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LGBTQ+ Travel in Illinois

May 03, 2020 Arts, Culture & History

People walking down the bridge with flags along it

Chicago is home to one of the most vibrant and diverse LGBTQIA+ communities in the country, one that is near the top in size, diversity and splendor.

It used to be that Chicago's queer neighborhoods could be easily limited to two areas: Northalsted, in Lakeview near Wrigley Field, and Andersonville, along Clark Street between Foster and Bryn Mawr. But those particular gayborhoods have expanded into nearby wards, to the point that you could add all of Uptown beyond Andersonville, and Edgewater and Rogers Park to the north along Lake Michigan, as destinations for LGBTQIA+ folk from across the country. And Illinois as a whole is more than happy to roll out the welcome mat.

Pride Month in Chicago: June

The centerpiece of summer fun for the LGBTQIA+ community is Pride season in June. The renowned Chicago Pride Parade and Chicago Pride Fest are two unmissable events.

Pride in the Park (which debuted in 2019) returns to Grant Park as a two-day festival this year. This music fest features national and local headliners and plenty of dancing, and it's open to all ages.

Family sitting on bridge stairs

Chicago's LGBTQ+ Neighborhoods

Seasonal fun aside, nightlife is the name of the game year-round, and Chicago's LGBTQIA+ evening offerings have expanded in the same way that the community has spread into different parts of the city.


By day, Northalsted is a friendly neighborhood of specialty shops, alfresco dining and coffee houses. At night, it’s a raucous party featuring everything from glam drag queens to show-tune sing-alongs. 

Quench your thirst or get your groove on in standards such as Roscoe's and Hydrate. For a more upscale vibe, cross the street and check out the many layers of entertainment available at Sidetrack. There’s usually a crowd, but there’s also always plenty of space with different nooks to enjoy, especially the Video Bar or up on the rooftop during summer months.

Life isn't just cocktails and dance floors, though—when you're in Northalsted you'll want to enjoy some of the shopping you can't do anywhere else. If you're seeking out your best look in the big city, check out CRAM Fashion for stylish attire and accessories, Ragstock for affordable clothing or Beatnix for vintage.

Catch drag and trans showgirl experiences in different areas of the city. Just north of the Loop, dodge bridal parties and guys agog to check out art from some of the country's most beautiful performers at the Baton Show Lounge. At the Kit Kat Lounge and Supper Club, located just north of the heart of Northalsted, a posh venue with a huge martini menu guarantees good times.

Read more about this vibrant LGBTQ hot spot.

Balloons spelling out 'pride' A parade Woman wearing colours and holding flag


This Swedish neighborhood on Chicago’s north side has quietly become an LGBTQ favorite with its quaint restaurants, eclectic shopping, and laid-back bars that favor a touch of sophistication over blinding disco balls.

You can relive the good old days at Replay, a lively neighborhood bar with retro arcade games, pinball machines and excellent food and drink.

Read more about Andersonville's LGBTQ-friendly attractions.


This pair of north-side neighborhoods are filled with hidden cultural gems and excellent LGBTQ-friendly bars for a more low-key (but no less fun) night out. Read more about Edgewater and Uptown.

Keep with the laid-back vibe up in far-north Rogers Park—enjoy pints, pizza and commotion at R Public House, close to the beaches near Loyola's North Shore campus. Find a great neighborhood bar experience at Big Chicks in Uptown, and don't be afraid to come back for brunch the morning after.

Speaking of brunch … is there anything that goes hand-in-hand with nighttime revels better? Options are limitless, but you can’t go wrong with Wilde on Broadway, Lady Gregory's in Andersonville, Pick Me Up Cafe in Uptown or any of Ann Sather's three locations (all featuring their exquisite cinnamon rolls)—and that’s just to start. How many Sundays are there in a year again?

Hear From the Locals: For more on LGBTQ-friendly Chicago attractions, see our article Hometown Pride, in which prominent LGBT Chicagoans share their favorite things to do around the city.

Pride Around Illinois

Chicago doesn't own the patent on this sort of fun—LGBTQ folks celebrate their lives throughout Illinois. Springfield PrideFest is celebrated annually in the state's capital city, and features a street fair, campy fun and music, capped by a drag show. An additional benefit is the Old State Capitol Art Fair, so check out its extraordinary group of regional artists with an eye towards glamming up your home. Peoria gets in on the action with a couple of events, as Peoria Proud and other downstate organizations will host a community cookout for LGBTQ families with games, door prizes and community tables, followed in the fall by a city-sponsored Pride festival.

All over Illinois, the vibrant LGBTQ community celebrates with flair and fun. Explore and get to know another side of the state.

Trolley riding through the busy main street of Galena.


Located in northwest Illinois near the banks of the Mississippi River, the town of Galena makes for a romantic weekend getaway for people of all ages and identities. Read our guide to an LGBTQ getaway in Galena, or check out some of these highlights:

Miss Kitty’s Grape Escape

Step inside the world of Miss Kitty at her Grape Escape lounge, a local favorite that’s home to smart cocktails, a diverse wine list, a Bloody Mary buffet—and a touch of sass just to keep things interesting. Visit Miss Kitty's.

Historic Main Street

Explore nineteenth-century storefronts along Galena’s Historic Main Street that are now home to eclectic shops, art galleries, and farm-to-table dining. No wonder Midwest Living magazine named it “Best Main Street in the Midwest.”

Inn at Irish Hollow

Old World charm meets modern amenities in these quaint cottages that dot a real working farm. Wake up to views of rolling hills and freshly prepared cuisine served with plenty of Midwestern hospitality. Visit Irish Hollow.

Galena Cellars Winery & Vineyard

Add some local wine to your B&B retreat with a tasting downtown at Galena Cellars Winery. Or venture out to their vineyard where wine tastings come with views of the rolling countryside and a guided tour. Visit Galena Cellars.

Two men in dinning room styled for a wedding

Getting Married in Illinois

Wedding bells chime for LGBTQ+ couples

Same-sex marriage is legal in Illinois—a step that honors vows between all couples. So when you’re ready to say “I Do”, you’re invited to exchange vows in Illinois at venues that include a wide range of settings.

We've compiled a list of 11 Unique Same-Sex Wedding Venues in Illinois to help you find your dream wedding venue in the Land of Lincoln.

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