For LGBTIQ+ travelers, most trips begin by seeking out the local “gayborhood.”
The sight of rainbow flags and same-sex couples can feel like a liberating breath of fresh air. For many, these destinations are welcoming, safe havens; friendly places where the collective community spirit dwells. There’s often a rich gay history embedded, too, inviting visitors to join the local legacy of queer culture—and likely catch Pride festivities and colorful year-round events.
Here’s a look at the best LGBTIQ+ neighborhoods from coast to coast.
West Village in New York City, New York
Pride 2023: NYC Pride’s biggest celebrations kick into high gear every June, culminating in the annual Sunday march through Manhattan, happening this year on June 25.
The history of LGBTIQ+ civil rights in America is alive and well in one of its most vibrant and colorful neighborhoods. The Stonewall National Monument occupies 7.7 acres of the West Village, including tiny Christopher Park, home to George Segal’s striking “Gay Liberation” sculptures, and, as of June 1, 2022, the first flagpole on federal land to fly a rainbow flag. Show your pride all year with drinks at historic Julius’; flirty piano bars the Monster and Duplex; Henrietta Hudson and the Cubbyhole (two of the country’s last remaining lesbian bars); and of course, the landmarked Stonewall Inn—where the June 28, 1969 Stonewall uprising ignited a global movement.
The Gayborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Pride 2023: June 4 brought the annual Philly Pride March and Festival, organized by Galaei, a queer and trans, black, indigenous, and people of color social-justice organization
Philadelphia’s dynamic LGBTIQ+ community befits a city nicknamed “the cradle of liberty.” The city’s downtown Gayborhood (yes, that’s really what locals call it) is home to gay-owned bars, restaurants and shops, including Philly AIDS Thrift, the corner store that once housed famous queer bookstore Giovanni’s Room; you’ll see its historic marker out front. Since 2022, Philly Pride has taken a renewed approach to its annual festival and march to be more intentionally inclusive of trans folx and people of color. Last year brought the 50th anniversary of Philadelphia’s first Gay Pride Day, and the city’s local queer community remains one of the country’s most progressive and vibrant.
The Castro in San Francisco, California
One of America’s first gay neighborhoods took root in the Castro in the decades before Stonewall, and remains a vivid LGBTIQ+ capital of the world. The area has evolved a lot since the sexy 1960s, and local queer history is commemorated at the Castro’s GLBT Historical Society Museum, on Castro and Market streets’ Rainbow Honor Walk, walking tours and other historic spots. Head here to picnic in Mission Dolores Park, sip drinks at historic Twin Peaks Tavern or catch a film or performance at the landmark Castro Theatre.
Historic Provincetown occupies the very tip of Cape Cod, so small that the entire town feels more like a super-friendly, rainbow-clad Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. There is a Pride event each June, but from spring through the holidays there’s tons of festive fun and community culture, including the Queer Comedy Showcase at Town Hall, the Provincetown Follies cabarets, Tennessee Williams Theater Festival, LGBTIQ+ art galleries and more. Travelers may also breeze in for unforgettable theme weeks/weekends, like Womxn of Color Weekend, Bear Week, Family Week, Girl Splash and Fantasia Fair—the original “transgender week,” held each October since 1975.
Capitol Hill in Seattle, Washington
Pride 2023: Seattle Pride is marking its 48th year with a big kickoff festival on June 4, followed by events all month, capped off by the annual Pride March on June 26.
The past decade or two have brought a lot of changes to Capitol Hill thanks to mega-corporations edging in from all sides. But this central neighborhood is still home to favorite LGBTIQ+ haunts including CCs, the Cuff and, of course, the Wildrose—Seattle’s go-to lesbian bar for the past 38 years. Pop into queer-owned spots like Dough Joy and Capitol Thrill, browse books at Elliott Bay Book Company, grab brunch or cocktails at Union and top off your visit dancing all night at Neighbours.
West Hollywood in Los Angeles, California
Pride 2023: WeHo Pride weekend arrived on June 2-4, with a street fair, music festival, annual Dyke March and lavish Sunday Pride Parade down Santa Monica Boulevard.
Locals will inform you that West Hollywood is its own, compact city (with its own mayor), even though on a map it’s surrounded by greater Los Angeles. Nevertheless, WeHo’s walkable size, busy street life, familiar faces and beloved bars and shops are decidedly neighborhoody, with plenty of sizzling spots to soak up the Southern-Cali sun and watch the fashionistas flow by.
Northalsted in Chicago, Illinois
Pride 2023: The rousing return of Chicago Pride descends on Halsted Street with the annual festival June 18-19 and 51st annual parade on June 26, with a slew of other LGBTIQ+ events all month.
Whether you know it as Boystown or Northalsted, the central-Chicago neighborhood anchored by Halsted Street is where you’ll find much of the city’s LGBTIQ+ attractions. Its standout feature is The Legacy Walk, a mile-long series of markers with memorial plaques commemorating the life and work of queer-community heroes and leaders. In this historic gay district, you’ll find indie boutiques, cafes and hit hangouts like Roscoe’s, Sidetrack and the Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club, with nightly drag shows.
Oak Lawn in Dallas, Texas
Pride 2023: The Dallas Pride fun arrived early in June, with music, arts, and community gatherings helping to mark its 40th anniversary, topped off by the annual Pride Parade on June 3.
If you don’t know Dallas, you might be surprised to learn that it’s home to one of the most gay-proud neighborhoods in the country. With a tightknit community and cluster of LGBTIQ+ clubs and businesses all along Cedar Springs Road, Oak Lawn feels virtually paved with rainbows—perfect for kicking up your sequined boots at the Round-Up Saloon, or at twin Dallas-inspired clubs JR’s and Sue Ellen’s, one for the cowboys and one for the cowgirls.
Capitol Hill in Denver, Colorado
Pride 2023: The month-long lead-up to Denver’s weekend Pride Fest features culture, history and plenty of dancing, all leading to the big Civic Center festival on June 25-26—and capped off with the huge Sunday parade along Colfax Avenue.
Just up from downtown, is Denver’s Capitol Hill, the city’s LGBTIQ+ neighborhood. It’s the place to see what’s on at the Center on Colfax and where gay-friendly shops and eateries pepper the blocks on and around East Colfax Avenue. There are a few Cap Hill musts for LGBTIQ+ visitors, including gay-owned Hamburger Mary’s and its zesty queens; new-in-2019, bear-inspired Denver Sweet bar; and Blush & Blu, the city’s lesbian-centric coffee and cocktail outpost.
Bywater in New Orleans, Louisiana
Pride 2023: The steamy Southern heat r arrived for New Orleans Pride weekend, June 9-11, surrounded by events all month—including the big weekend’s drag shows, special club nights, boozy brunches, and famous night parade on June 10.
The Crescent City’s funky Bywater and adjacent Marigny neighborhoods seem to embody the best of New Orleans's old-school artsy vibes, including its effortless queer style. While the French Quarter has several fun LGBTIQ+ bars and clubs, it’s well worth the walk east, past Frenchmen Street, to reach the Bywater’s classic dives, hidden courtyard eateries, vintage shops and the always-worthwhile, gay-owned Country Club (reserve early for smashing weekend drag brunches).