Located in the heart of western Michigan and home to nearly 200,000 people, Grand Rapids is just a 45-minute drive from the gay resort towns of Saugatuck and Douglas.
However, although Grand Rapids is a fraction of the size of Detroit or Chicago, it is also a great destination for gay tourism. The city has a handful of fun gay bars as well as a long-running men's gay bathhouse, the Diplomat Health Club.
The Diplomat Health Club: Grand Rapids' Only Gay Bathhouse
Located at 2324 South Division Avenue, the Diplomat Health Club has been in operation since it first opened its doors in 1980. Set in a rather elegant old brick building on the main thoroughfare about three miles south of downtown Grand Rapids, the Diplomat continues to draw fairly sizable and loyal crowds, especially on weekends.
The club is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and offers a number of specials throughout the week including new members nights, senior 55-and-older specials, college nights, and more. Basic rates start at just $10 for a day pass, $17 for a locker, and $20 for a small room. The staff is very friendly and helpful and the owners also used to operate a Diplomat Health Club in Toledo, Ohio.
While the Diplomat Club may be a bit older facility, it's generally kept quite clean and sanitary. However, the guests also tend to be on the older side, too, so you may not find what you're looking for if you're under 30 years old. Fortunately, the weekends and special events at the Diplomat draw diverse crowds, and this is one bathhouse where you'll encounter very little attitude from fellow patrons.
Other Gay Venues in Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids is known as Beer City, USA to some, but it's also home to a number of great gay and lesbian venues, including Michigan's oldest gay bar, The Apartment Lounge. While you're in town, be sure to check out some of these LGBT-friendly destinations:
- Rumors Nightclub: This gay bar and dance club is known for its popular weekly drag shows, dance parties, karaoke nights, and queer cinema screening parties.
- The Apartment Lounge: Michigan's oldest gay bar that offers a variety of theme nights throughout the year and daily drink specials.
- The Anchor Bar: While not explicitly a gay bar, Anchor is an LGBT-friendly establishment offering bar games, happy hour specials, and nightly dance parties including a gay night.
- Alger Heights: A great, gay-friendly area of Grand Rapids for exploring shops, restaurants, and local businesses or grabbing a cup of coffee.
Grand Rapids is a relatively progressive city, so LGBT travelers don't have too much to fear in terms of prejudice when dining out across most of the city. However, some venues (like those listed above) are more queer-friendly than others. If you're looking for an escape from the heteronormative on your trip, don't hesitate to check out some of these great gay bars, clubs, restaurants, and shops.
The Upper Level: A Gender-Fluid Accommodaton
Opened above the popular Diplomat Health Club in 2017, The Upper Level is a gender-inclusive accommodation featuring a full private kitchen, a huge dining table, a television room, and several great spots to spread out and work on projects. While it may not be as rambuncous as the club underneath, The Upper Level has quickly become a top destination for LGBT individuals visiting the city and looking for a queer-friendly place to stay.