• September 10, 2023
  • Lauren Critzer
  • 0

The Ultimate Guide to Austin’s Best Gay Bars: A Colorful Tour of the Town!

We know exactly how it feels when you’re in a new city and you’re dying to explore its nightlife. Well, if you’re propping up in Austin, Texas, and you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community or a strong supporter, there’s a whole rainbow of possibilities for you. We’ll take your hand (figuratively speaking) and guide you through Austin’s best gay bars so you can have the time of your life in the Lone Star State. Let’s jump right into it, shall we?

The Rainbow Connection: Austin’s Thriving LGBTQ+ Scene

Let’s get one thing straight (no pun intended), Austin is an absolute haven when it comes to embracing diversity and supporting the LGBTQ+ community. Its progressive vibe is present in local neighborhoods like the Warehouse District and 4th Street, now queer-friendly zones with an influx of bars offering varied experiences – from popping dance floors to relaxed, casual spaces meant for quiet sips of your favorite wine.

Grab that cowboy hat because we’re about to dive into some of Austin’s most prominent gay bars.

Neon Boots: The Iron Bear

The very first stop on our colorful tour is The Iron Bear, a unique blend of a dive bar and a dance floor located comfortably in the heart of the city. This fetching venue exudes a relaxed atmosphere where you can be all you want to be, and then some. Known for welcoming bears and men of all shapes and sizes, The Iron Bear promotes a homey vibe where you can look forward to:

  • Robust and peppy themed events, such as Beargasm Fridays and Underbear, which turn into an outright celebration.
  • Regular drink specials and super-friendly bartenders who won’t let your glass run dry.
  • An open, diverse crowd that congregates to enjoy some good music, friendly banter, and lots of dancing.

Unique Elegance: Cheer Up Charlies

Next, we arrive at Cheer Up Charlies, an East Austin sanctuary that comes loaded with charm and a soul-satisfying range of local and organic offerings. The venue, known for its welcoming patrons and positive vibes, adds to your nightlife experience with:

  • Energetic live music performances that often spotlight local talent across a myriad of genres.
  • A striking outdoor space dotted with luminous rocks that become even more magical during the nightly disco lights display. It’s the perfect place to lounge while sipping a craft cocktail.
  • Vegan-friendly food options, allowing veggie-loving patrons to enjoy a much diverse menu than your typical bar grub.

Resident Queen: Oilcan Harry’s

Oilcan Harry’s has a history that dates back more than 30 years, making this venue, located in Austin’s historic Warehouse District, a cornerstone of the local gay bar scene. Brimming with energetic music and a never-ending lineup of events, this venue tantalizes patrons with:

  • DJ-driven music that thumps through the bar’s sound system, inviting dancers to let loose on the central dance floor.
  • A lively Super Sunday Diva Show, a weekly celebration of Austin’s infamous divas, alongside daily happy hours.
  • Three bars stocked with an extensive selection of spirits, cocktails, wines, and beers, perfect for starting conversations or making new friends.

Downtown Austin: Where the City Comes Alive

There’s an undeniable allure that Austin downtown holds, especially during the night when the bustle truly comes alive. Bars and nightclubs present themselves in full splendor, with an array of food trucks ganging up on every corner serving delicious treats. Here, in the heart of the vibrant 4th Street, lies the glorious string of gay bars.

Flair and Pride: Rain on 4th

Stepping into Rain on 4th or simply ‘Rain’, you’ll be greeted by an upscale lounge feel that’s both extravagant and inviting. With its mesmerizing lighting and impressive sound system, Rain stands as a prominent LGBTQ+ attraction, thanks to:

  • Its avant-garde drag shows which have become a hallmark, featuring some of the most endearing drag queens of Austin.
  • A stimulating array of themed dance nights turning every evening into a feisty celebration thanks to resident and guest DJs.
  • An acquiescent and hospitable staff that will ensure you’re well cared for.

High Energy Haven: Highland Lounge

Next, we have Highland Lounge, a three-level dance club that’s both voguish and animated. Known for shaking things up (literally and figuratively), the Highland Lounge distinguishes itself with:

  • Themed rooms offering distinct décor and music choices to suit different tastes.
  • A luxury VIP area that provides a more intimate setting for hushed conversations and comic relief.
  • Frequent special events, including renowned drag shows and themed Saturday nights, to keep the party rolling.

All are Welcome – Gay-Friendly Bars in Austin

Austin’s nightlife doesn’t beat around the gay bushes only. There’s a kaleidoscope of friendly bars in hetero spaces that welcome with open arms anyone and everyone from the LGBTQ+ community.

Music Maven: The White Horse

Say ‘Howdy’ to The White Horse, a testament to Austin’s unfettered music scene. This country honky-tonk welcomes anyone with some “kick off those boots and stay awhile” vibes.

  • Live bands perform every night of the week to an eager crowd, playing everything from country classics to blues and swing.
  • Dance lessons for beginners ensure no one feels left out from getting down on the spacious indoor-outdoor dance floor.
  • Budget-friendly drinks and a lively outdoor patio emphasize The White Horse’s comfortable and welcoming environment.

Craft Brew Crew: The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co.

Lastly, toast your Austin journey at The ABGB, a dynamic brewery-gastropub that’s an absolute must for craft beer enthusiasts and lovers of delectable pizza. Here’s what you can look forward to:

  • An award-winning line-up of craft beers, brewed in-house, to accompany your food or simply kick back with.
  • A delicious array of pizzas, salads, and specials that will set your taste buds grooving.
  • A lively outdoor stage that hosts live music, making for a delightful experience under the Austin sky.

Without a doubt, Austin’s vibrant gay bar scene is a testament to the city’s openness and diversity, creating spaces that celebrate individuality and collective joy. Whether you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community or a supporter, the city welcomes you with twinkling stars in its eyes and a multitude of unforgettable experiences. So, put on those party boots and come explore the nightlife in Austin, where every night is a celebration.

Lauren Critzer

I was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and after college, I moved to San Francisco to explore new opportunities and broaden my horizons. I fell in love with the city's vibrant culture and unique atmosphere, but eventually, I moved again, this time to Austin, Texas.

As much as I loved living in different parts of the country, having a baby boy brought me back to my hometown in Charlottesville, where I now live with my husband, our little one, and two furry friends. I enjoy going to wineries, taking my pups everywhere, and spending quality time with my family.

Receive the latest news

Get the Inside Scoop!

Austin’s latest events and eats, straight to your inbox. Subscribe now!