The 9 Best Gay Bars in Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville is without a doubt the gayest city in Kentucky (though Lexington is a very close second). Here you can find gay sports leagues, gay-owned restaurants, and so many pride flags it’s hard to tell where the true gayborhood really is. So it’s no wonder we have plenty of fabulous gay bars in Louisville as well!

And I mean, have you not seen the outfits for The Kentucky Derby?

Is Louisville queer-friendly because we score 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index or because we make most of the country’s disco ballsWho cares!  Louisville is a great place for you and your best Judys to visit.

One highlight of Louisville’s gay scene is the nightlife. We may not have a lot of gay bars, but we make up for quantity with quality, hunny. So hop off the apps and meet some great locals in person at some of our award-winning gay bars in Louisville.

Check out a few of these other posts:

See also
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chill bar in the highlands louisville ky
Chill Bar in the Highlands is one of the best gay bars in Louisville!

Best Gay Bars in Louisville

The gay scene in Louisville is a great balance between big city and small town. Our community is close-knit and you will find all types of folks at our bars. You may find drag queens at the bear bar or leather daddies socializing at a drag show. 

We’re a community that supports one another and we push for creating inclusive spaces for everyone. It’s the reason why I love showing my friends the gay bars in Louisville. Since you can’t get a grand tour from yours truly, here are some of the best gay bars in Louisville.

strawberry daquiri from chill bar in louisville ky-Blog Photo-2
The strawberry daiquiri from Chill Bar is the perfect summer drink to enjoy on their patio!

Chill Bar

Chill Bar in the Highlands neighborhood is one of the most popular gay bars in Louisville, and it was even on Yelp’s Top 100 Gay Bars in the US in 2021. The entire vibe here is, well, chill, and it’s a great place to meet up with friends or make some new ones!

Chill Bar is a renovated 2-story shotgun style home and you can still see some amazing features of this near century-year-old home like their original hardwood floors as well as fireplaces and mantel that were part of the home.

The historic features along with its dark and semi-dancey vibe is a great place to drink and dance but the piece de resistance is the amazing patio space – about half the bar is a patio space! Out front, there are plenty of covered tables and a bar, and sometimes there are even drag shows and bear pageants held here. Out back there are more intimate tables and booths for conversations with friends.

They usually have several frozen drinks available, like their frozen strawberry daiquiri, which is strong and actually tastes like real strawberries. It isn’t overly sweet and perfect for a warm summer day on the patio.

Chill Bar has plenty going on during the week too, like Trivia Tuesday or one of their many viewing parties for shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race throughout the year. Chill Bar is also the home to the Derby City Bears and hosts a leather gear night the last Friday of every month.

Looking to belt out some show tunes? Well, don’t be an Effie White (or do), because you need to go check out their Sunday Showtunes.

See also
The 16 Best Bars in Louisville, Kentucky

Play Dance Bar

If you’re looking for a place to celebrate a birthday or go clubbing with your friends, Play Dance Bar is the place to be. When you walk in you’re going to feel like you’re in a clean, classy club, with white floors, neon lights, and white walls decorated with portraits of their resident performers.

Play is known for being a drag bar and you can find some of your favorite RuPaul’s Drag Race queens performing there during special events. They have a state-of-the-art stage and is home to some of the best drag productions in the city.

They have two shows on Wednesday-Sunday at 9pm and 11pm, and an additional show at 1am on Friday and Saturday, which features a variety of queens, and sometimes drag kings and male entertainers.  When they’re not doing drag shows you may find the stage being used for various pageants and even some queer theater performances.   

While you’re waiting for the next show to start, walk over to their amazing dance floor and work on a sweat. You will hear amazing club music with a wide range of folks jumping, twerking, grinding and a lot of other things that I’m am not coordinated enough to do. But even with two left feet I love that space because it’s so fun. During their big events, you may even see a few celebrities getting down.  

Play has so many events to mention from drag pageants and various holiday parties but my favorite is their Reely Queer Movie Night hosted by Sidney Hampton. This MST3K/Elvira-esque queer-themed movie night happens on the second Sunday of each month from 7-9 and is one of my favorite ways to spend a night with friends.

One plus with this bar is they actually have a parking lot across the street. When I go I tend to find myself waiting in line to get in because there’s a cover charge but don’t worry, if you forget cash, there’s an ATM in the lobby.

Big Bar

Big Bar is a staple in the community and has often been named the Original LGBT Bar in the Highlands and in 2021, was also named in Yelp’s Top 100 Gay Bars in the US (look mom, we have two on the list!).  

If it’s your first time visiting you may not know that prior to May 2022, this bar was roughly 500 sqft.  Talk about a big bar, amirite?  However the bar has quadrupled in size and now, in addition to an amazing patio, has an upstairs lounge area. 

This lounge area gives Willy Wonka meets 60s psychedelic vibes. The extra-long neon green couch, purple stools and background of exposed brick makes it the place to sit, chat, and maybe dance a little. I think this goes without saying but don’t lick the wallpaper. I can assure you, it doesn’t taste like snozberries.  

Big Bar has some of the best frozen drinks which is why I tried their frozen Thin Mint. I’m a total sucker for thin mint cookies and this drink took me to Heaven.

The bar has a couple of TVs in the bar which can turn the bar into a viewing party for local sports (whatever those are) or RuPaul’s Drag Race.

One of my favorite things about this bar is the charging cables they provide at the tables so guests can charge their phones. Big Bar is doing some major expansion so make sure you check it out.

See also
11 Fantastic Happy Hours in Louisville, Kentucky

drag queen at pride bar in new albany indiana
Satine St. Claire performing at Pride Bar + Lounge (Photo Credit: Pride Bar + Lounge)

PRIDE Bar + Lounge

Yes, I’m aware this bar is not technically in Louisville, but Pride Bar is literally right over the river and is the only gay bar in southern Indiana, which makes it a pretty special place!

This bar offers ample parking and no cover charge for their drag shows, and they bring in a variety of performers ranging in experience which makes this a great little hometown bar for anyone who wants to kick back and watch a fun little drag show. They also have a great patio with twinkling lights for folks to socialize if they need a break from all the queens!

Pride Bar has taken care of me many nights with their signature drink, Pride Punch. I honestly can’t tell you what’s all in it. But it’s sweet, strong and looks like a rainbow. Need I say more?  

Outside of their Saturday night drag shows, Pride Bar has an event every third Friday called B*tches ‘N Gravy event hosted by the hillbilly harlot, Baby St. Jane and it’s truly amazing. It focuses more on burlesque performances, and may even throw in some drag kings and poi dancers for good measure.

Skip grandma’s house when you’re going over the river and check out Pride Bar instead. She’ll understand.

The House Lounge

Located in Old Louisville, the owner of now-closed Teddy Bears (a bear dive bar) has opened a new gay bar in the same space called the House Lounge, a super cozy space with a baby grand piano!

The House Lounge is more of a gay dive bar, with big couches, kitschy decor, and more of a “homey” feel than the newer and trendier gay bars. This is a place to hang out, have a drink, and chat with good friends, or make new ones!

As you may have guessed from the aforementioned baby grand, music here is a big thing, and you can check out their showtunes sing-a-long on Tuesday evenings. They also do their “Dollhouse Review” at 10pm and 12am on Saturday nights for when you’re in the mood to see some local drag queens.

So when you need a night at a bar that’s more relaxed and unpretentious, grab a drink at the House Lounge!

See also
The 15 Best Coffee Shops in Louisville, Kentucky
kentuckiana pride parada 2022 louisville ky-Blog Photo-2
Louisville is the kind of place with Pride flags up all year round!

Gay-Friendly Louisville Bars

Louisville has some amazing gay bars but there are also some amazing gay-friendly bars in the city that are always great to check out. While this isn’t an exhaustive list of gay-friendly bars, since so many of them truly are especially in the artsy neighborhoods, this will give you a good bounce-off point.

I’m a firm believer in bar non-monogamy so here are some of my favorite gay-friendly bars to check out when you’re not really wanting a Yas-Momma-Gawd-The-House-Down-Boots kind of night out.

Nachbar

Nachbar is a fun hipster bar in Germantown that has an amazing selection of crafted beer. Every time I visit this bar I feel like I’m walking into a really cool basement bar (’cause like, it is).

Colorful lights are strung from the ceiling, weird arts decks the walls and mismatched furniture gives it a relaxed coziness. It’s kind of like being in your grandma’s house from the 50s that has never been changed. It’s a little dark and intimate and really creates an amazing atmosphere for conversations.  

In the summer, you’ll see all manners of hipsters, gays, and general riff-raff on the patio out back, staying cool in the summer heat with cold European beers like a German Weihenstephaner that are on tap and enjoying good conversations. They even have a pretty heavy stack of board games (with all the pieces?…) too if your idea of a good time is getting a little tipsy and then becoming just a little too competitive with your friends.

Also, the bathrooms are a vibe. We’re talking floor to ceiling sharpi grafitti with no wall left to see. Also, they say that the paper towel dispenser is haunted, as it not only has a ghost drawn on it, but as it makes a ghostly shrieking as it dispenses your paper towel. Who knows if they’ll ever get it exercised.

Covid had a huge impact on their events but there’s one that I’ve been told will be coming back is called Halfway to Halloween and it is the greatest thing ever. It is the coolest Halloween party which happens around April 30th is something you should definitely check out. They also have plenty of eclectic bands and shows here, so keep an eye on their Facebook page!

See also
The Best Louisville Breweries: the Ultimate Local's Guide (& Southern Indiana, too)

Mag Bar

Mag Bar is, in my opinion, the best dive bar in the city of Louisville. This grungy, dark bar is located in historic Old Louisville. I could wax poetic all day about the punk decor or the urinals covered in stickers, but the most amazing thing about this bar is the people who frequent it.

In this bar, You will find folks rocking out in the back at a concert while upfront actors from the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival will be having a post-show drink. As Shakespeare wrote in Henry VI, Part II, “… here’s a pot of good double beer, neighbour: drink, and fear not your man.” So, like, yeah, do that.

Listen to the DJ spin as you see college students take shots or watch a woman dressed in an Elvira-inspired outfit dancing while her entourage of gothic twinks fan themselves (yes, this happened). It’s that kind of place – some would even call it magical.

When it comes to drinks at Mag Bar, there are plenty of cheap drinks and every Tuesday is Pints & Slices event is where you can buy a pint of beer, you get a free slice of pizza from Pizza Donisi located next to the bar. Mag Bar is full of characters, perhaps like the ones from Wacky Races, and is a must-visit while in Louisville.

drink on back patio of the merryweather in louisville ky
The Merryweather has an adorable patio with craft cocktails! (Photo Credit: The Merryweather)

The Merryweather

The Merryweather in Schnitzelberg is one of my favorite neighborhood bars in Louisville. Very rarely do I find a bar that just feels very welcoming and the vibe of The Merryweather gives that off.  

I would like to think because of the rich history you will find throughout the bar. The actual bar inside is almost 100 years old and dates back to when this building first became a bar in the 1930s. The Merryweather has done an amazing job keeping vintage in style. 

Here, you will find pinball machines, beautiful stained-glass lights hanging above the booths and a red and black tile floor to leave you wondering what decade you’re in. There are plenty of booths which make it great for you and a few other friends to sit around and drink, and I always find myself talking to new people here.

The Merryweather has queer representation behind the bar and despite being very busy, the bartenders take time to offer recommendations. Feeling adventurous, I took their recommendation which was their Mai Tai and I’m so glad I did. I am a lover of anything lemon or lime and this drink hit the spot.  

This is one of the few bars mentioned where you can get food, since they offer a lot of great pop-up food events almost every day of the week. I would suggest checking out their Sunday brunch put on by Poco, which has delicious southern treats, or go Thursday for their Cosmic Bird Vegan Chick’n and stick around for karaoke later that night. The crowd will be there to back you up while you passionately attempt, “It’s All Coming Back To Me”.   

The Merryweather has a lot of great things to mention but the cherry on top for this bar is their beautiful back patio which features a fire pit and plenty of bear-friendly seating. 

See also
The 16 Best Bars in Louisville, Kentucky
beer in front of hilltop tavern in clifton louisville ky
Can’t beat a beer at the Hilltop Tavern. (Photo Credit: Mill Creek Brewing Co.)

The Hilltop Tavern

The Hilltop Tavern feels like exactly what a good neighborhood bar should feel like – unpretentious, welcoming, with good, cheap drinks. This bar has become a beacon of Clifton, and part of the reason why is that the owners are super cool and have made the bar a safe haven for LGBT+ people, artists, and any other person who walks through the doors.

The inside is cozy with twinkling lights and local art – not to mention the graffiti of a larger-than-life tiger, elephant, dolphin, and praying mantis on their exterior wall. What was once a brothel at the turn of the century, is now a place of happy debauchery with good drinks, arcade games, and a fun crowd on almost every night of the week.

Besides the extensive drink options, including beers on tap and alcoholic slushees, it’s a great place to get food like their famous meatloaf sandwich which includes meatloaf piled on top of Texas toast with Swiss cheese served with Mac and cheese. How bad could that be?

Best Gay Bars in Louisville Map

About the Author: Ray is Louisville’s residential queerbilly who enjoys burritos, the arts and DIY projects. When he’s not working at various coffee shops, he’s playing video games, watching soccer, or traveling to experience all of the great things Kentucky has to offer.


Which gay bars in Louisville are you excited to visit? What questions can we answer? Drop us a comment below!

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One highlight of Louisville's gay scene is the nightlife. We may not have a lot of gay bars, but we make up for quantity with quality, hunny. So hop off the apps and meet some great locals in person at some of our award-winning gay bars in Louisville. Here's our list of gay bars in Louisville, from chill bars to dance bars. We also have included some gay-friendly bars as well!
 
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