Since the 1980s Indianapolis has had a sizable LGBTQ population and the city has been a critical center for the community in the midwest. Although there are fewer bars and clubs catering exclusively to LGBTQ clientele than there were in the past, there are still several lively and fun nightspots around the city that draw in both the gay and straight crowds.
Most of these hangouts can be found in the trendy Massachusetts Avenue Arts District. Other neighborhoods with a dappling of LGBTQ bars include Broad Ripple, Herron Morton, and the St. Joseph Historic District. When it comes to meeting other LGBTQ folk or finding a gay-friendly establishment, there are a number of tried and trusted places to visit when you're ready to go out on the town in Indy.
Bars and Clubs
Many of the city's gay bars are located "on the Ave," aka on Massachusetts Avenue. This somewhat industrial neighborhood is a bit north of downtown, but still very much in the city center.
- Gregs Indy: A professional, friendly staff has helped make Gregs one of the premier gay nightspots in Indianapolis. Gregs on the inside is clean and cheery, with a great sound system and a big dance floor.
- Metro: One of the trendiest and friendliest gay clubs in the Midwest, Metro is in the heart of the lively Mass Ave Arts District and offers a wide range of diversions to an eclectic LGBTQ crowd. There's drinking, videos, pool, and dancing to DJs on Friday and Saturday nights.
- Tini: As the name suggests, this is a martini bar, but it's also known for playing music videos and a consistently handsome roster of bartenders.
- English Ivy's: In the historic St. Joseph neighborhood, this vintage pub is also a restaurant that serves classic American fare and stays open until 3 a.m. on weekends.
- Downtown Olly's: This is a laid-back and convivial St. Joseph neighborhood bar with a strong LGBTQ following. Expect great drinks, hearty food, 24-hour service, and occasional, but legendary, karaoke nights.
- Zonie's Closet: Here, you can find drinks, dancing, and live shows, popular with the drag crowd and welcoming to everyone. Look out for creative theme nights like Drag Queen Bingo and Therapy Thursday.
Many of the gay bars and clubs will also serve food, but if you're looking for a sit-down meal before you go out or a late-night binge before you turn, it's not too hard to find a restaurant that keeps late hours in Indianapolis.
- Downtown Olly's: Worth mentioning a second time, this gay bar and restaurant serves food 24/7 and their menu includes everything from nachos to waffles, fried Twinkies, Hawaiian pizza, and beyond.
- Condado Tacos: Right next door to Tini, this taqueria serves up some of the most raved about tacos in the city and is open until 2 a.m.
- Forty Five Degrees Sushi: Open until midnight, a sponsor of Indianapolis Gay Pride, and a fun and hip spot for terrific pan-Asian fare in the trendy Mass Ave Arts District. It's both an enticing place to dine and the kind of see-and-be-seen nightspot that draws a mix of gays and straights well into the evening.
- Mesh: Serving first-rate contemporary American bistro fare and offering a relaxed yet sophisticated vibe, this is a nice option for dining before heading a few doors down to Metro.
- Pearl Street Pizzeria: Hankering for a slice of pizza and a pint of beer? This downtown favorite stays open until 3 a.m.
If you're Indy-bound come June, don't miss an opportunity to join in on the fun of the Pride Festival. There will be vendors, entertainment, and, of course, the Cadillac Barbie Indy Pride Parade, which travels along Mass Avenue all the way to downtown. Every year the parade is held on the second Saturday of June and over 90,000 people attend.
The festival also includes multiple stages for entertainment, where the focus is on highlighting acts and DJs who are local to Indianapolis. On the main stage, you can expect drag shows and concerts, while the DJ stage will be set up for all-day dancing. There will also be a family stage, where all ages can enjoy interactive animal shows and Drag Queen Story Hour.
The Indy Pride Pageant is another historic tradition, that aims to be inclusive of everyone. There are three divisions: Miss Indy Pride, Mr. Indy Pride, and Mx. Indy Pride, so anyone can feel comfortable entering no matter how they identify.
- The sale of alcohol is illegal on Sundays in the state of Indiana, but you can still order a drink at a restaurant or a bar without fear of violation.
- Start your night on Massachusetts Avenue, which is really the main thoroughfare of Indy's LGBTQ scene.
- It's easy to walk in between the bars, but the bus system in the city is easy to use and comes in handy to avoid frigid winter temperatures.
- If it's wintertime, you'll probably be wearing a large coat, so don't forget to bring enough cash to tip the coat check.