With its famously sunny and pleasant year-round climate, a picturesque setting near the mountains, and a wealth of old-world haciendas that have been converted in relaxing hotel-spa getaways, Cuernavaca has long been a popular weekend retreat with well-to-do residents from nearby Mexico City, which is just a 90-minute drive or bus ride away.
Plenty of folks who vacation here spend their time hanging out by the pool of their resort rather than pounding the pavement in the city center or clubbing into the wee hours, but Cuernavaca does have a lively downtown with some key attractions and even a couple of gay bars and cafés, and there are also a handful of quite popular gay discos set around town.
If you're interested in staying downtown, the lovely and reasonably priced Hotel Casa Azul is a great choice. Unless you're rented a car, you'll need cabs to get to most of the city's gay bars, as they are a bit spread out. Distances aren't great, however, and it shouldn't cost more than 50 to 80 pesos (US$4 to US$7) to get from your hotel to any of the city's clubs.
Cuernavaca's historic city center is a bit less well-tended, and contains more of a jumble of building styles (some quite shabby), than you might expect of a destination with such a reputation for well-heeled visitors. The fancy hotels and resorts here, however, are mostly outside the city center, mostly cloistered within graciously landscaped, walled compounds. The downtown area is lively, however, and plenty of fun for people-watching and café-hopping. There's a well-known gay bar, Enigma (Salazar 34), just off of the main square, Plaza de Armas, that has fun drag shows and is a good choice if you're staying at one of the several good hotels in the central area.
Just south of Plaza de Armas, along the short, pedestrianized Plazuela Cuernavaca Centro, the huge rainbow mural on the side of the new (in 2012) club Face to Face confers that this is, indeed, a disco geared to the LGBT market, although the management is quick to insist that this club is intended for everybody.
The crowd is, to be sure, mixed, but what's really nice about the opening of this spot is that it gives gay and lesbian revelers a central club to party in. Along this same little pedestrian way are several other fun little clubs and restaurants. And just around the corner, the Cuernavaca Centro branch of the popular Mexico restaurant chain Sanborns (Licenciado Benito Juárez) particularly large and attractive, with a large patio dining area that's well-frequented by gays and lesbians.
Although by no means a gay bar, the exceptionally fine and charming restaurant Casa Hidalgo (Jardin de Los Heroes 6, right by the main plaza, 777-312-2749) is extremely gay-friendly and a perfect spot for a romantic dinner. Dine on the spacious terrace, soaking up views of the historic buildings around the Plaza. The food is upscale (but still quite reasonably priced) Mexican, Italian, and international. Also very gay-friendly is the chic restaurant-bar VerdesSalvia, part of the GLBT-popular boutique resort, Anticavilla Hotel & Spa - it's a five-minute cab ride east of downtown.
Getting outside the city center, the other notable gay clubs around Cuernavaca are Gula Gula (Av. Emiliano Zapata 1006), a large dance club popular with the under-30 set that's a north of downtown; and nearby Coco Bar 18 (Av.
Vicente Guerrero 907), which is a short cab ride east of Gula Gula and draws good-size crowds for its drag shows. One of the top gay clubs in the city is Oxygen (Vicente Guerrero 1303), a 10- to 15-minute cab ride east of the city center. Also on the east side of town is the gay bar La Casa del Dictador. In northeastern Cuernavaca, The Closet (Madero 503) is more of a neighborhood bar.