Off the Beaten Path: A Local’s Guide to LGBTQ Offerings
Welcome to Northern Kentucky! My name is Franck (pronounced “Frank” not “Fronk” – LoL!), and I’ll be your local tour guide to some of my favorite LGBTQ haunts in NKY and neighboring Cincinnati. In the past, as queer travelers, many of us began our explorations of a new city by stopping at the nearest gay bar and taking tips from the locals. But with the closing of so many traditional bars, we’ve had to be more creative. Where’s a tourist gal or guy likely to find their queer peers here in NYK and Cincinnati? Not to worry! Follow me, gayly, as we take the path less traveled to discover fun and unique LGBTQ offerings here in the region.
GAY-FRIENDLY TRIVIA SPOTS IN THE NKY AND CINCY REGION
Want to exercise your intellect, and not just your libido? Then check-out these gay-friendly trivia nights. Some of the best include “Trivia with a Twist” at The Gruff in Covington’s Riverside District; “Big Gay Trivia” at The Birdcage Bar & Lounge in downtown Cincinnati; and my new favorite, “Big Gay Happy Hour and Queer Trivia” at Alice Bar in Cincinnati’s Over-The-Rhine neighborhood, organized by Midwestern Lesbian. Show the locals how smart you really are—if you dare!
"Trivia with a Twist" Hosted by The Gruff (129 E. 2nd Street, Covington, KY) on Wednesdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
"Big Gay Trivia" Hosted by The Birdcage Bar and Lounge (927 Race St, Cincinnati, OH) on Sundays from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
DRAG SHOWS IN CINCY AND NKY
There are LOTS of drag performances in and around Greater Cincinnati with Bloom OTR presenting some of the most professional. But Sunday drag brunches provide some of the most fun ones. Why not shake off your weekend hangover with great food and campy performances? A few at the top include “Esoteric Presents: Brunch with the Queens” at Esoteric Brewing in Cincinnati’s historic Walnut Hills neighborhood; “Alcove Drag Brunch” at Madtree Brewing in Over-the-Rhine; and most definitely off the beaten path, “Pop Diva Drag Brunch!” at Dead Low Brewing in Cincinnati’s Columbia-Tusculum neighborhood.
Alcove Drag Brunch presented Alcove by MadTree Brewing (1410 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH) on select Sundays.
"Esoteric Presents: Brunch with the Queens" at Esoteric Brewing (918 E McMillian, Cincinnati, OH) on select Sundays.
ART IN THE NKY AND CINCY REGION
Want to cultivate your creative side while visiting NKY and Cincinnati? It’s drag queens to the rescue! Start your artistic explorations in Covington’s Mainstrasse neighborhood and participate in “Drink, Draw & Drag” at CHAD’s Secret Bar (the speakeasy behind the gallery). Still have an urge to be artsy? Then check out “Not Your Average Paint & Sip” at the James Reynolds Art Studio inside Over-The-Rhine’s gigantic Pendleton Art Center where you can book a local drag queen to help inspire your artistic sensibilities inside a real artist’s studio.
Not feeling the creative spark, but still want to appreciate art? Then head over to the Cincinnati Art Museum for “Art After Dark,” a monthly Friday-night party that attracts a diverse crowd from all over the city—including lots of members of the LGBTQ community. Wear your favorite festive attire and get to know your fellow art-lovers while admiring the art (and the cocktails!)
"Drink, Draw & Drag" at the Secret Bar located inside of CHAD (Creative House of Art and Design) (609 Main Street, Covington, KY). The next show is schedule for Friday, January 27th at 7 p.m.
"Not Your Average Paint & Sip" organized by James Reynolds Art Studio at the Pendleton Art Center (1310 Pendleton Street, Studio 400a, Cincinnati, OH). This event is every Friday evening, single tickets, by appointment other days of the week. Book a drag queen to help!
LGBTQ DANCING SPOTS IN NKY AND CINCY
Call me old fashioned, but when I travel to a new destination, I like to hit the local LGBTQ clubs and strut my stuff on the dance floor! But where-oh-where to dance in the NKY area? Happily, you have options. The weekly “Friday Night Dance Party” and “Drag You to the Dance Floor” (on Saturdays) are hosted by the tiny but mighty Birdcage Bar & Lounge in downtown Cincinnati. Further afield, Good Judy’s, “a queer dive,” in Cincinnati’s Northside neighborhood attracts a younger, hip crowd for late night dancing. And, for those of us who love a good Sunday afternoon gathering with a hundred of our dearest friends, check out “Tea Dance Cincinnati” hosting monthly dance-and-cocktail parties at different locations in and around downtown Cincinnati and Over-the-Rhine.
“Friday Night Dance Party” and "Drag You to the Dance Floor" at The Birdcage Bar & Lounge (927 Race Street, Cincinnati, OH) from 10:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.
Good Judy's (4169 Hamilton Avenue, Cincinnati, OH) is the best dive bar and dance bar for the hip and younger crowd.
The Tea Dance Cincinnati changes venue's each month!
Oof! And after all that, maybe you just want to relax and chill with some of the locals at their favorite neighborhood bars and hangouts in four LGBTQ-friendly neighborhoods:
- Mainstrasse in Covington, KY
- East Row in Newport, KY
- Court Street in Cincinnati, OH
- Northside in Cincinnati, OH
Here’s a curated selection pairing under-the-radar wine bars and restaurants with local LGBTQ establishments:
COVINGTON’S MAINSTRASSE VILLAGE
Crafts & Vines (642 Main Street, Covington, KY) is a low-key wine & craft beer bar welcoming LGBTQ folks.
Rosie’s Tavern (643 Bakewell Street, Covington, KY) is an LGBTQ neighborhood bar located one block west of Crafts & Vines.
Bar 32 (701 Bakewell Street, Covington, KY) is an LGBTQ dive bar located one block west of Crafts & Vines.
NEWPORT’S EAST ROW
O’Bryon’s Bar & Grill (736 Washington Ave, Newport, KY) is a favorite with locals serving brews & bites in Newport’s historic East Row neighborhood.
Crazy Fox Saloon (901 Washington Ave, Newport, KY) is an LGBTQ dive bar located one block south of O’Bryon’s Bar & Grill.
CINCINNATI’S COURT STREET
Lalo Chino Latino Kitchen (26 W Court Street, Cincinnati, OH) is a Latin/Asian fusion cuisine in downtown Cincinnati’s lively Court Street neighborhood.
Bar 901 at the Brittany (901 Race Street, Cincinnati, OH) is an LGBTQ dive bar located one block south of The Birdcage Bar & Lounge.
CINCINNATI’S NORTHSIDE NEIGHBORHOOD
The Loon Wine Bar (4124 Hamilton Avenue, Cincinnati, OH) is a great place to grab a fancy glass of wine before heading out on-the-town.
Tillie’s Lounge (4042 Hamilton Avenue, Cincinnati, OH) is he Northside neighborhood’s premiere LGBTQ watering hole located inside a gorgeously restored Victorian interior.
Hope this helps you plan a wonderful gay vacation or long weekend in the NKY and Cincy region. For more travel planning, check out meetNKY’s itinerary ideas on this Plan Your LGBTQ+ Visit page.