Proud Parents: 6 Best Family Vacations For LGBTQ Families

Child-friendly or LGBTQ-friendly? Troy Petenbrink helps you balance it out with the 6 best family vacations for LGBTQ families.

When planning their family vacations, Mark Bromely and David Salie of Washington, D.C. are typical of most parents–they want their two children to have a positive experience in a welcoming environment.

“Making sure our vacation destination is a place where the kids can have fun is a top priority for us, However, we also know that part of our thinking has to include picking a destination where having same-sex parents is less likely to create an uncomfortable or potentially confrontational situation,” said Bromely.

Families that look like the Bromley-Salie family are becoming more common. Research conducted by San Francisco-based Community Marketing, Inc. (CMI), found that a significant number of LGBTQ Millennials, Gen Xers, and Boomers have children under the age of 18. And much like heterosexual families, CMI found that LGBTQ families oftentimes travel. Eighty-five percent of LGBTQ parents and 29 percent of LGBTQ grandparents of children under age 18 have taken at least one family trip together in the past year, according to CMI. Visits to urban cities and beach towns were the most popular trip types.

CMI also found that when traveling with children, if they had to pick one, LGBTQ parents would prefer child-friendly over LGBTQ-friendly in destination and accommodation selection. However, to help LGBTQ family not have to make that choice, we have identified six LGBTQ-friendly destinations that also have plenty of appeal for children.

Atlanta, Georgia

Photo by Joe Baur

Seeing giant whale sharks up-close at the Georgia Aquarium, sampling sodas from dozens of different countries at the World of Coca-Cola, and getting behind-the-scenes access to one of the world’s busiest news services with CNN Studio Tours, are fun, kid-friendly activities and all possible when visiting Atlanta. In addition, the city’s Center for Civil and Human Rights and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park provide great learning opportunities regarding the struggle for LGBTQ equality and general civil rights.

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Where to stay in Atlanta

Staying at the Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center puts families within walking distance of many of the city’s most popular attractions. Among the well-located hotel’s many amenities are an outdoor heated pool and hot tub that are available year-round, multiple on-site dining venues and a special guest services program just for children – The Omni Kids Crew. Upon check-in, young children receive a backpack filled with an activities book, stickers, binoculars, and other fun items. They also receive milk and cookies delivered to their guest room on the first night and an Omni Kids Crew coloring menu is available in the hotel’s restaurants, along with crayons, and an Omni Kids Crew cup.

Omni Atlanta Hotel at Centennial Park

8.1 Very good (4674 reviews)

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Photo by Lance Asper on Unsplash

Fort Lauderdale is home to numerous kid-friendly attractions and miles of beautiful beaches. For the animal-lover and budding environmentalist, there are tours of the Everglades, Butterfly World, and Flamingo Gardens. There’s also the Museum of Discovery & Science and the Young at Art Children’s Museum. As for being LGBTQ-friendly, Fort Lauderdale is home to one of the largest concentrations of same-sex couple households in the U.S. meaning you’ll likely spot other families like yours around town.

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Where to stay in Fort Lauderdale

Sitting on a 500-food private section of beach, the Pelican Grand Beach Resort has many kid-friendly features including a zero entry pool and Fort Lauderdale’s only lazy river. Being on the northern end of Fort Lauderdale also means the resort is much quieter and relaxing than many of the hotels on the southern end that are separated from the beach by State Road A1A.

Pelican Grand Beach Resort, a Noble House Resort

Top rated
Fort Lauderdale
8.9 Excellent (10134 reviews)

Phoenix, Arizona

Hot Air Expeditions / Visit Phoenix

It’s hard to think of a more fun LGBTQ family travel activity than soaring together over a beautiful desert landscape in a rainbow-colored balloon. And it is something that can easily happen when visiting Phoenix (which, by the way, has a strong history of electing openly gay officials). Other outstanding outdoor activities in this southwestern city include hiking the famed Camelback Mountain and exploring the beautiful Desert Botanical Garden. Phoenix also has interesting educational attractions such as the Musical Instrument Museum and the Heard Museum of American Indian Art.

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Where to stay in Phoenix

Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort is a very family-friendly Southwest oasis featuring a four-acre water park with a half-mile lazy river for tubing, a 130-foot waterslide, and multiple sparkling swimming pools. For accommodations, there are 430 spacious one-room suites and 133 one- or two-bedroom casitas (small houses). In addition to the water park, the resort’s other amenities include an 18-hole miniature putting course, tennis courts, and on-site restaurants.

Hilton Phoenix Resort at the Peak

7.4(7477 reviews)

San Diego, California

Photo by Marcel Fuentes on Unsplash

When you have 70 miles of beautiful beaches, you want good weather—and that is exactly what LGBTQ family travelers will find in San Diego. They’ll also find amazing attractions like the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, SeaWorld San Diego, LEGOLAND California, and Balboa. This Southern California is so family-friendly that It recently dubbed itself “Kids Kingdom.” In addition, if there are any questions about the San Diego’s LGBTQ-friendliness, know that its Pride celebration is the largest annual civic event in the city.

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Where to stay in San Diego

Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego-Del Mar is a near perfect hotel for families visiting San Diego. Each of the hotel’s one and two-bedroom suites is spacious and include a sofa. Notable amenities include a daily hot breakfast, evening dinner on select nights, heated outdoor pool, and free parking. Located in San Diego’s scenic Torrey Hills, the Homewood Suites is within a 20-minute drive of all of the city’s most popular draws.

Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego-Del Mar

Top rated
San Diego
8.6 Excellent (2458 reviews)

New York City, New York

Photo by Patrick Tomasso, Unsplash

In recent years New York City has seen Broadway taken over by Disney and other kid-friendly shows; the opening of retail outlets like M&M’S World, Hershey’s Chocolate World, and the Disney Store; and the debut of new activities like National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey and the High Line Park. Adding these to the city’s iconic attractions, such as the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and Rockefeller Center, has made the Big Apple an even more family-friendly destination. In addition, New York is the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ Civil Rights Movement, and the recent designation of the Stonewall National Monument makes the city particularly appealing to LGBTQ family travelers.

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Where to stay in New York City

Times Square, the Empire State Building, Central Park, Radio City Music Hall, and dozens of Broadway theaters are among the many attractions that are within easy walking distance from the Residence Inn New York Manhattan/Times Square. The hotel’s rooms are either studios or suites—many of which with connecting rooms—and all have deluxe kitchenettes and plenty of space (especially by New York City standards) for families to spread out and relax. The complimentary buffet breakfasts and Internet access also help with the family travel budget.

Residence Inn by Marriott New York Manhattan/Times Square

Top rated
New York
8.6 Excellent (2531 reviews)

San Francisco, California

Photo by Lucas Theis on Unsplash

San Francisco’s great combination of a rich history in the struggle for equality and being home to numerous kid-friendly attractions make it a must-see destination for LGBTQ families. Among the city’s notable highlights are Golden Gate Park, Exploratorium: The Museum of Science, Art and Human Perception, the Children’s Creativity Museum, the Aquarium of the Bay, and Alcatraz Island. Of course, a trip to San Francisco must include a ride on a cable car and taking a family photo in front of the giant rainbow flag in the Castro District, the city’s traditional LGBTQ neighborhood.

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Where to stay in San Francisco

Providing good value and an excellent location is what makes the Holiday Inn Express & Suites San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf a prime location for visiting LGBTQ families. Its 252 guest rooms and suites are comfortably-sized, and a complimentary deluxe continental breakfast is included with all stays. Guests also receive Internet access and are able to use the pool at the nearby full-service Holiday Inn at no extra cost. Another selling point is the fact that The Aquarium of the Bay, Madame Tussauds, and The Powell-Mason Cable Car route are within walking distance.

Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Fisherman's Wharf, an IHG Hotel

Top rated
San Francisco
9.0 Excellent (6583 reviews)