For centuries, Atlanta has drawn people from all over 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 places to find out what's going on in gay Atlanta: David magazine, the GA Voice, and the web-blog Project Q Atlanta with their 20-30 "things to do in Atlanta" every day. Fenuxe is a new bi-weekly magazine for the gay community.
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, food, patio, mostly men, all welcome.
A-Sexual Saturdays at Club Libra (91 Broad St, SW), a Wassup African-American gay/bi dance night, sexy go-go dancers, VIP booths, hookahs.
BJ Roosters (2345 Cheshire Bridge) spiffy metal decor, friendly staff, youthful male go-go dancers in constant rotation, pool tables & darts.
Blake's (227 10th) young, good-looking mixed crowd, video bar on two levels, poker, very popular drag shows, Sunday brunch buffets.
Bliss (2284 Cheshire Bridge Rd), three bars, fully-nude male dancers on stage, VIP lounges, rooms, and sky boxes, good sound and lights.
Bulldogs (893 Peachtree) popular men's dance bar with weekend lines to enter, easy black- white mix, backyard patio grill, late crowd.
Burkhart's (1492-F Piedmont, Ansley Sq Mall) mostly guys, burgers and steaks at good prices, karaoke, busy cocktail hours, patio bar, drag shows.
Chaparral (2715 Buford Hwy) popular, mixed, Latin, Caribbean, and African-American dance club. Gay Tuesday talent shows, Friday Latino dancers, Sunday Hip-Hop goes late night party.
Cockpit (465 Boulevard SE), nightly bar, men seeking men for "scruffy good times," food, patio, fetish/leather jock/sports nights.
Cream Ultra Lounge (3049 Buford Hwy), every Sunday night urban party, wall-to-wall "upscale grown-up men."
Eagle Atlanta (308 Ponce de Leon), dark throbbing cruise clubhouse and dance club, bear, leather and underwear nights, huge patio.
Felix's on the Square (1510-G Piedmont, Ansley Sq Mall) is the neighborhood bar where the old Scandals did its thing for so many years..
Friends on Ponce (736 Ponce de Leon) friendly, attractive staff, expansive outdoors deck, big free Sunday buffet spread.
Gilberts Cafe (219 10th St), Mediterranean fare including paninis, sandwiches, pastas, vegetarian dishes, bar, Saturday/Sunday brunch, late-night menu.
Heretic (2069 Cheshire Bridge) midweek to weekend, multi-ethnic, stripped-to-skin dance club, cruisy leather dress code back bar.
Joes's on Juniper (1049 Juniper St), cocktail bar, theme nights, lunch and dinner, Saturday/Sunday Champagne/Mimosa brunch.
Jungle (2115 Faulkner) mega dance club, high energy gay Saturday nights, theme parties, game shows, Monday drag shows, first Fridays Wassup urban dance nights.
Le Buzz (585 Franklin Rd) Marietta karaoke and drag cabaret show bar just outside Atlanta.
Mary's (1287 Glenwood Ave), fun-loving alternative crowd, mostly younger gay men, bears nights, music variety, big video library, karaoke, dancing.
Mixx (1492 Piedmont) cocktail bar, Tuesday movies, weekend 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 (1271 Glenwood Ave, E Atlanta Village), women's bar, best Lesbian musicians and performance artists in the region.
Oscars (1510 Piedmont) videos on demand, martini lounge in Ansley Square, show tunes, artist celebrations.
Phase One (4933 Memorial Dr, Stone Mountain), 3-dollar Thursday nights Wassup parties, African-American men, go-gos, entertainment.
Rain (448 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd SW), nightclub and lounge, Friday Urban Alternative Nights; mixed on Saturdays.
Swinging Richards (1400 Northside Dr), open nightly, all-nude, all-male strip shows, three stages, private lounge for debriefing sessions.
Traxx (1287 Columbia Dr, Decatur) big African-American dance club, popular Saturdays, late hours, Black Pride celebrations.
Tripps (1931 Piedmont Circle) cozy unassuming bar, gaming machines, extended happy hours 3 -9pm, free Wi-Fi.
Woofs on Piedmont (2425 Piedmont) sports bar, full kitchen with blue-plate specials, subs and pizza, also Lottery and Keno games.
XS Ultra Lounge (708 Spring St), black gay community 18+ cocktail lounge, bistro, dance club, drag and talent shows, pool tables and patio.
Sauna, health, sex clubs
Eros Atlanta (2219 Faulkner) big busy private sexy 18+ relaxed social club, lots of cruisy nooks, open from 10pm.
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), not sauna, men playing, exploring; workshops, jacking, spanking, poz nights, yoga, WiFi lounge, erotic library, videos, snack bar. Same building as Jungle Club.
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.
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) unique lines of gay clothing with plenty of personal attention.
Brushstrokes (1510 Piedmont, Ansley Mall) has a huge selection of DVDs, CDs, GLBTQ books with discounts of 20-25% off retail prices, gifts, magazines, t-shirts, rainbow gear, cards, and gizmos. They also sponsor readings and signings by authors at Mixx Bar (across the parking lot).
Buffedbod (1803 Summerchase Dr; Buffedbod.com), in Duluth, just to north, Ron Serfass custom design men's swimwear, underwear, workout clothing, and body shirts.
Capulets (1510-D Piedmont, Ansley Sq Mall), sister store to Brushstrokes, candles, incense, soaps, and other gift items.
Outwrite Bookstore (991 Piedmont), gay bookstore/coffeeshop CLOSED January 2012.
Rawhide Leather (306 Ponce de Leon) downstairs at The Eagle with all leather necessities.
Hello B&B (1865 Windemere Dr; 404-892-8111) a small gay B&B in a wooded residential neighborhood with Jacuzzi.
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) in Gayborhood central, has Southern comfort and hospitality, and they host the Indulge gay cocktail party, Thursdays from 9pm at their Whiskey Park.
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