It’s that time of the year again: resolutions! Before you resolve to volunteer more, drink less, and eat healthier you should jot down ways to improve your 2016 travel calendar.
In the spirit of ubiquitous “must-do” lists, here are 16 things you must-do should do this year. (Arranged by date where applicable.)
1. Go frolicking in Uncle Sam’s backyard. The National Park Service celebrates its 100th birthday in 2016. What better way to join in the party than visiting one of America’s awe-inspiring parks? Outdoorsy types have something else to cheer: 16 days of FREE admission to all 394 national parks. With locations in every state, finding a national park is easy. The hard part might be deciding which ones to visit. Discover one that fits you at FindYourPark.com.
2. See a flashy, feel-good show in Vegas. Jubilee, the longest-running show on the Strip, stages its final performance (Feb. 11, 2016). Complementing the outrageous sets, dance choreography and lady parts are chorus boys in jockstraps. So there’s that.
3. Put that sweat to good use at a hot party. Washington, DC‘s newest bash, DistriktC (Feb. 13, 2016), invites the gays to get gayer on the dance floor at the DC Eagle this Presidents Day Weekend. In-demand DJs Manny Lehman and Mark Demarko spin until 8 a.m., and Rocco Steele and Ray Diesel of XXX-fame make an appearance.
4. Get your motor running with Austin‘s food truck scene. It’s not news — some of the country’s much sought-after food isn’t in restaurants, but in the streets. With an estimated 2,000 food trucks, Bat City embodies the biggest culinary trend since using utensils.
5. Sashay your way to RuPaul’s DragCon in Los Angeles (May 7-8, 2016). Described as a mash-up of Comic-Con, BeautyCon, and Hello Kitty Con, this is a chance for lovers of drag culture to come together, inspire each other, and let their freak flags fly high. And if nothing else, it’s a place to spill the tea with the fiercest queens in the country.
6. Strike a pose. Get your om on at Chicago‘s Millennium Park free yoga classes. We all know that travel can be stressful. Ensure your sanity by scheduling a healthy and relaxing activity in your itinerary. Fitness classes are held on Wednesday and Friday mornings all summer long.
7. Splurge on that new bathing suit and hit the sand in Asbury Park. This shore town proves that Jersey goes big when it comes to sunning (and hair, muscles, etc.). Use your PTO for a couple Fridays and Mondays this summer and head to one of the gay-friendliest sand-and-sun locales for a dose of Vitamin D. PSA: Wear sunscreen.
8. Unleash your inner child at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Trite? Maybe, but stay with me here. If you’re tired of the daily coverage of Trump-isms, you may find the innocence of Disney a great escape from reality. It’s the perfect place to unplug and fill your day with laughter, smiles, and selfies with your favorite Disney characters. Pro tip: The gays take over the park for the annual Gay Days® Orlando (May 31 – June 5, 2016) and One Magical Weekend (June 3-5, 2016) .
9. Wear Pride on your sleeve at Rainbow Fashion Week in New York City (June 17-24, 2016). For the third consecutive year, RFW kicks off Manhattan’s Pride events with eight days of queer style. Do not expect tents in Bryant Park with the typical do-you-know-who-I-am types; instead, this is a celebration all over town with over 25,000 attendees checking out NYC’s LGBT creative pool.
10. Let it all hang out in Palm Springs. Hollywood’s playground hosts the most clothing-optional resorts in the world — more than 20 of them gay — so prude this town is not. Lose your inhibitions and tan au naturel. Pro tip: If you want to stay in the gay resort area, try the Warm Sands neighborhood, where you can catch an eyeful during the day, if not a handful at night.
11. Take a chill pill and head back to the 80s at Provincetown‘s Carnival (Aug. 13-19, 2016). 1980s kids and admirers (let’s be honest — it was the best decade for music) converge for this totally awesome festival. Neon popped collars, Z Cavaricci pants and high hair will take over Commercial Street.
12. Stretch your fetish tolerance at San Francisco‘s famed Folsom Street Fair (Sept. 25, 2016). If you’re very open to leather, this festival is for you. Think play stations, erotic artists, gear and toy vendors, live music, dance areas and skin aplenty. This is not the block party of your childhood.
13. Dress up to an obsessive and borderline-inappropriate level at Key West‘s 10-day Fantasy Fest (Oct. 21-30, 2016). The Conch Republic challenges even the most accomplished partiers all year long, and Halloween amps up the craziness on the intensely fun island. Come prepared — that is, with costumes and without inhibitions. Rule of thumb: It’s a fantasy, so treat it that way.
14. Drive out of your comfort zone with a road trip through New England. Bid your city and your stresses adieu. Grab some friends, jump in the car, and take the scenic route through the Northeast. Find brilliant little stops in Rhode Island and New Hampshire, and surprises tucked away in Maine. Pro tip: Choose a leaf-peeping autumn outing to catch one of Mother Nature’s best shows.
15. Set sail on the high seas with Chumley’s BearCruises out of Fort Lauderdale (Nov. 6 – 13, 2016). Princess Cruise Line’s newest ship, Regal Princess, will serve beers and bears in equal proportion. Excursions in the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and Mexico make this cruise a den of fun. Ahoy!
16. Find the next Dolly in Nashville. There’s something about crooning cowboys that makes us swoon. America’s music city features incredible country and folk acts every night in venues around town. The hardest ticket to get is at the super intimate Bluebird, but it’s also the most rewarding. Other spots for your music tour: the newer City Winery, the historic Ryman Auditorium, The Station Inn for laid-back bluegrass, and for a lively bar scene, Robert’s Western World.