With the holidays upon us, there’s never been a year worth celebrating the end of like 2021. Well, not since 2020 that is. For the LGBTQIA+ community in particular, some of whom struggle with the traditional family tropes of Thanksgiving and Christmas, New Year’s Eve is an apt excuse to let loose and convene with chosen family. Free of religious undertones or Indigenous erasure, this is one holiday that’s pure pageantry. Sure, you could host a Champagne-soaked house party with your friends, or you could get the gang back together and treat yourselves to a splurge-worthy trip to one of these 10 epic North American destinations.
Spend quality time with pasta, pools, and falcons on Sea Island
Island vacations are always the ultimate treat. From renting your own private island to nautical New England bliss, there’s no shortage of bougie islands in the US to max out your credit card on. But when it comes to island luxury, the ultimate sleeper hit might be Sea Island in Georgia. The most lavish of the state’s barrier islands, Sea Island is actually a gated resort community that’s part of the fancy sounding Golden Isles, anchored by some palatial hotels that look more like Lake Como than Georgia. The Cloister is Sea Island’s shining star, with ornate architecture, sprawling suites, and meticulously manicured lawns that make it look like something out of a decadent fairy tale. Considering how huge the property and the rooms are, and how over-the-top welcoming and kind everyone is, it’s the perfect island retreat for a group of queer friends looking to eat poke by the pool or slurp linguine vongole at Italian-accented Tavola. The resort also has access to miles of pristine beaches, and you can even dabble in falconry, a Medieval-era tradition that The Cloister casually offers as an activity option.
Rent a beachside mansion in the Hamptons
In case you’re looking to channel a Real Housewives vibe for New Year’s Eve, you could do a lot worse than getting a group of friends together and renting out a mansion in the Hamptons. Being the off season, rental options and available inns abound, and you won’t have to contend with nonstop traffic the entire way out from New York City. One option? This five-bedroom stunner in Montauk, huge enough to sleep 10, with pond and ocean views from pretty much every vantage point. There’s also a sleek heated pool, beach access, and a sexy soaking tub. If you’d rather go the hotel route, the Quogue Club at Hallock House is a gorgeous farmhouse-style inn in Quogue, close to vineyards, chill beaches, and a fine dining restaurant waiting to ply you with lobster mashed potatoes and pan-seared scallops. Both options offer cozy confines that are perfect for holing up and staying in, but the Hamptons are also teeming with LGBTQIA-friendly entertainment and activities, like popping rosé bottles at chic Sel Rose, gawking at houses in the Quogue historic district, or belting out some Cher covers with karaoke at queer-centric Liar’s Saloon in Montauk.
Live out your caviar dreams at Resorts World in Las Vegas
An evergreen destination for any LGBTQIA+ posse, Las Vegas feels apt for an up-all-night New Year’s blowout, especially now that the largest resort in the city is open. There’s no shortage of extravagant hotels here, but Resorts World raises the stakes as the largest and most expensive resort ever built in Vegas, anchored by a 117,000-square-foot casino and topped with a 59-story skyscraper containing three different Hilton properties. The most extra of the trio is Crockfords Rooms & Suites, home to four-bedroom presidential suites, an estate-style villa with its own private pool, and the cream of the crop: The four-bedroom palace, a 7,000-square-foot space with a grand foyer, cinema-style media room, a billiards room, four master suites, and a huge terrace with private pool, spa, and gardens. And with so many entertainment, gaming, nightlife, and dining options on-property, you won’t even need to leave the resort. Our pick for the perfect New Year’s Eve splurge? Caviar Bar, the newest restaurant on-site, whose entire concept is centered around the fanciest ingredient on Earth.
End the year on a mile-high note in Denver
Looking to end the year on a mile-high note? Look no further than downtown Denver, which has calcified as a bustling hub of entertainment and amenities, not to mention an incredibly inclusive and open-minded place for the LGBTQIA+ community. In the heart of it all is the Sheraton Denver Downtown, a shimmering gem of a suite-filled hotel that recently completed an extensive transformation that saw the Marriott Bonvoy brand bloom into a haven of elegance and comfort. Part of a global metamorphosis for the company, Denver is the latest property to level up, and it shows in the massive corner suites, the year-round outdoor heated pool, and the cozy lobby lounge, perfect for sipping local craft beer while plotting NYE plans. Pregame at the hotel’s sultry new cocktail bar, Bezel, a dimly lit den of cocktails (try the Purple Sticky, a lustrous medley of butterfly tea-infused vodka, maraschino syrup, lime, and violet) and high-end bar bites, like bison sliders topped with Hudson Valley foie gras and béarnaise. From here, you can keep the mile-high going by blending and bottling your own wine at Bigsby’s Folly Craft Winery and enjoying a “filet flight” of gold-grade Wagyu (because one filet isn’t enough) at Guard and Grace. Another asset that makes Denver the perfect NYE destination? It’s a convenient shuttle ride to a chi-chi mountain town, like Vail, for a day of skiing, Bavarian dining, and après-ski vibes.
Indulge in après-ski vibes in Teton Village
Speaking of après-ski luxury, it doesn’t get much better than Teton Village near Jackson, Wyoming. In case the chandelier-filled inns downtown aren’t enough of a splurge, this cluster of high-end resorts nestled in the Grand Tetons should fit the bill. Here, you can rent out a luxury log home or stay at a place like Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa. At the latter, you’ll feel all too comfortable lounging by one of the roaring fireplaces, sipping espresso-spiked White Russians in the rooftop hot tub, and savoring the mountain views from your 12-person, 2,400-square-foot penthouse suite. You’re also so close to the slopes that you can practically roll right out of bed and onto a gondola to head up the mountain. You’re also close to peaceful adventures in nature, like snowshoeing in Grand Teton National Park or taking a guided tour to see Old Faithful erupt from the snow in Yellowstone. Teton Village has plenty of upscale dining options—like The Handle Bar, a polished pub with elk chili and phyllo-crusted fish & chips—but you’d be remiss not to head into town to go on a Pendleton shopping spree and enjoy a venison rib-eye by yet another fireplace at hallowed Snake River Grill. No matter where you wind up, you can rest assured knowing Jackson’s transient and tourist communities make this the most LGBTQIA-friendly destination in Wyoming.
The holidays are a perfect time to take a trip with your best friend, partner, or chosen family. As an active ally to the LGBTQIA+ community, Orbitz is committed to helping everyone travel freely and take up space, wherever they go. Their LGBTQIA-welcoming hotels filter features properties that have taken an inclusivity pledge, so that you can feel comfortable and accepted exactly as you are. All you have to do is pick a destination. Visit Orbitz.com/Pride to learn more.
Channel your inner Elizabeth Taylor in West Texas
If you’re looking for a NYE glow up, there’s no celebrity role model quite like Elizabeth Taylor. A woman basically synonymous with unattainably expensive jewelry is definitely the energy you need this holiday season. You can channel that in El Paso at The Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park. The Dame actually once lived in the penthouse suite of this gorgeously restored downtown property, now home to Landmark Suites, one of the largest agave spirits collections in the state, and Ambar Restaurante, where you can pair mezcal-cured foie gras with a wood-fired tomahawk rib-eye large enough to feed your whole friend circle. The crown jewel (literally) is La Perla, the elegant rooftop cocktail bar in Taylor’s former penthouse. While the queen may be gone, caviar tea sandwiches and bone marrow Rockefeller remain. Plus, the fact that El Paso is wildly underrated as an LGBTQIA-friendly city makes it a fun NYE alternative for barhopping, drag shows, and galavanting.
Savor the arts in Santa Fe
Endlessly chic, artsy, queer-friendly, and notoriously expensive, Santa Fe is even more decadent if you bring your chosen fam and ball out at the newest hotel in town: Bishop’s Lodge. Nestled in the tranquil foothills of Santa Fe National Forest, this is opulence like the city has never seen, with roughly 317 acres of pure zen and all the above-and-beyond amenities you can dream of. The massive adobe-style resort feels like its own exclusive town, with private casitas, a resident “art therapist” who leads meditations/art projects, and a locally sourced fine dining restaurant, SkyFire, which is conveniently hosting a special NYE prix fixe dinner filled with lobster salad, Chimayo squash velouté, Wagyu strip loin, and vanilla flan. When (or if) you’re tempted to leave the property, you won’t be bored shopping for expensive turquoise jewelry downtown, buying bedazzled cowboy boots, and enjoying a snazzy Southwestern meal at Coyote Cafe, which is also offering a NYE tasting menu, in case white truffle fondue and a grilled duo of quails is more your style.
Find queer comfort and modern luxuries in Halifax
Another au courant option is the brand new Muir Hotel in Halifax, Canada. The seaside capital of Nova Scotia may not seem like the most obvious destination for a queer NYE extravaganza, but the city is delightfully LGBTQIA-friendly, with its own massive Pride Festival, a Halfway to Pride Winter Dance party, the queer-owned Glitter Bean Cafe, and an LGBTQIA+ hockey league adorably called the Halifax Mussels. And what better place to rest your head than a posh new hotel in the queer-sounding Queen Marque district. The mod property dazzles with its striking architecture and design, and splurge-worthy amenities like a vitality spa pool, a halotherapy salt room, and seafood-centric fine dining at Drift, where acclaimed Chef Anthony Walsh mans a locally sourced menu of blue salmon tartare, snow crab ploye, and Yarmouth lobster pot pie. Most surprisingly, the hotel even has its own speakeasy style cocktail bar, BKS, reserved exclusively for guests.
Party all night (and smash open a cocktail) in Miami
In terms of epic, loud-and-proud New Year’s festivities, there’s no better place than Miami, an international icon of queer nightlife, art, and entertainment. Not only is it a warm-weather paradise for the winter holiday, but the city is hosting a multi-day LGBTQIA+ event for the occasion called Dreamland. The weekend festival, headlined by Kim Petras and Sofi Tukker, consists of multiple events throughout the city, from South Beach to the emerging gayborhood of Wynwood, along with immersive art installations, pool parties, disco dances, and beach workouts, in case you want to get a head start on those resolutions. There is no shortage of ritzy accommodations, of course, like The Confidante, a towering art deco icon in Mid-Beach. With some of the most breathtaking ocean views, rooms and spacious suites boast impressive balconies overlooking all the beach action below. The Penthouse Suite is the ritziest of them all, a 980-square-foot retreat that’ll have you feeling like the queen of Miami Beach. The hotel is also home to Ambersweet, a posh American restaurant serving up exciting seasonal bites, like heirloom carrots with cashew curry and lobster risotto with citrus bread crumbs. Don’t skip on its serious cocktail program: The DropMe Lemon Drop, served with an ice sphere that you crack open to reveal more liquor, is probably the only cocktail you’ll find that comes with a tiny wooden hammer. Great for letting out any pent-up aggression from 2021.
Say aloha to 2022 from Hawaii
For a quintessentially queer, fun-in-the-sun splurge, a NYE trip to immensely LGBTQIA-friendly Hawaii is in order. An ultimate mecca for sunshine, warmth, and tropical island luxury, the state is a veritable choose-your-own-adventure of vacation style. You can go all out on the rental route with this Airbnb Luxe in Waimea on the Big Island—this manor-sized oceanside property boasts five bedrooms, a living garden wall, an infinity pool, stand-up paddleboards, and tennis courts. It also comes with its own trip-planning concierge service, so you can map out other activities, shuttle services, and food delivery. Another uber-fancy option is Aulani, the Disney-owned hotel on Oahu. Because the only way to make Hawaii even more fancy is by adding a Disney property, equipped with three-bedroom villas, an infinity pool, private lagoon, a hydrotherapy garden, and traditional Hawaiian flavors at Orero Room, including Karua pork gratin and some of the freshest sashimi you’ll ever taste. You could easily just hole up in paradise for the holiday, but especially if you’re on an urban island like Oahu, you’ve got endless metropolitan amenities, parties, and bars to enjoy. Maui, the Big Island, and Oahu all have their own Pride festivals and LGBTQIA+ businesses and nightlife, but the latter is the epicenter of it all. Get the gang together and hit up Scarlet Honolulu for a drag show on the Pineapple Stage, or head to Hula’s Bar & Lei Stand, a queer bar inside the Waikiki Grand Hotel, for a catamaran cruise that serves Mai Tais on board.