Laid-back, welcoming, and oh-so-hipster: Gay Denver is one of the biggest up-and-coming gaycation destinations in the USA.
Famed of its mountains, craft-beer, legal marijuana, and hunky bearded men, Denver is also a magnet for queer individuals all over the (conservative) ‘Wild West’ who frequently flock here to experiment with gay life for the first time. Add to this a fit, active, educated – and very accepting – population, and you can see why Denver is frequently named amongst the most gay-friendly cities in the US.
While the gorgeous Rocky Mountains are right on the doorstep, gay visitors to Denver will find a diverse selection of gay bars, clubs, and bathhouses – not to mention plenty of arts, culture and growing culinary scene. With a very active and visible LGBT community – this progress, liberal haven in the heart of Colorado is where cowboys, politicians, gays, hipsters, artists, and micro-brewers all live, work, and play in harmony.
If you ask anyone in Denver about which gay neighborhood to stay in, they will tell you, “Gay neighborhood? No need honey—this whole city is gay-friendly”, which is pretty accurate from our experience (though for gay nightlife you really should try to stay in the downtown or near Colfax Ave – see our Gay Denver Map at the end).
LGBT Denver offers plenty of quirky suburbs, a thriving gay events calendar, multiple gay bars and club, and more attractions than you could ever see in one visit. Take into consideration as well all that raw nature, and you too will decide Denver makes a weird and wonderful gay holiday destination no matter where your interests lie!
Are you relocating? This guide will help travelers discover the queerer side of the city. However, if you are lucky enough to be considering a move here, we recommend getting in touch with a local gay realtor. They can happily give you no-obligation advice and all the information you'll ever need to know about your new city. And if you then want their help to find your dream home, you are guaranteed fair, equal, and honest representation. No surprises or awkward conversations necessary!
Gay Denver Guide: The Essential Guide To LGBT Travel In Denver Colorado
In this article we will cover...
Attractions in Denver
Being gay does not define which attraction most of us will want to see in each city, and generally, gay tourists will simply want to check out the top things to see in Denver during the day! Denver is a safe city, and gay people here need not take any more extra precautions in terms of public displays of affection than they would in other large US cities.
We highly recommend hiring a car and getting out and discovering all of the glorious nature right on Denver’s doorstep. If you opt to stay only in the ‘Mile High’ City there is still plenty of art galleries, hipster neighborhoods, microbreweries, boutique shops, and gay venues to keep you entertained during your stay — regardless of whether you’re in town for a day, week, month or even longer!
Top Highlights in Denver
- Craft Beer – Learn why Denver is called the ‘Napa Valley of Craft Beer.’ If you love microbreweries and all things hoppy, you need to visit as many breweries as you can to discover how Denver became the center of the craft brewing movement in the West.
- Denver Botanic Gardens – A 23-acre botanical garden over to the public in the Cheesman Park neighborhood. Absolutely world-class with a tropical conservatory themed gardens and a sunken amphitheater for concerts in the summer
- Hop-On Your Bike – Many hotels offer free bike hire or simply find a Denver B-Cycle station and explore all of the cities’ top historic buildings, architectural masterpieces, professional sports stadiums, scores of public art installations, parks and outdoor venues on your own. Or if your not confident (or don’t have the time to map them all out!), just head out of a small-group bike tour!
- Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art – Newly renovated and back open to the public in a new location in 2018, this fabulous museum displays decorative and Colorado art as well as an extensive collection from famed artist Vance Kirkland.
- Clyfford Still Museum – More art, this time the minimalist showcase of Clyfford Still paintings & archives, the famed Abstract Expressionist.
- Food Tour – We say this about every city, but it bears repeating: you can’t truly know somewhere until you know it’s food! Denver is in the midst of a gastronomical rebirth, and you’ll need an expert local foodie to help you navigate all of its best edible delights. Even if you don’t opt for a tour, at least make sure to eat somewhere new every night. We are serious — there are more locally acclaimed restaurants and stands popping up than we can possibly keep track of!
- Rocky Mountains National Park – You can’t come all the way to Denver and not make the short jump to the historic town and alpine passes nearby. Spot black bears, moose elks, breath fresh air on gorgeous mountain hoke, and discover your own slice of America’s backbone – on a tour or by hiring a car.
- Daddy’s Bar & Grill – Local gay burger joint bar with casual food, a little patio, pool table, and darts. An excellent place to meet for a meal in a relaxed atmosphere, though we wish they would have more local beers on tap as this is Denver after-all!
- Hamburger Mary’s Denver – The gay-themed and LGBT-friendly burger chain Hamburger Marys that we fell in love with in Tampa and Long Beach has now made it to the mile-high city. We love any brand that markets to us gays and we think they deserve our support. Plus, the food is delicious, and there is drag bingo, trivia + live music weekly!
Gay Annual Events in Denver
- Denver PrideFest – The biggest event on the Gay Denver calendar. This week-long party celebrates the role of the LGBT community in making Denver what it is today, and is entirely worth planning a trip around. Held annually in June, the highlights are the massive street festival, a vibrant parade, and all the club parties – but there are plenty of other more cultural events too! Our favorites are the Dog in Drag show! Today it is mostly about celebrating everything queer and fabulous. Of course, still much needs to be done to achieve total equality, and there is a strong focus on the political roots of Denver Pride.
- Colorado Springs Gay Pride – Missed Denver Pride? Then why not hire a car and head out to Colorado Springs in July for another fun and fabulous day in the sun! Or if you’re in Denver long-term, why not go to both…
- AIDS Walk Colorado – An annual event held in August where gay and straights come together to raise money for an AIDS cure. Sadly, this cause has suffered severe apathy in recent years as people think it has been cured and put other causes on the front-burner, but make no mistake: there is no cure for AIDs yet.
- Rocky Mountain Regional Gay Rodeo – This is not our first gay rodeo, these fabulous queer events can be found all over the US including Austin and Las Vegas, but we just can’t get enough. Queers, steers, and a whole lot of fun! Held annually in July, this is filling all of our Brokeback Mountain fantasies (even if that was based one state north in Wyoming!)
Gay-friendly and Gay Hotels in Denver
In this casual, liberal city, you will not find any major hotel that isn’t gay-friendly. After all, being gay-friendly is about providing a non-judgmental and respectful environment in which all people are treated equally. Elegant design, helpful staff, and excellent value for money never hurt anyone, though! Some hotels in Denver have gone above and beyond in recognizing and marketing to the LGBT community, and given their popularity with gay travelers; we would say it has paid off!
Everybody likes to be surrounded by people with common interests, and as such a there a few hotels in Denver favored by the gay jet-set. Most are located close to the thriving downtown – close to all the attractions by day and night – and each hotel showcased here offers something unique and unforgettable. Sadly, however, there are no exclusively gay hotels in Denver.
The following gay-friendly hotels in Denver are only the most recommended, but there are hundreds of other hotels in Denver if you don’t find quite find what you are looking for. Whether you want a fun and social hostel, a cheap but private place to crash after a night of partying, or a chic luxury option to sip cocktails surrounded by fashionable people, Gay Denver as something for everyone!
No matter where you choose to stay however it pays to book as far ahead as you can because occupancy rates in Denver are extremely high year-round with demand routinely exceeding supply. This trend goes into over-drive with special events, festival, and concerts when good Denver hotels are known to sell out months in advance.
- Four Seasons Denver ☆☆☆☆☆ – An upscale gay-popular hotel houses in a landmark sky-rise in the Denver downtown. Like all Four Seasons locations, you can expect posh bathrooms, understated elegance, and a refined spa experience – plus panoramic views from most rooms that will leave you gagging! There is also a trendy bar on-site if you don’t want to leave the luxurious premises – but the refined Triangle Denver gay bar is also only a few blocks away.
- the ART, a hotel ☆☆☆☆ – Just south of the Capitol Building, this sophisticated award-winning property offers hyper-chic rooms with luxury linens, marble bathrooms, and mountain views. We loved the modern art light installation in the lobby, farm-to-table dining, and trendy cocktail lounge. The Art hotel screams fresh, funky, and effortlessly modern throughout and offers a nice change from your mainstream hotel chains.
- Castle Marne ☆☆☆☆ – A gay-friendly B&B set in a grand 1889 stone mansion. Victorian-style rooms with era-appropriate decorations, including 4-poster beds and claw-foot tubs. The breakfast is divine, and we loved the socializing over the complimentary afternoon tea and evening snacks. And it’s only a few blocks from the Colfax gay scene in Denver.
- AC Hotel by Marriott ☆☆☆☆– A trendy downtown location close to the 16th street mall and all the gay nightlife in Denver. Sleek yet without pretense, the minimalist design and spectacular rooms from the view draw you and beg you to stay longer. The Marriot is also a well-known LGBT supporter through their #LoveTravels campaign, so you can be sure you’re staying gay-friendly.
- MOXY Denver ☆☆☆☆ – A fresh, modern property in the upscale walkable suburb of Cherry Creek. If you want to stay close to the downtown — this is a fun, and casual hotel that offers Denver’s trademark understated cool vibes. There is also a beautiful outdoor beer garden + fun restaurants and bars nearby. All your standard amenities plus some unique ones like fire pits, shuffleboard at the bar, and a welcome cocktail to start you off on the right foot! We also loved staying at the Moxy in other locations around the world including Taichung, Washington DC, and Osaka – and while the Moxy isn’t a gay-hotel, it is most certainly gay-popular.
- The Curtis ☆☆☆ – The most popular gay-friendly hotel in Denver, and one of the most unique (and it’s really something to stand out here!). Every floor offers an exciting them, the staff bring their A-game, and there are warm cookies on arrival! Cool and understated with a central downtown location close to the Denver gay scene highlights. Great value-for-money and our choice for the best gay hotel in Denver (since there is none.)
- Hotel Indigo ☆☆☆ – Modern, the woodsy-chic hotel only a short walk from the Midtowne Bath House with simple, refined rooms, cocktail lounge, and gym.
- Hampton Inn & Suites Denver-Speer Boulevard ☆☆☆ – A basic hotel chain offering quality and affordability. A short-walk across confluence park and you’re in the downtown, but you’ll need to ride-share or drive to most of the gay attractions in Denver. The upside? Pride and only one block from Midtowne Spa, the gay bathhouse in Denver.
- Ember Hostel ☆☆☆ – Colorado’s premier hostel welcomes all travelers to their swanky retro mansion. Seriously gorgeous —Ember Hostel is one of the world’s best hostels with jacuzzi, fire-place, fun atmosphere, and designer decor. If you don’t mind sharing a dorm, want to save some cash, or are looking to make new friends to explore the straight-and-gay Denver nightlife, then this is the place to go!
Gay Nightlife in Denver Colorado
As the largest city for over 600 miles in every direction, Gay Denver attracts members of the LGBT+ community from all over the West, resulting today in a vibrant and thriving gay nightlife scene in Denver.
There is no one defined gay area of Denver, and you can find gay bars and clubs scattering around in different neighborhoods all over town. If we had to name one location to try, it would be the few blocks either side of East Colfax Ave in the Capitol Hill / City Park neighborhoods but refer to the map of Gay Denver at the end to help you decide where to go before heading out!
While Denver might be more famous for microbreweries and legal weed, there are a whole host of gay bars and nightclubs to choose between if you’d rather dance the night away in LGBT Denver with Britney, Ariana, and Cher.
Even better, most of the clubs in Denver lean heavily toward “get drunk and have a good time” rather than the whole “not dressed well enough for our establishment” scene. This is not a place to peacock – but instead, Gay Denver is where you can actually grab a casual beer, strike up a conversation, and make new friends—or more!
Gay Bars in Denver Colorado
- Boyztown – A small and casual Denver gay bar with fun happy hours and sexy go-go dancers who will tempt you to stay till closing. Not to be confused with the infamous Boyztown gay area in Pattaya, but the concept is similar: hot guys, oiled abs, and tight underwear that is more than a little revealing. The downside? It’s frequently filled with bachelorette parties. Like just totally back off Becky!
- Compound/Basix – A large gay bar that is the local go-to waterhole for Mile High Fun, dancing, and strong drinks. A local Denver LGBT icon, the Compound gay bar has been open for 20 years from 7 am to 2 am every day of the year. The Compound Gay Bar was part of the South Broadway scene before all the hipster design shops, and vintage clothiers moved in—and we hope it’s here long after! Busiest on Friday’s when it’s wall-to-wall with hot, sweaty bodies on the giant wooden dance floor praying to the DJ booth above, but during the week, its always worth stopping in for the pool table, darts, and fun happy hours.
- Trade – The unpretentious leather dive bar with cocktails, regular events, and themed nights. Inexpensive drinks, friendly staff, and a local favorite for dark and dirty cruisy-fun. Since the Denver Eagle gay bar closed with is the de-facto replacement for those looking for rough DILF’s over Twinkie technos.
- R&R Lounge – A classic gay dive bar with darks, excellent drinks, and local charm. Popular with bears and leather enthusiasts mainly and a good addition to all Colfax bar hopping agenda.
- Li’l Devils Lounge – A casual LGBT bar in Denver that’s not in-your-face flamboyant. Enjoy local Colorado craft beers, frozen cocktails, and a lovely patio. The owners Justin and Tony, are super friendly and make sure everyone is happy, though it’s hard not to be with their popular happy hour and casual ‘hang out’ bar vibes.
- X-Bar – Party club, part casual hang out with where you can drink, laughs, and dance. In the evenings, X-Bar can get pretty busy DJs, dancing & drag queen bingo, though we loved the expansive outdoor patio for afternoon drinking on a hot day. Or try their wet Underwear shower competition on Sunday nights to finish off your weekend with a bang!
- Pride & Swagger – An upscale, almost industrial gay bar in Denver’s Uptown area with great music, excellent, and very cool vibes. A chill space for pre-gaming or getting to know the local Denver gay scene.
- Triangle Denver – A upscale gay bar in the historic old Triangle Lounge building. Ultra-modern with a fabulous basic bitch brunch — think crab cake benedict, chilaquiles, and the Creme Brûlée French toast, to draw the day time crowds in. Make no mistake though; at night, Triangle Denver is all about that glamorous, fun, and oh-so-self-indulgent nightlife vibe. This gay bar in Denver really sets the bar in creating an environment of inclusivity for all LGBTQ persons and allies.
- Gladys: The Nosy Neighbor – Small but fun gay bar with karaoke, dance parties, and the popular Weirdo event, Denver’s ongoing underground drag battle!
- Blush & Blu – One for the ladies, this lesbian bar in Denver is all about the locals and women with a pool table, fun burlesque nights, Underground Poetry, Karaoke, and Queen Dance Parties once a month. We have heard reports that Blush & Blu is rather unwelcoming to straights and other members of the queer community, but we didn’t experience this ourselves. We get it – there is only one lesbian bar in Denver and who doesn’t want their own unique space for themselves. But just remember, we are all family!
Gay Clubs in Denver
- Tracks – A decades-old gay club/dance hall with multiple floors, fun themes, and drag shows in Denver that are to die for! Even after all these years, Tracks is still one of the most popular gay clubs in town with Denver’s largest lesbian night on the First Fridays of every month. Tracks also host RuPaul’s Drag Race watching parties (be sure to wear your merch!), Second Friday “Haus of Flesh” parties starring the top gay porn stars and international DJ events most weekends. Basically, check out their Facebook pages for events and know this is the place to be!
- Charlie’s Denver – A sickening country-western mixed with Top 40 dance club with fun costume parties, a pumping dance floor, and a no-attitude crowd. Eclectic events with pop-up drag, body painting, bingo, and more. You might also know them from their locations in Phoenix, Chicago or Las Vegas— but this is the original!
Gay Bath Houses in Denver
Halleloo! Unlikely so many Gay USA destinations we visit … Austin, Nashville, Santa Cruz, Honolulu… there is actually a gay bathhouse in Denver. Two, in fact!
While Grindr and other gay hooks up apps have led to a closing of sauna and bathhouses worldwide, we are happy to report that both Denver bathhouse are as busy as ever. One is conveniently located in the stylish and popular gay area of Denver, LoHi (or Lower Highlands), and the other a bit further from the downtown in South Park Hill. Use our gay map of Denver at the end to decide what is closest to you.
If cruising for gay hookups in Denver’s gay clubs is not your style, or you just want some steamy action: these are the best gay bathhouse in Denver.
- Midtowne Spa – A typical gay bathhouse from a well-known chain with two other locations in Los Angeles. Amenities include dungeon rooms, private video rooms, sauna, steam room, hot tub, live shows twice a week, and a jail cell. Famous for their themed events, Midtowne Spa always seems to be busy – though we found this gay bathhouse in Denver to be a lot more ‘looking’ than action, which is never good.
- Denver Swim Club – Our favorite bathhouse in town and first choice when we are looking for a 24/7 gay hookup in Denver. The Denver Swim Club is a vast space with a large outdoor pool, dark rooms (called ‘the Caves’), hot tub, sling, glory holes, porn cinema, and steam room – more than enough to fill a few hours. Unlike the Midtowne Spa, we found Denver Swim Club to be sociable with less peacocking. Everyone knows what they are here for an are not fussy about it! What more could you want really? Denver Swim Club is also the host location for Denver’s CumUnion Party and Front Range Bears.