June 7, 2013 at 11:05 AM ET
If swimming, sunning, biking, running and attending concerts in the nude is your idea of vacation fun, you’ve got lots of (naked) company.
“Nudism is becoming mainstream and thus we can hold more regular events such as Bare Bun Runs and Nudeapalooza-type music festivals,” Tom Mulhall, spokesperson for the American Association for Nude Recreation (ANNR) told NBC News.
Recreational nudism is also taking to city streets. While World Naked Bike Ride events held around world on various dates throughout the summer “are about protesting pollution, especially auto pollution, they have also morphed into fun social gatherings,” said Mulhall.
Tourist attractions that usually prefer their patrons to be fully clothed are taking notice.
During Portland, Oregon’s World Naked Bike Ride on June 8th, there will be special clothing-optional gallery hours at the Portland Art Museum which will be taking the wraps off a new exhibition about iconic bicycle design the same night.
The dates for the two events were planned independently, said museum spokesperson Beth Heinrich. But as long as over 4,000 naked people were going to be cycling right by the downtown museum’s front door it made sense to strip down admission fees and invite folks (naked or not) indoors to see the art.
“Our original pricing was $1 per item of clothing,” Heinrich told NBC News. But to move things along at the ticket gate – and encourage many clothed event spectators to come in – “we changed it to a flat $2 per person so as not to discourage participants who might not be ready to disrobe.”
The art museum’s efforts “are a great step forward for eroding away American prudishness,” said Ted Buehler, a Portland rooming-house owner and operator. Buehler has ridden in the city’s World Naked Bike Ride events for the past six years and, as long as it involved being able to ride his bicycle naked, said he’d be interested in taking a nude vacation, or what the AANR has dubbed (and trademarked) as a “nakation.”
So, it seems, would a growing number of other travelers. In a 2009 TripAdvisor survey, 31% of respondents said they were interested in visiting a nude beach. In a similar survey done in 2010, 48% of the respondents said vacationing at a nude beach would be something they’d try, according to a TripAdvisor spokesperson.
And vacation dollars spent on nude cruises and at camps, resorts and clubs catering to the clothing-optional crowd can really add up. The AANR is currently updating it figures, but in 2010 the organization estimated the value of the clothing optional tourism industry at more than $440 million per year.
For those considering a nude vacation, Mulhall suggests a try-out during the 38th Nude Recreation Week (July 8-14), when clothing optional beaches and many clubs and resorts will be hosting special events.
The week caps off with the World Record Skinny Dip event on July 13, which will try to set a Guinness World Record for the largest number of people simultaneously in the water without swimsuits.
While there’s a long list of places around the country where people are invited to wear zip and working on setting the skinny dip record together, the sponsoring organizations (AANR and The Naturist Society) have made it easy for even shy people to participate.
“People can be counted at unofficial nude beaches, on boats and in back yard pools,” said AANR’s Mulhall, “Just as long as they register.”
And just as long as they comply with the Guinness World Records rules, which say that in order to be counted a participant must be completely nude during the skinny-dip.
With America's growing openness to nude events, reaching that World Record might just be in reach, barely.