Atlanta has drawn people from around the world, and from all walks of life -- and that definitely includes gay people. It's a cosmopolitan city, sure, but this Southern belle somehow still manages to move at a slightly slower, more graceful pace. There's no denying the city heat ups during the muggy summers, but the long autumns, mild winters, and vivid, flower-filled springs make up for it.
Piedmont Park and the Atlantic Botanical Gardens provide great urban green space. Atlanta Pride, one of the largest of all such American celebrations, brings over 300,000 revelers to the park each October, from around the southeast region and beyond. Black Gay Pride takes place over the Labor Day weekend.
This city's been at the center of some of the most important events in US history: the Civil War, and the civil rights movement -see the Martin Luther King Jr birthplace. Lest we forget, this is also where Coca-Cola and CNN originated.
These days, though, the city may stand out the most for the number and quality of performing and visual arts on offer. The High Museum of Art, having recently collaborated with the Louvre, MoMA and the Republic of China, has cemented its reputation as one of the premier museums in the US. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, one of America’s leading orchestras, is known for the excellence of its live performances and presentations, and serves as the region’s cornerstone for artistic development and music education. A number of Atlanta neighborhoods, including the Midtown West and Castleberry Hill, as well as the more established Bennett Street and Peachtree Hills areas, are notable for their arts scene.
Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is the busiest in the world. But unlike other big-city airports, Atlanta's is convenient to the center of the city. It can take as little as 15 minutes to drive to Midtown, and there's a MARTA rail link right at the airport.
Public trains and buses, known as MARTA, are a convenient option for many destinations. The city as a whole, though is spread out, making driving to many areas mandatory -- but plan ahead, Atlanta has bad traffic and sometimes long commute times.
Midtown: The reigning epicenter of gay Atlanta remains Midtown, and its anchor is 10th and Piedmont. The area has seen explosive growth, which has changed the former Skid-Row area along Peachtree Street to a gleaming corridor of condo high-rises. Still, its leafy, tranquil and low-swung residential area of restored bungalows and Victorian houses remains intact. You can check it out between Juniper Street and Monroe Drive.
East Atlanta: In and around the intersection of Flat Shoals and Glenwood avenues, early-20th-century buildings contain cool restaurants and some of the city's best nightlife and indie music. Turn-of-the-century gems like the intersection of Flat Shoals and Glenwood avenues remain untouched and ready for a renaissance.
Midtown West: This former warehouse and railroad district is turning into a destination. The neighborhood around of Howell Mill Road and Marietta Street has a number of galleries, shops, and adventurous restaurants. Some of the city's best- loved and adventurous restaurants are also here.
Buckhead: Mansions, expensive restaurants, and upscale hotels are all here; the most exclusive shopping areas in the city, Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza, stand kitty- corner from each other, on Peachtree Road.
Media and resources
Emerging from the breakup of the old Southern Voice (SoVo), there are three sources for what's going on in gay Atlanta: David magazine, the Georgia Voice, and the web-blog Project Q Atlanta with their 20-30 "things to do in Atlanta" every day. Fenuxe is a bi-weekly magazine for the gay community.
Atlanta Leather Pride in April and Southeast Black & Blue Weekend in August are annual weekend celebrations at the Atlanta Eagle; and the Atlanta Bear Fest each July 4th weekend is organized by Atlanta's Southern Bears.
The Atlanta Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, "dedicated to the manifestation of cosmic joy through freedom of expression, charitable acts, community outreach, and social activism," do good deeds in the community, and help to raise funds for worthy causes.
For locations and website links to businesses listed below, see our Atlanta gay map & listings pages.
Bars and clubs
Except perhaps for New Orleans, there's no Southern city with comparable gay nightlife. Private sex clubs, nude male dancers, thriving leather and bear playgrounds, and the stripped-down hunks seen on dance floors here compliment a laid-back and casual attitude to pleasures of the flesh, with a multicultural and cross-racial mix. At the center of an otherwise socially conservative part of America, there's a little something for everyone here.
Amsterdam (502 Amsterdam Ave), Dutch-influenced decor, Queen Beatrice and wooden clogs; video games and darts, dancing, drag, burgers/sandwiches, wraps, salads, wings, brunch, patio, mostly men/ all welcome.
BJ Roosters (2043 Cheshire Bridge Rd NE), men's bar, youthful male go-go dancers in underwear in constant rotation on the bar, stiff drinks, pool tables and darts.
Blake's (227 10th) young, good-looking, mostly male mixed crowd, video bar on two levels, poker, very popular drag shows; daily sandwiches, burgers, eggs and entrees.
Bulldogs (893 Peachtree), popular men's dance bar, weekend lines to enter, easy black- white mix, backyard patio grill, late crowd.
Burkhart's (1492-F Piedmont, Ansley Sq Mall), mostly guys, burgers, fish and steaks at good prices; karaoke, busy cocktail hours, patio bar, drag shows.
Cockpit (465 Blvd SE), neighborhood men's bar and restaurant reopened July 2015; BBQ, pool games, DJs/VJs, beer busts.
Felix's (1510-G Piedmont, Ansley Sq Mall), neighborhood bar, karaoke, gay mix, shot boys, drag shows, rock music nights; the former Scandals.
Friends (736 Ponce de Leon, Druid Hills), friendly vibe, pleasant staff, expansive outdoors deck, men/women gay mix, jukebox, billiard table, pinball, holiday parties, game nights, drag shows.
Heretic (2069 Cheshire Bridge), midweek to weekend, multi-ethnic, stripped-to-skin dance club; jocks to leather male crowd, outdoor deck; Country Dancin' Thursdays, game nights. Leather and gift shop.
Hideaway (1544 Piedmont Ave NE), long-time neighborhood gay bar, video games, pinball, blackjack, bingo, free pool games daily, good prices, mix of men.
Joes's on Juniper (1049 Juniper St), gay-popular restaurant and cocktail bar, theme nights, lunch and dinner, sandwiches; Saturday/Sunday Champagne/Mimosa brunch, giant screen TV.
Jungle (2115 Faulkner), large gay dance club, high energy 18+ Saturday nights, theme and holiday parties, game shows, Drag Wars, shows, bear events, wide variety of music.
Mansion Elan (3595 Clairmont Rd), stylish/upscale nightclub, mixed young African-American crowd, dancing, live music; 18+ except 21+ Saturdays.
Mary's (1287 Glenwood Ave), fun-loving alternative gay crowd, mostly younger men, bears nights, music variety, big video library, karaoke, dancing.
Mixx (1492 Piedmont), video lounge/ cocktail bar, Southwestern-style restaurant plates and starters; piano night, Thursday-Sunday DJs and dancing.
Model T (699 Ponce de Leon, Ford Factory Sq), party bar across from Friends, open to all, martini specialties, Sunday sports & dinner, poker, karaoke, WiFi.
My Sister's Room (66th 12th St NE, Midtown), women's bar, best Lesbian musicians and performance artists of the region, karaoke; sliders, pizza, tacos wings, brunch.
Opus 1 (1086 Alco St NE), "the smallest bar on the shortest street with the largest pour" gay bar for 24 years; mostly men.
Oscars (1510 Piedmont), videos on demand, martini lounge in Ansley Square, show tunes nights, artist celebrations.
Rain (448 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd SW), nightclub and lounge, now and then LGBT party nights, pride events.
Sanctuary (3209 Paces Ferry Pl, NW, Buckhead), Latin Friday/ Saturday nightclub, LGBT Saturdays, dancing to Salsa, Merengue, Reggaeton, Bachata, shows.
Swinging Richards (1400 Northside Dr), open nightly, all-nude, all-male strip shows, three stages, private lounge for debriefing sessions, shot boys.
Ten (990 Piedmont Ave), daytime Mediterranean restaurant, Sunday brunch, sidewalk patio; nightclub DJs after 10pm, lively mixed crowd, men/women, gay/straight.
Traxx at Liquid Lounge (150 Pine St NE), big African-American 18+ dance club, Thursday nights best of HipHop music, late hours, Black Pride all-weekend celebrations, drag and talent shows, sexy male dancers, food, pool tables and patio. Also events at Museum Bar (181 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd), Rain and other venues.
Tripps (1931 Piedmont Circle), cozy unassuming bar, gaming machines, extended happy hours 3 -9pm, free Wi-Fi.
Woofs on Piedmont (2425 Piedmont), gay sports bar, Friday CW music, game nights; full kitchen with blue-plate specials, subs and pizza, Lottery and Keno.
CLOSED: Bliss (2284 Cheshire Bridge Rd NE), all-male strip club; Le Buzz (585 Franklin Rd, Marietta), cabaret drag show bar, karaoke.
In Smyrna, up I-75 to the northwest of Atlanta, J's Lounge (1995 Windy Hill Rd) sports bar has large projection screens, patio, Juke Box, pool tables, and food, plus hookahs with many tobacco flavors, and cigars - gayest for Rainbow Tuesdays.
Sauna, health, sex clubs
The Den (2135 Liddell Dr), Tuesday-Saturday 18+ men-only member's club for men of color, naked nights; open until 6 or 8am on weekends, open early 8pm Wednesdays.
Eros Atlanta (2219 Faulkner Rd NE) big busy private sexy 18+ relaxed social club, lots of cruisy nooks, open from 10pm. Call ahead, website down.
Flex (76 4th) gay men's steam and sauna social club with rooms, heated and clothing- optional pool and sun deck, plus Internet access.
Gravity Fitness (2201 Faulkner Rd NE ) state-of-art health club, weights, machines, cardio deck, steam and dry saunas, massage therapy, personal trainers.
Manifest4u (2103 Faulkner Rd, NE), not a sauna, just men playing and exploring; workshops, jacking, spanking, poz nights, yoga, WiFi lounge, erotic library, videos, snack bar. Same building as Jungle Club. Monthly CumUnion sex parties for men, the 4th Wednesday of each month.
Zone Amsterdam 18+ men-only members' club; black/Latino mix, dark room, porn parties, live sex shows, Events take place in private session locations in Atlanta and other cities - address sent to members by email. See Facebook and Twitter updates.
10th & Piedmont (991 Piedmont Ave NE), organic/ multi-cultural global dining with a Southern twist, wines, cocktails; Saturday and Sunday Bellini Brunch.
Endive Publik House (1468 Mecaslin St NW, Loring Hts), New American neighborhood bistro, "eclectic approachable comfort food," special desserts, cocktails.
Joe's on Juniper (1049 Juniper) traditional American food, extensive beer list, generous cocktails, mixed sports crowd.
Colonnade (1879 Cheshire Bridge NE) has fried chicken, fresh fish and veggies, cooked and served homemade Southern style.
Cowtippers (1600 Piedmont) has steaks and Southwest fare, big cocktails, outdoors terrace and no-hassle parking.
Einstein's (1077 Juniper), stylish lounge, uniquely Southern accented bistro cuisine, tacos, raw bar, craft beers, open air patio dining.
G's / Gilbert's Cafe & Bar (219 10th St) daily dining, lunch; cuisines, design and music of the Mediterranean, weekend brunch, karaoke, wine tastings. Also paninis, sandwiches, pastas, & vegetarian options.
Las Margaritas (1842 Cheshire Bridge NE) Latin/Mexican restaurant, popular patio with strong lavender vibe.
Roxx (1824 Cheshire Bridge), famous for their burgers, gay folk in droves on the patio.
Shopping and Services
Boy Next Door (1477 Piedmont), menswear, unique lines of gay clothing with plenty of personal attention.
Brushstrokes (1510 Piedmont, Ansley Mall), cards, novelties, T-shirts, underware, giftware, music CD's, DVD sales/rentals, books, magazines, jewelry, pride merchandise, photography books, posters, prints, and more.
Brushstrokes Pleasures (Ansley Mall), adults-only, five doors from the flagship store; adult erotica, toys/novelties, condoms, lubes, fetish gear, supplements, pumps, C-rings, nipple clamps, video head cleaners, DVD and BLU-RAY movies/ 13,000 rental titles.
Buffedbod (1803 Summerchase Dr), in Duluth, just to north of Atlanta, Ron Serfass custom design men's swimwear, underwear, workout clothing, and body shirts.
Rawhide Leather (306 Ponce de Leon), deck-level at The Eagle, Thursday through Saturday 10pm-2am with leather necessities.
CLOSED: Outwright Bookstore (991 Piedmont), LGBT bookstore and coffeehouse.
Hello B&B (1865 Windemere Dr; 404-892-8111) a small 4 guestroom gay B&B, in wooded residential neighborhood with Jacuzzi; kitchen access, common room, garden, WiFi.
For those weary of look-alike chains, the gay-friendly Hotel Indigo- Atlanta Midtown (683 Peachtree NE; 800-957-4654) is a tranquil service-oriented alternative to bland.
Gay-friendly Lowes Hotel Atlanta (1065 Peachtree NE; 888-563-9736), stylishly modern rooms and suites with all amenities.
St Charles Inn (1001 St. Charles NE; 404-875-1001), former Gaslamp, 1913-era craftsman house B&B close to restaurants, shops and theater; luxurious rooms and suites.
W Hotel Atlanta Midtown (188 14th NE; 582-5800), Gayborhood central rooms and suites, weekend club Whiskey Park Southern comfort and hospitality, outdoor terrace; Jean-Georges restaurant, pool and spa, cabanas, business center. Pets welcome.