When visting a new city, few LGBTIQ+ travelers can resist making a beeline to the local “gayborhood.”

The sight of rainbow flags and same-sex couples holding hands feels both familiar and liberating. For many, these destinations are welcoming, safe havens – friendly places where a spirit of collective community abides. These districts often a rich gay history in their bars, streets, shops and local landmarks, too, inviting visitors to join the local legacy of queer culture.

And they’re awfully fun, with festive Pride parties and colorful events all year long.

Here’s a look at the best LGBTIQ+ neighborhoods from coast to coast.

Female revelers march through the French Quarter during the Pride parade, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
For Pride, New Orleans lets the good times roll © Timothy Guarderas / Shutterstock

1. Bywater, New Orleans, Louisiana

Pride 2024: The steamy Southern heat will have set in for New Orleans Pride weekend on June 7–9. Events take place all month – including the big weekend’s drag shows, special club nights, boozy brunches and more.

New Orleans’ funky Bywater and adjacent Marigny neighborhoods seem to embody the best of NOLA’s old-school, laissez-faire 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 (be sure to reserve early for the smashing weekend drag brunches here).

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2. The Gayborhood, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Pride 2024: June 2 brings the annual Philly Pride March and Festival, organized by social-justice organization Galaei.

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 (look for the historic marker out front). Philly Pride has recently taken a renewed approach to its annual festival and march to be more intentionally inclusive of trans folx as well as people of color. Indeed, the city’s local queer community remains one of the country’s most progressive and vibrant.

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3. Capitol Hill, Denver, Colorado

Pride 2024: 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 Park festival on June 22–23 – and capped off with the huge Sunday parade along Colfax Ave.

Just up from downtown Denver is 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. There are a few Cap Hill musts for LGBTIQ+ visitors, including gay-owned Hamburger Mary’s and its zesty queens; bear-inspired Denver Sweet bar; and Blush & Blu, the city’s lesbian-centric coffee-and-cocktail outpost.

The complete LGBTIQ+ guide to Denver

Painting the town rainbow at Chicago's Gay Pride parade
Painting the gayborhood rainbow at Chicago’s Pride parade © Cafebeanz Company / Shutterstock

4. Northalsted, Chicago, Illinois

Pride 2024: Chicago Pride descends on Halsted St with the annual festival June 22–23, and the annual parade on June 30, with a slew of other LGBTIQ+ events happening all month.  

Whether you know it as Boystown or Northalsted, the central-Chicago neighborhood anchored by Halsted St is where you’ll find many 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, where nightly drag shows keep the crowds whooping.

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Rainbow crossing in the gay neighborhood of the Castro, San Francisco, California, USA
San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood displays its diversity with flair © canyalcin / Shutterstock

5. The Castro, San Francisco, California

Pride 2024: The annual San Francisco Pride Parade and Celebration splashes through downtown June 29–30 with this year’s theme, “Beacon of love.”

One of America’s first gay neighborhoods blossomed in the Castro in the decades before Stonewall, and remains a vivid LGBTIQ+ hub for the whole 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 Sts’ Rainbow Honor Walk, on walking tours and at other historic spots. Head here to picnic with seemingly half the city in Mission Dolores Park, sip drinks at historic Twin Peaks Tavern or catch a film or performance at the landmark Castro Theatre.

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6. West Hollywood, Los Angeles, California

Pride 2024: WeHo Pride weekend arrives on June 1–2, with a street fair, music festival, annual Dyke March and lavish Sunday Pride Parade down Santa Monica Blvd.

Locals will inevitably inform you that West Hollywood is its own, compact city (with its own mayor) – even though on a map it’s in the heart of greater Los Angeles. Nevertheless, WeHo’s walkable scale, busy street life, familiar faces and beloved bars and shops are decidedly neighborhood-y, with plenty of sizzling spots to soak up the SoCal sun and watch the fashionistas flit by. 

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Marchers carry rainbow balloons spelling out SEATTLE at the Pride parade, Seattle, Washington, USA
Seattle’s Pride march marks its 50th anniversary this year © SeaRick1 / Shutterstock

7. Capitol Hill, Seattle, Washington

Pride 2024: Seattle Pride is marking its big 50th anniversary year with a kickoff festival on June 1, followed by events all month, capped off by the annual Pride March on June 30.

The sprawl of major Seattle-based corporations has brought many changes to Capitol Hill. But this optimally located neighborhood is still home to favorite LGBTIQ+ haunts, including CC Attle’s, 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.

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8. Oak Lawn, Dallas, Texas

Pride 2024: Dallas Pride brings music, arts and community gatherings, topped off by the annual Pride Parade on June 1.

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 tight-knit community and cluster of LGBTIQ+ clubs and businesses along Cedar Springs Rd, Oak Lawn feels virtually paved with rainbows. So kick up your sequined boots and go two-stepping at the Round-Up Saloon, or drop in at twin Dallas-inspired clubs JR’s and Sue Ellen’s (seriously) – one for the cowboys and one for the cowgirls, naturally.

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Drag queens on Commercial Street in Provincetown, Massachusetts, USA
In Provincetown, every week is Pride week © Vadim 777 / Shutterstock

9. Provincetown, Massachusetts

Pride 2024: Officially, Provincetown’s 7th annual Pride celebration takes place from May 31 to June 2. Unofficially, every single day in this New England coastal hamlet bursts LGBTIQ+ pride. 

Historic Provincetown occupies the very tip of Cape Cod – and it’s so small that the entire town feels more like a super-friendly Mr Roger’s Neighborhood – only bedecked with rainbow flags. A Pride event takes place at the beginning of each June – but that’s only the first of many legendary “theme weeks” that unfold through out the summer, such as Womxn of Color Weekend, Bear Week, Family Week, Girl Splash and TransWeek (previously known as Fantasia Fair, it’s taken place each October since 1975). And that’s in addition to the spate of events and community fun that unfurl throughout the year – including at the Queer Comedy Showcase at Town Hall, the Provincetown Follies cabarets, Tennessee Williams Theater Festival, LGBTIQ+ art galleries and much, much, much more.

14 ways to enjoy all Provincetown has to offer

Rainbow flags and sculptures are seen at the Stonewall National Monument, West Village, New York City, New York, USA
George Segal’s “Gay Liberation” sculptures adorn Christoher Park, part of the Stonewall National Monument © Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images

10. West Village, New York City, New York

Pride 2024: NYC Pride’s biggest celebrations kick into high gear toward the end of every June, culminating in the annual Sunday march through Manhattan, happening this year on June 30. 

The history of LGBTIQ+ civil rights in the USA is alive and well in one of the nation’s most vibrant and colorful neighborhoods. Occupying a prime corner of the West Village, the Stonewall National Monument includes tiny Christopher Park, home to George Segal’s striking Gay Liberation sculptures, as well as the first pole to fly a rainbow flag at a federal site. 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 uprising on June 28, 1969 ignited a global movement.

Drag legend Lady Bunny has a few tips for savoring the West Village

This article was first published Jun 2, 2022 and updated May 22, 2024.

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