockingbird, Nashville, LGBTQ

Mockingbird owners Brian Riggenbach and Mikey Corona | Photo courtesy of Mikey Corona

Tennessee

We hate that the Volunteer State lags behind when it comes to LGBT rights and protections, but there are still many reasons to pay it a visit. What queer person doesn’t dream of a weekend at gay-friendly Dollywood in Pigeon Forge? Then there’s IDA, a community retreat where queer, trans and gender non-conforming people can create art and learn rural living skills. A new gay men’s campground—Sugar Creek—soft opened last summer in middle Tennessee and then there’s Nashville. The city has been deemed the new Austin and queers will want to visit for the gay bars on Church Street, as well as LGBT-owned and operated eateries like the Mockingbird and Suzy Wong’s House of Yum—owned and operated by chef and drag queen Arnold Myint. In December, the city installed a historical marker recognizing where the Jungle—the city’s first queer bar—once stood.

India, Holi, LGBTQ

India

After years of false starts, consensual relations between same-sex partners finally became legal in India in 2018, thanks to a landmark court ruling. Celebrate in 2019 alongside India’s vibrant gay community, whether at Mumbai’s Queer Azaadi Parade on February 2, or at Bengaluru’s Nammapride, which typically happens in December. Regardless of when you visit, coastal destinations like tranquil Kerala and Portuguese-colonial Goa are always popular choices for LGBT travelers. Larger (albeit somewhat underground) gay communities also thrive in cities like Delhi and Kolkata.

Tagged: Asia, California, Europe, India, Japan, Las Vegas, Mexico, Michigan, Midwest, Nashville, Tennessee

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Jason Heidemann and Robert Schrader

Jason Heidemann and Robert Schrader

Jason Heidemann and Robert Schrader

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