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Note: All travel is subject to frequently-changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state, and local advisories before scheduling trips. 

While bars with rainbow flags aren’t quite so novel these days, it wasn’t that long ago that such venues were hidden behind closed doors with windows covered and curtains drawn tightly. But increased visibility aside, the pandemic has shown that LGBTQ gathering spaces are still vulnerable.

Icons like Julius in New York are among the best-known of the oldest bars still around, but a look around the country reveals names that might not be as obvious. Paying homage to these historical places, especially during LGBTQ History Month, is important as they are disappearing faster than you can order another gin and tonic. Next time you travel, consider adding a stop at one of these storied watering holes to your itinerary.

RELATED: Map out a thoughtful journey on the Orbitz LGBTQ Civil Rights Trail

1. Café Lafitte in Exile: New Orleans, LA

Flickr CC: Tony Webster

This New Orleans bar proclaims itself the oldest running gay bar in the United States. Located in the French Quarter, it’s hardly under the radar, but open since 1933 it’s one of the LGBTQ South’s most important institutions.

Stay: Head to Four Points by Sheraton on Bourbon Street if you want to be in the middle of all the action, and a short walk from Café Lafitte.

2. Darcelle XV Showpiece: Portland, OR

This spot in Portland is home to Darcelle, a Guinness World Record winner for the oldest drag performer on the West Coast. Darcelle has been wowing audiences since 1967, long before there was a drag race.

Stay: Sleep chic in Portland’s Old Town Chinatown at The Hoxton, near Darcelle’s club.

3. Tavern on Camac: Philadelphia, PA

In Philly, you’ll find this space that’s loaded with LGBTQ history, despite changing names since opening in the 1920s. It’s more upscale than gay bars are today, but it has been delivering brotherly love for decades to fans of piano bars and good cocktails.

Stay: Check into nearby Fairfield Inn by Marriott; it’s close to Woody’s, another favorite gay bar in Philadelphia.

4. H.G. Roosters: West Palm Beach, FL

This spot in West Palm Beach is Florida’s oldest gay bar. It earned a historic designation in 2021 to help it rebuild after a devastating fire, keeping the Sunshine State institution alive.

Stay: Hyatt Place West Palm Beach isn’t far from the action—or the water—making it a solid choice.

5. Club Feathers: River Edge, NJ

Located in River Edge, (about 30 mins from Manhattan), this is the Garden State’s oldest nightclub, serving the community for more than four decades. The bar, which caters largely to a younger crowd who doesn’t have the means to make it to Manhattan, almost went under during the pandemic but luckily managed to survive.

Stay: Crowne Plaza Englewood is a short drive from Club Feathers for those who want to make the pilgrimage, and it’s a good stopover on the way to nearby New York City!

RELATED: Join Orbitz Rewards and start earning perks today—it’s free to join!

6. This is It: Milwaukee, WI

In business since 1968, this Milwaukee bar is the longest operating gay bar in the whole of Wisconsin. Drag Race star Trixie Mattel is now co-owner, helping to keep the iconic venue thriving.

Stay: Nearby Dubbel Dutch offers a truly unique experience in a renovated 19th-century house.

7. The Raven: Anchorage, AK

This nightlife stalwart has been an Anchorage hangout since 1982. It’s not quite as long in the tooth as some others on this list, but for conservative Alaska, it’s something to celebrate. Pride parades in the early 1980s had attendees numbering in the teens in Anchorage, so having a bar was big news.

Stay: The Sheraton Four Points isn’t too far from the Raven and offers the cozy vibe you want in chilly Alaska.

8. Wildrose: Seattle, WA

Open since 1984, the Wildrose in Seattle is the West Coast’s longest running lesbian bar, and one of maybe a dozen remaining lesbian taprooms in the country.

Stay: Hotel Max offers contemporary comfort not far from Wildrose, but also close to major Seattle attractions like Pike Place Market.

9. White Horse Inn: Oakland, CA

This Oakland spot claims to be the oldest running gay bar in the U.S., rivaling New Orleans’ Café Lafitte in Exile. Both opened in 1933, though rumor has it that White Horse Inn continued to operate as an off-the-radar speakeasy during Prohibition.

Stay: Thanks to its central location, The Courtyard by Marriott Oakland Downtown offers a solid base for exploring Oakland.

10. Jeffery Pub: Chicago, IL

Most visitors are familiar with Chicago’s Boystown (now North Halsted) neighborhood, but this bar on Chicago’s Southside has been quietly catering to a largely gay and Black clientele since the 1960s. In fact, it’s one of the nation’s oldest operating Black-owned gay bars. It’s a bit of a trek from the city center, but well-worth it.

Stay: Go with someplace central like the Allegro Royal Sonesta and catch a cab down to Jeffery Pub for your evening fun.

Tagged: Alaska, California, Chicago, Chicago, Florida, Midwest, Milwaukee, New Orleans, New York, Oregon, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle

Note: Orbitz compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Bryan Pirolli

Bryan Pirolli

Bryan Pirolli

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