If you’re anything like a lot of us, the first thing you look for in a destination city (even before booking the trip) is whether or not it has a great “Gayborhood.” Sure, many cities offer a plethora of LGBTQ-friendly options, but the ones that have many within close proximity to each other will always rise to the top of our travel wish list. And in that regard, Phoenix shines. Known for its inclusivity, the city has consecutively been rated with the highest score possible on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index Scorecard. Let’s explore Phoenix’s Melrose District.
Energy, diversity, and celebration all come together at night in Melrose. In addition to a lot of amazing boy bars, did you know Phoenix boasts one of the only lesbian bars left in the US? Yep, let that sink in. Here are just a few of the don’t-miss LGBTQ hot spots in Melrose.
Stacy’s @ Melrose
L, G, B, T, Q, and plus…no matter which of these you identify with most, Stacy’s @ Melrose has something for you. A pillar of the community for over a decade, partyers flock here for the thumping music and queer-friendly events 7-nights a week. From karaoke to Goth to dance to drag, you can’t go wrong.
This is one of just 21 lesbian bars left in America (big sigh). Boycott Bar is getting a lot of national attention as of late after being featured in a series on Roku called The Lesbian Bar Project. But far from being only for the ladies, Boycott welcomes everyone. Says owner Audrey Corley, “Boycott Bar, to me, is actually a place for people. It means we boycott the norm. We’re a place where people can come and be who they want to be. Regardless of what you think—gender, race, anyone—you’re welcome here.” So, hit Boycott and get your good vibes on.
First of all, you can’t go wrong with Bear Bingo. But The Rock also offers some of the city’s best drag shows plus karaoke in its showroom on Friday, Saturday, and Monday nights. Don’t let the subtle exterior fool you, this place is home to some of the city’s wildest and fiercest events and everyone is welcome to join in the debauchery.
From chic, design-inspired spaces to eateries pushing the boundaries of taste, every dining option in the Melrose District is a reflection of Phoenix’s commitment to inclusivity.
Near the entry point of the Melrose District, you’ll find Valentine, a spot that redefines Southwest cool thanks to its fellow tenant, vintage modern furniture showroom Modern Manor (more on that later). With midcentury design vibes and a diverse menu, Valentine is a hotspot for brunch every Wednesday through Sunday.
Restaurant Progress is like walking into a dinner party hosted by your wildest friends only to discover that they can seriously cook. This inspired eatery is the brainchild of chef-owner TJ Culp, who creates seasonal menus based on whatever he finds interesting (get ready to be wowed). Pair that with killer cocktails and this place is an ideal date-night destination. Don’t forget to go next door to the retro-inspired Thunderbird Lounge for a nightcap and some throwback video games.
It’s small, but trust us, this place is MIGHTY when it comes to flavors and ambiance. Located on the very north end of the district, Belly is a one-of-a-kind homage to South Asian cuisine—a confluence of Vietnamese, Thai, and Japanese eating and drinking cultures. Plates are small and soulful and the cocktails are sinfully sippable. Do yourself a favor and check it out.
We can’t all be Don Draper, but in Phoenix, we can certainly dress and decorate like him. This city is a literal treasure trove for vintage and mid-century modern enthusiasts, offering a diverse array of shopping for those seeking unique pieces with character and throwback style.
Good luck not wanting to buy every single thing in this vintage modern showroom. They specialize in sourcing, refinishing, and reupholstering mid-century modern furniture, art, and decor from the 1940s through the 1980s. Regardless if you buy anything, you can grab a bite or a beverage at the aforementioned Valentine—the coffee shop, restaurant, and bar located in the front of the showroom.
This eclectic vintage boutique houses a dizzying array of ever-changing furniture, housewares, apparel, and accessories. Just try to resist the captivating window displays that provide a tiny glimpse into the time warp of treasures that lie within. But don’t shop ’til you drop because Boycott is right next door so you’ll definitely want to grab a drink afterwards.
Modern on Melrose
Established in 2012, Modern on Melrose has consistently been one of the best places in town to find a ’60s swag lamp, a gaudy ’70s sofa (in avocado green, of course), or a hi-fi that’s been fully restored and now ready to play your 8-tracks. From vintage salvage to upcycled commercial, shabby-chic fans will be in heaven here.
And what would any great trip be without an epic photo op? The Melrose District is home to one of Phoenix’s two Rainbow Crosswalks, with this one located at 7th Avenue & Glenrosa. Unveiled in 2018, the crosswalks are a bright and lasting symbol of Phoenix’s LGBTQ presence in the city and our past, present, and future commitment to the entire queer community.
Did we convince you? Are we ready to experience Phoenix?