This Secret Gem of the South is the Perfect Destination for Gay Friends

Sep 14, 2022

Each year, gay men spend countless hours online searching for the perfect vacation spot. A place where they can be themselves, without fear of remorse from a community that’s less than accepting of gays. The research can be stressful and draining. Not all destinations are safe for the LGBTQ community to travel to without fear of persecution. Gay men often find themselves turning to the same places to visit, based on the best bang for their buck, and where they feel safe and welcome. 

Balconies with tropical plants in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

Great food, places to meet other gay men, entertainment, historical sights, arts and culture, nightlife, and premium accommodation are just some of the many things that gay men want for their gaycation. A destination where there is the opportunity to have fun, relax, and connect with the community. 

Faces painted on the side of a building in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

The place that gay men are looking for is New Orleans, Louisiana. The Crescent City has everything a gay man could dream of for a vacation, and the city welcomes LGBTQ travellers with open area. In fact, NOLA is the home of Gere La Marr, one of the oldest recorded drag queens, first discovered in 1940, and to Bianca Del Rio, one of the winners of RuPaul’s Drag Race. 

The silhouette of Jesus against a church in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

Now that you know you that New Orleans is the destination, you’re going to learn how to make the most of your vacation to this beautiful destination, making it as culturally enriching as possible. 

A bridge over the Mississippi River in New Orleans.

Here is HomoCulture’s run-down of the must see, do, and to-visit locations to help you plan your visit to The Big Easy!

Explore the Arts 

In New Orleans you can learn about culture through art. Local art comes to life in front of your eyes in the Marilyn district. It’s nestled between the French Quarter and the by waters, where you’ll find beautifully designed shotgun homes and uplifting sounds of jazz music. 

JAMNOLA

No gaycation is complete with a timeless memory for your home, and the best way to remember a fantastic vacation is an incredible experience of exhibits to celebrate the food and culture of your destination. 

An art installation at JAMNOLA in New Orleans.

JAMNOLA stands for Joy, Art & Music – New Orleans. The pop-up event has 12 exhibits which guide you on a historical and culturally impactful journey of the culture and art of NOLA. You can experience this through the eyes of over 20 local artists and creative partners from around the city. 

A man posing for a photo in JAMNOLA in New Orleans.

Each art installation is an opportunity to capture instagram-worthy photos that will fill your social feeds with amazing content featuring iconic elements of New Orleans. Bring your friends, have fun, and enjoy the creative art. 

Studio Be 

Are you passionate about current events and desire to see them portrayed in art that makes the mind tingle? Since 2016, Studio BE has developed itself as a landmark and cultural destination in New Orleans. 

An upside down police car, part of an art installation at Studio BE in New Orleans.

Here you can see some of the most beautiful large scale contemporary art pieces that will surely make you look and say, “that’s a new perspective.”

Large format paintings of people at Studio BE in New Orleans.

And, since this is a place for the local community you can rest assured that you’ll be experiencing life through the eyes of the locals. It will enhance your understanding of your new environment and help you see life through a different lens. 

VUE Orleans 

No vacation is complete without breathtaking sites to feast your eyes on, and VUE Orleans can provide just that and even a little more. 

A diorama of locals at VUE New Orleans.

VUE Orleans is an immersive, interactive, cultural experience with the best views of New Orleans. It’s also one of the newest attractions and experiences to the city. 

Here you will learn about the rich cultural history of New Orleans, and the fascinating history of how NOLA became a mix of many different cultures. 

A view of Canal Street from VUE Orleans in New Orleans.

You will discover amazing stories from the locals, learn about Cajun creole cuisine, hear about the music history, and the important role the Mississippi River and the surrounding wetlands played to help secure NOLA as a key port city.  

Culinary Exploration

New Orleans has one of the most distinguishable cuisines in all the United States. It is heavily influenced by creole, Cajun, and soul food. We’ve compiled a list of the best places to grab a bite and experience authentic Cajun Creole food in New Orleans.

Brennan’s 

Can you imagine how good you’d be at doing something if you’d done it for over 70 years? 

Brennan's restaurant in New Orleans created the original banana's foster.

Brennan’s is the original home of Bananas Foster! Yes, the banana-caramel-ice cream dessert that is served around the world. It was first created and served at Brennan’s, over 70 years ago! Whenever you see Bananas Forster on another menu, you can proudly say you’ve had it at the original place that invented it! 

Shrimp served up at Brennan's restaurant in New Orleans.

Brennan’s also has an extensive traditional menu that infuses Spanish and French taste and have been making their delicious dishes for more than 6 decades. 

Eggs Benedict at Brennan's restaurant in New Orleans.

Walking into the dining you will experience authentic elegance from the booming era of New Orleans. The ambience and sophistication of the dishes ensure a uniquely unforgettable experience. 

Desire Oyster Bar 

New Orleans is surrounded by marshes, swamps, and the ocean, all filled with amazing seafood, including oysters. 

A Sazerac cocktail at the Royal Sonesta New Orleans.

Desire Oyster bar is located on Bourbon Street, in the Royal Sonesta Hotel, making it the perfect stop before a night out on the town for a light meal that gets your libido roaring with passion.

Jumbo at the Desire restaurant in the Royal Sonesta New Orleans.

The undeniable entrance is lit to the heavens in a Broadway style that will welcome you with open arms. Grab a seat at the fresh oyster bar for right in front of your eyes shucked and chargrilled oysters from world class colliers. 

A chicken sandwich at the Royal Sonesta New Orleans.

Café Du Monde 

After a night out you will want to recharge in the morning for the day ahead, and the most authentic and classic New Orleans experience is Cafe Du monde. It’s in the name, “Coffee of the world.”

Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans.

The cafe specializes in dark roast coffee, chicory, and beignets. Step into another world and refill yourself with energy and while you’re at it grab a square French style donut smothered in powder sugar between drinks to ensure you can handle the wild nights the city has to offer. 

Ruby Slipper 

Ruby Slipper is a not to be missed brunch hot spot in New Orleans. After hurricane Katrina ravaged the city, it opened as a hub for good food and unforgettable times with friends. It’s a quintessential brunch spot with six locations in New Orleans. 

Brunch at the Ruby Slipper in New Orleans.

The restaurant won the sunshine award in 2019 for its southern hospitality, that of which can only be found in New Orleans.

Brunch at the Ruby Slipper in New Orleans.

Slip into the Ruby Slipper for an award winning bloody mary, made with bacon infused vodka, or a tangy, orange-infused pomegranate mimosa before heading out to see the sights that NOLA has to offer.

Brunch at the Ruby Slipper in New Orleans.

The Ruby Slipper is best known for their eggs benedict, followed by the biscuits and gravy. These are the staples of southern brunch. The braised short rib beef benedict is hot and new on the menu, and it’s delicious! 

Spirits and Cocktails

New Orleans history of cocktails can be traced back to the city’s beginning, way back when drinks were simply spirits, water, sugar, and bitters. Although not the birthplace of cocktails, many time-enduring cocktails were created here. Here’s where to grab the strongest, classic, and most delicious drinks in the city. 

Dr. Gumbo Cocktail History Tour 

In a city like New Orleans, you may be interested drinking the cocktails, but also learning about where they are from and how their history to The Big Easy. Dr. Gumbo Cocktail Tour will lead you on an exciting journey through the city’s historic French Quarter to learn about and sample the best cocktails in the city. 

Classic New Orleans cocktails on The Big Easy Dr Gumbo Cocktail Tour.

You will visit the hottest and most eye-catching bars and even learn how Sazerac was invented. Never had absinthe? This tour is for you! 

Classic New Orleans cocktails on The Big Easy Dr Gumbo Cocktail Tour.

The best part of the tour is the cocktails are made by expert mixologists who will craft your beverages with flair and elegance. 

Sazerac House

Sazerac is the original cognac from New Orleans. And, if you visit NOLA you can’t miss going to the Sazerac house to learn more about how the cognac gets its signature flavor and sweet taste. 

Here you will learn about the history of Sazerac since the 1850s and truly experience the local customs the city has to offer. The drink, just like your experience will be, is full of unique character and vibrance. 

You’ll also get a chance to taste the original cognac from 1850. 

LGBTQ+ Bars, Clubs, and Lounges 

Every gaycation destination requires great nightlife. A place where you can live out your fantasies, meet and hookup with hot men, and have a blast while letting loose with great drinks. The Crescent City has a vibrant collection of gay bars that call the French Quarter home. Here are just some of the places you need to visit during your visit. 

The Oz New Orleans, a gay bar on Bourbon Street.

Oz New Orleans 

Whether it’s an afternoon cocktail with the guys, or a night out dancing, Oz New Orleans is one of the signature gay bar in the city. Here you’ll find hot men dancing, go-go dancers, and a second-floor balcony where you can toss beads and enjoy fantastic views of Bourbon Street. You may even find the man of your dreams.

Bourbon Pub Parade 

Bourbon street never sleeps, and if you want a drink at 7 in the morning, noon, or midnight, you have to head to Bourbon Pub Parade. The beat goes on all night and day, so no matter what time you visit you will be able to bust a groove with friends or a date. They are also offer Showtunes Sunday if you enjoy a sing-along night. 

The Phoenix Bar 

If you enjoy leather daddies, bears, otters, and wolves, they are likely hanging out at The Phoenix Bar. No matter your flavor of guy, you can find them here covered in leather and ready to enjoy a fun time together. The Phoenix Bar also hosts regular beer-bash events and has a small fetish store on-site.  

Corner Pocket 

Get your dollars out! The Corner Pocket is a gay man’s lounge, serving up cocktails and sexy men. It’s the place to go to enjoy the scene, and the scenery. 

Betty’s Bar & Bistro 

Opened during the COVID-19 pandemic, Betty’s Bar & Bistro is where the locals hang out, have cocktails, and enjoy all things drag. Betty’s Bar and Bistro serves up both pub food and cocktails. 

Good Friends 

Not everyone will want to fist pump the night away. If you’re not into the club scene and just want to relax with your crew, head to Good Friends. There is a beautiful mahogany bar, pool tables, and cocktails. You’ll feel right at home at Good Friends. 

Stay at the Royal Sonesta New Orleans 

The Royal Sonesta New Orleans is the best option for gay travelers who are on vacation in New Orleans. It’s the perfect way to explore New Orleans and meet new people—or just relax on your own. They also have a gym and spa, so you can make the most of your gaycation, and enjoy your healthy lifestyle routines. 

A queen size bed in a guest room at the Royal Sonesta New Orleans.

Whether you are visiting for Halloween, Mardi Gras, Pride, Southern Decadence, or any other time of the year, make your reservations for your gaycation at the Royal Sonesta New Orleans.

The lobby of the Royal Sonesta New Orleans.

New Orleans Welcomes the LGBTQ Community 365 Days a Year

New Orleans welcomes the LGBTQ+ community with open arms! Come celebrate any time of the year with New Orleans. The city has a wonderful collection of gay bars, restaurants, and dance clubs, in addition to Cajun and Creole dining, adventures, and attractions. Start planning your gaycation to New Orleans today with the help of Visit New Orleans!

A rainbow fleur-de-lis on Bourbon Street in New Orleans during Southern Decadence 2022.

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Brian Webb

Brian Webb

Author

Brian Webb is the founder and editor-in-chief of HomoCulture, a celebrated content creator, and winner of the prestigious Mr. Gay Canada – People’s Choice award. An avid traveler, Brian attends Pride events, festivals, street fairs, and LGBTQ friendly destinations through the HomoCulture Tour. He has developed a passion for discovering and sharing authentic lived experiences, educating about the LGBTQ community, and using both his photography and storytelling to produce inspiring content. Originally from the beautiful Okanagan Valley in the southern interior of British Columbia, Brian now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. His personal interests include travel, photography, physical fitness, mixology, drag shows.

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