One of the world's most popular men's lifestyle & hipster travel blogs with stories from around the world — gay city destinations & cultural experiences.. This is your travel guide to the coolest things to do and see around the world, from an American hipster in Berlin
It was a relatively easy journey to Guadalajara. Mexico’s second largest city, and the capital of the relatively touristic Jalisco Mexican state, there are regular flights from all over the USA to the city.
I arrived in Guadalajara in the evening for a long weekend city break. Bonus: it was for Guadalajara Pride weekend. The city has one of Mexico’s largest LGBTQ populations and while some of the other Mexican cities are more popular with international LGBTQ tourists, Guadalajara still has a thriving LGBTQ community.
There are several gay bars, clubs, parties & festivals happening in Guadalajara all year, but obviously during the summer, things start to heat up! Especially during Pride weekend!
Guadalajara Pride Weekend Highlights
From the annual Prohibido LGBTQ-inclusive festival to the pride parade (over 120,000 spectators!), Guadalajara knows how to throw a pride party! Below, some snapshots from my weekend in Guadalajara, Jalisco.
Summertime is often the best time of year to travel. We’ve all got more time, more energy, and the weather just can’t be beat! Summer Fridays from work make it easy to take those quick weekend getaways, whether it’s a road trip to the beach, or just somewhere out of the city.
With all the sweat and sun, filling up your carry-on bag for a summer weekend getaway is never easy. Carry-on liquid limits (100ml ugh) are frustrating for those of us with sunscreen needs, but there are plenty of things still worth packing for your summer trips.
5 Things to Pack for Summer Travel
Yep, sunglasses are the first thing you need for summer travel. They’re also the thing I break the most so I always have a few pairs in my bag. I’ve started keeping a sunglasses carry-case with me as well because it protects the frames.
Where to buy: I’ve got a pretty wide-ranging collection of sunglasses, from ones I’ve gotten free at various pride events, to cheap ones I’ve picked up at pharmacies and convenience stores. Recently, I was gifted a pair of designer sunglasses from SmartBuyGlasses.com. Personally, I love a simple frame from a brand like Ralph Lauren or Ray Ban.
Summertime usually means heat, and with the hot temperatures (and the increasing amount of heat waves), that’s going to mean sweat. Having a good deodorant is helpful, but it’s also smart to pack a fresh fragrance or cologne for your summer trips.
A quick spritz before heading out for the evening is an easy way to mask your smell, or accentuate an outfit easily.
Where to buy: I’ve got so many fragrances at this point, I really love to mix it up. The new gender-neutral brand of fragrances from KIERIN NYC are especially delightful as their series includes scents that can be used for a variety of purposes.
For Pride Month, Kenneth Cole also released a series of men’s fragrances which can also be adapted depending upon personal taste (or smell). I also really love the Versace Eros scent.
Yes, always pack sunscreen. But don’t forget the moisturizer also! The summer sun (and heat) can be especially difficult on sensitive skin. Just like it’s important to stay hydrated with water out in the heat, it’s important to make sure your skin stays hydrated as well.
Where to buy: I’ve been using a few different moisturizers. And I always keep an extra one in my carry-on bag so I make sure to never forget it when traveling! Last month, beauty brand Kiehl’s launched an Age Defender Gel Moisturizer—a lightweight, firming, lifting and anti-wrinkle treatment for men. It’s really comfortable to use.
I’ve also been using a purifying face cream Good Science Beautywhich feels especially refreshing on the skin. It uses Good Silicon+ technology which makes sure the ingredients get where they need to be.
What’s a travel blog if you don’t have a way to share it?! Anyone who follows my story knows that I love a good postcard, and sending them is such a fun and easy way to connect with those that you love. (Or I guess you could probably also send them to those that you don’t love.)
Where to buy: Even though we live in an increasingly paperless world, postcards are still available just about everywhere. Luxury hotels tend to leave them in their rooms for guests to use at their will, sometimes restaurants even keep them available, or you’ll find postcard ads in the back of bars and on sticky countertops.
Traveling for the summer is all about packing light, but you’ve still got to make sure you’ve got some summer style! Whether you’re marching in a pride parade or hanging out at the beach, a good pair of shoes is going to make or break the trip.
I don’t buy shoes as often as I probably should, but I always make sure I’ve got a classy pair of dress shoes, a top-quality pair of flip-flops (for the beach only), and a few pairs of cool sneakers in my closet.
Where to buy: I’m a sucker for all the typical sneaker brands like Adidas, Converse, and VANS, but ever since I discovered Italian shoemaker Guidomaggi, I’ve always had a pair of shoes from them in my packed bag. Handmade in Italy, they’re all luxury height-increasing shoes anywhere from 2″ inches to 6″ platforms. I love the way the shoes make me feel with the added height and the Italian style just really pumps it up. I’ve got a pair of their sneakers I always love wearing out to the clubs.
Packing for a summer trip isn’t always easy, but I always bring with me these essentials. What else do you make sure to carry with you?
New York Pride is the world’s largest LGBTQ celebration. The annual June event commemorates the Stonewall riots which are credited with launching the modern LGBTQ rights movement. Because New York City is where so much of it began, the pride parade here is unlike anywhere else.
In 2019, celebrating 50 years since Stonewall, NYC Pride is the host for the global LGBTQ event World Pride. Four million tourists are expected to flock to the city meaning this year’s event is going to be crowded—but fun!
Find a cool hotel to stay during Pride in my guide to some of NYC’s best LGBTQ-friendly hotels.
8 LGBTQ-Friendly Hotels in NYC
The courtyard at Arlo SoHo
Where to Stay in SoHo
SoHo is one of my favorite NYC neighborhoods. In Lower Manhattan, it’s easily accessible from most other boroughs by the subway, and the low buildings offer scenic skyline views.
SoHo is a lot of fun for its many bars and restaurants, too. Some of the hotel bars in SoHo are actually most popular with locals—though tourists and visitors are welcome too.
With one of Soho’s best rooftop bars, a hip lobby bar & café, and an excellent on-site restaurant called Harolds, the Arlo Hotel is one of the best places to stay during NYC Pride week.
Why during NYC Pride? As part of the World Pride Mural Project, the Arlo SoHo hotel has a large LGBTQ-themed mural on an interior wall of their garden. The mural celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and a half-century of LGBTQ liberation.
The rooftop bar at Arlo SoHo
Rooms are small at the hotel, but the on-site amenities are spacious. The rooftop bar attracts locals and tourists alike, and plenty of open space in the lobby makes it easy to meet others.
Times Square often invites screams and pain from New Yorkers. It’s crowded and loud and busy and chaotic, and while it’s essentially at the center of Manhattan, it’s relatively easy to avoid.
The view from W Hotel – Times Square
The thing is, though, it’s actually a pretty worthwhile spot. From Times Square, you’re close to all the Broadway theaters, the shopping (so much shopping), and that picture-perfect representation of New York, New York.
Even if you’ve seen it once, it’s still worth visiting Times Square again. And its central location and tall buildings make it one of the most convenient places to stay in all of New York City.
Located in the heart of Manhattan and just steps away from Times Square (literally), this luxury hotel has a great lobby bar (even if it’s windowless) where they host regular LGBTQ events.
For the past few years, W Hotels has cemented itself as an LGBTQ-friendly brand by working with LGBTQ creators and influencers as part of their “Queer Me Out” panels which take place in their properties around the world. The panels cover everything from dating to activism.
The W Hotel
Why during NYC Pride? In addition to being an LGBTQ-friendly hotel (and walking distance to the gay Hells Kitchen neighborhood), you can even book a special rate during Pride Month for the opportunity to join them on their pride float during the NYC pride parade.
Service is excellent at the hotel and there are two on-site restaurants. Wifi comes with a charge except in the lobby where it’s free.
One of the newest hotels in NYC’s Times Square, the Aliz Hotel is also home to Dear Irving—the highest open-air hotel bar in all of Manhattan on the 40th and 41st floors (and with excellent cocktails, too!). And an awesome burger joint in the lobby called Farm to Burger.
Farm to Burger at Aliz Hotel
Views from the rooms are great (south-facing rooms even have views of the Empire State Building) and despite the relative small size of the hotel, rooms are comfortably sized with great amenities. It’s a skinny but very tall building, so there might be the occasional wait for the elevator—but it’s worth it because the views are just so fantastic.
Why during NYC Pride? A useful pride guide exists on the hotel website detailing special LGBTQ+ pride deals.
Dear Irving Rooftop bar at Aliz Hotel
Where to Stay in NoMad
NoMad is a funny name for a district of Manhattan. Essentially, “North of Madison,” it’s often called an up-and-coming neighborhood. Broadway slices through it and the district is just north of Madison Square Park.
The area was once a hotbed for budget retailers, but now with its prime location in Manhattan, there are a handful of luxury hotels and top-quality restaurants. On weekends, it’s actually pretty quiet because there aren’t quite as many tourists as in the Times Square district, and the office workers aren’t around.
In Manhattan’s NoMad district, The Redbury has a beautifully boutique design with musical design touches throughout (a nod to the nearby historic Tin Pan Alley). There are entrances to the hotel on both 29th and 30th streets, and bars on either end as well.
The Redbury’s location has a legendary feminist history, too. The building originally opened as The Women’s Hotel in 1903, the first hotel in New York to provide housing for professional women.
Why during NYC Pride? Special pride rates apply to the hotel including welcome drinks from the on-site Roman-style aperitivi bar, Vini e Fritti. The lobby restaurant, Marta, is a Roman-inspired pizzeria part of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group—a prominent restaurant & bar purveyor across the city.
In addition to its excellent central location (convenient to the World Pride parade), The James NoMad hotel offers guests an evening happy hour with wine and cheese, and surprisingly spacious rooms. North-facing rooms get better city views, but the historic building is picturesque inside and out.
If you can get a reservation, try out the Scarpetta restaurant on the property. The Italian restaurant serves luxurious dishes and delicious homemade pastas and breads among other things.
Scarpetta serves a range of elegant Italian food dishes in an upscale setting
Why during NYC Pride? The hotel is an official sponsor of World Pride, and, as such, is hosting a number of pride-focused events. In a partnership with Stonewall Community Foundation, the hotel lobby is home to a public exhibit honoring icons from the LGBTQ community with a focus son faces & places.
The hotel is also home to a retail pop-up shop from gender-neutral shop called FEIGN. And if all the public LGBTQ events on offer aren’t enough, guests at The James that book the special pride package get all sorts of special benefits, including 2(X)IST clothing.
Midtown is a pretty expansive term for Manhattan and covers a wide range of locations. But essentially, the Midtown area is part of the center city that doesn’t include Times Square or the Garment District, but rather a sliver of streets from Central Park down south to Bryant Park.
There are no shortage of skyscrapers in Midtown and lots of hotel offers.
The luxury hotel (part of the AccorHotels brand) knows style like few other hotel brands. Their NYC Sofitel property in Midtown has a beautiful lobby and an in-house restaurant Gaby Brasserie Française with a luxurious fine dining menu of French foods. (Don’t miss the French Onion Soup!)
Why during NYC Pride? Around the world, the Sofitel brand has long-catered to LGBTQ travelers. During Pride Month and through July, the NYC hotel is donating proceeds from its bar sales during Proud Hour every day 8-10pm to the Ali Forney Center which supports homeless LGBTQ youth.
As a special treat celebrating 50 years since Stonewall, the hotel also transformed one of its luxury suites into a show-stopping Cher themed suite decked out in memorabilia honoring Cher and The Cher Show.
The suite is available to book through mid-September and features original prints, photos by Hirschfeld, & fashion costumes from The Cher Show. Rates start at $499 per night. The Sofitel NYC regularly has Broadway-themed suites, making it a great option for theater-fans.
Williamsburg is where hipsters were born. Kind of. So it’s no surprise that it’s the hottest and hippest neighborhood to stay for tourists visiting New York City and Brooklyn, specifically. There are a handful of trendy hotels—each with their rooftop pools (which steep entry fees for non-guests).
Because of the relative ease to travel between Williamsburg and Manhattan via public transportation (at the über-hipster Bedford stop on the L train), the neighborhood is popular with lots of trendy hotels.
In the heart of hipster Williamsburg, The William Vale towers over the neighborhood with the absolute best view of Manhattan. The hotel has its own urban oasis with an elevated green park (with a burger food truck and plenty of street art) open to the public.
Why during NYC Pride? For Pride Month, the hotel is hosting a number of LGBTQ events, including a pre-pride pool party, LGBTQ movie nights, and there’s a pride-themed mural on the premises, too! Check the full William Vale calendar for event details.
Rooms at The William Vale are sleek and stylish, and stand out among other NYC hotel properties for their modern design that feels fresh. Every room on the property includes a balcony (book a corner suite for the best views) which just makes the whole experience that much more..
This June marks 50 years since the Stonewall Uprising in Greenwich Village. To celebrate this historic LGBTQ+ anniversary, World Pride is coming to New York City for the very first time! If you haven’t seen the ads plastered over the internet, social media, the rainbow flags, and all the corporate pride signs, New York Pride this year is going to be massive. Millions are expected to visit NYC at the end of June.
New York Pride is already one of the
largest pride celebrations around the world, and with a whole month of events
happening in and around New York City (and Brooklyn, too!), this year’s celebration is sure to be the biggest ever.
Because of the historic anniversary, there are a number of great activities and events happening around NYC to celebrate World Pride throughout the month of June — when nearly 4 million LGBTQ +travelers are expected to visit. (I’m exhausted already!)
Things to do during NYC World Pride
1. See the Love & Resistance exhibit at the New York Public Library
Celebrating 50 years since Stonewall, the New York Public Library’s central branch in Bryant Park is hosting an exhibition titled Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50through July 14.
The collection includes photographs from pioneering journalists Tobin Lahusen and Diana Davies from the ‘60s and ‘70s alongside the library’s vast archives of LGBTQ+ history.
There’s a cafe on site (with wifi) and their online calendar of events serves as a useful resource for visitors to Manhattan. Stop by to pick up pamphlets and get your gay travel NYC questions answered!
3. Join the Stonewall 50 Commemoration Rally at the place where it all began
On June 28, from 6pm, LGBTQ community leaders will meet at the corner of Christopher Street and Waverly Place in front of The Stonewall Inn. Authors, activists, and presenters will gather to mark the exact 50-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising.
The event will include speeches and stage performances to remind us what happened in June 1969, celebrate what we’ve achieved, and inspire us to continue fighting for what still needs to happen.
4. Shop pride products & gender-neutral clothing at The Phluid Project
"Pride By Patti" Shirts | Full Frontal on TBS - YouTube
One of my favorite LGBTQ shops in NYC is The Phluid Project—a gender-neutral clothing shop and community meeting point that opened in 2018. The small cafe on the site hosts a number of events for local LGBTQ New Yorkers from all parts of the spectrum, and the clothing on offer is usually on-point!
Maybe you saw Samantha Bee and Patti Harrison’s episode about the shop and their new tee? Lots of other cute products on sale—though sometimes a bit pricey if you’re on a budget.
5. Explore NYC’s Stonewall History at the Brooklyn Museum
Through December 2019, the Brooklyn Museum is also featuring an exhibit titled Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall. Borrowing its title from the rallying words of transgender artist and activist Marsha P. Johnson, the exhibit focuses on the impact of the Stonewall Uprising through works by contemporary artists.
6. Learn about Camp Fashion at the Met
And on at the Metropolitan Museum for this spring’s Costume Institute exhibit, Camp: Notes on Fashionfeatures nearly 200 fashion objects from the 17th century to the present related to the camp aesthetic. The exhibition which opened with the annual Met Gala (co-hosted by none other than Lady Gaga), is partly inspired by the 1964 essay “Notes on Camp” by Susan Sontag.
7. Take an LGBTQ History Tour
In-between all the events and activities during Pride Month, make sure to set aside some time to discover NYC’s unique LGBTQ history. Urban Adventures runs a fun pub crawl through Greenwich Village which features a lot of unexpected LGBTQ+ historical markers, in addition to the big historical highlights.
8. Send a World Pride postcard
With four million people in town for World Pride, you can expect the souvenir shops to be pretty crowded! Save some time and use your phone to get a custom-printed postcard to send back to your friends and family!
Planning to watch the pride parade on June 30? Going to any of the gazillion pride parties hosted all over the city? Stand out and show up as your best self! For me, that means getting a fresh cut (and new hair color) at my go-to salon, Art+Autonomy in SoHo and my hair stylist & colorist @AddamArtist.
The whole crew at the salon always make me feel extra special—and pretty!
10. Shout and share your love with the city on the LinkNYC screens
The Shoutable app lets you post personalized messages LinkNYC screens across New York City. Throughout Pride Month, users can shout their love and support across the city with Pride-specific messages, or “shouts,” to friends and family with LGBTQ inspired graphics.
For all of Pride Month, the LinkNYC screens are also showing historic images from Stonewall and beyond from photographer Fred McDarrah. Keep an eye out for them and the historic fun facts about New York City’s LGBTQ history.
11. Join the World Pride March on June 30
On June 30, the annual pride parade will march through the streets of Manhattan. Starting at noon and expected to last up to 8+ hours, over 150,000 participants will be waving flags and glitter to celebrate.
Countless brands and sponsors will be there to promote LGBTQ+ rights and advocacy and with the millions of spectators, it’s expected to be the largest LGBTQ+ pride event in the world.
12. Reclaim Pride at the Queer Liberation March
The Queer Liberation March is a people’s political march—no corporate floats, and no police in the march. This year’s Queer Liberation March on June 30 will retrace the steps of the original Christopher Street Liberation Day March of 1970
Those that want to participate will gather in Sheridan Square, march all the way up 6th Avenue, and end at a rally in Central Park’s Great Lawn. It’s an important cause that recognizes where the modern LGBTQ rights movement comes from, and how far there still is to go.
13. Get your perfect Instagram shot at one of 50 new LGBTQ street art murals
Listen, I’m no fan of Instagram, but I get that everyone’s always looking for that perfect photo spot. And it seems that NYC Pride knows it, too!
The WorldPride Mural Project initiative features 50 local and international artists who were invited to create murals across all five boroughs of New York City. The murals are in a variety of spots and sizes and represent the full diversity of the LGBTQ community.
I’m not sure how many of the murals are planned to stay up after NYC Pride, but it’s certainly added a lot of color to the city already.
Where to Stay for World Pride
Arlo Hotel in SoHo, Manhattan
With one of Soho’s best rooftop bars, a hip lobby bar & café, and an excellent on-site restaurant called Harolds, the Arlo Hotel is one of the best places to stay during pride week.
Rooms are small but very comfortable—and convenient! Arlo SoHo also features one of the World Pride murals on one of their building’s walls to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and a half-century of LGBTQ liberation. Even if you don’t book a room at the Arlo Hotel, check out their rooftop bar and don’t miss the World Pride mural!
One of the newest hotels in NYC’s Times Square, the Aliz Hotel is also home to Dear Irving—the highest open-air hotel bar in all of Manhattan on the 40th and 41st floors (and with excellent cocktails, too!).
Views from the rooms are great (south-facing rooms have views of the Empire State Building) and despite the relative small size of the hotel, rooms are comfortably sized with great amenities. A useful pride guide exists on the hotel website detailing special LGBTQ+ pride deals.
In the heart of hipster Williamsburg, The William Vale towers over the neighborhood with the absolute best view of Manhattan. For Pride Month, the hotel is hosting a number of LGBTQ events, including a pre-pride pool party, LGBTQ movie nights, and there’s a pride-themed mural on the premises, too! Check the full William Vale calendar for event details.
Rooms at The William Vale are sleek and stylish, and stand out among other NYC hotel properties for their modern design. Every room on the property includes a balcony (book a corner suite for the best views) which just makes the whole experience that much more magical. Even if you’re not planning to stay at the Brooklyn hotel, don’t miss the rooftop bar Westlight for an amazing 360-degree view.
Check out more LGBTQ-friendly hotels in my full NYC LGBTQ hotel guide here [link coming soon]!
World Pride is going to be a lot of fun this year, and navigating all the events, protests, and parties isn’t going to be easy. That’s why I curated some of my favorite gay things to do in NYC for Pride.
It’ll be impossible to do it all (and expensive), but hopefully this pride guide will make it easy and enjoyable to get the most of NYC Pride this year! Get the full calendar of NYC World pride events on their official website.
Puerto Rico’s lively atmosphere, vibrant community of LGBTQ locals, and attitude toward life make it one of the best American destinations for nightlife. Read about my experience exploring San Juan’s best bars and clubs…
• • •
Visiting San Juan’s gay nightlife
My first night out in San Juan certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. I’d only arrived in Puerto Rico a few hours before—just enough time to dip my feet into the Caribbean and walk barefoot on the beach.
Back at my
gay-owned guesthouse, I got some recommendations for a night out. First stop
was Calle Loiza—a long stretch of road in the Ocean Park neighborhood of
San Juan. Multiple people had described the area to me as a “hipster
neighborhood,” so I was excited to explore.
Along Calle Loiza, I found the typical trappings of any American travel destination. But, this is Puerto Rico, so things were also a bit… different. In a good way! Fast-food restaurants, a bar with salsa dancing, a street food market. Plenty of Puerto Rican restaurants with all of the local specialties. There were several international cuisines on offer, too. Even a gay bar (one for bears).
I had dinner at an Italian restaurant. The owner, from Italy, had been living in Puerto Rico for a while, but there was no denying the traditional Italian flavors in the homemade lasagna and classic margherita pizza. Carbo-loading for a night out in San Juan.
After-dinner drinks & a drag show
After dinner, I made my way to San Juan’s gayborhood in Santurce. Calle Condado is where most of the gay bars and clubs are located. It was a Thursday night, and kind of early, but my friends and I made our way to Puerto Rico’s most famous gay club: Circo Bar. It’s listed in every guidebook—and for good reason! It’s one of the most regular hangouts and caters to a pretty diverse crowd.
We were at Circo Bar for that weekly gay bar tradition: a viewing party for the newest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Bartenders served us drinks while in jockstraps and sexy underwear. Multiple TV screens played the show, and when it was over, a local queen presented Drag Bingo. I had a handful of bingo cards (one from each drink I ordered) but didn’t end up winning anything.
After more than a few drinks at Circo, we were on our way to the next club. We hitched a short five-minute ride with a friend of a friend from the bar and arrived at El Local en Santurce. From the outside, it just looked like a house along a busy road. There was a crowd of people in the street outside, standing around under the streetlights.
Discovering San Juan’s queer hipsters
Walking up to the gay club, it was obvious this was going to be a different kind of party. Much more inclusive of the full LGBTQ spectrum, all genders (and gender-non-conforming) were a part of the crowd. It was refreshing and exciting to see, and even before I stepped inside the queer club, I knew I was going to like it.
But, before I could even get inside, the empty lot just outside the entrance turned into a performance space. Music came on, and a performer set up in the background. An oddly mesmerizing performance followed. With strings attached to the performer’s body and lights reflecting their unique movements, I was immediately enthralled.
Once inside, with a cheap beer from the bar in my hand, I caught a second act from a handful of other drag queens and drag kings. Then, I started to take in the rest of the space. A steamy dance floor with a DJ booth in the far back was the entertainment space. A queen gave me a cherry lollipop; a room to the side serving as a lounge with furniture you’d expect to see in your grandmother’s house. A glass bookshelf in a corner with a weird assortment of things: a calculator from the 90s, a toy dinosaur skeleton, a comic book.
Performances continued throughout the night. There was fire twirling outside and groups of locals and tourists chatting away. In between acts, the DJs did a few different types of sets—there was techno music and some kind of pop. The room bounced with the beats.
By the time the club started to die down, tired from my first night out in San Juan, I opted to Uber back to my guesthouse. When I arrived, tipsy from the drinks and the dancing, energized from all of the conversations, I noticed the pool was lit up pink. A sign if there ever was one that I was in the right place, the right city, the right night.
• • •
San Juan Nightlife
My other nights out in San Juan were all equally fun and exhilarating. Friday night I was out at a slightly sleazy gay club in a basement with a bunch of go-go dancers. There was the rooftop techno club decorated with a million live plants. An early evening out at the queer student pubs outside the city center with cheap drinks and street food (and dancing in the rain).
San Juan’s nightlife is varied and fun. And surprising. Gay bars and clubs are scattered throughout the city, and with classy cocktail bars and plenty of rooftop venues, it’s the kind of place where you never really know which way the night is going to go.
Below—some of my favorite bars & clubs I had the chance to visit on my many nights enjoying San Juan’s nightlife.
San Juan Nightlife 7 Cool Bars & Clubs to Visit
At the corner of San Juan’s university district with a number of cheap LGBTQ-friendly dive bars
1. El Cojo
A short taxi (or Uber) ride from San
Juan’s main tourist areas, you’ll find a handful of gay pubs at the corner of Avenue Eleanor Roosevelt and Calle 12 de Octubre. El Cojo is
the most famous of the three main bars, but A Pedir De Boca and La
Esquina de Polo are all popular (and next door to one another).
The three LGBTQ pubs are most popular on Thursday nights when San Juan’s university students flood the street. While the pubs play dance hits and top-40 music, the dance floors are small, and these bars are usually most popular earlier in the night before heading to the bigger gay clubs in the city.
Inside San Juan’s most popular gay club Circo
2. El Circo Bar
San Juan’s most popular LGBTQ+ hangout
is this expansive gay club on Calle
Condado. As Puerto Rico’s largest LGBTQ club, it hosts a number of fun
events. With two dance floors, multiple bars, and regular parties, it’s most
popular on weekend nights. Though if you visit on certain evenings, you can
catch drag shows and TV viewings of RuPaul’s
Drag Bingo is hosted in both English and Spanish on Thursday nights, as well, so it’s great club for tourists—and a fun opportunity to hang with locals.
El Local en Santurce – A queer club with drag shows and other special events
3. El Local
Part dive bar, part art gallery, and part club, El Local En Santurce is one of San Juan’s coolest nightlife spots. Queer, alternative parties take place in the cozy interior (and outdoor patio) of this bar. Weekly drag shows (of both drag queens and drag kings) take place on the small stage inside.
At the inside rooftop bar at Santos, a cool club with popular techno DJ nights
4. Santos Rooftop
While it’s not an exclusive LGBTQ club, Santos Rooftop (located across the street from gay pub Tia Maria’s), is one of San Juan’s hottest nightclubs. It’s a very welcoming space, and the rooftop club with indoor and outdoor dance floors makes it a great place to dance into the sunrise. Most DJs here play techno and electronic music.
A bar toilet with style! Inside the La Factoria bar bathroom
5. La Factoria
La Factoria is one of San Juan’s more famous cocktail bars—it’s actually more of a speak-easy because it’s so well-hidden! Unique drinks on the menu make it one of the most important cocktail bars in Puerto Rico. Its relatively large space (despite being hidden behind a door in the back corner of a separate bar) make it great for groups.
Happy Hour at The Mezzanine includes great tapas food deals!
6. The Mezzanine
On the second floor of a historic building in Old San Juan, The Mezzanine also serves some of the best cocktails you’ll find in San Juan. Classic, traditional cocktails like Manhattans and Negronis are on the menu, but don’t miss the ones with local rum and even some craft beers.
With a high ceiling of wooden rafters, old paintings on the wall, and plush armchairs, it’s the kind of place you could easily get lost in for hours. Some craft cocktail tours even visit the bar as part of a nightlife experience! Don’t miss the happy hour specials when there are food deals, as well.
Jungle Bird – a hipster cocktail bar in San Juan’s popular nightlife area
7. Jungle Bird
Just around the corner from La Placita in the Santurce neighborhood is the super hipster Jungle Bird tiki bar. The fun and funky atmosphere, elaborate cocktails, and friendly bartenders make it a comfortable escape from the street bustle.
There’s even an outdoor patio which makes it especially popular with groups of friends. A food menu is also available so be careful: you could end up spending a lot of money here without even noticing the time go by!
It didn’t take us long to get to New Hope—a short, one-hour drive from Philadelphia along the highway at first, and then through a forest. Green tress, rolling hills, and dark blue rivers on either side for the duration of our drive.
Nestled midway between Philadelphia and New York City, New Hope is a quaint town with all the markings of most New England towns. All those signs of pure Americana. A Main Street with locally-owned shops, restaurants, bakeries, pubs, and even a theater.
But on this sunny Saturday, the town was more alive and vibrant than ever. Rainbow pride flags dotted the street. The bridge connecting New Hope over in Bucks County, PA to Lambertville (in New Jersey) was shut to the traffic. New Hope Celebrates, the region’s largest LGBTQ pride celebration, had taken over both cities.
The pride march began in Lambertville shortly after noon and marched across the iconic bridge into New Hope, before turning a corner and making its way down New Hope’s Main Street. A pride park at the end of the pride parade had taken over a small park with plenty of LGBTQ shop vendors and activists. There were no shortage of rainbow stickers!
Crowds of people at the bars and restaurants in both cities along the route cheered on the march. As a very family-friendly event, it was heartwarming to see so many supporters and allies out for the day. Even while there were a handful of anti-gay protestors, it didn’t stop everyone from having a good time.
Read more recommendations on things to do in New Hope, PA in my travel guide.
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The line outside Newark’s Prudential Center was wrapped around the building. There were thousands of people waiting to get inside, but that’s when I saw it. The VIP entrance around the corner. We snaked ourselves around the queue and found a handful of people waiting at the VIP entrance.
That’s when we knew we were in the right place.
We were in Newark to see Cher, part of the “Here We Go Again Tour.” Ready for some Friday night fun, we didn’t want to waste our time in long lines. Thankfully, having booked through SuiteHop, we got the full VIP treatment. With SuiteHop, you get access to all the VIP amenities including special entrances, private bars and concessions, unobstructed views, and even exclusive bathrooms. The luxury of it all!
SuiteHop is an online marketplace (online since 2014) bringing the sharing economy to the world of luxury suites and VIP tickets. The SuiteHop website provides an easy way to book luxury suites and VIP boxes for concerts and events across North America. Plus, their search tool makes it easy to find experiences you know you’ll enjoy.
Book a suite at the Prudential Center in Newark for games, concerts, or special. Whether you’re headed to the Prudential Center for a Devils game, a concert with your favorite artist (oh hey Cher!), or to watch monster trucks crush it, sitting in a suite makes all the difference. No matter the reason or the event, SuiteHop can help you find the perfect suite with all the amenities necessary to make it a perfect night.
Seeing Cher live for the first time, and from a luxury suite at the Prudential Center, was honestly an unforgettable experience. Hassle-free and no-stress, despite the full arena, it was all so easy. Just the kind of experience you want for a summer concert.
Without having to worry about the arena concert experience, the show was that much more enjoyable. We could come and go from our seats easily to grab beers from the private bar without worrying we might miss part of the show. And trust me: Cher knows how to put on a show; you don’t want to miss any of it!
Our luxury suite had a handful of small groups in it. There was plenty of space to roam around and stretch our legs between sets. With a private bar on our floor, we never waited long for a drink. And food concessions were easy to get quickly from the floor below.
One of the best parts of having a luxury suite for the Cher concert, though, was the exclusive bathroom. No line for the stalls and urinals here!
4 Reasons to Book a Suite for Summer Concerts
1. Skip the long security lines to enter with VIP entrance
Queuing up for hours to get into a summer concert, or just the long wait to get through security and into the amphitheater is honestly the most stressful part of any concert experience. Mostly because you’re doing it before you can hit the bar. And everyone is hustling to get to the concessions before the show, anxious for it to start.
Thankfully, when you book a luxury suite, it comes with access to a VIP entrance. That means shorter lines, faster security, and much less hassle.
2. Access to a private bar means you don’t have to wait to get a drink
Okay, everyone knows the best part of a stadium music tour is almost always the show. Production values for these kinds of experiences are HUGE and the artists often put a lot of work in creating amazing entertainment. That being said, of course you’re going to need to stay hydrated, but you don’t want to get stuck watching the performance from a small screen behind the bar while you’re in a 100-person queue.
Luckily, with a seat from SuiteHop, that means you get the full VIP treatment. Exclusive access to private bars means you get to avoid long lines so you can quench your thirst quickly, and get back to your seat (in a suite, no less!) without missing much. Time is sacred; we all know you can’t turn back time if you miss something special!
3. You get great seats without the hassle of a crowd
If you’re anything like me, big crowds can be stressful. When 40,000+ fans are all in the same room screaming lyrics to your favorite songs—well, it can be amazing, but it can also be anxiety-inducing.
When you’re sitting in a luxury suite, though, you’ve got plenty of space to breathe. Even if it’s a box with seats, there’s often room to roam around. Private suites can even be booked through SuiteHop if you and a group of friends (up to 20) want an entire suite for a party or event. A godsend for those of us that aren’t super tall and still want to see the show!
Not a music fan? Book a private suite for baseball, soccer or more! SuiteHop is the go-to resource for luxury experiences at events. Check their website for more information:
4. No need to worry about bathrooms when you’ve got your own!
Ever drink too much at a show and worry you’re not going to make it to the toilet in time? Hmmm, not me ;)
Private suites equal private bathrooms! At the Prudential Center, the floor of luxury suites had plenty of bathrooms with nearly zero crowds—meaning there was never any worry about a long bathroom queue! Even when the show ended and seemingly everyone in the world needed to use the toilet.
• • •
There’s nothing quite like a stadium concert tour. The showmanship and entertainment are always top-notch. I’ve seen a handful of big-name performances, but the luxury suite experience to see Cher was right up there at the top.
With her amazing set-list, the costume changes, banter, and of course the songs, it was a memorable night. But with the hassle-free experience using SuiteHop, it was that much more memorable.
At the heart of Puerto Rico is the capital city of San Juan. It’s a lively, colorful city. The most populated part of the island, it’s the business and economic center, but also the historic home to Puerto Rico’s history.
San Juan was initially founded in the 16th century by Spanish colonists. The city, and the island of Puerto Rico, wasn’t incorporated to be part of the United States until after the Spanish-American War. Even without full statehood, it’s an important part of the American identity.
Puerto Rico has a rich culture, history, and heritage. The beautiful, tropical island continues to attract visitors from around the world for its one-of-a-kind wildlife, easy access, and unique history. And it all starts in San Juan.
Cool Things To Do in San Juan, Puerto Rico
On an island of millions of people, San Juan is an exciting and unique destination. There are countless historical and cultural activities to do in San Juan, so no matter how long your visit (whether a weekend city break or a Spring Break holiday), it’s a great city for any type of traveler. Below are my personal recommendations on the best—and the coolest—things to see and do in San Juan.
At the swimming pool at Coqui del Mar
1. Stay at the boutique Coqui del Mar hotel for a truly local experience
Located in the Ocean Park neighborhood of San Juan (just 15 minutes from the airport and 15 minutes to Old San Juan), the Coqui del Mar guest house offers an opportunity to experience San Juan like a local.
The property is just across the street from Ocean Park Beach, and a short walk further to Condado Beach, but as a local, independent property, its real appeal is in the hotel’s amenities.
At Coqui del Mar, you’ll get a taste of a true Boricua (Puerto Rican) experience with a number of cool, on-site activities. The hotel offers Puerto Rican cooking classes, as well as an evening mojito-making class!
Rooms are all apartment-style with fully-equipped kitchens (and a BBQ grill next to the pool for use by the guests). Pick up some groceries at the shop nearby (or at any of the boutiques in Old San Juan), and live like a local at the hotel. Free bike rentals and plenty of space make it the perfect place to base yourself for a San Juan trip.
Coqui del Mar isn’t just a place to sleep in San Juan—it’s also a hub for fun activities and festivals. The two swimming pools (one of which is clothing-optional) provide the perfect entertainment space for guests and visitors.
The hotel hosts several LGBTQ pride events and parties during San Juan Pride from May 30 to June 3, some of which are exclusive to guests. Read more about it here.
In the winter, Coqui del Mar hosts Winter Pride—an LGBTQ pride event in December when it’s still summer in Puerto Rico! With DJs, drag shows, pool parties, and special discounts on activities, it’s a great chance to explore San Juan. Read more about Winter Pride here.
The delicious local dish, mofongo
2. Try the local foods at El Jibarito
In Old San Juan, the super-local El Jibarito restaurant is a casual eatery but it’s always crowded. Popular with locals as much as tourists, it’s a great place to try traditional Puerto Rican foods.
Inside, it can be a bit noisy as people are coming and going—but that’s the appeal! On the menu, you’ll find classic dishes like mofongo, plantains, and even a Christmas special dish available year-round.
It’s an affordable restaurant option in a largely touristic area—and a truly local experience.
Rooftop bar in San Juan
3. Have a night out bar-hopping San Juan’s coolest cocktail bars
Here’s a secret about Puerto Rico: they know how to make a good drink. Okay, that’s probably not a secret. This is the home to Puerto Rican rum after-all! (You can even take a day trip out to the Bacardi rum factory for a tour.)
In a city that’s home to rum, it’s no surprise then that there’d be so many cool cocktail bars. One of San Juan’s coolest bars is a semi-secret one. Travel guides call it a hidden speakeasy, but it’s actually pretty easy to find. Mostly because EVERYONE knows it and loves it. La Factoria (148 Calle San Sebastián) is in the back room of a corner bar. You’ll find it by walking past the main bar when you enter and slipping between the barkeep’s entrance and the bathroom door.
Jungle Bird – a hipster cocktail bar
Another one of San Juan’s coolest bars is JungleBird (254 Calle Canals). Just around the corner from the loud La Placita is this super hipster tiki bar. The fun and funky atmosphere, and elaborate cocktails, make it a comfortable escape from the street chaos. An outdoor patio makes it especially popular with groups of friends. It’s definitely among San Juan’s best cocktail bars.
4. Cure your late-night hunger with street food snacks
San Juan is a lively and fun city—so it’s no surprise that the parties, clubs, and bars are open late. But when hunger strikes, don’t worry! The restaurants and street vendors stay open just as late!
An alcapurria in Santurce
On the weekends, La Placita is always bustling with people drinking and dancing on the streets, and there are plenty of street food vendors to provide snacks. La Alcapurria Quemá (251 Calle Duffaut) serves a lot of local foodie favorites but they’re best known for their alcapurrias—a fritter made of yucca and filled with any assortment of meat. (Try the corned beef one!) It’s sure to preemptively cure any hangover!
5. Enjoy a Gasolina on Condado beach
On an island famous for their rum, it makes sense that it’d be readily available. (Puerto Rico’s legal drinking age is 18, fyi) At every grocery store and most convenience shops and gas stations, you’ll find ready-to-drink, pre-mixed cocktails in a pouch. There are a few different brands, but I really liked Gasolina.
It’s sugary and sweet, but strong! (And isn’t that what matters?!)
You can buy them buy the box or sometimes individually in the shops. My hotel had some available to buy from the front desk. Grab a few and freeze them if you can, and then take them with you to the beach (it’s what the locals do).
You’ll find they’re great to have for a day at the beach because they’re so portable (and stay cold if you freeze ’em). Just remember to throw away your trash!
At Laguna Grande in Fajardo, before the kayak trip
6. Be amazed by the bioluminescent bay during a night kayak trip at Laguna Grande
Puerto Rico has a lot of amazing natural wonders. Aa rainforest covers much of the island near San Juan, but one of the most unique natural wonders is the bioluminescent bay at Laguna Grande in Fajardo. There are actually three different bioluminescent bays to discover this cool natural phenomenon but the Bio Bay in Fajardo is closest to San Juan.
Tours can be booked online (or often—through your hotel), and to be honest, it’s an amazing experience. The kayak experience starts on the shore and you start by going through a mangrove forest down a river to a wide-open lake.
And while a nighttime kayaking tour is special enough as it is, the Bio Bay is incredible for the blue phosphorescent bacteria that glow up as the water moves. I don’t have any pictures from the experience because I was stuck in amazement at how beautiful and peaceful it was (and guides ask you to leave cameras & phones on shore).
It’s truly beautiful and magical and hard to explain. But as you move through the water, your paddles making small movements and currents—the beauty of our world is immediately apparent.
Inside San Juan’s most popular gay club Circo
7. Check out San Juan’s fun gay nightlife
With drag shows, a gay beach (Condadao), bars, parties, club nights, and gay-friendly hotels, San Juan is the perfect place for a gaycation. San Juan’s gay nightlife is a lot of fun, and most of it happens Friday and Saturday nights along Calle Condado in the gay neighborhood.
Circo Bar runs late every weekend and attracts some of the biggest crowds as the night ends, so to truly enjoy San Juan’s nightlife, start elsewhere and end your night at Circo.
Across form Circo, you’ll find VIP—a smaller gay club, and just around the corner is the SX Club—a stripper and go-go club.
8. Go salsa dancing in La Placita
Salsa dancing at La Placita
Santurce is one of the most lively and energetic neighborhoods in San Juan. On weekends, it’s pretty much *the* nightlife spot when the area’s many bars and clubs take over the streets around La Placita square.
It’s a pedestrian-only zone at night with street food, salsa dancing, and cheap drinks. The salsa dancing takes place at Taberna Los Vazquez where the crowds spill out on the street dancing to live music performers. Cheap drinks and friendly encounters make it a great place to make friends and meet new people.
9. Go on a self-made pub crawl in Old San Juan
While you might think to visit Old San Juan during the daytime to take in the touristic sights, it’s also a hotspot at night. With happy hour specials and even a few rooftop bars, there are a lot of nightlife options in Old San Juan.
The Mezzanine serves great cocktails at happy hour
The Mezzanine (156 Calle Sol, 2nd Floor) is set inside a historic building full of past grandeur. High ceilings and mismatched, cozy lounge chairs make up the decor—and while it’s beautiful inside, the real attractions are the cocktails.
One of Old San Juan’s most iconic rooftop bars is at Punto de Vista (307 Calle Fortaleza) on top of a hotel. With great views over the old city, and an even better happy hour, it’s a great place to start the night.
A lot of Old San Juan’s other pubs and bars are street-level on Calle Sol and Calle San Sebastian. La Taberna Lúpolo (151 Calle San Sebastián) serves craft local (and international) beers, and it’s always fun inside. Crowds spill out onto the street, even.
10. Shop local products at the Old San Juan boutiques
Old San Juan is the center of Puerto Rico’s history. The most popular tourist attraction is the Castillo de San Cristóbal which guidebooks tell you to avoid visiting in the height of the daytime sun. So during those peak sunlight times, instead make your way through through Old San Juan’s winding streets to the many boutiques and small crafts shops.
Shopping for local souvenirs—rum, of course!
There are lots of great places to find local arts and crafts. The Poet’s Passage (203 Calle Cruz) is especially popular as it’s a hub for the city’s poets and writers. Alongside their many typographical and word-focused art, it’s a comfortable café great for a leisurely afternoon break. And at night, the café turns into a venue for performances and events.
For artisanal local products, make sure to visit Mundo Taino (#256 Calle San Justo). While some products might be a little expensive inside this artisanal shop, their well-curated products are great to browse and you might just find a unique souvenir among the selection.
Make sure to wander Old San Juan at your leisure to discover lots of other cute cafés and shops. The winding roads are great for a bit of urban exploration—especially because of the colorful buildings and beautiful doorways.
San Juan is a dynamic and unique city—unlike other American destinations, it is distinctly Puerto Rican. That culture and beauty seeps through the many activities and things to do in the capital. While many tourists might just spend a weekend in San Juan, it’s almost better to soak up the culture over an extended period of time.
A few weeks ago I received a postcard in my mailbox. The postcard came from my friend Dani—but it wasn’t just any postcard. It was a thank you letter!
Even though I’m a frequent traveler (and postcard-sender) myself, it’s still pretty rare that I get mail. So, upon seeing a card sitting in my metal mailbox, different sized and much more colorful than the typical white-enveloped letters I get from my banks, it was a welcome surprise.
Nothing beats a personal thank you!
In the age of Instagram, social media, and the gig economy, we don’t send a lot of letters anymore. I’m guilty of it as much as anyone, but I can say that every time I receive a letter in my mailbox, it’s pretty damn special.
The same can be said of “thank you’s.” I don’t know if you’ve noticed like I have, but we don’t always recognize thanks when we need to—certainly not as much as we used to. We live in an increasingly chaotic, busy, stressful world.
In the age of Instagram, social media, and the gig economy, we don’t send a lot of letters anymore.
No one cares about your Instagram – but a thank you note? Love it!
The gig economy, fueled by apps which allow things to come with the touch of a button and little to no personal communication, mean that personality has left a lot of our encounters. Do you tip your Uber drivers? Do you leave feedback or comments, or even end the ride with a “thank you?”
Do you send your Airbnb hosts thank you notes for the comfortable bed, the easy check-in, the self-published map of their favorite places?
Probably not. I know I can be better.
Years ago, after I finished a year-and-a-half of backpacking around the world, I wrote a long article thanking as many of the people as I could remember. Those strangers along the journey. So much of our lives focus on human interactions and personal connections; it’s important to remember to say thank you.
And if you can’t say thank you, then you can write it!
Grab a coffee and take a brief moment away from distractions to write an heartfelt thank you note
How to write a thank you letter
Writing a thank you note or letter shouldn’t be so daunting or so difficult. Yeah, you can reply to an Instagram post, or post a public Facebook status thanking someone for something—but the most meaningful thank you notes come much more personalized.
Handwritten notes are probably the most heartfelt, but who knows where to get a pen anymore?! (Kidding!)
To write an authentic thank you, you’ve got to say more than “thank you.” Explain the emotions you felt in the moment you’re thanking for. Share something deeper than any superficial, stereotypical saying.
Postcards make great thank you cards!
How to send a thank you note
Sending a personalized thank you is relatively easy—especially with the advent of many online apps for sending mail through your phone.
The MyPostcard app offers thousands of customizable designs for postcards, greeting cards, and other stationery. It’s really simple to use and can all be done from your phone.
The best part of using one of these customizable MyPostcard designs is that you can choose your own photos (from your own image gallery, Instagram, or Facebook)—which means when sending a thank you note, you can share a selfie or any other relevant image.
Using your own photos to send a thank you is immediately more personal. And with the option to write a private message which then shows up surprisingly to friend’s home—that’s special.
Get a free credit to send a Thank You Postcard at the link below. Just use the code TRAVELSOFADAM at checkout. More info here.