7 LGBTQ-Owned Hotels, Bars, and More That Are Ready for a Comeback

Post-pandemic, it's time for these small businesses to shine again.

Magnolia Springs Bed and Breakfast in Magnolia Springs, Alabama | Jumping Rocks Photography
Magnolia Springs Bed and Breakfast in Magnolia Springs, Alabama | Jumping Rocks Photography

Many businesses in the LGBTQ community were hard hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly one-third of queer and trans entrepreneurs reporting they lost half of their business revenue (according to this survey conducted in partnership with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce). The good news, though, is really good. Nearly 80% of those surveyed say they expect to make a full recovery in 2022. And we’re here to support them on our next trip or, for the lucky ones, in our very own backyard.

Here are seven LGBTQ-owned companies that are — despite all odds — poised for a post-quarantine comeback now that we're able to get out and play again. Whether you want to swing on the porch of a historic bed and breakfast with drink in hand or celebrate summer with live music at one of the few lesbian bars left in the US, we have plans for you.

Swing on a porch and snorkel all day at Magnolia Springs B&B in Magnolia Springs, Alabama

Get a taste of Southern hospitality at Magnolia Springs, a grand and historic bed and breakfast, first built in 1897. You’ll be a short hop to Fairhope, a hot spot for artists and writers, and the Gulf shores for sunning on pristine white sand, swimming and snorkeling in turquoise waters, and exploring lush nature trails. But you may never want to leave this superb hideaway with its ornate stained-glass and antique decorations, romantically rustic rooms, and traditional wraparound porch with plenty of swings and rocking chairs so you can chill with a glass of rosé. Super-friendly hosts David and Eric make a killer breakfast that includes homemade biscuits, pancakes, French toast, and their signature hash brown casserole. As a bonus, you’re less than a mile away from local favorite Jesse’s Restaurant, serving up aged steaks & chops and fresh seafood like mouth-watering red snapper and shrimp & grits.

Chill by the pool or enjoy cabaret at The Dunes LGBTQ oasis in Saugatuck, Michigan

Over 40 years old but still hot, the Dunes Resort is an LGBTQ oasis in the Midwest with a party vibe and welcoming attitude. Spend your days floating in a massive pool, sipping cocktails, playing drag bingo, and dancing to music spun by the area’s hottest DJs. Or book one of the resort’s duplexes and chill on your private deck with your own hot tub. No matter what, you’ll always be free to be yourself at The Dunes. Plus, you’re just five minutes from Saugatuck, the “Art Coast of Lake Michigan” with its over 35 eclectic galleries and 140 LGBTQ-owned businesses. There's also the award-winning Oval Beach, where pristine beaches, clean Lake Michigan waters, and a backdrop of rolling dunes make it the perfect spot for all the fun. 

Christopher Street Tours | Ifaa Amit Photography

Take a walking tour through a vibrant, historic gayborhood with Christopher Street Tours in New York City

Christopher Street Tour’s LGBTQ history tours take you through the most iconic gayborhood in New York City: Greenwich Village. On the two-hour walking tours, you’ll hear entertaining stories of queer activists whose tireless commitment created “important political and social movements that have shaped the LGBTQ community over time.” You’ll visit iconic sites including the Stonewall Inn (the birthplace of the modern-day LGBTQ civil rights movement), Christopher Park, the LGBT Community Center, and the NYC Aids Memorial. In addition to in-person tours, Christopher Street Tours has a Queer History channel on YouTube and hosts lively online events such as virtual Pride trivia.

Celebrate the work of female and transgender artists at 20% Theater Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota

For 10 years, this cutting-edge theater company has produced new plays by rising female and transgender artists and recently created the Q-Stage, a series of new works by queer writers and performers. Productions include The Naked I: Monologues from Beyond the Binary, in which transgender, gender-queer, and intersex individuals explore their bodies and dissect society’s assumptions.

The Lipstick Lounge | Leah Epling

Take in live music at The Lipstick Lounge, a lesbian bar in Nashville, Tennessee 

The Lipstick Lounge is the scrappy underdog you just want to root for. The bar’s been through a lot this past year; in addition to shutting down due to the pandemic, a tornado shattered its windows and damaged its front porch. As one of only 15 lesbian bars left in the US, this local gathering place remains a safe and fun space to drink up, play trivia, relax on the patio, dance to the music, and be who you are.

Drink up with cocktails and drag at Level Up Bar in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The only Black-owned and operated LGBTQ bar in the city, Level Up Bar serves up tasty food and hosts lit theme parties like Tranfusionz Thursdays, Fridayz House Party, Saturday Night Vibe, and Supreme Sundays that celebrate “no matter who you are or how you identify or what you’re into.” When in Philly, head to Level Up Bar for happy hour on the patio, drag shows, and dance parties featuring DJs spinning the hottest Afropop, Latin, hip hop, R&B, pop classics, and more.  

Down a giant bloody Mary and a dollar burger at Big Chicks in Chicago, Illinois

Since its inception in 1986, Big Chicks has been a haven for Chicago’s queer community. Owner Michelle Fire is committed to the restaurant and bar celebrating the spirit of inclusiveness with local artwork, plus food and drink specials such as dollar burgers every Monday. Like Fire, the staff is known for their hospitality and welcoming attitude. With an airy patio and great vibes, Big Chicks offers vegetarian and vegan-friendly dishes (breakfast burritos and black bean burgers), but will please carnivores as well (bison burgers). Don’t leave without ordering a giant bloody Mary, served with a side of camaraderie.

Orbitz believes everyone should be able to travel freely, no matter who you are, who you love, or where you’re going. Discover LGBTQIA-welcoming hotels, plan queer-friendly trips, and get inspired to vacation. You’ll feel welcomed whenever you book with Orbitz. Travel As You Are™.

Mark Jason Williams writes essays and travel articles; and is working on a travel guidebook for LGBTQ couples. He can be found at www.markjasonwilliams.com.