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Explore Santa Clarita: A Californian Gay Couple Adventure

Explore Santa Clarita: A Californian Gay Couple Adventure

We were ready for a spring adventure in California that was a little different from the usual getaway. We wanted something close to the known US cities and sights such as Universal Studios Hollywood or West Hollywood, yet still off the beaten path. Santa Clarita, a city we hadn’t initially considered for our LGBTQ+ travel plans, kept popping up on our radar as a hidden gem in Southern California. Intrigued by the possibility of a queer and gay-friendly escape in the USA just an hour’s drive north of Los Angeles, we packed our bags and headed up Interstate 5 to Santa Clarita. We were curious to see what this suburban oasis had in store for a couple of queer city slickers like us.

paid collaboration with Visit Santa Clarita –

Hiking tour in Angeles National Forest © Coupleofmen.com
Hiking tour in Angeles National Forest © Coupleofmen.com

As a gay couple traveling to Santa Clarita

Santa Clarita, California, is a vibrant and diverse city nestled in the Santa Clarita Valley, just north of Los Angeles. Known for its stunning natural landscapes, LGBTQ+ friendly attractions, and thriving film industry (did you know it’s often called “Hollywood North”?), Santa Clarita offers a unique blend of urban excitement and suburban charm at the same time. This is what we were told. Now it was time for us to explore the Californian destination ourselves, as two newlyweds.

Driving from Los Angeles to Santa Clarita © Coupleofmen.com
On the road: Driving from Los Angeles to Santa Clarita on Interstate 5 © Coupleofmen.com

We headed north with our rental from Los Angeles Airport LAX on Interstate 5, a busy, nevertheless scenic hour-long drive that landed us in the charming city of Santa Clarita. You might know the name from the American comedy-horror television series Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix. The drive can take longer during peak hours (typically weekday mornings and evenings). Santa Clarita is the third-biggest city in Los Angeles County and is surrounded by unique nature and national parks. With a population of over 230,000, the classic example of a U.S. satellite city is located in the Santa Clarita Valley along the Santa Clara River. So, our adventure in gay-friendly Santa Clarita could finally begin…

Flying with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines © Coupleofmen.com

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Homewood Suites by Hilton & Hotel Lexen Newhall

Our first accommodation in Santa Clarita was the Homewood Suites by Hilton, a modern oasis where we immediately felt at home after a 12-hour flight. The spacious suites were perfect for unwinding after a day of exploring, and the included rich breakfast buffet provided a delicious and convenient way to start our mornings before exploring the nature highlights of the valley. For the latter part of our trip, we switched gears and checked into Hotel Lexen Newhall in Santa Clarita, Valencia. This stylish hotel offered a modern and vibrant ambiance that complemented our adventurous spirit perfectly. It was a great starting point for our day at Six Flag’s Magic Mountain. Located near the historic Newhall old town, you just need a few minutes to enjoy the restaurants, bars, and shops of Santa Clarita’s old town city center.

Homewood Suites by Hilton

Homewood Suites by Hilton in Santa Clarita © Coupleofmen.com

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Jet lag? Go outdoors and explore!

For us, the best way to get over a 9-hour jet lag is to be outdoors, soak in the sun, and get our organisms moving. In Santa Clarita, this undertaking was easy to implement. Several parks, mountains, and green oases surround the Santa Clarita community, making it an ideal destination to get out and experience the beauty of California in the spring.

A historic site of gay-friendly Santa Clarita: The Iron Horse Trailhead, starting point of hikes and bike tails © Coupleofmen.com
One of the historic Santa Clarita sights: Bridge at the Iron Horse Trailhead © Coupleofmen.com

This year, it had rained a lot during the first months of the year. As we learned from the locals, this has become more frequent in the last few years. There were green meadows, lush, freshly leafed trees, flowers, and spectacular mountain and rock massifs to explore. Oh, and rivers with waterfalls, usually dry in the summer, were also on our list of activities for this first week in the Southwest of the USA.

Trails and Park Map of Santa Clarita, California © Coupleofmen.com
Trails and Park Map of Santa Clarita, California © Coupleofmen.com

Vasquez Rocks: A Trekkie’s Paradise in Santa Clarita

As huge Star Trek fans (next to being huge Star Wars fans), naturally, our first stop was Vasquez Rocks Natural Area and Nature Center. This otherworldly landscape, famous for its appearances in the original Star Trek series (not to mention countless other films and TV shows like Blazing Saddles, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and even episodes of The Big Bang Theory), was a dream come true for us.

Gay Travel to Santa Clarita and the Vasquez Rocks in California © Coupleofmen.com
Gay Travel to Santa Clarita and the Vasquez Rocks in California © Coupleofmen.com

We spent hours exploring the unique rock formations surrounded by bushes, snapping photos, and geeking out over the fact that we were walking in the footsteps of Captain Kirk and Spock. Besides a few people showing up now and then, taking a quick selfie to leave again right after, we were almost alone. We stayed until the park closed, experiencing this magical pre-sunset atmosphere, which painted the rocks in burning warm colors under a deep blue Californian sky.

Gay Couple Star Trek fans greeting Spok at Vasquez Rocks in California © Coupleofmen.com
Star Trek fans greeting Spok at Vasquez Rocks in California © Coupleofmen.com

Tips for a spring hike Vasquez Rocks

Hiking in Vasquez Rocks, especially during spring, is a treat for the senses, but it’s important to be prepared. The weather can be unpredictable, so dress in layers and bring a light jacket or windbreaker. The trails can get crowded, especially on weekends, so arrive early or consider visiting during the week.

A gay couple hand in hand at Vasquez Rocks in Santa Clarita in Spring during sunset © Coupleofmen.com
Vasquez Rocks in Santa Clarita in Spring during Sunset © Coupleofmen.com

Be sure to wear sturdy hiking boots or shoes, as the terrain is rocky and uneven in some parts of the park. Don’t forget to pack plenty of water, as the desert sun can be intense, even in spring. If you’re hiking in the late afternoon, consider bringing a headlamp or flashlight, as the sun sets quickly. And, of course, be always on the lookout for rattlesnakes, which are common in the area. Keep a safe distance and never try to approach or handle them.

A gay couple enjoying sunset Selfie at Vasquez Rocks in Santa Clarita © Coupleofmen.com
Sunset Selfie at Vasquez Rocks in Santa Clarita © Coupleofmen.com

Placerita Canyon: Waterfalls & Wildlife Encounters

No trip to Santa Clarita would be complete without a hike through the stunning nature, starting at Placerita Canyon Nature Center. We opted for the Canyon Trail along the small river through the Placerita Creek. With the blooming vegetation, the sound of beards, and the humming of an uncountable number of bees, nature along the trails created a peaceful and romantic atmosphere. It was simply perfect for a couple like us to reconnect with each other and nature and get over the jet lag.

Day two: Let's hike Placerita Canyon © Coupleofmen.com
Day two: Let’s hike Placerita Canyon © Coupleofmen.com

Once we arrived at the large rest area with wooden tables, drinking water fountains, and massive trees overshadowing the place of tranquility and calm, we felt energetic and still up for an extra challenge. So, we opted for the Placerita Creek Waterfall Trail, a moderate 2.7-mile loop that led us to the beautiful Los Pinetos Waterfall, nestled among the lush greenery of Los Pinetos Canyon.

Placerita Canyon and further along the Waterfall Trail with quite some photo ops © Coupleofmen.com
Placerita Canyon and further along the Waterfall Trail with quite some photo ops © Coupleofmen.com

As we hiked, we watched out for snakes, as the area is known for its reptile residents. We also stayed on the designated trails to avoid disturbing the delicate ecosystem, except when the trail led over the rocks of the small river. We couldn’t resist taking a photo here.

Daan proudly posing at the of the Waterfall Trail at Placerita Canyon © Coupleofmen.com
Daan proudly posing at the end of the Waterfall Trail at Placerita Canyon © Coupleofmen.com

Six Flags Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita

The days spent in California’s beautiful green nature prepared us for an experience with a special charge of adrenaline. With 20 roller coasters, Six Flags Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita holds the world record for the most roller coasters in an amusement park. That makes the rollercoaster park one of THE must-do experiences when planning a trip to gay-friendly Santa Clarita. Especially when you are a theme park and rollercoaster fan like Daan. For a dose of adrenaline, we spent a day at Six Flags Magic Mountain, which is just a 15-minute drive from either of our hotels. And although some rides were closed during our visit, there were plenty of rides to choose from and have a wonderful day in the Californian sun.

Six Flags Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita © Coupleofmen.com
Six Flags Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita © Coupleofmen.com

We rode roller coasters, screamed our lungs out, and indulged in all the sugary treats our hearts desired. Among our favorite rides at Magic Mountain are the wooden rollercoaster Apocalypse, The New Revolution, Full Throttle, and, of course, the longest, most innovative hybrid coaster in the world, Twisted Colossus. We were also able to make Karl happy with a ride on the Grand American Carousel, giving him a well-deserved break from the thrilling rides that Daan had on his to-do list!

Rollercoaster Enthusiast Daan on Six Flags' Full Throttle © Coupleofmen.com
Rollercoaster enthusiast Daan on Six Flags’ Full Throttle © Coupleofmen.com

Out on the Mountain

It wasn’t our first time at the LGBTQ+ welcoming theme park in California. During our first trip to the Southwest of the USA, we were fortunate enough to witness the private event Out on the Mountain. Formerly known as Pride Night, Out on the Mountain is a special night celebrating the LGBTQ+ community with rainbow-themed decorations, live entertainment, and a festive atmosphere.

Celebrating Out on the Mountain © Coupleofmen.com
Celebrating Out on the Mountain as a gay couple traveling to Santa Clarita © Coupleofmen.com

Riding rollercoasters at night in the dark was even more fun, even for Karl. It really was an unforgettable experience for us and fellow LGBTQ+ visitors we got to know while waiting for the next rollercoaster. Whether you’re a die-hard coaster enthusiast or simply looking for a fun-filled day with friends and family, Six Flags Magic Mountain has something for everyone.

Sunset over Six Flags Magic Mountain © Coupleofmen.com
Sunset over Six Flags Magic Mountain © Coupleofmen.com

Old Town Newhall: Charming Downtown with Culinary Delights

Santa Clarita consists of four distinct communities: Canyon Country, Newhall, Saugus, and Valencia. While we stayed in Valencia for the first part of our trip, our second hotel, however, was located in Newhall. Stepping back in time, we discovered the heart of Santa Clarita in Old Town Newhall, the city’s oldest and most historic district.

Walking hand in hand through Old Town Newhall, Santa Clarita © Coupleofmen.co
Walking hand in hand through Old Town Newhall, Santa Clarita © Coupleofmen.com

Its charming main street is lined with beautifully preserved buildings from the early 20th century, which host various restaurants, shops, numerous galleries and studios of local artists, and even a theater. We strolled hand-in-hand along Main Street, browsing unique shops and admiring the vintage architecture. And we stumbled upon the Walk of Fame…

Art Gallery in Old Town Newhall in Santa Clarita © Coupleofmen.com
Art Gallery in Old Town Newhall in Santa Clarita © Coupleofmen.com

… for Western Stars of Western film, television, and radio. Embedded in the sidewalk were bronze plaques honoring iconic figures like John Wayne, Gene Autry, and Roy Rogers. The Walk of Western Stars was a unique and unexpected way to experience part of Santa Clarita’s rich history and its connection to the time of the “iron horse” and to the film industry. As the sun began to set, we settled into one of the many inviting restaurants, enjoying a delicious meal while watching the world go by at a much slower pace than in the big Californian cities.

The Walk of Western Stars in Santa Clarita © Coupleofmen.com
The Walk of Western Stars in Santa Clarita © Coupleofmen.com

But there are plenty of options for restaurants to choose from. So, here are some of our favorite go-to locations, from Breakfast and a coffee to the perfect dinner. Let’s start with the most important meal of the day. For breakfast, we can recommend the massive selection of fluffy pancakes, eggs, and omelet dishes at Egg Plantation, a local favorite with a green patio right by a quiet street, only a few steps away from Main Street Newhall.

Daan's beer selection at the Brewery Draconum © Coupleofmen.com
Daan’s beer selection at the Brewery Draconum
Karl is enjoying his breakfast at Egg Plantation in Santa Clarita © Coupleofmen.com
Karl enjoying breakfast at Egg Plantation

Later in the day, while exploring the neighborhood, we suddenly heard a friendly voice behind us, calling us by our names and our blog. It was Caroline, a member of the queer community and co-owner of the Brewery Draconum, who recognized us from our blog and social media posts about Santa Clarita. Without any further ado, she invited us to have lunch in the green backyard of her wonderful establishment. The food was delicious, with fried pickles and burgers that we washed down with a selection of their delicious craft beers. Definitely a tip to support local LGBTQ+ businesses!

Selfie with Draconum's co-owner Caroline, member of the queer community © Coupleofmen.com
Selfie with Draconum’s co-owner Caroline, a member of the queer community © Coupleofmen.com

Apropos, supporting the queer local community: Caroline recommends a drink or two at Eighth & Rail, the first bar in Los Angeles County run by a lesbian couple. For a mid-afternoon caffeine fix, we stopped by Honu Coffee, a charming café with a wide selection of coffee drinks and pastries. Another place to support local businesses and have fun while doing it is the Lucky Luke Brewing Company. And there are plenty more options for a delicious dinner, drinks, and getting to know the locals.

Cheers, to Santa Clarita, at Lucky Luke's © Coupleofmen.com
Cheers to Santa Clarita at Lucky Luke’s
Great way to start into a sunny day: Delicious coffee creations at Honu Coffee © Coupleofmen.com
Delicious coffee creations at Honu Coffee
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MB2 Entertainment Park in Santa Clarita

No, MB2 does not stand for a doubled mountain bike race! MB2 is a sprawling 7-acre entertainment park complex in Santa Clarita. With its diverse range of activities, from adrenaline-pumping go-karting, virtual reality, arcade games, axe throwing, bumper boats, and laser tag to more laid-back options like bowling and mini-golf, MB2 Entertainment Park is a popular place offering something for everyone.

Selfie in front of MB2 Entertainment in Santa Clarita © Coupleofmen.com
Selfie in front of MB2 Entertainment Park in Santa Clarita © Coupleofmen.com

The play area caters to travelers and locals of all ages and interests, like us “gaymers” who were looking for the perfect ending to an active day outdoors, including dinner, of course. So, after a day of hiking in Placerita Canyon, we headed over to MB2 from our hotel, for dinner and some indoor activities. But first things first. Being active outdoors made us hungry.

Karl on play break: Burger testing at MB2 Entertainment © Coupleofmen.com
Burger testing at MB2 Entertainment…
It was fun to play at MB2 Entertainment © Coupleofmen.com
… before the fun starts at the MB2

The full-service restaurant of the MB2 offered various options, from juicy vegetarian burgers with a portion of sweet potato fries (Karl’s favorite) to delicious vegetarian pizzas (Daan’s go-to). We refueled with our respective choices and then hit the arcade for some “friendly” competition. And we really had a blast playing classic computer games like Mario Kart in 3D, shooting hoops on the indoor basketball court, and even testing our aim at the mini clown game with balls. What a fun evening out in Santa Clarita!

Karl playing Mario Kart at MB2 Entertainment Center © Coupleofmen.com
Karl playing Mario Kart at MB2 Entertainment Center © Coupleofmen.com
Buch Couple of Men - Ein Männerpaar auf Reisen © Coupleofmen.com

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Sunset Hike at Castaic Lake State Recreation Area

On our final day in Santa Clarita, we decided to savor the city’s natural beauty one last time with a day hike around the Castaic Lake State Recreation Area. We packed some snacks, plenty of water, and our cameras and drone and set off in a northern direction on Interstate 5 for about 15 minutes. After passing the Castaic Lagoon and the dam separating the lagoon from the huge Castaic Lake, the road led up into the mountains surrounding the water.

Video Tip: Our Sunset Drone Video on Instagram >>

Road up the mountains into Angeles National Forest © Coupleofmen.com
The road up the mountains into Angeles National Forest © Coupleofmen.com

We’ve learned before that the area of the Angeles National Forest is a great place for hiking and nature lovers, as it offers spectacular sunset views. But besides that, we were up for even more treats. It was that time of year when an uncountable number of spring flowers spread across the juicy green mountains surrounding the lake. The air was crisp and clean, filled with the humming of the bees visiting all the little purple and yellow flowers, as well as the birds twittering in the mild spring breeze.

Lush green spring landscape around Castaic Lake State Recreation Area © Coupleofmen.com
Lush green spring landscape around Castaic Lake State Recreation Area © Coupleofmen.com

The trail was well-maintained and easy to follow, winding on top of the mountains through chaparral-covered hillsides. Some parts of the path have been overgrown by plants but were still clearly visible. As we hiked, we were treated to panoramic vistas of the glistening lake below, its waters reflecting the clear blue sky. We paused at several scenic overlooks to take photos and simply soak in the tranquility of our surroundings.

Raising the Pride flag over the Santa Clarita, California © Coupleofmen.com
Raising the Pride flag over the Santa Clarita, California © Coupleofmen.com

And there it was, a secluded spot with a little wooden bench overlooking the lake. It was a perfect spot to unpack our pride flag and drone for a photoshoot. What we did not know was that the little bench might have been a Boy Scout project to become an Eagle Scout, the highest rank attainable in the Scouts BSA program by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). You can see the little bench in the main picture of this article or in the pic below.

Sunset at Castaic Lake for a perfect goodbye from Santa Clarita © Coupleofmen.com
Sunset at Castaic Lake for a perfect goodbye from our Gay Trip to Santa Clarita © Coupleofmen.com

As we made our way back to the trailhead, we felt a sense of contentment and gratitude for the opportunity to experience the natural beauty of Santa Clarita. With our hearts full and our spirits rejuvenated, we returned to our hotel, packed our bags, and prepared to embark on the next leg of our journey, eager to see what other adventures awaited us in the City of Angels.

Sunset over Castaic Lake © Coupleofmen.com
Sunset over Castaic Lake © Coupleofmen.com

Our spontaneous gaycation in Santa Clarita exceeded our wildest expectations, literally. We could reconnect with each other and with nature while discovering an entirely new side of California. All the adrenaline of the unique theme parks and places aside, our trips to nature were our highlights of Santa Clarita, leaving us with cherished memories and a newfound appreciation for this hidden gem in Southern California.

The money shot - sunset over the mountains of Santa Clarita © Coupleofmen.com
The money shot – sunset over the mountains of Santa Clarita © Coupleofmen.com

It is time for your gay adventure in Santa Clarita, California

Our time exploring the “Hollywood North” suburb flew by. Sunshine, scenic hikes, and unexpected queer-friendly discoveries filled our days, all while enjoying delicious food and craft brews. Santa Clarita turned out to be a surprisingly inclusive and welcoming destination for LGBTQ+ travelers.

Our experiences were overwhelmingly positive. Holding hands in public, sharing a kiss at a scenic overlook, or comfortably checking into our hotels as a couple, we encountered no difficulties and enjoyed our gay adventure in Santa Clarita to the fullest. Our tips and recommendations are meant to provide you with ideas and inspiration for your own LGBTQ+ friendly vacation. While we can’t guarantee your experiences will be identical, we have carefully researched and documented our authentic experiences, opinions, and photos in this article.

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We would especially like to thank the Tourism Board Visit Santa Clarita and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines for the invitation, the support, and the opportunity to experience Santa Clarita in such an accessible and authentic way.

Would you like to learn more about us gay travel bloggers and experience our queer adventures together with us? Then stay tuned and follow us on Facebook, X, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram! See you in California, Santa Clarita, or on one of our next Gay Pride trips worldwide!

Karl & Daan.