The ground is thawing, the sun is shining longer, and the breeze is finally not bitter. These are the welcome signs that warmer days are ahead of us. But with winter anguish comes post-winter anguish, which mainly occurs when we can’t figure out exactly how those days basking in the sun will actually be spent.
As Rhode Islanders, we know that nowhere beats New England in the springtime. Spring weather calls for exploration, so why not treat yourself to a new adventure? Whether you’re traveling with family, a partner, or even solo, here are some great regional spots to hit for a quick day-trip, weekend getaway, or spring vacation.
We’ll start this list with the premiere New England getaway spot for LGBTQ people…
Provincetown, affectionately called "Ptown" by locals and visitors alike, sits at the tip of Cape Cod and has a vibrant queer community. So vibrant, in fact, it is often heralded as the perfect gay getaway. Ptown’s queer roots go back to the early 20th century, when eccentric artists used to congregate together on the Cape.Today, thousands of queer people visit Ptown, eager for community, cruising, or both.
THINGS TO DO IN PROVINCETOWN
Tis the season for early beaching! In Provincetown, locals start beaching as early as March. Ptown’s two major beaches are Race Point Beach and Herring Cove. The former is widely known as the straight beach and the latter is affectionately regarded as the gay beach. Race Point prides itself on its classic Cape Cod views and notable sand dunes. Tourists love Herring Cove for its warm waters and picturesque view of the the sunset. (Tip: For privacy, or just solitude, a remote section of the cove is the gay beach.)
For dining and drinks, there are numerous famed options. The Nor’East Beer Garden has been heralded as the best bar on the entire Cape. The garden blossoms with an extensive and ever- changing collection of craft beers (like the Cape Cod Blonde), wines (Italian prosecco “Ruffino”), and cocktails (Arugula Mojito, anyone?).There’s food here too, made from fresh local ingredients, which pair well with drinks on the menu. If you would rather keep it homemade and embody a local tradition, head to Connie’s Bakery for baked goods made fresh, in-house. Connie’s is more than your average bakery: they offer a full breakfast and lunch menu featuring dishes like the Land & Sea salad. Be sure to order a Street Pie on your way out.Traveling with a group? Head to The Canteen, a hip eatery with a menu full of options for the whole group. Try the “Crispy Cod” for that authentic New England seafood restaurant experience, or the “Falafel Plate” if seafood isn't your thing.
For a family-friendly activity, consider exploring Provincetown by sea. The Provincetown Harbor has charter tours that go from the harbor to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. This could be the opportunity for a chance encounter with marine wildlife. Came to party? Go to the Atlantic House, Ptown’s (and arguably to some, the nation’s) first gay dance club. A gem of Provincetown, Crown & Anchor is the town’s largest entertainment venue. Complete with a waterfront nightclub and the Cabaret Room, Crown & Anchor never disappoints.
Find adventure exploring Ptown by bike. Bring your own or rent from the numerous bike shops, like Ptown Bikes, Arnold’s Bikes, Gale Force Bikes, and Provincetown Bike Rentals. Bike along the notable town bike trails that traverse the 5.4 mile Province Lands path, which rewards you with shortcuts to the beaches and Bennett Pond for a cool-down.
Ptown’s artistic atmosphere is part of its history.Take a chill stroll down Commercial Street and visit the numerous art galleries. Get to know the local and visiting artists and walk out with a new adornment for your living room.
Are you a woman heading out solo?
Belvedere Guest House
Too good to miss this spring is Ptown’s Single Women’s Weekend, May 17-19. Single Women’s Weekend is, you guessed it, a weekend for women who love women, featuring events like speed dating, dune tours, and nightly dance parties. If you’re looking to build community in Ptown, attend the Womxn of Color Weekend, May 30 – June 2. The weekend is a four-day Pride to celebrate and strengthen LBTQIA women of color, non-binary people of color, gender fluid people of color, and allies.
Who said Massachusetts had dibs on gay resort towns? Behold! Ogunquit is Maine’s sexiest response to Massachusetts’ Provincetown. Ogunquit is a four-mile town with sandy beaches and stunning sights of evergreens, cliffs, and sunrise at the Ogunquit Beach.The town is comprised of two sections: Perkins Cove, bustling with restaurants and shops; and theVillage, where the gay-friendly bed & breakfast inns are, and of course, the parties.
Ogunquit boasts beautiful natural views, but it’s not in the middle of nowhere. Only 30 minutes from Portland and 90 minutes from Boston, the neighboring LGBTQ community treats Ogunquit as the perfect getaway.
THINGS TO DO IN OGUNQUIT
For a beautiful beach experience, head to Ogunquit Beach, complete with its own gay area.This sandy beach is ideal for picnics, sunset viewing, and night beaching. (Just be out by 11pm.) Nearby at Jackie’s Too, dine on fresh seafood like their “Fresh Broiled Haddock” or the “Pasta Primavera” while surrounded by unforgettable ocean views.
For a laid-back local meal, head to Bessie’s, a town staple, which is always busy with hungry locals and queer travelers. Looking for classic seafood quick eats? Barnacle Billy's is a town favorite.Two words: Lobstah. Roll. And for your sweet tooth, head to the famed Bread and Roses Bakery, because everyone deserves a good pie.
Ogunquit is great for families too! Treat your family to a show at the Ogunquit Playhouse for a special night of musical theater.Jersey Boys plays for a month starting May 15.What’s gayer and more wholesome than that?
If you came to party, Options has your back. Start on Maine Street, the gay epicenter of Ogunquit brims with options for everyone. Check out The Front Porch for a sleek, fine-dining experience featuring a modern piano bar. At The Old Village Inn, mingle and dine with locals while enjoying live entertainment.The town shuts down at 1am though, so make sure to head out early.
Seeking exploration and pretty views? Looking for a good place for an Instagram pic? Or both? Go to the Nubble Lighthouse, because could you ever go to Maine without visiting a lighthouse? For another type of pretty view, catch a film at the famed Levitt Theatre, which has stood independently for almost 100 years.
FIRE ISLAND, NY
I know,I know.Popular to contrary belief, New York is not Rhode Island, therefore strictly not a “New England getaway” as mentioned earlier. But it goes without saying that a major destination for a queer vacation is the historic and unique Fire Island, which sits pretty off the south coast of Long Island, NY. Fire Island is unlike anywhere else. Going to the island is often described as a queer pilgrimage. Have you made the journey yet?
Fire Island’s most popular LGBTQ villages areThe Pines and Cherry Grove.Each village has its own distinct welcoming vibe. The Pines is popular with gay professionals and party boys, while the Grove attracts a more diverse crowd, in all aspects. Both communities are joined by a strip of forest known as “the Meat Rack,” for the exact frisky reasons you are thinking. Both villages are full of outstanding views, decadent food, and a strong and supportive LGBTQ scene.
THINGS TO DOONFIREISLAND
It’s unlikely you’d want to stay on Fire Island for less than a day, so it is wise to plan ahead for a hotel. Stay at the Fire Island Hotel and Resort near Ocean Bay Park.This resort dates back to the 1900s and is a favorite among visitors to Fire Island. Complete with a pool and cafe, it’s perfect for iced coffees and sunbathing. If nudity is more your thing, Cherry Grove’s Belvedere Guest House is the only clothing-optional resort on the island. Exclusively for men, this guest house is large, and it boasts rooftop terraces and a deck by the ocean for mingling with other guests.
On Fire Island, visiting a state park is necessary to see the mesmerizing sights of the island. Hike the trails in the sunshine at the Sunken Forest State Park, discover the different varieties of plants and animal life at the National Shore. If you’re traveling as a family,the Robert Moses State Park is perfect for beach picnics. It also has a playground and pitch-and-putt golf for a fun afternoon for the whole family.
Fire Island has many notable restaurants to choose from. For elegant and upscale island dining, the Pines Bistro & Martini Bar is your place to go. If you prefer a meal outdoors, Island Breeze is for you.The Blue Whale is a Fire Island food destination you can’t miss.A casual spot with a eclectic menu, the restaurant is a frequent spot for parties, too, as it turns into a club at nighttime.
The club and bar options on Fire Island are endless. After restaurant hours, The Blue Whale opens up for its notable Low Tea, where it holds themed parties and serves cheap drinks. Other party spots are Ice Palace and the Pavillion. Ice Palace has been a famed Fire Island staple since the 1950s. Equally great for dancing and people watching, Ice Palace is endlessly popular. Pavillion is a sleek party spot that hosts a variety of parties, featuring a host of famous DJs.
Maybe you’ve already conquered Provincetown, Ogunquit, and Fire Island. Fortunately there are plenty of LGBTQ- friendly towns in our the region. Explore the lesbian mecca that is Northampton, the bumping nightclubs of Boston, or the general queer-friendliness of Portland, ME. Whether you stick with New England, or make the venture out to Long Island, explore out of your comfort zone and get out there!
Nubble Lighthouse by Barbara McDevitt
Charlotte Abotsi is Options Magazine’s intern and a senior at Rhode Island College where she serves as senior copy editor for The Anchor. She leads Providence Poetry Slam twice monthly at AS220