ave a brunch fit for a drag queen. Visit John Waters’ favorite book store. Have a drink at a landmark. Discover Baltimore pride. Our LGBTQ+ Guide to Baltimore has just what you need if you’re looking for a place to stay, eat, dance, be amazed, and, especially, a place to feel at home.
LGBTQ+ Friendly Hotels
Baltimore has a long history of being a gay-friendly town and offers great options to stay on your vacation. Mount Vernon’s Hotel Indigo is a charming, eclectic hotel within easy reach of the city’s main attractions. Their famous drag brunch features live acts and bottomless Bloody Marys and mimosas. Hotel Revival is another fantastic LGBTQ+ friendly hotel. The city’s only boutique art hotel offers breathtaking views of the city and its landmarks, including Mount Vernon Square Park and the Washington Monument, right from your room. Within walking distance of attractions like the National Aquarium and Camden Yards, the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel features beautiful views of the harbor and recently renovated rooms. Another waterfront option is the Canopy by Hilton Harbor Point, which is found between Harbor East and Fell’s Point and is a proud sponsor of Baltimore Pride.
Shopping, Restaurants and Shows
Atomic Books is a well-organized, locally beloved bookstore that specializes in small press books, graphic novels, contemporary art and literature. It also doubles as the address where filmmaker John Waters, the creator of cult-classics like Hairspray and Pink Flamingos, receives his fan mail. If the off-chance of running into Mr. Waters is not enough, the shop is also home to Eightbar, a bar serving local craft beer, wine, ciders, meads and more.
Red Emma’s is a worker-owned and operated queer cafe and bookstore with events, live music and readings. With a mission firmly rooted in radical thinking, expect to find an assortment of liberal books and patrons to go with your cappuccino and bliss bar.
Baby’s on Fire is a Mount Vernon cafe/record shop serving locally roasted coffee, breakfast and lunch all day. It’s a great spot for sitting down, having a conversation and meeting some locals. The name of the shop comes from a Brian Eno song, so you can be sure they have an educated, interesting selection of music to peruse.
Baltimore is home to a vibrant performing arts community, and several venues frequently host shows that explore the LGBTQ+ experience. As the State Theater of Maryland, Baltimore Center Stage is dedicated to making theater accessible to everyone regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender or socioeconomic status. Recent shows include The Folks at Home, a lighthearted portrait of an interracial gay couple living in South Baltimore, and Thoughts of a Colored Man, an honest exploration of what it means to be Black and male in the 21st century. The Everyman Theatre is another great accessible performing arts venue. They boast a talented pool of actors from the greater Baltimore/D.C. region who perform a mix of classical and contemporary pieces. Recent productions include an adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility” and Steel Magnolias.
The Charles is the oldest movie theater in Baltimore and where John Waters premiered his early films. It was even featured in his 1981 film Polyester. In 1999 the theater underwent a major expansion and is now an arthouse multiplex, but the original theater remains virtually intact. If you love foreign films, independent movies, or if you want to watch repertory films in their full 35mm glory, The Charles is for you.
Named one of the “10 Best Live Music Venues in America” by Rolling Stone, Ottobar is an indie club that hosts local and touring bands, live DJs and special events. Their calendar ranges from their all-inclusive dance party Queer Qrush to Goth and Industrial nights and everything in between, so make sure to visit their website beforehand to find the night for you.
Just steps from the Baltimore Museum of Art, you’ll find the colorful Papermoon Diner. The funky decor continues inside, with a dizzying array of knick-knacks and toys from floor to ceiling, and the fun atmosphere is perfectly complemented by the menu. The milkshakes are a standout by all accounts.
Catch local drag performers Washington Heights, Brooklyn Heights, Evon Dior Michelle, Betty O’Hellno, Chris Jay and more at recurring shows around the city. Mount Vernon’s The Manor is a swanky restaurant-lounge known for its extravagant drag brunches, which feature bottomless mimosas and must-try goat cheese croquettes. Mexican restaurant El Bufalo hosts drag brunches on the first and third Saturdays of every month, and European-style brewery Guilford Hall’s regularly recurring “Divas and Drafts” drag show is hosted by Evon Michell and features performances by Kayden Amore Chloe, Kiara Mel, Dreux Sidora and Pariah Sinclair. In the spring, celebrate your favorite queens and kings at the Annual Baltimore Drag Awards hosted by Creative Alliance.
If you happen to be wandering around Charles Village, Bird in Hand Café and Bookstore is a great stop for great coffee, poetry readings and a nicely curated selection of books. They also offer breakfast and lunch menus and a nice selection of local products and spirits that make perfect gifts to take back home.
Bars and Cocktails
Baltimore is filled with LGBTQ+-friendly and LGBTQ+-owned businesses. The oldest continuously operating gay bar in the city is Leon’s Of Baltimore, which has been open since 1957. Come for the great prices, cold beer, weekly karaoke and beloved bartenders that will treat you like a local from day one. The Drinkery is another long-running institution in the Bmore LGBTQ+ scene. Expect a very diverse, polite and easygoing atmosphere.
Club Charles is a 1940s-inspired cocktail lounge with period furnishings, a hipster vibe, great drinks and a nicely curated jukebox. Think the Velvet Underground, red light bulbs and John Waters. Beyond the simple neighborhood bar, The Crown is a two-level venue housing an Asian-fusion restaurant, a stage room for live bands and comedy, and two dance floors. Federal Hill’s The Rowan Tree is a quaint little corner cocktail bar with quirky decor and a diverse crowd. Drinks are well priced and there are live performances and shows, usually after 8 p.m. Sitting nicely between Leon’s and The Drinkery, Central is a newer bar and nightclub in Mount Vernon that also serves food and offers take-out.
Baltimore Pride, the city’s largest LGBTQ+ celebration, marks its 37th year in 2022. The Pride Parade returns on June 25 this year after a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Other confirmed events include Twilight on the Terrace Gala, Youth Pride, Pride in the Park and the beloved Block Party, with many more to be announced in the coming months.
Celebrate the Black LGBTQ+ community in Baltimore with Black Pride, typically held in October and hosted by the Center for Black Equity. The event features educational seminars, community support and uplifting dance parties.