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Our Favorite Places in America's Queerest Cities

Our Favorite Places in America's Queerest Cities

Need to know where to go in Carlsbad and Dayton? Look no further.

The Queerest Cities in America (as chosen by our sister publication, The Advocate) has some surprising 'burgs. Everyone knows about Miami and Chicago, but this list highlights some lesser-known gems like Davenport, Iowa and Erie, Pa. Next time you visit one of these unheralded destinations, we have some spots for you to check out:

15. CARLSBAD, Calif.

Looking for a low-key, relaxing getaway with your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse? The Hilton Carlsbad Oceanfront Resort and Spa is the spot for you. You’ll have use of a full-service spa, a pool with an ocean view, and the Pacific Ocean; follow your dip with a stroll along the beach while you watch the sunset, and only then enjoy a lovely dinner at Chandler’s Restaurant & Lounge. Chandler’s serves New American cuisine, which will satisfy your appetite for a classic burger or crab-crusted sea bass. Oh, and the ocean-front restaurant offers unparalled views. Can’t you already feel the joys of coastal cruising?


If you find yourself in Washington, D.C, Town DanceBoutique is the hottest destination for a night out. It’s THE gay venue for a good time. International club acts, themed parties, drag shows every Friday and Saturday, and a deluxe lounge area beckon; experience how D.C really gets down.

Care for a dinner that gives you an experience beyond the satisfaction of your palate? Check out Busboys and Poets. This restaurant was inspired by poet Langston Hughes and combines a restaurant, bookstore, and ritual space to exchange ideas over some pizza, paninnis, and more.

13. CAMBRIDGE, Mass.

Paradise Bar in Cambridge not only plays the most energetic top 40s music, it also provides a constant stream of porn playing on monitors all throughout the bar (great conversation starters!). If you don’t feel like dancing to Taylor Swift or watching Michael Lucas, you can just enjoy a drink while watching some hot male dancers in the flesh.

Need a good meal in Cambridge? Check out Cuchi Cuchi, with large dishes meant to be shared. From grilled Indian lamb, to Thai mussels, to Moroccan chicken tagine, you can enjoy globetrotting cuisine along with a retro and romantic ambiance.

12. BOISE, Idaho

Looking for a chill spot to hang out that matchs the calm, scenic vibe of Idaho? Stop by Lucky Tavern. It’s a classic neighborhood gay bar that offers free wi-fi, karaoke, and a pool table. Get to know the locals over a nice, cold beer.

If you’re craving comfort food, Elmer’s Pancake House will hit the spot. You can enjoy your flapjack or omelets in a retro, diner vibe.

11. SPOKANE, Wash.

Irv’s is the gayest bar in lovely Spokane. With happy hours seven days a week, a game room, karaoke, awesome DJs, and a line-up of cool events like cabaret shows, Irv’s is the place to be.. After a night there, stop by The Flying Goat, an excellent pizza place where you can dine in and enjoy a glass of red with your margarita, or simple get a pie for the road. 

10. BOULDER, Colo.

The Colorado Shakespeare Festival is worth checking out if you want a rich cultural experience in one of the most natural and environmentally-conscious places in the U.S. With an amazing outdoor theatre, you can enjoy As You Like It or Richard III while nestled in the towering Colorado Mountains. After you’ve been mesmerized by some Shakespeare, enjoy a lovely dinner at Avenue Grill, where you can munch on a plate of grilled Colorado lamb, and wash it down with one of their award winning martinis. 


Mary’s on 2nd is a laid back bar with good music, good drinks, and a local favorite; can’t go wrong with that. According to the locals, Le Figaro is the finest French restaurant in town. It’s just across the river in Rock Island, but it’s worth the crossing. 

Be sure to stop by the Renwick Mansion in Davenport. It was built in 1877 and restored a century later, and is a single-family Italian villa. It’s on top of one of the highest points of the city, and it’s worth the look. Also, if you’re looking for B&B or a wedding site, it’s a venue to seriously consider. 

8. TACOMA, Wash.

The Mix is often named the top gay party palace in Tacoma. You never have to pay a cover, the staff is super friendly (and hot), it’s gay-owned, air conditioned, there are go-go boys, and much, much more. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? Out on an afternoon stroll getting to know the city? Stop by One Heart Café and grab some coffee or sit down and enjoy a sandwich with some live music and cute locals. 

7. ERIE, Penn.

The Zone is the largest gay bar and dance club in Erie. After opening, it soon turned into one of the most popular bars in the city. For food, Pie In the Sky Café is a casual bistro with a BYOB option; it offers a relaxing vibe similar to a San Francisco cafe. It’s an Erie favorite. 


Get a whiff of the natural vibes of Salt Lake City at Jam. It’s a gay club with bamboo flooring, stone bar tops, and no hazardous paint. It’s often named Utah’s best gay bar, and it promises a good time, every time. Club Try-Angles (excuse the pun) is also a happening gay club in the SLC. You’ll find Finn’s Café in Salt Lake City’s “gayborhood” to be a nice place to dine. Serving the community for over 50 years, this local hot spot serves supreme diner food and superb service. 

5. MADISON, Wisc.

Shamrock Bar calls this midwestern capital home. Since it’s establishment in 1985, this LGBT club is Madison staple. Not only will it satisfy your nightlife interests, but Shamrock also serves brunch on the weekends. Party Friday night and brunch on Saturday? Sounds perfect to us. 

4. LANSING, Mich.

Not only is Lansing the capital of Michigan, it’s also the central point of Michigan’s gay scene. In the day, the farmer’s market allows for the perfect afternoon stroll and the night comes alive with Esquire and Club 505 as hot destination points.


Roosters is perfect if you’re looking for a kooky time in this gay-friendly city. Bingo night and drag shows have attracted locals for years. Sunset Bar & Grill is a unique staple of West Palm Beach. With its original art decorating the walls, mellow atmosphere and killer menu, ranging from the Sunset Black and Blue Burger to a Key Lime Chicken Sandwich, you’ll be leaving this place feeling satisfied. 


Get your shopping on at Boy Next Door. Don’t be surprised to see a celebrity, porn star, or a lot of Hotlanta boys shopping at this store for a stylish wardrobe, or one of this store’s impressive selections of underwear and swimsuits. Treat yourself to some good ol’ southern comfort food at Cowtippers. It’s a causal dining spot for lunch and/or dinner with an option to indulge in a big southern margarita. If you're a martini gay, try Oscar's Atlanta for a fancy nightlife option.


The walls of Mj Café double as a bar and a local art gallery. A variety of events like drag shows, karaoke, and sport night is happens here, and be sure to take part in Martini Mondays. Dayton’s little-big-city feel can surely be experienced with a stroll around Deeds Carillon in Carillon Historical Park, all the while learning about Dayton’s rich and creative history. 

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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