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What are the best 2014 spring break towns for gay and lesbian travelers?

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Key West, Florida
What are the best 2014 spring break towns for gay and lesbian travelers?

Duval Street, in the heart of Key West's historic district, lined with bars, restaurants, and shops popular with gay and lesbian visitors.

photo by Andrew Collins
The quirky, historic community at the southern tip of Florida (it's actually in the Caribbean, about 80 miles from Cuba), Key West has been a mecca for gay travelers for more than a half century (and it discreetly cultivated a "family" following long before that). As a spring break option, it has a lot going for it - it's among the warmest destinations in the country, so even when cooler temps prevail elsewhere in Florida, Key West tends to remain ideal for beach-combing and sunning by the pool. The palm-shaded community abounds with gay bars and funky restaurants, most of which are within easy walking distance of the several gay resorts in town (you'll find a mix of gay-male-exclusive and mixed gay/lesbian resorts).

In recent years, Key West has actively courted gay college students, hosting an official Gay Spring Break Key West celebration, that's helped raise its image and popularity during the spring break season. A number of businesses in town offer discounts to participants - just drop by the Key West Business Guild (513 Truman Ave.) when you arrive in town, present a student ID, and you'll be given a pass entitled you to deals at gay-popular resorts, restaurants, and bars.

As a gay party destination, Key West works well because it's a compact, welcoming community where a car isn't needed to get around, and where it's easy to mingle with and meet others at gay resorts and bars. It's upscale but not excessively expensive, and it's easy to find flights directly to the island from Miami, Atlanta, Tampa, and Charlotte (major carriers include American, Delta, and United). If it's massive crowds, miles of beaches, and a circuit-party scene you're after, Key West might not be your best bet - it's happily laid-back and has a population of just 25,000 or so. But balancing cool diversions, gay-friendliness, value, climate, and beauty, Key West is a terrific overall gay spring break getaway.

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