In 1980, there were some 200 lesbian bars in the U.S.: Bonnie & Clyde, Ariel, Meow Mix, The Palms, the list goes on. Flash forward 40 years, and the survivors can be counted on three hands. To be fair, these unique community spaces for women were already in decline, a product of gentrification and more time spent online, but the 2020 pandemic brought challenges for all small businesses struggling to stay afloat. Check out the Lesbian Bar Project, a fundraising campaign that wants to make sure these remaining lesbian bars will not vanish into lost space. Oh, and, make sure to drop in your local as soon as you can.
West Village, New York City, United States
Cheap beer on draft, upbeat bartenders, and a somewhat goofy décor--Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and lots of vinyl--Cubbyhole is one of the few remaining lesbian-only bars in the city; hetero ladies are welcome but the boys should sit this one out. True to its name it's a very tiny place, so don't expect to be doing any dancing.
West Village, New York City, United States
A favorite lesbian haunt since 1991, Henrietta Hudson is still serving up reasonably-priced cocktails poured by cute, flirty bartenders. The jukebox has a good collection of 90s hip-hop, and the scene is relaxed and welcoming.
Hillcrest, San Diego, United States
Everybody's welcome at Gossip Grill, a lesbian bar and restaurant with female bouncers and female DJs. Known for its three-finger pours, it has happy hour every day from 2 pm to 6 pm and all day Wednesdays. Launched in 2009 and moving in 2014 to make room for a dance floor, Gossip Grill transforms into a nightclub after sundown. When the dance floor gets crowded, you can always escape to sit by the fire pits outside in the garden. Gossip Grill features comfort food, burlesque shows and a Saturday brunch with addictive seasoned fries and bottomless mimosas always topped off.
Midtown, Atlanta, United States
Though it recently shed its East Atlanta Cool for more mainstream Midtown, My Sister's Room is still the go-to spot for lesbians in Atlanta. The crowd is mostly twenty-somethings, and throughout the week the bar offers special events, such as karaoke, beer pong, and one of the very few women-as-men drag shows in the city.
Park Slope, New York City, United States
Ginger's, or "the G-spot", in Park Slope has a careworn charm that makes everyone seem like a regular, while the unaffected ambiance, along with a pool table and airy back patio, give this lesbian hangout the feel of a clubhouse.
Washington Avenue/Memorial Park, Houston, United States
Pearl Bar moved into the old Pearl Bar on the Washington Avenue strip in 2013, giving women who love women a place for a laid-back party in Houston. Lesbian-owned, it hosts live music, guest DJs and special events that might include Lesbian Bar Olympics (think beer pong, flip cup, pool, human hungry hippo and dildo toss), pajama parties, steak night-bingo nights or Feminintendo video game nights, almost always accompanied by drink specials. There's a massive patio out back and plenty of TV screens to catch a game. Although largely catering to a female crowd, everyone is welcome, and there's a spotless men's room to prove it.
Central, Denver, United States
Although Blush and Blu may be called Denver's last lesbian bar, it is also a big hearted community space on Colfax that is welcoming to all and has hosted everything from drag king nights and burlesque to geeks that drink and queer yoga. It opens early so there is plenty of good Coda coffee and mocha on the menu in addition to the specialty cocktails, pool table, arcade games and library.
East End, Nashville, United States
Advertised as "a bar for everyone who is human" over 21, Lipstick Lounge is a lesbian-owned and lesbian-frequented hang out with all the makings of a good time: live music, trivia, karaoke, darts, dancing, food, drink and a patio. Weekends, Tex Mex brunch is from 10 am to 3 pm, and weekend nights are pretty packed with women from middle Tennessee and well beyond.
Capitol Hill, Seattle, United States
As Seattle's last remaining lesbian bar, it's worth your time to stop into the Wildrose if only for its 30-year-old legacy, a cheap drink, and quality people watching. Though the bar draws an older crowd, its Taco Tuesdays and popular block parties attract queer women of all ages from all over the city. Entrance to the bar is free, but cover for most block parties is $20.
Oak Lawn, Dallas, United States
Opened in January 1989, Sue Ellen's moved to its current spot in 2008, expanding to two floors outfitted with mood lighting and video screens. The dance floor and live music area is downstairs, but there is also a popular outdoor terrace, a couple of pool tables and private lounge areas for the more kicked back.