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A small parade of people march, one in a mobility device, down the street, waving rainbow flags
Photograph: Courtesy Saratoga Pride

The best LGBTQ+ friendly small towns in the USA

These American small towns offer rainbow love along with their apple pie. LGBTQ+ folks find celebratory inclusiveness here!

Erika Mailman
Written by
Mark Williams
Erika Mailman

Small towns are all about your neighbors, and when big hearts are open on Main Street, everyone benefits. We’re happy to share this listing of the best small towns for LGBTQ+ folks in the U.S. because we know home is where we can be ourselves. In these small-scale burgs, gay-owned businesses abound—or maybe there’s just one, and that’s okay. Besides annual Pride celebrations, there are events around the rainbow community like drag shows, book clubs, and history tours. And if you’re not lucky enough to live in one of these towns, gay travelers are welcomed with gay-friendly accommodations. Time to book a visit!


🌈 The best cities to celebrate LGBTQ+ rights
🕺 The best gay clubs and bars in America

Best LGBTQ+-friendly small towns in the USA

Lexington, Kentucky
Photograph: Courtesy, VisitLEX

1. Lexington, Kentucky

While residents enjoy a vibrant LGBTQ+ community, Lexington is also a must-visit destination for queer travelers. Inclusive hotels can be found in the “Fruit Loop”—a walkable area of LGBTQ+ bars, venues, and clubs. A huge, historic bar The Bar Complex hosts professional drag shows, then head for a quiet breakfast at the queer-owned Lussi Brown Coffee Bar, a coffee shop and cocktail bar—best of both worlds! A self-guided 1-mile walking tour called “Lexington’s Pride of Place LGBTQ History” brings you through more than a dozen sites associated with the struggle for equality, including rainbow crosswalks and a three-story-tall mural to local trans icon, Sweet Evening Breeze. In June, the Lexington Pride Festival draws over 50,000 people to the city, this year taking place on June 24. 

McMinnville, Oregon
Photograph: Timothy D. Sofranko

2. McMinnville, Oregon

This rural town in Oregon’s Willamette Valley offers an amazing LGBTQ+ lifestyle for a lot of reasons, not least because it’s the site of the world’s first Queer Wine Fest, established in 2022 by Mayor Remy Drabkin, a queer winemaker and owner of Remy Wines. Each year, join in the Wine Country Pride Celebration with a parade, drag show, and other festivities, taking place this year in September, while June (and much of the year) sees downtown decorated with progress pride flags. This year, a Pride Street Fair on Sept. 24 is kid and pet friendly, with a Pride Pet Parade, Drag Storybook Hour for families, speed friending, a dance party and talent show: it all sounds uplifting. There’s even a donation program that raises money for local LGBTQ youth.

Saratoga Springs, New York
Photograph: Courtesy Saratoga Pride

3. Saratoga Springs, New York

Besides the annual Saratoga Pride Festival being held this year on June 25, this small city celebrates queer pride year-round. There’s an LGBTQ+ teen night on the first Friday of each month, and the public library hosts an ongoing “Read with Pride Book Club.” Also, dip into queer happy hours and rainbow gardening clubs! This year’s Pride month also includes the March with Pride at the Annual Flag Day Parade on June 10, Pride at The Winery on June 17, an inaugural Pride Golf Tournament on June 23, and the second annual Pride Softball Tournament on June 24. Stay at the queer-owned Saratoga Arms Hotel when you come to town. 

Bisbee, Arizona
Photograph: Courtesy Bisbee PRIDE, Inc

4. Bisbee, Arizona

This year’s Bisbee Pride takes place June 16-18 with a Friday night dance and a Sunday tea dance, pool party and parade. Last year’s event was headlined by GAYC/DC, the world’s first (well, and probably only) all-gay AC/DC tribute band. Every second Saturday, join “Drag Yourself to Brunch,” Bisbee’s longest-running drag show, held at the Bisbee Grand Hotel. Bisbee, a former mining town set in the Mule Mountains and surrounded by desert, was the first Arizona municipality to pass a Civil Union Ordinance before Marriage Equality became law.

Galena, Illinois
Photograph: Shutterstock

5. Galena, Illinois

This Midwestern town’s welcoming vibe includes LGBTQ-owned inns, such as Irish Hollow and Aldrich Guest House. The annual Galena Pride Picnic happening this year on June 10 will include dog training and a tricks show, yoga in the park, live music, and a drag show with artists from all over the Midwest; bring a picnic lunch for family-friendly entertainment. Other LGBTQ+ events throughout the year include Planting Pride: Adult Night, where you decorate a planter and fill it with succulents.

Provincetown, Massachusetts
Photograph: Shutterstock

6. Provincetown, Massachusetts

This longtime LGBTQ+ hotspot offers scenic bike rides, inclusive bars and restaurants such as the Shipwreck Lounge and Bubala’s on the Bayamazing whale watching, and picture-perfect beaches. Take your pick of LGBTQ-owned accommodations like Somerset House Inn and Lands End Inn and saunter down Commercial Street for hip art galleries, terrific seafood restaurants, and popular hangouts like the Boat Slip, where seemingly everyone in town gathers for its iconic tea dance.

New Hope, Pennsylvania
Photograph: Shutterstock

7. New Hope, Pennsylvania

With antique shops, wineries, a rich arts scene, and rustic charm, this small town along the Delaware River is a popular weekend escape from New York and Philadelphia. Stay at the gay-owned Pineapple Inn Bed and Breakfast or Wishing Well B&B, and don’t miss a show at the renowned Buck’s County Playhouse, which has staged original plays and musicals (including world premieres from Terrence McNally and Neil Simon), revivals, and concerts since 1939.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Photograph: Shutterstock

8. Eureka Springs, Arkansas

The Bible Belt’s LGBTQ+ oasis, as CNN put it, Eureka Springs’ inclusive spirit, and dozens of LGBTQ-owned businesses make it the “gay capital of the Ozarks.” Around 40 percent of locals are LGBTQ+. Eureka Springs was the first city in Arkansas to issue domestic partnership licenses (and then same-sex marriage licenses once they became legal in 2015) and to pass a non-discrimination ordinance. Come for Diversity Weekends each spring, summer, and fall and check out its entry on our Best Gay Clubs feature. It’s even got its own documentary on gospel drag shows, “The Gospel of Eureka.”

Guerneville, California
Photograph: Courtesy, Sonoma County Tourism

9. Guerneville, California

Just an hour from San Francisco and nestled along the Russian River, Guerneville's got a history as a gay resort town in Sonoma Valley’s wine country. July 31-Aug 7 is Lazy Bear Week, the “biggest, hairiest, beefiest, burliest, craziest, laziest FUNdraising event on the planet!” Gay-friendly accommodations include the R3 Hotel, Bar and Restaurant - Rio Bistro, an LGBTQ+ entertainment hotel, and The Woods resort, a gay hotel with cottages, cabins and a clothing-optional pool. Entrepreneur Crista Luedtke, a member of the queer community, opened up Guerneville to better tourism with multiple restaurants and glamping/hotel spots.

Ogunquit, Maine
Photograph: Shutterstock

10. Ogunquit, Maine

Soft sand, gentle waves, and warm smiles greet you in this delightful seaside town. After the obligatory beach time, visit the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, see a show at the Ogunquit Playhouse and enjoy Maine’s famous lobster at Barnacle Billy’s. Then sing your heart out at the Front Porch piano bar and hit up Maine Street for drinking and dancing and the Dueling Drag Divas show. When choosing accommodation, consider LGBTQ-owned inns like Twenty Shore, and the Dragonfly Guest House.

Lost River, West Virginia
Photograph: Courtesy Guesthouse Lost River

11. Lost River, West Virginia

A popular escape from Washington D.C., Lost River welcomes you with rolling hills, forested retreats, and several LGBTQ-owned businesses such as the Guesthouse Lost River, a visitor favorite since 1982. Relax in the onsite pool, jacuzzi, and saunas, then check out the gay-owned Lost River Trading Post, which has an eclectic collection of antiques, clothing, and locally-made goods, followed by cocktails and dinner at the LGBTQ-friendly Lost River Grill.

Saugatuck, Michigan
Photograph: Shutterstock

12. Saugatuck, Michigan

With eye-popping dunes, stunning beaches, 19th-century homes, and art galleries galore, the Art Coast of Lake Michigan doesn’t disappoint. Browse over 140 LGBTQ-owned businesses (also found in neighboring Douglas), swim and kayak at Oval Beach (widely hailed as one of the country’s best), and climb to the top of Mount Baldhead for sweeping views. Stay at the Dunes Resorts, the largest LGBTQ+ resort in the Midwest, and make some new friends by the pool.


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