Posted June 1, 2020

Our Favorite 10 Gay Bars from San Francisco to Philly

Travel Tips

Some are legendary institutions; others are new players but already buzzing with the LGBTQ community. The important thing that they all have in common is that you’re welcome, just as you are. If you’re looking for your next favorite gay-friendly or LGBTQ-owned bars, these are our tried and true picks around the country.

(Photo credit: Uptown Tavern)


  • Twist Social Club: in the western suburb of Lakewood, Twist cranks it up several notches. It first opened under the late John Katsaros – a local LGBTQ champion. An inclusive spot that’s full of energy, Saturday nights bring down the house.
  • Jukebox: billed as a city tavern that puts music first, you’ll find a mixed crowd with a laidback vibe. Slip out into the outdoor patio on a nice day.

(Photo credit: Jukebox)


  • Chef Marcie Turney & Valerie Safran are a real life couple who transformed this neglected 13th Street neighborhood into a lively stretch of retail stores and amazing restaurants and bars.
  • Barbuzzo: a Mediterranean Kitchen & Bar, which clocks in special late night hours, wood-fired pizza, and sangria specials.

(Photo credit: Barbuzzo)

San Diego:

  • Martinis Above Fourth Table + Stage: it’s all in the name. Expect over 100 different kinds of ice-cold, expertly mixed martinis and an eclectic rotation of comedy and live music AKA the perfect combo.
  • Urban Mo’s Bar & Grill: call it the mecca of San Diego’s gay bars. There’s something for everyone including drag shows on Wednesdays and country line dancing on Thursdays – always set to the perfect soundtrack.
  • Uptown Tavern: head to this Hillcrest bar during patio weather for a “fish bowl,” a shareable spiked mule with your choice of spirits.

(Photo credit: Uptown Tavern)

San Francisco:

  • El Rio: venture out to Bernal Heights for a dog-friendly neighborhood bar that hosts everything from drag shows to karaoke and doubles down on their contributions to the local arts and music scene and underserved communities. On sunny days, you might luck out with freshly shucked oysters on the back patio. Cash only and wigs welcome.
  • Blackbird: tucked into Duboce Triangle, Blackbird runs a fine cocktail game that’s perfect for date night or happy hour. Their Pimms Cup combines strawberry, ginger and Spring 44 gin. And the pool table? Always a good idea.

(Photo Credit: Blackbird)


  • This is It: established in 1968, it’s officially the oldest, continually operating gay bar in Wisconsin. The owners, George and Michael (we get the pun too), are serious about their cocktails and their community with monthly Pink Hat Party fundraisers that have raised over $20,000 for Milwaukee LGBTQ causes.
  • Kruz: there’s a reason why Kruz is tucked away on National Ave. The bar got its start flying under the radar to become a safe haven for the LGBTQ community. The outdoor patio is a hit and the drinks are no frills. Go for a Korbel old-fashioned while you’re here.


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