Queer-Friendly Small Towns in the USA

LGBTQ Friendly Fire Island, NY
Photo by Patrick Tomasso from Unsplash

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So, you’re on the hunt for a queer-friendly small town, a cozy little place where rainbows don’t just appear after it rains. It needs to be different from “the usual places,” and takes you away from the hustle and bustle of your day-to-day life. Well, say no more and look no further! Here’s our list of the top 20 best gay-friendly small towns across the USA. Get ready to pack your bags and plan a visit to these LGBTQ+ friendly “familiar and not-so-familiar” small towns!  

Asbury Park, New Jersey

Population: 15,188

One of New Jersey’s gayest cities, and located along the Jersey shore, Asbury Park’s queer scene is as genuine as it gets. You can stroll along the boardwalk or dance the night away at one of its gay bars, knowing you’ve found a place where you can be exactly who you are. While there’s no “official” gay beach, the stretch between 4th and 5th Avenues is where you want to set up camp.

Berea, Kentucky

Population: 15,539

This college town in the heart of Kentucky mirrors the spirit of Barea College, known for its Liberal Arts program. In the community, Berea Pride is on the forefront of visibility, acceptance, and inclusivity for the queer community. The Berea Pride organization hosts and sponsors weekly, monthly, and annual Pride events.

Bisbee, Arizona 

Population: 5192

Once a copper mining town in the Mule Mountains of Southern Arizona, Bisby is now an artsy paradise. Surrounded by rugged canyons, Bisbee is proud of its LGBTQ+ history. The town passed a city ordinance legalizing civil unions, the first in the state, prior to Marriage Equality becoming law. And don’t miss their annual Pride celebration. 

Blue Ridge, Georgia

Population: 1,253

This southern gem in the Appalachian Mountains has an artsy vibe. Blue Ridge, Georgia is home to one of the state’s largest populations of gay couples. Many of the Downtown Blue Ridge businesses are LGBTQ+ owned and operated, creating a welcoming atmosphere for everyone and making it a perfect getaway for queer travelers.

Carrboro, North Carolina

Population: 21,295 

Often overshadowed by neighboring, gay-friendly Chapel Hill, Carrboro shines with its collective forward-thinking mentality and LGBTQ+ inclusivity, due in part to its election of a gay mayor in 2021. The LGBTQ Pop-Up Center of Carrboro is a queer organization committed to amplifying the voices of the community through events like the annual Carrboro Pride Walk. 

Eureka Springs, Arkansas 

Population: 2166

It may be in the middle of the Ozark Mountains, but don’t let that fool you! Eureka Springs not only has a thriving LGBTQ+ community, it is also considered the gayest city in Arkansas. With yearly events like Diversity Weekends, the town embraces all with open arms. Bonus: You’ll love the charming Victorian architecture from which rainbow flags proudly fly. 

Ferndale, Michigan

Population: 19,190

A smaller city within the Detroit metro area, Ferndale doesn’t have a “gayborhood” because it doesn’t need one. The entire city is gay-friendly, so LGBTQ+ residents are scattered throughout. With hip coffee shops, the annual Ferndale Pride, and the laid-back gay bar, Soho, Ferndale is the queer heartbeat of Michigan.

Fire Island, New York

Population: 777

Prepare to step into a world like no other. Fire Island is a barrier island just off Long Island’s south coast, where LGBTQ+ acceptance is felt in every grain of sand on its beautiful beaches. Home to two gay resort towns, Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines, Fire Island has been a sanctuary for the LGBTQ+ community since the 1930s and needs to be added to your bucket list of places to see. 

Galena, Illinois

Population: 3,308

Known as “the great gay weekend getaway, this cute, quaint, historic small town in Illinois does not disappoint. Home to a local LGBT+ community and many gay-owned businesses, including some of the top-rated B&Bs in the United States, Galena celebrates and welcomes everyone. Main Street and its surroundings feature numerous women-owned businesses, while the local culinary scene offers its share of international cuisine.

Guerneville, California

Population: 4,552

Wine, anyone? Located in Sonoma County, Guerneville combines LGBTQ+ inclusivity with a penchant for fine wines. Considered California’s LGBTQ+ Resort Town, Guernville has several gay bars including Rainbow Cattle Company, better known as “Sonoma County’s Gay Playground,” and hosts the annual Lazy Bear Week, a celebration of the bear community.

Key West, Florida

Population: 26,444

One of the original “four corners” for the LGBTQ+ community, Key West, located at the southernmost point of the Florida Keys, is as laid-back and queer-friendly as you can get. A tropical treasure where rainbow flags fly high, and fun knows no limits, it’s the kind of place where the LGBTQ+ community shines as bright as the Florida sun

Lambertville, New Jersey

Population: 4,139

Just across the bridge from New Hope, PA, (see below) another of our “Queer-Friendly Small Towns,” is the cute, quaint, quiet town of Lambertville. Considered one of the most gay-friendly cities in the state, it’s perfect for a weekend escape with someone special, where antique shops, art galleries, and great restaurants await you.

Lost River, West Virginia

Population: 3,027

It’s not just a hidden gem nestled in West Virginia’s  Appalachian Mountains Lost River is also the unofficial rural vacation spot and a welcome escape for LGBTQ+ couples living in the metro DC area. This unassuming, quiet little town, with its many gay-owned stores, bars, and restaurants, has been welcoming the queer community for the better part of three decades. 

New Hope, Pennsylvania

Population: 2,612

New Hope is the heart of LGBTQ+ friendly Bucks County, with its art galleries,  designer stores, bars, and restaurants. The town is a welcomed escape from the “big city.” And while it may be small, it’s packed with independent shops and antique stores for serious shoppers and browsers alike. If it’s true about gays and their love of theater, New Hope’s The Bucks County Playhouse is a must-visit. 

Nevada City, California

Population: 3,097

With Gold Rush history and a free spirit, Nevada City is quite the mix of the past and progressive present. With LGBTQ+ owned businesses and events, it’s a West Coast bucket list place to visit. Check out the Mine Shaft Saloon, where there’s always a mixed crowd, but seems to serve as the meeting spot for the local gay community and visitors.

Northampton, Massachusetts

Population: 29,571

It may be nicknamed the “Lesbian Capital of the United States,” but Northampton also has plenty of gay, trans, and queer people living there, too. And while it may be considered a small town, it packs a punch in terms of LGBTQ+ friendliness believing that Northampton doesn’t need to shout its queer acceptance, it quietly lives it 

Ogunquit, Maine

Population: 1,577

Best described as a New England jewel with scenic coasts, this town thrives with gay-owned businesses and beaches like the LGBTQ+ loved Ogunquit Beach and its “Section G.” The word Ogunquit literally means “beautiful place by the sea.” This couldn’t be more true for this coastal mecca for the queer community.

Phoenixville, Pennsylvania

Population: 18,602

Once an old steel town in Chester County, Phoenixville has evolved into a forward thinking, progressive little slice of heaven, where the LGBTQ+ community is welcomed with open arms. Named “Top Town of the Philadelphia Countryside” for its eclectic mix of retail stores, annual events calendar, and its diversity and inclusion, its energetic community vibe is contagious.

Provincetown, Massachusetts

Population: 3,664

Not much more can, or needs to be said about this iconic LGBTQ+ beach town at the tip of Cape Cod that hasn’t already been said. Ptown, as the locals call it, has been a queer, summer resort landing spot for decades. It’s one of the few towns in the US where the queer community is in the majority, any time, day or night. In other words, in Ptown, every day is Pride Day.

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Population: 1,108

Located on the Atlantic Ocean and part of the Delaware Beaches, Rehoboth Beach is a popular destination for the LGBTQ+ community in the Mid-Atlantic States. And why not? With its two gay beaches, Poodle Beach and Gordon’s Pond, exceptional dining, tax-free shopping at numerous outlet centers, and a handful of gay bars and clubs, Rehoboth Beach has it all. While you’re there, check out Lewes, DE to experience another great little town. 

Rockland, Maine

Population: 6,936

If it’s Maine, it’s lobster, trapping them, preparing them, and eating them. Rockland is home to Maine’s annual Lobster Festival.  With its coastal beauty, maritime history, arts scene and LGBTQ+friendly vibe, coupled with its annual Pride Sunday and welcoming restaurants and hotels, Rockland is an unexpected New England treasure for the queer community.

Saugatuck-Douglas, Michigan

Population: 2,243

These twin cities on the shores of Lake Michigan, are the most gay-friendly small towns in Michigan. Residents here welcome LGBTQ visitors, creating an environment where everyone can be themselves, making them favorite destinations for the LGBTQ community. June may be the official Pride Month, but in Saugatuck-Douglas their rainbow flags fly every day.

Takoma Park, Maryland

Population: 17,629

Dubbed “Azalea City,” this eco-friendly, progressive town in the suburbs of Washington, DC, is full of charm. LGBTQ+ residents and visitors feel right at home among its quaint streets where one’s identity isn’t just acknowledged, but rather, celebrated. There are plenty of LGBTQ+ businesses, and queer bars, making it an attractive place for the LGBTQ+ community. 

Thomas, West Virginia

Population: 611

The smallest of our favorite queer-friendly small towns at just over 600 people, Thomas is a rustic refuge with an artistic soul. Popular among LGBTQ+ artists and musicians, it’s a place where creativity flourishes. Oh, and did we mention the breathtaking Blackwater Falls? It’s the most photographed waterfall in the state.  

Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

Population: 6,052

Yep, that’s the town’s actual name. Tucked beside the Rio Grande, and commonly referred to as T or C, its quirky vibe and natural hot springs make it a perfect queer-friendly hideaway. While the town itself is not a hot-spot for the LGBTQ+ community, and the vibe is pretty laid back, there’s still plenty of fun to be had.

Wilton Manors, Florida

Population: 11,426

Close to Fort Lauderdale, this town has one of the highest LGBTQ+ populations in the U.S. Also it’s the “The Island City,” and is internationally recognized as one of THE destinations for the gay community, and is the Second Gayest City in the country behind only Provincetown, MA. Sun, sand, and an inclusive community, what else could you ask for? 

Woodstock, New York

Population: 6,287

Who could ever forget 1969’s legendary Woodstock Festival? The town, and the people who live there are synonymous with the word “counterculture.” It’s no surprise that the LGBTQ+ community finds it an accepting and artistic refuge. The town hosts queer events, including the annual Woodstock Pride Party, and has numerous gay- owned businesses. 

Queer-Friendly Small Towns are Everywhere You Want to Be

Finding queer-friendly small towns in the US might feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack, but in reality, they are quite common if you’re willing to look. While you won’t often find a “gayborhood” in them, as you do in gay-friendly big cities, most of these small towns don’t need one, because the whole town is pretty much a safe space where you can just be yourself. Think of it this way, it’s like being among friends who get you, and that’s what makes them attractive places for the LGBTQ+ community.

**Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).

Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida and beyond, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.

ChatGPT or another AI writing platform may have contributed to the writing of this article.

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