Best Gay Bars Near Me: Find Your New Favorite Hangout

Doublelist Team

January 10, 2023 10 minutes read
Connect with straight, gay, bi and curious!

We’ve all been in your shoes before. It’s the weekend and you’re trying to find a cool spot but you’re coming up empty. If you find yourself searching up “best gay bars near me” and aren’t having any luck, don’t sweat it. Gay bars are that time-honored place of fun, hooking up, and getting tipsy. But it can be harder than you think to find the cream of the crop.

Sometimes this is due to your location. Maybe you’re in the suburbs or the country and pickings are slim. Or maybe it’s your first time in a thriving gay scene. Like the East Village or West Hollywood and you don’t have someone to guide you to the hottest bars.

Even if you’re in your own neck of the woods, finding gay bars is no easy task. You might be in a rut, going to the same old places. Or perhaps this is your first adventure into the weird and wonderful world of bar culture.

No matter what your situation is, we’re here to help you out. Keep scrolling to learn how to find the best gay bars near you.

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Best Gay Bars Near Me vs Gay Clubs

Before we answer your “best gay bars near me” questions, it’s time to clear something up. Gay bars and gay clubs are not the same. You know the saying “sisters, not twins”? Apply that thinking here.

First, let’s start with what makes them the same. Obviously, both businesses mainly serve and cater to LGBTQIA+ customers. Depending on the type of place it is, the crowd could be just men, or just women. Or, in the spirit of Gen Z’s new take on “queer bars”, it could be a mix of everyone. Regardless of the makeup however, they’re meant to be a safe space. Here queer people can enjoy a night out without worrying about straights harassing or hitting on them.

Another similarity is the focus on alcohol. Expect both gay bars and gay clubs to be well stocked with drinks aplenty. It’s definitely possible to go to the best gay bar near you and have a good time if you don’t drink. But if you don’t drink or want to avoid the temptation, you might want to turn elsewhere for hookups.

So what makes them different? The vibe. Generally speaking, gay clubs are higher energy than gay bars. A club is a full-on dance party. Some clubs even have go-go dancers or party-starters to amp up the energy. At a bar however, you can expect to sit down, half a drink, and strike up conversations. While plenty of gay bars know how to get rowdy, you can expect an overall relaxed time with less distractions. At a club, there’s no end of bumping bodies and flashing lights.

Depending on what you’re in the mood for, choose your own adventure. Either way, you’re sure to have one hell of a night.

Can I Go to the Best Gay Bars Near Me if I’m Straight?

“Can I got to the best gay bars near me if I’m straight”, you ask? Short answer: yes. Most gay bars welcome straight/cishet people. But there are a few caveats to keep in mind:

  1. Know your place. Gay bars are first and foremost for the queer community. Don’t make it all about you or assume you’ll get special treatment. (Example: if you’re a woman and used to not paying a cover or getting free drinks, don’t expect that here.)
  2. Read the room. Not every gay bar is the place for you. Some bars are for one thing and one thing only: gay hookups. Others are safe havens for certain niche communities or kinks and really don’t want outsiders there. If you get the feeling that you’re disturbing the vibe, politely see yourself out.
  3. Be an ally. It should go without saying, but if you’re straight at a gay bar, don’t be a homophobe or transphobe. Beyond that, make sure you step up if a hateful person does show up. If you see something that could put your gay peers in danger, say and do something.

There’s a simple bottom line when it comes to being a straight person at a gay bar. Behave, be safe, and have fun.

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Gay Bar Safety

We’re almost at the fun part, don’t worry. But we couldn’t get into the good times of finding the best gay bars near you without a safety check. To start with, let’s talk about the things to keep in mind when you’re at any type of bar:

  1. Watch your drink. We know you’ve heard it before but seriously, don’t take drinks from strangers and don’t leave your drink unattended. If you don’t know what someone put in your cup, dump it
  2. Buddy system. No matter where you go, there are assholes at every bar. So it never hurts to have backup. Whether you’re a bear, a twink, or a high-femme, it never hurts to bar hop with a friend or two. Or four. For one, they’ll add to your fun. But on a practical note you can look out for each other.
  3. Hookup safety. Many a weekend night spent at a gay bar ends in a weekend morning in bed with someone. We’re here for it. As long as you keep it safe. Share your location with people you trust, use protection, and stay alert.

Now for the things that you (unfortunately) need to also keep in mind specifically for gay bars. It’s no secret that hate crimes and extremists target LGBTQIA+ spaces. When you go to the bar, you need to take all the precautions you can:

  1. Be aware of your surroundings and report anything suspicious in or near the bar.
  2. Keep your phone on you in case you need to make an emergency call.
  3. Identify possible exits from the premises.
  4. Look out for other patrons.

With the ground rules covered, it’s finally time to get you to the best gay bars near you.

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Best Gay Hookup Bars Near Me: How to Find a Connection

If you’re Googling “best gay hookup bars near me”, we know what’s on your mind. You don’t want to waste time on an app. You want to cut to the good part.

Word of mouth is the way to go. Ask a friend or other queer person you know where they like to go. This works especially if the person you ask has recently had a successful hookup. They can lead you straight to the source.

If you’re still striking out, go to a gay bar you know and ask someone working there. Don’t be shy, we guarantee they’re used to plugging their favorite spots.

Once you find the best gay hookup bar near you, follow these tips:

  1. Sip smart. No one likes the sloppy drunk at the bar, slamming shots and not taking no for an answer. When it comes to alcohol, do what’s best for you. If you want to take the edge off your nerves with a drink, order one to get you loose. Hold off on your second drink until you’re chatting someone up. That way you can buy one for them as well.
  2. Don’t be desperate. We know how it feels if you haven’t gotten lucky in a while. You’re tempted to lock eyes with anyone who walks by. But it’s creepy. Don’t be too intense and try only approaching people who seem interested. If not, don’t sweat it. It’s better to wait for a situation that’s right than rushing into something you’ll cringe at the morning after.
  3. Remember you’re IRL, not online. When you’re app swiping, it’s easy to get stuck on the surface. That’s the advantage of meeting a hookup at a bar. Though people still make snap judgements based off looks, this is your chance to be confidently you.

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Best Upscale Gay Bars Near Me: How to Find That “Treat Yourself” Spot

Seems like someone’s feeling bougie. Wondering, “Where are the best upscale gay bars near me?” Then it’s time to add something fancy to your rolodex. Your approach to finding an upscale bar will differ depending on what you’re after.

Let’s say you’re feeling something refined. You’re an old soul thirsting for low music and a sommelier on deck. If Google isn’t doing the trick, we recommend you turn to the elder gays in your life. These seasoned vets of the scene are sure to know where to go when you want to get away from the fray.

On the other hand, perhaps you’re hoping for something trendy. You don’t mind splurging on craft cocktails as long as you can post about it. In this case, consult the only guides you’ll ever need: TikTok and Instagram. If you’re looking for what’s happening now in your city, these are the places to go. Search your city in the hashtags along with keywords like #nightlife, #drinktiktok, or #LGBTQ.

Best Cheap Gay Bars Near Me: Where to Go on a Budget

Some nights, all you need is a couple of half off draft beers. There’s nothing wrong with hunting for the best cheap gay bars near me. Especially if you like your people and places relaxed, cool, and low maintenance.

Need a good way to find these spots (besides typing “best gay bars near me” and “cheap” on the web)? Browse local listings and promotions. For example, bars that host trivia nights, theme nights, or karaoke are bound to be thriftier options. Or, scan ads for local happy hours to see where you’ll get the most bang for your buck.

Another way to find the gay dive bars in your area is by hitting the streets. Get outside. Go to the LGBTQ neighborhood (or if there isn’t one, go to the most happening part) and get to sleuthing. If you see a low-key, possibly dingy-seeming bar with a mostly same-sex crowd, give it a go.

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Popular Gay Bars Near Me: Find the Coolest Place in Town

So you want to find “popular gay bars near me”? You’re open to most experiences and want to go where the people are. For this, our top recs are to check out IG, TikTok, or Yelp. On Yelp you can search for local gay bars and then filter by the top rated options. From there, seek out the spots with the most reviews. This is sure to point you in the right direction in no time.

Now you know how to find just about any gay bar under the rainbow. All that’s missing? Someone to take with you. For that, check out DoubleList. DoubleList is a LGBTQ+-focused site for hookups, dating, and friendship. It’s filled with Craigslist-style personals catering to whatever fantasy is on your mind. With sections dedicated to hundreds of US cities, you finding queer people in your area has never been so simple.

Whether you want to meet up in Harlem’s Lambda Lounge, a pride bar in LA, or see Drag Queens in SF’s East Bay, you can use DoubleList to find your drink buddy. Oh, and we’ve also got you covered if your bar adventures end up in a missed connection. Creating an account is easy and we guarantee your anonymity. Sign up for a free account now!

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