Are you longing to get away from the hustle and bustle of our busted, dog-eat-dog economy? You aren’t the only one. As summer rolls around, folks will be looking for ways to slip away from the madness. But don’t throw away your money on some fancy cruise or outrageously expensive cross-country trip. From the mountains to the coast, there are plenty of fun and exciting things to do right here in your own backyard — right inside the Carolinas and our neighborly Southern sisters.

Wilmington & Wrightsville Beach

Need a seaside getaway without all the buzzing activity of more popular summer hot spots? Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach have the perfect small-town charm without losing any of the vacation usuals you’ve come to expect. Home to a thriving queer scene and overflowing with cute college surfer boys, there should be plenty of activities to keep you busy.

If you go:
• Take at least one night to head out to Club Ibiza, Eastern North Carolina’s largest gay and lesbian nightlife establishment.
• Visit the USS North Carolina, a WWII battleship turned permanent memorial and museum.

The Outer Banks

Golfing, camping, fishing, art galleries, lighthouses, museums and more. There’s nothing sweeter than being in the Outer Banks. Pristine, natural environments, warm Atlantic breezes and relaxing afternoons at a seaside restaurant, or even dinner on the ocean!

If you go:
• Be sure to visit at least one of Carolina’s historic lighthouses.
• Kick back, order a drink and laugh your worries away at the Comedy Club in Kill Devil Hills, the nation’s longest-running
summer late-night comedy venue.
• Take a peek into history, be sure to see a performance of the classic, can’t miss “Lost Colony” in Manteo.

Charleston & Savannah, Ga.

Old Southern charm. Old colonial style. Feel the gentle ocean breezes caressing your face while you sit on a hundred-year-old front porch. Charleston and Savannah are the epitome of Deep South class and culture. Arts, entertainment, dining and more. A little pricier than some places, for sure — but it’s well worth every penny, dahling.

If you go:
• Take the time to stroll through Charleston’s Battery Park or take the short cruise to historic Fort Sumter.
• Tour Savannah’s and Charleston’s unique and one-of-a-kind estates and homes, gardens and parks.

Myrtle Beach

Party town! Or, you could just relax on the beach. Consistently voted in the top summer destinations in the nation, Myrtle Beach offers almost everything you’d want out of a vacation. Sit on the beach, go for a swim, grab a quick bite to eat on the boardwalk, head back to the room to freshen up and head out for a night on the town.

If you go:
• Be sure to stop by gay bar Time Out and The Center Project, Myrtle Beach’s LGBT community center.
• If you’re heading down for a July 4th weekend, hang out with local queer folks as The Center Project celebrates Myrtle Beach Pride.

Nashville, Tenn.

No need to be working nine to five here, boys and gals. Tell your boss to take this job and shove it and come on down to Nashville to stand by your man as you explore both the history, culture and energy of Country music’s capital. Tour the Grand Ole Opry’s original home, Ryman Auditorium, in downtown Nashville or take a ride out to Opry Mills, home to the new hallmark of Country legends. Oh, yeah, Opry Mills has a huge mall for all your shopping pleasure, too.

If you go:
• Don’t miss the Country Music Hall of Fame in downtown Nashville.
• Be sure to visit the studios of CMT. Maybe you’ll meet a star!

Abingdon, Va.

With a history stretching as far back as 1748, the mountain town of Abingdon’s small, quaint charm lends itself to a vacation full of relaxation and devoid of worry. Take a stroll through the small village’s downtown and visit old storefronts and the historic Barter Theatre, the state theatre of Virginia.

If you go:
• Book a stay at the historic Martha Washington Inn, former site of the Martha Washington College for Women.
• Take a tour of the Star Museum, located in the old offices of the Abingdon Virginian Press and packed with old mementos and ephemera of the old and gilded days of Hollywood.
• Have a taste for art? Visit the William King Regional Arts Center for special galleries and exhibits.

Atlanta, Ga.

While Charlotte and Atlanta will always battle it out for who gets to keep the New South’s gilded crown, one thing is for certain: Atlanta is a thoroughly modern Southern city boasting all the world class amenities of such far-flung cities as New York, L.A. and Chicago. Want a big city feel without traveling cross-country; well, then, Atlanta’s your best bet.

If you go:
• For gay bookstores, nightlife and more, visit Midtown Atlanta. Don’t forget Outwrite Books.
• Among the city’s newest attractions, the Atlanta Aquarium is a must-see for any tourist.
• Take a stroll down memory lane at the Coca-Cola Museum.

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

5 replies on “Carolina Southern Summer”

  1. THIS ARTICLE JUST PROVES HOW ONE SIDED Q-NOTES REALLY IS!!! Let’s notice Wilmington and Myrtle Beach. Both cities have more than one bar. However, the ONLY bars mentioned just happens to be the only two bars in those cities who ADVERTISE IN Q-NOTES. What about Rainbow House in Myrtle Beach? Or how about Luna Llena and Toolbox in Wilmington?


    I also enjoy the photo of the Gay Dolphin in Myrtle Beach as if it were some LGBT mecca. It’s a gift shop, that has nothing to do with and never has anything to do with gay people EVER! How misleading is that photo with this article for people who do not know that?

    Come on Matt, can’t you do a better job then this? And hasn’t gay travel already been done by other regional gay publications?

    Seriously. I think it’s time for Q-Notes to move on.

  2. I think Jason is reading too much into this thing. Sounds like he thinks in terms of conspiracy theories. Maybe a better explanation for the article is the Gay Dolphin photo was picked because it is such a well-known landmark… or maybe Ibiza was mentioned because it was the largest club in the area (look in your Q-Notes issues Jason, Toolbox also advertises).

    What about the other businesses, sights listed in the article who aren’t advertising. If Q-Notes only had advertisers in articles those places wouldn’t be mentioned.

    But alas… Matt isn’t perfect. I guess none of us are… but maybe the community should give Matt some slack, especially when he is practically the only person writing news and features for the paper (notice how almost all the bylines are his?).

    And maybe (again look at your Q-Notes issues) if Time Out bar weren’t the only business in the entire state of South Carolina who is a regular advertiser, Q-Notes might have more money on hand to hire someone to write other kinds of features.

  3. Well, I think getalife isn’t completely right and Jason is hitting about 90% of the nail on the head.

    I think MORE businesses in SC other than Timeout would advertise if Q-Notes ad rates weren’t so high. I mean, obviously something is wrong over there for them to have dropped to a mere 28 pages an issue in the past year.

    As for Matt writing all the content… either a kudos is in order or we need to examine possible micro-management.

    As for other notable landmarks getalife, how about the 70 foot tall Hard Rock pyramid, the piers, or Ripley’s attractions. I don’t think Gay Dolphin was chosen because of being well known – I think it was insinuated to be gay.

    And how about Wilmington. Yes, Jason was wrong about Toolbox advertising, but what about Luna Llena? There are 3 gay bars in Wilmington & one extremely gay friendly bar, and they’ve all been there for quite a while, but even the Q-Notes website only acknowledges 2 of them (and for that matter, how about Rainbow House in Myrtle Beach. It has been here for over a decade and doesn’t make the Q-Notes bar directory).

    Overall, I have to say I side with Jason on most of this. It’s time for the publication to shape up or ship out.

  4. The only place on this list that is gay-friendly enough to walk holding hands on a real vacation is Atlanta. The others seem like a great place to get beat-up. Thanks Q-Notes.

  5. Actual there are 4 gay bars in Wilmington they are
    Ibiza, Toolbox, Luna Llena, and Costello’s the small piano bar downtown everyone forgets about. Plus a couple of very several friendly bars.

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