Springfield, Massachusetts: Gateway to the Berkshires

Author: , March 27th, 2011
by Diana Henry, Lathrop House, Springfield, Massachusetts
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Mattoon Street, Springfield, MA

Dr. Seuss Statue, Springfield, MAWhat do Dr. Seuss, a new convention center, Five Colleges, Six Flags, the National Yiddish Book Center, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, The Big E, Basketball Hall of Fame, Bright Nights, Brimfield antiques, 735 acre Forest Park designed by Frederick Lay Olmsted; Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe House Museums and the best clay tennis courts in the Northeast have in common? They’re in or just a short drive from Springfield, MA with a great airport – Hartford’s Bradley International – as a gateway and Amtrak service too!

Springfield, MA is 2 1/2 hours from NYC, 1 1/2 hours from Boston, gateway city to the Berkshires, with attractions such as Tanglewood (the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s outdoor summer venue) , Jacob’s Pillow (dance), Shakespeare and Company (reportoire theatre), Norman Rockwell, Edith Wharton’s The Mount, and Hancock Shaker Village historic museums.

Springfield Farmer's Market

Springfield itself has several theatre venues, including City Stage and the Majestic Theatre just over the bridge in West Springfield, and Springfield Symphony features world-class musicians under the expert guidance of Maestro Kevin Rhodes.

Come on to Stearns square for free contemporary music outdoors every Thursday in summer, and enjoy the company of hundreds of bikers who throng downtown parading their chrome and leather.

Bright Night, SpringfieldThe entertainment district includes a ton of jazz, dance, and blues clubs, along with New England’s only gay club featuring nude male dancers. Pool rooms and multi-screen movie theaters beckon, as does the largest mall in New England, the Holyoke Mall.

Dining ranges from hole-in-the-wall exquisite Vietnamese and Louisiana cuisine, to several Indian and Italian signature restaurants, upscale fusion, German and French, steak and seafood emporia, and so much more.

Not for kids only there’s the Butterfly gardens, the skating rinks and minigolf, the planetarium and science museum right next to the Dr. Seuss sculpture garden, Storrowton and Deerfield village historic recreations, New England Air Museum with over 125 aircraft- climb right up to look into the cockpit of many of them- and Six Flags, Six Flags, Six Flags!

Forest Park, Springfield, MA

Sports nearby include kayaking and rafting, riverboat cruises for the less bold. golf courses galore, bicycling trails for miles along the majestic Connecticut River, tennis including 16 free courts right in Forest Park, skiing and ziplines, falconry, snowshoes and shooting at the Smith and Wesson range and others.

Some favorite attractions for history buffs are the Springfield Armory, a National Historic site for gunmaking from the Revolution to 1968, and the new Museum of Springfield History. There you can see the Duryea- the first successful gas-engine vehicle built in the U.S. – the Rolls Royces manufactured in Springfield through the 1920’s, the fire engines and airplanes that made this city a hub of pioneering transportation engineering.

Would you and your kids like to stroll through a sculpture park of Dr. Seuss characters, visit a science museum with dinosaurs, a 100-seat planetarium, dioramas of African animals, and an Eco-Center, finger-paint the afternoon away at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and hike and boat Mt. Holyoke and the Connecticut River?

Or would you rather revel at Six Flags New England or the Big E, New England’s regional fair, sampling all the maple goodies and taking in the Mardi Gras parade, or ride through the wonderment of Bright Nights in Forest Park, catch July 4th Fireworks from Riverfront Park by the Basketball Hall of Fame?

How about touring sugar shacks in late winter and early spring? Slogging through 100 plus acres of antique dealers wares in May, July and September at the Brimfield fair? Bask in Fourth of July fireworks by the Grucci Brothers off the Memorial Bridge? Farmers markets and u-pick farms in summer and fall?

Visiting all the New England states buildings and the milking barns, horse shows, sheep shearing, and endless eateries of the Big E, New England’s regional fair with a million visitors a year, in late September? Bright nights with its 600,000 light bulbs in December, the Boar’s Head medieval festival in February. There’s something unique, dramatic and delicious here at any time of year.

Lathrop House, Springfield, MAThe Lathrop House B&B, in Springfield’s Forest Park Heights historic district, is an 1899 mansion home that offers breakfast at any hour, wifi, king beds, art displays and permaculture herb, flower and vegetable gardens. Here you enter the elegant home of nationally-published and exhibited photojournalist/owner, who will welcome you to a romantic, pet-friendly, family or friend sojourn with special touches that are environmentally sound, esthetically pleasing, historically fascinating, Kosher, GLBT accommodating.

Come to “Tara North” as B&B owner Diana Mara Henry, nicknames her grand Victorian mansion in the best part of town. Surround yourself with stained glass, massive oak-beamed ceilings and paneling, recline on the front or upper story porch off your bedroom, sheltered by the two-story ionic columns of this neo-classical 1899 house that warmly offers to be your “home away from home.”

Featured Gay Friendly Accommodations: Carolina Moon Vacation Rental Cabin, Hendersonville, North Carolina

Author: , March 27th, 2011

Periodically we’ll feature one of our properties here to let our readers know about some great gay friendly places to stay.

Gay Friendly Asheville Area Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Carolina Moon, Hendersonville, NCYour own cabin getaway in the mountains

  • Enjoy a relaxing soak in our hot tub on your private cabin’s spacious deck.
  • Slip into your plush king/queen bed and savor the sensation of fine linens.
  • Stay in an elegant, roomy living space-complete with gourmet kitchen.
  • Gaze at the magical night sky through your cabin’s telescope.
  • Play pool and many boardgames in our lower level game room.
  • Snuggle up in front of the glowing fireplace embers.
  • Relax with a good book from our extensive reading, video and music library.

Carolina Moon has four, 2,000-square foot rental cabins. The owners live in the fifth cabin on-site. All five cabins share thirty three acres of mountain top beauty.

Each of our log cabins includes:

  • NEW! High-speed Internet access!
  • Two bathrooms, 2 1/2 baths, and a convertible sofa.
  • Massive floor-to-ceiling windows with dramatic views of the mountains.
  • A glowing fireplace.
  • An old fashioned front porch with rocking chairs, and so much more!

For an unforgettable vacation experience, the Carolina Moon delivers.

See the Carolina Moon Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

South by Southwest: Gayer Than You Think

Author: , March 27th, 2011

Gay South by SouthwestMaybe you avoided SXSW this year because paying $1,250 for an all-access badge and waiting in line to see obscure musicians doesn’t sound like your idea of “a gay ol’ time.” But you are so wrong, gurl. There’s tons of queer fun happening at SXSW every year, most of it inexpensive and easy to get into. In fact, we found 10 of the queerest (and semi-secret) festival delights — with tons of links to some of this year’s hottest acts — so that if you decide to go next year, you won’t feel like the only gay in the village. Check out our top 10 after the jump.

10. The Austin Chronicle’s Gay Place – Though Austin’s a big city with a small-town feel, its cornucopia of cultural offerings can confound even the most cosmopolitan queer. Thank goodness The Austin Chronicle’s Gay Place blog and weekly tabloid section provides a great rundown of each week’s best events. During SXSW they suggested catching awesome lesbian rap duo God-Des and She and Barbarella’s kickin’ weekly dance party Tuezgayz. Plus, you can usually find the delightful dyke editor Kate X Messer and her wily band of contributors popping around town, always willing to have a chat and a drink (or three).

9. The loads of cute folk — Whether you like social media tech dorks, artsy fartsy film fags, or lesbian music lovers you’ll find plenty of eye-candy strolling around the festival. Admittedly, everyone looks so darned stylish that it’s sometimes hard to the queers from the merely hot, but striking up conversations with random hotties helped me meet the bi-podcaster of Beyond 6th Wade Ober, Outcast radio host Stephen Rice, and gay music promoter Kip Kouri.

Full Story from the Dallas Voice

Click here for gay travel resources in Austin and the Texas Hill Country.

PA: Bucks County Hosts Gay Sensitivity Training for Tourism Venues

Author: , March 27th, 2011

Bucks County Gay TravelVisit Bucks County (VBC), the official tourism office of Bucks County, partnered with The Philadelphia Gay Tourism Caucus and Temple University’s School of Tourism & Hospitality Management today to host an LGBT Sensitivity Training.

According to a release, VBC’s partners and other tourism/hospitality related venues, hotels, services and attractions were in attendance to get educated and gain a better understanding of the needs of gay and lesbian travelers, and become more aware of the assumptions and attitudes that may impact their travel experiences.

A series of skits were performed to illustrate issues that the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travelers and guests face when traveling, shopping, dining and visiting attractions in our region.

Full Story from Patch.com

Click here for gay travel resourcesin the New Hope Area, Pennsylvania.

Gay Travel: How to Get Around in Cuba

Author: , March 27th, 2011

Gay CubaViazul – the bus service – is the best way of getting around the island without the expense of car hire, however cars will allow you to pause and take in the scenic views of jugged hills coated with palm trees and thick green foliage.

Taxis will give you that thrill factor that you only dream of when watching classic 1950’s flicks. The Chevrolets are a pain in the bum, quite literally, constantly being repaired by their owners, these machines bump and grind along the pot-holed roads letting off a proud roar with each acceleration. Ladas on the other hand can be a tight fit. Wherever you go you will also see Bici-taxi (tricycles with seats) and horse carriage transporting locals and can be used by tourists.

Bikes – have to be the best way to get round any country. We hired a set in Trinidad ($3CUC each a day) and enjoyed a leisurely roll to Playa Ancon for snorkelling in the coral reef.

Full Story from GayTravel.com

Click here for gay travel resources in Cuba.

Featured Gay Friendly Accommodations: AAWESOME Retreat B&B, Anchorage

Author: , March 26th, 2011

Periodically we’ll feature one of our properties here to let our readers know about some great gay friendly places to stay.

Gay Friendly Alaska Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

AAWESOME Retreat, AnchorageWelcome to AAWESOME Bed & Breakfast, an extraordinary Anchorage, Alaska Bed and Breakfast offering easy, year-round access!

Our Anchorage B&B is just 20 minutes on well-paved main roads Anchorage International Airport. AAWESOME (Anchorage Alaska Wilde Edge Sanctuary Observatory Mountain Escape) Retreat is in the majestic hillside community of Bear Valley on 13 1/2 acres.

Our unique boutique style Anchorage, Alaska home was built and designed to provide an optimal guest experience by your hostess and resident artist, Debi Cole. Our large windows make it feel like you’re outside – and even if it’s frosty and snowing outside, you’ll enjoy perfect temperatures on our radiant heated floors.

Our large suites feature sultry decor, dazzling view decks, and private bathrooms, all designed to accentuate the amazingly beautiful environment outside our doors.

Each of our guest rooms offers one king size or two twin beds, beautiful mountain views, satellite television, and clock radios. Our king suites also include a refrigerator. Each of our private baths has elegant classic marble surrounds, and thick, luxurious towels, as well as with light kimonos and colorful sarongs for lounging comfort.

See the AAWESOME Retreat Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

FL: Ybor City Becoming a Drag Competition Hot Spot

Author: , March 26th, 2011

Ybor City DragHundreds of people in designer jeans, evening gowns and suits will head to Ybor City’s Honey Pot on Sunday to watch the region’s up-and-coming drag queens compete for a crown.

Some will arrive in limousines and sit at linen-covered tables behind velvet ropes. Six-and-a-half-foot queens will strut the red carpet to clicking cameras.
Pageant promoter Bob Taylor promises an “euphoric” night.

The scene has become increasingly common at the Honey Pot, a nightclub along the Seventh Avenue strip. More than three years after opening as a Las Vegas-style burlesque bar, the club has evolved into a hot spot for major drag queen pageants.

“We are very quickly becoming regarded around the nation as a home for the best drag talent in the country,” said D. Stephen Moss, a Honey Pot co-owner who also owns G.Bar and the Ybor City Social Club.

Full Story from TampaBay.com

Click here for gay travel resources in the Tampa Bay Area.

International Gay Bowling Festival Comes to Toronto in May

Author: , March 26th, 2011

Torontonians are ready to host the 2011 International Gay Bowling Organization’s annual bowling event that will take place in their city from May 25-30 this year.

The early bird registration fee, which closes on April 15, has already attracted many registrations. Space is limited to 600 bowlers or 150 teams, so all interested individual bowlers and teams are urged to register prior to the final deadline date of May 11.

Aside from the fun of competition and camaraderie, funds will be raised for two local charities, The Teresa Group and the LGBT Youth Line.

Full Story from Pride Source

Click here for gay travel resources in Toronto.

Clubbing in Gay Florianopolis: “The Week”

Author: , March 26th, 2011

"The Week" in Florianopolis, BrazilA few years after its debut in Florianopolis, “The Week” – the largest gay friendly club in town – shows they set up shop to make sure everyone’s gonna have a blast while they’re there.

Florianopolis is famously one of the gayest cities in Brazil, and every year you can find an increasing number of gay travelers from all over the world (specially Americans and Europeans) in town celebrating carnival. It’s just bad that the “The Week,” with clubs also in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro – is only open during summer.

The club located across the famous “Lagoa da Conceicao” (Conceicao Lagoon) can comfortably accommodate up to 3000 people every night, and for this year’s Carnival celebration, the club owner – Andre Almada – made sure the line-up was filled with international DJs who rock the gay scene.

Full Story from GayTravel.com

Click here for gay travel resources in Brazil.

Featured Gay Friendly Accommodations: Carriage House, Las Vegas

Author: , March 25th, 2011

Periodically we’ll feature one of our properties here to let our readers know about some great gay friendly places to stay.

Gay Friendly Nevada Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

CCarriage House Las Vegasoming to work or play in Las Vegas? Stay with us at the Carriage House in Las Vegas, a peaceful oasis just one block away from the Strip between Planet Hollywood (where you’ll find Krave, the only gay club on the Vegas Strip) and the MGM Grand Hotel.

The Carriage House Las Vegas is a non-gambling, all suite hotel, a quiet getaway that’s just steps from all that Las Vegas has to offer. We’re just minutes from major attractions and businesses, which makes us perfect for leisure, business, or family travel to Vegas.

We also offer a mini mart on-site, with sundries, refreshments and snacks, and if you’d like to eat in for some meals while you’re in Las Vegas, we also offer grocery delivery services. Your order will be delivered to the Carriage House and left for you in your room during your stay or on the day you arrive.

See the Carriage House Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here