Boston for the LGBTQ Traveler

Boston's Puritanical roots still doggedly honor the practical, straightforward, no-nonsense approach. Glitter (usually) evades this city. 

Boston is for Everyone

We admit that Boston is not known for having a thriving LGBTQ community, at least not one as fabulously known as San Francisco or Chicago. That's not to say we don't have one; in fact, we do have a thriving LGBTQ community. To be sure, we might be one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world. Our state was America's first to legalize gay marriage. It's also the founding place of GLAD. Famous gay retreat Provincetown is just a hop, skip and jump across Massachusetts Bay, and many vacationers start the party here while waiting for their ferries to depart. 

Though this city tends to favor intellectual pursuits over social ones, which applies whether you identify as straight or LGBTQ, it doesn't mean we don't know how to have fun.

Read on for suggestions of things to do while you're Bay State-side. (This is not a list of gay bars and clubs; those can be found here.)

Travelers also can visit with The Welcoming Committee, a Boston-born social outreach organization for LGBTQs that holds pop-up "takeovers" at local museums, bars, sporting games, you name it. Among a full roster of events, TWC is famous for its longstanding first Fridays event, now called First Fridays at The Good Life. (Note: The org features branches in 10 cities across the U.S.-from Atlanta to Washington, D.C.-so you can participate during upcoming travels or even in your hometown.)


SoWa Artists Guild

Visitors encounter a world rife with art here at this flagship building where more than 70 professional working studios and 15 galleries occupy space. With most open to the public, these studios offer a glimpse at contemporary local artists working in all types of mediums.

Boston Gay Men's Chorus

Campy, classical and creative, this community-based chorus rings loud with 175 male voices, an upbeat, popular offering from the local gay community. Tickets: $15-45.

Jacque's Cabaret

The place to venture for female impersonation and great cabaret music, an alternative atmosphere and an easygoing crowd of straight and gay men and women. Weekly entertainment includes “Karaoke Buffet” on Tu, “Miss-Leading Ladies” on F-Sa. Cover: $7-10; no cover on Tu. Open M-Sa 11 am-midnight, Su noon-midnight.

Boston Harbor Cruises' Provincetown Fast Ferry

Hit the high seas at high speeds on this catamaran that blazes a scenic route Massachusetts Bay from Boston all the way to Provincetown. Just 90 minutes in duration, ferry features a motion control system, satellite TV and a cash bar. Departs June 8-Aug.

Boston Pride Week

Celebrate diversity at the biggest gay-friendly party in town. Festivities take place over 10 days, kicking off with a flag-raising ceremony at City Hall Plaza, followed by a family-friendly Pride Day at Faneuil Hall, the signature Pride Parade and Festival, block parties, pageants, and more. June 2-11.

South End

This enclave jumps right from the pages of a Henry James novel and is actually on the National Register of Historic Places as the country’s largest Victorian row house district. Tree-lined streets often boast their own wrought-iron-fence-bounded parks, and historians love wandering around to discover them.

The Liberty Hotel

Native Bostonian’s know The Liberty Hotel for its building’s former incarnation as the Charles Street Jail. Today, the modern, boutique-style hotel plays on that theme with a bar named Alibi and restaurants named Scampo and Clink. Views from guest rooms and suites overlook the Charles River and Downtown Boston.

Club Cafe Bistro Video Bar

Located in the historic Pledge of Allegiance Building on the edge of the South End, Club Cafe is—and has been, going on 30 years—a trendy bar, cabaret and dance club with a primarily gay male clientele.


Slightly south of Downtown, dbar offers a restaurant and nightclub in one. At dinner, try Chris Coombs’ seasonally changing menu. Later on, stop in for dancing and drinks (there’s an extensive martini list), and regular events such as Show Tune Tuesday (9 pm) and Pop Rocks Friday (10 pm).

The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston

This landmark fosters contemporary artists working in multidisciplinary forms. Permanent collections include 21st-century sculpture, painting, video, photography and drawing. Also features lectures, family programs, dance and music performances, and film. Open Tu-W and Sa-Su 10 am-5 pm, Th-F 10 am-9 pm.

House of Blues

This landmark concert hall on Lansdowne Street plays host to new acts as well as rock n' roll legends and can accommodate up to 2,400 fans. Full schedule online. 

Boston Center for the Arts

Dubbed “an urban cultural village,” the BCA is a nonprofit arts complex that features the Cyclorama, an art gallery and multiple performance spaces (including the Calderwood Pavilion, the BCA Plaza Theater and the BCA Plaza Black Box).

Boston by Foot

These guided, 90-minute tours are indeed conducted on foot. Regularly offered tours include Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Heart of the Freedom Trail, the Dark Side of Boston and a literature-focused tour. Tours depart multiple times daily, and schedule varies. Tickets: $10-20.

Gallery 263

The Cambridge gallery strives to provide a place where artists can engage the community and exhibit their works. In 2010 the gallery established an artists-in-residency program to further foster the artistic community. The space regularly hosts workshops, music nights, yoga and more. Open W-Sa 1-7 pm.

Trophy Room

This casual and very LGBT-friendly bistro offers lighter fare like broccoli penne, margherita pizza and caprese salad plus heavier options like burgers, nachos and steak tips. D (daily), Br (Sa-Su).