In the heart of Kentucky Bluegrass Country, Louisville, a city with real southern charm, is a regional center for alternative arts, music, food and entertainment. It may be best known as the home of the Kentucky Derby and as the headquarters of the company that makes Louisville Slugger baseball bats, but Louisville also has a thriving gay community. Don’t believe us? Head here in June for the Kentuckiana Pride Festival, one of the region’s best pride celebrations.
Louisville International Airport is just south of the city's downtown. Taxis are the best way to get into the city but there are TARC buses into town that depart from the island at the east end of the terminal building.
While it’s possible to use public transportation with TARC to get around River City, it’s best to rent a car to see more of the whole area.
The gay bars are all clustered around the downtown area.
What to do
The biggest event of the year for this engaging city on the Ohio River is the Kentucky Derby, held the first Saturday in May. Bars stay open all night, so the party lasts until well into the next day. There's also the St. James Court Art Show in the fall, and the Breeders Cup in November.
The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts is home to Kentucky Opera and the Louisville Orchestra, with Broadway shows, musicals and other theater works. Their Brown Theater, a restored old world wonder, also has performances and special events.
The local edition of The Word has news and features about gay Louisville and environs.
The GayLouisville website also provides local listings.
Leo Weekly has general news, events listings and reviews.
For map locations and website links to the businesses below, and more, see our gay Louisville listings pages.
Vu Guesthouse (822 S Floyd), new and stylish, gay-friendly, 34-room boutique hotel in Smoketown, lobby bar and piano bar/lounge with live entertainment and light menu. Associated with the C-2 Club being planned to open nearby, after Connection and Barracks closed this past year.
See our Hotels & Guesthouses listings on our map/listings page for some more lodging options in Louisville.
In Springfield, about 60 miles to the southeast, the gay-owned Maple Hill Manor B&B (2941 Perryville Rd; 859 336-3075), called one of the "best B&Bs in the South," with the "Best Breakfast in the Southeast," offers 7 guest rooms, garden and lake views, in the heart of Kentucky's scenic "Bourbon, Horses, and History Region."
Big Bar (1202 Bardstown Rd), mostly gay, mixed Highlands neighborhood video bar, karaoke, weekend DJs, heated patio.
Chill Bar (1117 Bardstown Rd), gay martini/ cocktail lounge, beers on tap, Sunday Tea Dance and cookout, karaoke.
Connection (120 S Floyd) - CLOSED - big dance bar complex, video lounge, fireplace; weekend drag and pageant shows at LaBoy/LeFemme; erotic male dancers at the weekend GoGoMen; theme parties, amateur drag nights. Said to be planning to reopen at a new location on E Breckinridge.
Marketplace Restaurant (651 S 4th, Theater Sq), lunch and dinner, Southern-style with French/Mediterranean influences, patio, bar and live music, vast bourbon selection.
Magnolia Bar & Grill (1398 S 2nd St) a neighborhood locals' favorite, with mixed crowd, famed and acclaimed jukebox.
NoWhere (1133 Bardstown Rd), mixed video bar/dance club, sports on TV, Girls Night Wednesdays, Glitter Titz Fridays, patio, sexy staff.
Play Louisville (1101 E Washington St), LGBT dance club, drag shows, theater performances, College Night Body Contests, Friday Country/Western two-stepping, Girls Nights, patio lounge Sunday Show Tunes. Hard Candy parties also take place here.
Purrswaytions Bar (2235 S Preston St), lesbian-popular weekdays, men/women mix on weekends, pool tournaments, theme parties.
Teddy Bear's (1148 Garvin Place), intimate locals' neighborhood nook, strong drinks, pool tables, older crowd.
Tryangles (209 S Preston) mostly men, no-attitude neighborhood bar, dancing and erotic male dancers.
Vapor (227 E Breckinridge St), always open, three-level men's spa and health center with gym, steam room, whirlpool, Panini cafe, WiFi, TV lounge, private cabins.
Carmichael's Bookstore (1295 Bardstown Rd) Louisville's oldest independent bookstore, amid cluster of shops and restaurants, author readings.
Fourth Street Live (400 S 4th St), big downtown indoor shopping center, between Liberty Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard, full of restaurants and entertainment venues; with free concerts too.
Wild and Woolly Video (1021 Bardstown Rd), CLOSED - had over 20,000 too-weird-for-mainstream DVD titles - standard, classic, obscure, and gay. Last of stock being sold online - see link.