Nick Vivion was chosen from thousands of applicants as the first ever Gay Travel Guru. During his six month reign he ventured to the hottest gay and lesbian tourist destinations in North America: blogging, filming and using social media to show you, our amazing site visitors where to spend your oh so valuable LGBT dollar!
In October, Nick started his journey in the Lone Star state. He got dressed up for Gay Bingo in Dallas, a local LGBT tradition. Word quickly spread that the coolest LGBT traveler was in town and soon Nick was getting interviewed by NBC. Of course, Nick was doing his fair share of interviewing as well, even nabbing an interview with the Mayor's Chief of Staff, Chris Heinbaugh.
Next up, Santa Fe! In this city, cuisine is king! Santa Fe's cuisine isn't Mexican, it is New Mexican and of course if you want to get the freshest ingredients for New Mexican cuisine you have to go to the Santa Fe Farmer's Market, which our guru duly did. Nick discovered that the big question at the Market is; are you a red or a green (chile lover that is).
Who Dat? Nick V in NOLA. Before our Guru could report on New Orleans he had to get the lay of the land. Exploring the French Quarter was first up. Nick trekked through boisterous Bourbon Street, upscale Royal Street, and of course the sizable open-air French Market. The flash and glamour of the Quarter is enough for any tourist, but the Guru isn't just any tourist. He made his way to Frenchman Street, which is known by locals as the place to go for bohemian flare in the city.
The Guru then traded the dirty south for the golden coast. San Diego is known for beautiful weather, the military and a thriving LGBT community. But no trip to the city would be complete without seeing the San Diego Zoo. It houses over 4,000 animals from more than 800 species over 107 acres. The grounds are crisscrossed by four streets and nine trails, which take you from the hippos to the monkeys, across to the elephants, and everywhere in between.
While in SoCal, Nick also toured Catalina Island with his lesbian wife, Guru finalist Mary Buckheit. Nature, great food and ziplining this exotic destination is like no other in the area.
Of course we couldn’t have a North American tour of LGBT cities without a stop in gay mecca. San Francisco is regularly recognized as one of the most visited cities in the world, and equally as often is dubbed the most European city in America. The Bay Area is laid-back, a proponent of a live-and-let-live ethos that has attracted a population with equal parts creativity and quirk. It’s the fictional home of Marvel’s Mutants, the X-Men and Star Trek’s United Federation of Planets.
While in NoCal, Nick also visited Monterey. The Aquarium is by far the biggest draw for travelers to Monterey County, as it is consistently rated the number one aquarium in the US, and occasionally even the world. The tanks are full of shimmering fish, giant octopi, and furry sea otters, not to mention a healthy share of rambunctious children mammals. The aquarium’s popularity is also a bit of a curse, because the first thing that people say when you mention Monterey is usually, “Oh, that’s where the aquarium is!”
Jetsetting from coast to coast is no biggie for our Guru Nick. From Cali, he strapped on his snowshoes and headed to Vermont. This is a four-season destination with each season unique in its qualities. Winter is wonderful for snow bunnies, spring great for those interested in maple, summer exceptional for almost all outdoor activities, and of course fall foliage season brings spectacular colors to all corners of the state.
Then Mr. V traded his Ben & Jerry’s for a Cosmo. If the Guru can make it in NYC, he can make it anywhere. World-class restaurants, shopping and entertainment mixed with the beautiful boys in Chelsea, the Big Apple is an LGBT paradise! While in town the Guru met openly gay council speaker Christine Quinn. He also chewed the fat with comedian and Sirius/XM radio host Frank DeCaro.
From NYC, Nick headed to the political nerve center of the US. Being the capitol of the United States, Washington, DC, is a hotbed of cultural activities. Every cultural organization at least has an office here, which means that there is a critical mass of excellent arts here. The National Mall is the center of most travelers’ cultural itineraries, with its world-class museums open free to the public. The Mall is home to the Smithsonian collection, which includes the National Gallery of Art, and the National Museums of American History, American Indian, African Art, African American History and Natural History.
Next it was time to make a run for the border, to Canada. The country itself is also gorgeous, filled with happy, healthy people who reflect their cared-for status with less wrinkles and better bodies than your average American. The food is contemporary, the metropolitans urbane, the culture international. It’s everything you can get in America, and then a lot more! Vancouver is nestled in the folds of the magnificent North Shore Mountains, sitting on the edge of a wondrous natural playground. This setting is just one of many reasons why Vancouver has been ranked one of the most livable cities in the world for more than a decade, and most recently ranked by Mercer as having the 4th highest quality of living on the whole planet. Wowzers!
From Vancouver, Nick headed to Whistler for WinterPRIDE. The event is all about the intersections of nature and people in the gay community, providing a solid base of parties and events to whet the appetite of even the most avid circuit partier or event-monger. On top of this base, just like the fresh powder that falls on the mountains here regularly, the organizers have layered a multitude of experiences that shake things up and allow gays to meet in contexts beyond nightlife. The dual mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb are the anchors of Whistler Village, the two omnipresent elders watching over their flock. The Lower Village is home to the majority of the shops and restaurants, while the Upper Village is mostly the higher-end resorts and hotels.
Fittingly, Nick ended his trip back home in Seattle for a wonderful staycation. From Seattle's Pike Place Market to the legendary waterfront sometimes the world-travel needs a reminder of the great destinations right in their backyard.
Thanks to Nick for all of the amazing content he created for gaytravel.com and all of our site visitors. You will forever be a part of the GT team!