It’s 2019 and travelers are continuing to seek out new experiences and adventures. They thirst for more than just visiting a destination. They want to get out there, meet and hang out with locals and explore alongside them. They want the freedom to be able to make frequent stops along the way on their own time schedule. They realize that the journey is just as memorable as the destination.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that road trips are growing in popularity. Road trips represented 22% of vacations taken by American travelers in 2015, and the portion of travelers in the United States taking a road trip has surpassed 40% in just the last few years, according to Travel Insights at MMGY Global, one of the largest travel and hospitality marketing firms. In addition to the aforementioned experiential aspects of road trips, practicality is a major factor driving this trend.
Road Trips vs. Air Travel
Road trips eliminate the need to arrive hours before scheduled flight departure times and long airport security lines, as well as the need to deal with the ever-changing TSA regulations around what you can and can’t pack and how much you can safely transport (plus the threat of losing your favorite lotions, potions, and potentially dangerous grooming devices 😊).
Throw in ever-increasing baggage fees for smaller and smaller allowable suitcase dimensions along with the hassles and dangers associated with flying with pets and it’s no surprise that more travelers than ever are hitting the road.
Rental Car Road Trip Advantages
By renting a car for a road trip instead of using one’s own vehicle, the need to worry about surpassing mileage limitations associated with a car’s lease or the wear-and-tear that comes along with racking up mileage is eliminated. Plus, with the flexibility of rental car sizing options, one can bring along as much luggage as is required.
Showing Support for LGBT+ Travel
As one of the largest car rental companies in the United States, Advantage understands the importance of helping LGBT+ travelers and their allies explore the world and experience the joy of hitting the road.
To demonstrate its ongoing support of the LGBT+ community, Advantage teamed up with GayTravel.com as a part of their Let’s Get OUT There! campaign to create awareness of the firms’ combined efforts to inspire travel in the LGBT+ community.
As part of the campaign, travelers who book an Advantage rental car with the promo code GAYTRAVEL save 20% on their car rentals and receive a free additional driver. In addition to these perks, Advantage Expressway members who use the GAYTRAVEL discount code are automatically upgraded to the silver tier level after vehicle return.
The Ultimate Pride Road Trip Through SoCal
In celebration of Pride, Advantage and GayTravel.com teamed up last month with popular travel blogger Adam Groffman, who took the wheel and headed out from Los Angeles International Airport with the mission to drive to San Diego Pride over the course of seven days, sharing his epic adventure with LGBT+ travelers around the globe.
Adam sought out the region’s best gay-friendly attractions, activities, and experiences on the Advantage Gay Pride Ride 2019 through some of Southern California’s best cities and towns.
And of course, he did it in style, with the rainbow-painted GayTravel mobile designed and provided by Advantage!
Below are details of Adam’s trek from Los Angeles to San Diego, highlighting the sights, sounds, and flavors he experienced along the way. In Southern California, where the typical road trip itinerary runs through many beach towns and piers, there’s no shortage of gay friendly hotels and gay welcoming destinations to stop in or travel through.
Los Angeles: Shopping, Gay Nightlife, and Dining
There’s a bevy of LGBT+-friendly things to see and do in Los Angeles and surrounding Los Angeles County, home to a number of distinct cities with their own special things to do. To take in the most of the region, book a hotel in central Los Angeles—close enough to the coast for day trips out to Malibu, Venice, or Santa Monica—but also close enough to all of the tourist sites in the city proper.
The Elan Hotel in Beverly Hills is close to all the shopping in Beverly Hills—in fact, it’s just across the street from the Beverly Center. The hotel is walking distance to the LGBT+ nightlife and top-tier restaurants of West Hollywood, and driving distance to every other part of Los Angeles.
In West Hollywood, don’t miss some of the best of Los Angeles’ gay bars. Mickey’s WeHo has drag shows almost every night and The Abbey is a longtime gay institution with an excellent patio. West Hollywood is also famous for its restaurants, from the French-American Café D’Etoile bistro to the local Ivy Restaurant, a hot spot for celebrity spotting.
In downtown Los Angeles, there’s of course the Hollywood Walk of Fame, plus the Hollywood Museum, which has a lot of celebrity memorabilia throughout history. And of course, there’s the hike up to Hollywood Hills for that iconic selfie in front of the Hollywood Sign!
Coastal Attractions Near Los Angeles
Santa Monica is a bustling coastal city to the west of Los Angeles, where a more chill atmosphere can be enjoyed along the beach boardwalk and its iconic Santa Monica Pier. Directly south of Santa Monica, Venice Beach is best known for its bohemian culture along the boardwalk. Visit at sunset for some great people watching.
La Jolla’s Famed Black’s Beach
A northern suburb of San Diego, the beach city of La Jolla boasts a great diversity of wildlife, landscape, and nature. The city sits along seaside cliffs where seals and sea lions lounge alongside swimmers, kayakers, and snorkelers, making it a great spot for adventure road trippers!
But the best LGBT+ thing to do in La Jolla is a visit to Black’s Beach—the region’s unofficial “gay beach,” where nudism is the norm. The gay beach is at the bottom of a cliff, so it’s not the easiest beach to access along the coast, but its pristine nature and warm water make it worth the trek!
Accessing the beach involves a walk down a dirt path along the side of a cliff—maybe a 20-minute walk if you’re healthy. There are no amenities on the beach, though, so make sure you bring enough water and sunscreen. At the top of the cliff, you can join paragliding experiences for an even more incredible view over the coastline!
Activities and Attractions in La Jolla
La Jolla itself is a great town to stay in for a few nights during a road trip. You can easily visit nearby sites such as the Birch Aquarium, renowned for its seahorse collection. You’ll find a lot of great restaurants, bars, and cafes in the town center of La Jolla, and plenty of luxury fashion shops, too!
Stay at the gay-friendly Empress Hotel, which is right in the city center and walking distance to the shore where you can see wild seals and sea lions resting on the coast.
Gay-Friendly Fun in Sunny San Diego
Like most Californian cities, San Diego is a warm and welcoming destination with a relatively long history of LGBT+ equality. There are a handful of neighborhoods where you can choose to stay, but the Gaslamp Quarter near downtown San Diego is especially lively (and convenient to reach other areas via public transport).
The gay-friendly Bristol Hotel, part of the Greystone Hotels group, is a design-focused property with great on-site amenities and a nice hotel gym.
San Diego’s Premier Gayborhood
Hillcrest has been San Diego’s premier gay neighborhood for decades, and it’s where you’ll find a mix of LGBT+ bars, clubs, shops, restaurants, and cafes. LGBT+-owned insideOUT is a new restaurant and lounge that serves food in an outdoor patio and even shows LGBT+ movies once a month on a projector as part of their event series. Just around the corner is an LGBT+-owned brewery, Hillcrest Brewing Company (HBC for short), which serves delicious craft beers.
Also in Hillcrest, there’s a large monument to the city’s LGBT+ activists in the form of a 65-foot flagpole. A monument since 2012, the flagpole features four plaques and an informational stand highlighting the LGBT+ rights movement and local leaders through history. The massive rainbow flag serves as an important and very visual monument to the local LGBT+ community, and it’s the kickoff point for San Diego Pride each July!
San Diego is a city built on more than 200 canyons, so there are a lot of natural wonders throughout. In fact, in the center of the city, there’s a massive green space, Balboa Park, where a number of trails, gardens, and museums are located. Balboa Park’s San Diego Zoo houses over 3,500 animals in one of the world’s most famous zoos.
GayTravel.com was created to be a model for the type of community they want our world to be diverse, inclusive and safe. For more than 20 years, they have traveled the globe seeking gay-friendly, welcoming and inspiring destinations, accommodations, cruises, tours, events, entertainment, attractions, clubs, restaurants and venues to bring their readers meticulously curated recommendations that represent the rarified taste of our LGBT+ travelers, editors, experts and GayTravel Gurus.
The U.S. Department of State has sought GayTravel.com’s feedback in developing safe protocols for LGBT+ travelers abroad. GayTravel.com has been featured in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Smart Money Magazine.
Adam Groffman is a freelance writer, marketer, and gay travel blogger based in NYC, where he covers city trips around the world, expat life, LGBT+ issues, festivals, and nightlife on his blog, Travels of Adam. His writing has been featured in Thrillist, The Guardian, AFAR, Fodor’s Travel Guides, Condé Nast Traveler, and countless online publications. Additional travel tips (and embarrassing stories!) are shared in real time through his fun and engaging social media @travelsofadam.