01 of 07
Milwaukee's Gay Bars
With Pridefest—held this year on June 10-12, along Milwaukee’s lakefront in Henry Maier Festival Park, 200 N. Harbor Drive—shining a light on the city’s gay-friendly scene, this is also a good time to look at Brew City’s bars that are favorites among the LGBTQ population. Naturally, Wisconsinites know how to drink, but they also realize the importance of neighborhood taverns, lively clubs and craft-cocktail spots as cornerstones within the community. Most of the gay-friendly bars are on the city’s south side, in the Walker’s Point neighborhood.
Interested in attending Pridefest? The weekend event kicks off at 3 p.m. on Friday, June 10, extending into Sunday evening. Gates open at noon on all three days and close at midnight (note that the box office closes at 11 p.m.). Tickets are $17 (or, get a three-day pass for $39) and include access to all live-music events; additional fees are needed for food and drinks. Bonus: Walker's Point is less than a 10-minute drive from the festival grounds: perfect for a pre-festival stop or winding down the night with your new friends.
02 of 07
What: Black Sheep
Where: 216 S. 2nd St., Milwaukee (Walker’s Point)
What to Expect: One of the first bars in Milwaukee to employ a tasting machine that can distribute smaller amounts of wine into your glass—allowing you to create your own wine flight, or sip before you splurge on a bottle—the high design and industrial-chic vibe is welcoming. There are 16 wines on tap at all times. Black Sheep is open nightly for dinner (think dishes like poutine, a signature burger, and cheese and meat plates) as well as weekend brunch (served on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the menu features eats like duck-fat biscuits, waffles with braised beef short ribs and Seaquist Orchards' Door County cherries, and Berkshire ham Benedict).
03 of 07
What: Woody’s Milwaukee
Where: 1579 S. 2nd St., Milwaukee (Walker’s Point)
What to Expect: Considered a dive bar, you can expect cheap drinks at Woody's Milwaukee and, when “the game” is on (from Packers to Brewers), sports fans clustered near the televisions. The clientele is mostly regulars but yet they are warm and friendly to first-timers. Games to play while sipping beer include pool, pinball, darts and air hockey, plus—on occasion—trivia. As one poster on Yelp wrote, this is the bar that Norm from the television show "Cheers" would frequent if he was gay and in Milwaukee. Yes, it's that kind of a place, one where everyone knows your name.
04 of 07
LaCage Nite Club
What: LaCage Nite Club
Where: 801 S. 2nd St., Milwaukee (Walker’s Point)
What to Expect: If you like to dance into the wee hours of the morning, then this is your place. LaCage Nite Club is Wisconsin’s largest gay entertainment and dance complex, with multiple levels, DJs, female-impersonation performers, and folks dancing in cages. Check the club’s website for news of events such as pageants, bowling tournaments, and costume contests. Every Monday night means karaoke and two-for-one drinks while male dancers strut on the stage every Thursday evening.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
This Is It
What: This is It Bar
Where: 418 E. Wells St., Milwaukee (East Town/downtown)
What to Expect: Open since 1968, this tavern is an institution. It’s also the oldest continually operated gay bar in the entire state of Wisconsin. More than just a watering hole, the bar’s events include karaoke each Monday at 9 p.m. with hostess Carly-Rose, and there’s a Pink Hat Party on the last Wednesday of the month at 8 p.m., when bar patrons raise funds for a local charity (raffle tickets are sold). Check out the bar’s website for nightly drink specials, such as two-for-one on rail mixers and tap beer beginning at 8 p.m. on Wednesday nights.
06 of 07
What: Harbor Room
Where: 117 E. Greenfield Ave., Milwaukee (Walker’s Point)
What to Expect: This leather bar—open since 2000, but in a nearly 110-year-old building just off of 1st Street—hosts themed nights as well as a killer list of scotch and a patio. Inside you’ll find a pool table, a small dance floor and a jukebox. Look for the vintage neon sign. Each July there is an event at the bar called Mister Harbor Room, in which the best leather-clad, sexiest man wins.
07 of 07
What: Walkers Pint
Where: 818 S. 2nd St., Milwaukee (Walker’s Point)
What to Expect: Specials that rotate daily prove this is a locals’ kind of place, named for the neighborhood in which it resides. For example, Tuesday means “What’s Up Shorty?” with $2 Tall Boys and $2 Short Rails. And on Thursday, tall cocktails are reduced to the price of short cocktails. Sunday Funday translates to $5 tall cocktails all day and night, as well as a buck off taps.