The 10 best LGBTQ vacation spots in the Midwest

The 10 best LGBTQ vacation spots in the Midwest

Embarking on an LGBTQ+ journey through the heartland of America reveals a spectrum of hidden gems and vibrant oases that defy expectations. The Midwest, a canvas of urban skylines and pastoral retreats, offers the discerning traveler a collection of gay vacation spots that marry Midwestern charm with the spirited inclusivity of the community. From the laid-back beach towns of Michigan to the pulsating city life of Chicago, the Midwest is ripe with destinations that promise both the quintessential getaway and the unexpected adventure, each with its own local flavor and queer-friendly ethos. Here's a guide to the top 10 spots where the rainbow flag waves with pride against the backdrop of the Midwest's understated elegance.

  1. Saugatuck, Michigan - Known as the Midwest's answer to Fire Island, Saugatuck, along with its neighbor Douglas, offers a relaxing and fun getaway. It's recommended to visit the Dunes Resort, which is a hub for LGBTQ+ singles and couples looking to meet new friends or just unwind in a vibrant setting​.

  2. Milwaukee, Wisconsin - This city may surprise you with its gay-friendly atmosphere. One must-visit venue is This Is It! - one of the oldest continually operating gay bars in the United States, which provides a historical and lively setting for visitors.

  3. Traverse City, Michigan - Celebrated for its beauty and progressive spirit, Traverse City is highlighted during the Up North Pride festivities. The city is a mixture of quaint charm and modern LGBTQ+ culture, making it a unique destination​.

  4. Des Moines, Iowa - Often hailed as 'The Capital City', Des Moines boasts a thriving LGBTQ community, a rich arts scene, and warm, welcoming locals. The city's East Village is known for its eclectic shops and eateries that cater to a diverse crowd​.

  5. Chicago, Illinois - Chicago's vibrant LGBTQ+ scene is anchored by its dynamic nightlife. Don't miss QUEEN! at smartbar. Another suggestion is Sidetracka staple with its expansive multi-level space, while Cell Block offers a dive bar atmosphere.

  6. Columbus, Ohio - The city is gaining a reputation for its inclusive atmosphere. The Short North neighborhood is the heart of LGBTQ+ life with art galleries, boutiques, and nightlife, including the popular Axis Nightclub​.

  7. Minneapolis, Minnesota - Minneapolis is a beacon of inclusivity in the Midwest, with The Saloon, known for spirited dance floors, entertaining drag shows, and an open-hearted atmosphere, it's a favorite for locals and visitors alike during the city's exuberant Pride festivities.

  8. Kansas City, Missouri - The city's diverse and inclusive environment is embodied in districts like Westport, which hosts a range of LGBTQ+ friendly bars and clubs. Missie B's is a local favorite, offering drag shows and a welcoming community vibe.

  9. Omaha, Nebraska - Often surprising to visitors, Omaha has a burgeoning gay scene with venues like The Max, which is known for its dance parties and friendly atmosphere.

  10. Indianapolis, Indiana - Indy's gay community is centered around Mass Avenue, with bars like Greg's Our Place offering a safe and fun environment for all.

Each of these destinations offers a unique experience, from the bustling city vibes of Chicago to the relaxed beach town feel of Saugatuck. Whether you're looking for a full vacation or a weekend getaway, a campground experience or a luxury resort, the Midwest has something to offer. With a range of costs, from affordable bars and community events to upscale dining and accommodations, there's a Midwestern gay vacation spot to suit every budget and preference.

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