Fire Island Fire Island can be whatever you want it to be, whether you prefer staying in and cooking with friends or dancing to techno on the pier. Best week for partying: the Pines Party, held the last weekend of July, or the Ascension Party, August 14-16. The beach calms down on weekdays during the summer and after Labor Day. If you can't worm your way into a friend's share for the night, you can always stay at the legendary Belvedere or the new, more chic Madison in the Pines.
Palm Springs Surrounded by the California desert, Palm Springs can feel like a gay space station on the moon. Go for dinner at local gay faves Tropicale, Purple Palm, or the Parker, or go to Koffi and see if you can spot the professional porn stars on a java break. Most big events, like the White Party, happen in the cooler months (October-May), but if you can stand the extreme heat, check out the low rates available during the Palm Springs Summer Splash, from June 1 to September 30.
ProvincetownOn the surface, Provincetown looks quaint. But anyone who's been there knows how nutty the place can get. Still, the beaches are some of the most tranquil in the world. Provincetown organizes various weeks dedicated to specific demographics: Bear Week (July 11-18), Carnival (August 16-22), and Women's Week (October 9-18). But if you're seeking peace and quiet, come in May or after Labor Day.
Russian River This mountain area 70 miles north of San Francisco gets chilly at night but heats up with visitors on weekends. It gets predictably busy on holidays like the Fourth of July weekend, Labor Day, and San Francisco gay pride in June. Lazy Bear Weekend (July 29-August 3) is turning out to be a popular draw for bears and their admirers.
Key WestAs in Palm Springs, this Florida town's off-season tends to be the hot summer months. But its PrideFest (June 6-14) is active with celebration, and Tropical Heat weekend (August 20-23) offers four days of craziness, including clothing-optional events.