Photos of gay bars, nightclubs, lounges, cabarets, and other nightlife options in the Southwest, including Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico (listed alphabetically, by city).
Albuquerque Social Club, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Address4021 Central Ave NE, Albuquerque, NM 87108, USA
Effex Nightclub, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque's first genuine "big city" gay nightclub, Effex Nightclub (420 Central Ave. S.W.) is a spacious, two-level spot just off downtown's main drag, Central Avenue. It comprises a large ground-floor dance floor with bars, a big stage, and a state-of-the-art sound system. Head upstairs and you'll find a similarly huge roof deck bar that's ideal for chatting (and gazing up at those New Mexico twinkling stars). The owners have further plans to create a VIP lounge and add plenty of other great new features, and already, the crowds (both men and women) have been flocking here. The club is right behind Schlotzsky's Deli.
Flying Star, Albuquerque, New Mexico (also in Santa Fe, New Mexico)
Albuquerque has some less traditional gay nightlife options, including the highly inviting local coffeehouse-restaurant chain, Flying Star. These hip, smartly furnished hangouts are spacious and attractively decorated, several of them with fireplaces and most with large patios. There are several of them throughout Albuquerque. The one in Nob Hill along Central Avenue has the gayest crowd and is downright cruisy some evenings. The downtown and Corrales locations also draw plenty of "family", but you'll feel quite welcome at any of them. Would that every city had a hangout as festive as this one. All of the Flying Stars serve three meals a day, a wide range of coffees, wine and beer, and fresh-baked goods, and they also have free Wi-Fi.
Sidewinders, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Drive east along Central from Nob Hill for a couple of miles and you'll reach one of New Mexico's longest-running gay bars, the friendly and eclectic Sidewinders (formerly known as The Ranch) (8900 Central Ave SE, 505-554-2078). This festive, down-home club, has country-western music and dancing early on Saturdays, dancing to pop and remixes later on Saturdays, a fun "beer blast" on Sunday afternoons, club tunes on Fridays, and more. The crowd comes in all flavors - women and men, younger and older, bears and jocks, clean-cut and edgy. It's a nice option if you're heading out with a varied bunch of friends, and attitude is minimal here.
Monte Vista Lounge and Rendezvous Bar at Hotel Monte Vista, Flagstaff, Arizona
Flagstaff has no explicitly gay bars, but most of the several bars in this small northern Arizona city's historic downtown have at least a somewhat mixed reputation. Check out our full guide to Flagstaff Gay Bars and Gay-Friendly Restaurants, which also includes coverage in Williams and up at the Grand Canyon.
One of the more popular hangouts with the gay crowd is the historic, and endearingly raffish, Hotel Monte Vista (100 N. San Francisco St., 928-779-6971) and its two nightspots, the Rendezvous Martini Bar (which is also a coffeehouse during the day) and the rambling Monte Vista Lounge, which hosts live bands and spans two levels (the upper one has a billiards room).
One of the oldest continuously operated hotels in Arizona, the four-story building decked with lights and crowned with a huge neon sign, has characterful - if not especially modern - hotel rooms available, too. The hotel is just a block of Historic Route 66, within an easy walking distance of the many charming restaurants and shops in downtown. Flagstaff is a popular stopover for travelers crossing the Southwest via I-40, as it's the largest town between L.A. and Albuquerque. Home to Northern Arizona University and an excellent base for year-round outdoor recreation, Flagstaff is just 45 minutes from the beautiful red-rock formations of gay-friendly Sedona, and a 90-minute drive from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Badlands Bar LV, Las Vegas, Nevada
Part of the endearingly strange grab bag of gay and not-so-gay bars, sex clubs, Asian restaurants, and prosaic offices that inhabit the Commercial Center, an expansive, drab strip mall less than a mile east of the north end of the Strip, Badlands Saloon (953 E. Sahara Ave., 702-792-9262) is a friendly cowboy-themed neighborhood joint catering mostly to guys in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. Crowd-size varies greatly - it can be quiet in here on weekdays, but happy hour and weekend late-night usually see decent numbers. Hawk's Gym (a gay bathhouse) is just a few doors down, as is the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Las Vegas. Farther afield but still in the same strip mall is one of the best Thai restaurants in the country, Lotus of Siam.
Hawks Gym, Las Vegas, Nevada
For more on the cruising scene in town, check out the Las Vegas Gay Sex Club and Bathhouse Guide.
Hawks also operates a gay bathhouse in a sex club in Oregon, Hawks PDX.
Mine Shaft Tavern, Madrid, New Mexico
I received a very nice note (part of it reprinted below) not long ago from the owner of the Mine Shaft Tavern (2846 Hwy. 14 (right in the middle of the village, where Hwy. 14 bends to the west, by the Old Coal Mine Museum, 505-473-0743) in the tiny village of Madrid, New Mexico, letting me know just how gay-friendly and supportive of the northern New Mexico GLBT community they are. In fact, this rambling, friendly, and totally cool tavern and restaurant is lesbian-owned and operated, and it's a cherished landmark along the historic and scenic Turquoise Trail, between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
This rollicking, atmospheric roadhouse serves fantastic New Mexican and home-style American fare (incredibly tasty green-chile cheeseburgers, breakfast burritos, blue-corn beef tacos, plus a great beer, wine, and margarita selection) three meals a day. From the drinks menu, I'm partial to the "Horny Cadillac" (Sauza Hornitos, Grand Marnier, fresh lime juice). It's adjacent to the Old Coal Mine Museum and Engine House Theatre.
By day, the Mine Shaft draws a mix of tourists and locals, families and adults - it's a fun place to break up a stroll along the village's main street, which is lined with arts and crafts galleries and vintage-furniture shops. In the evening, the Mine Shaft draws a more adult crowd and has live music (emphasis is on blues, rock, folk, and soul) and dancing. It's not strictly a gay bar, of course, but you'll always find a great mix of patrons and a welcoming vibe.
A drive up the Turquoise Trail, with a stop for cocktails, green-chile burgers, and conversation at the Mineshaft, is a must if you're visiting this part of the world.
Bunkhouse Saloon, Phoenix, Arizona
Bears, leather daddies, and blue-collar guys have long patronized this super-friendly, no-bullshit cruise bar near several other zero-attitude gay hangouts on North 7th Avenue. The Bunkhouse (4428 N. 7th Ave., 602-200-9154) has a racially diverse crowd, is quite friendly toward women for a pretty cruisy guys' bar, and has some fun events, like monthly "bear-b-que" cookouts, Southwest Leather Pride parties, and Thursday underwear nights.
Cash Inn Country, Phoenix, Arizona
Drawing a predominantly lesbian crowd, Cash Inn Country (1730 E. McDowell Rd., 602-244-9943) is one of the country's top country-western-themed women's bars and an extremely popular hangout in Phoenix. Line-dancing and two-stepping are a big part of the fun, but there's also darts and pool, free Wi-Fi, and an expansive patio out back. Many nights the DJs spin other types of music, too - from Latin to standard dance tunes. If you're not so big on cocktails, just drop in and hang out in the coffee bar. It's a very friendly place, with an especially nice bunch of folks working behind the bar.
The Chute Men's Club, Phoenix, Arizona
The Chute (1440 E. Indian School Rd., 602-234-1654) "private men's health club" in the heart of the city's gay-nightlife district. For more on the Chute and other such establishments, check out the Phoenix Gay Bathhouses and Sex Clubs guide.
Skydeck Rooftop Bar (Clarendon Hotel), Phoenix, Arizona
Set right in the heart of the city's Central Avenue corridor, which is convenient to nightlife and attractions, the Clarendon Hotel (401 W. Clarendon Ave., 602-252-7363) is a favorite, mid-priced lodging option for GLBT travelers (and other hipsters, artists, and the like). But whether you stay here or not, be sure to check out the fabulous Skydeck Rooftop Bar, with its nifty skyline views and stylish patio furniture. It's a swank spot to sip cocktails and soak up the desert skies. There's also Gallo Blanco restaurant and bar off the lobby.
Karamba Nightclub, Phoenix, Arizona
One of the city's best gay dance clubs and as fun a Latin gay bar as you'll ever find, Karamba Nightclub (1724 E. McDowell Rd., 602-254-0231) has an edgy, post-industrial look and a thunderous sound system. There are three large indoor areas plus a decent-size patio, and a small pizza restaurant inside serves food on Fridays and Saturdays. The music and the crowd are heavily Latin-influenced, but you'll see all kinds of revelers here, from shirtless and buff gym kids to veteran circuit-party addicts to straight-but-progressive types who love the great music. There's nothing quiet or intimate about this place - it's where you go when you're looking to cut loose and party into the wee hours.
Kobalt at Park Central, Phoenix, Arizona
A friendly, slightly trendy, gay bar a short drive north of downtown at Park Central Mall, Kobalt (3110 N. Central Ave., 602-264-5307) is popular for its variety of theme nights, including karaoke on Sunday and Tuesday, a piano cabaret on Friday and Saturday, and Broadway tunes on Thursdays. An upscale, attractive layout with dim lighting and glass-top bar tables lend a warm and welcoming ambiance and there's a patio, too.
BS West Video Bar, Scottsdale, Arizona
Your best bet if you're staying out at one of the glam resorts of Scottsdale, BS West (7125 E. 5th Ave., Scottsdale, 480-945-9028) is a long-running video bar with a small patio, tucked behind a row of galleries and boutique in downtown Old Scottsdale. The recently remodeled, warmly lighted bar pulls in an eclectic crowd, from students who attend relatively nearby ASU to visiting tourists.
Adobe Bar, Taos, New Mexico
Address125 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte, Taos, NM 87571-5901, USA
The small, artsy northern New Mexico town of Taos has long had a popular following with gays and lesbians, but the town has relatively little going in the way of nightlife, and certainly no specific gay bars. That being said, the atmospheric, high-ceilinged lobby lounge at the historic Taos Inn, called the Adobe Bar (at the Taos Inn, 125 Paseo del Norte, 575-758-2233), is one of the friendliest and coolest hangouts in town, and it's absolutely GLBT-welcoming, as is the excellent adjacent restaurant, Doc Martin's. This lively space with seating on the patio out front in warm weather has traditional New Mexican viga-latilla ceilings, terrific "cowboy buddha" margaritas, live music just about every night, and arguably the best people-watching in this great little town. It's just a five-minute walk from the historic Taos Plaza, and also within strolling distance of many of the town's B&Bs and inns (including the luxe El Monte Sagrado). This is one of the great must-sees in Taos, and the surrounding hotel - which is said to be haunted by seemingly friendly ghosts - has funky, moderately priced rooms (some rather upscale, others relatively simple but still dripping with character).
Club Congress, Tucson, Arizona
There aren't many hotels in America as historically intriguing yet oddly contemporary as downtown Tucson's vibrant, quirky, and quite affordable Hotel Congress (311 E. Congress St., 520-622-8848). This funky hub of musicians, artists, students, backpackers, gays and lesbians, and colorful characters is more than a cheap lodging option - it's also home to a terrific live music club and bar, a laid-back coffeehouse and cafe, and even a banquet space (Copper Hall).
The 1919 hotel has 40 basic, individually decorated rooms - they're clean, painted in a variety of mostly pastel colors, and filled with antique iron beds and old-school furnishings. All rooms have private bathrooms. The hotel has free Wi-Fi, allows pets, and offers some of the best rates in the region, starting at just $79 nightly. If you're looking for a room with character and in a hotel oozing with personality, this is a great find - and it's also a fun spot to mingle with fellow guests and locals (the crowd tending toward the young, progressive, and social side).
The Hotel Congress bar, the Tap Room, is a cool little place to sip cocktails and local beers. It's part of the famed rock venue, the Club Congress, and it presents a variety of local and touring bands as well as hosting some popular DJ nights (notably, the gay-popular '80s party, on Mondays, Retro-Lution).
Another notable feature here is the Cup Cafe, a lively little restaurant, coffeehouse, and wine bar serving creative American fare (with plenty of veggie items). It's open for three meals daily (serving food until midnight on weekends) and discounted drinks and snacks each day at happy hour.
IBT's (It's 'bout Time), Tucson, Arizona
One of the state's longest-running and most popular gay hangouts, IBT's (616 N. 4th Ave., 520-882-3053) - which is short for It's About Time - is a fixture on Tucson's bustling 4th Avenue, a strip of mostly independent, offbeat cafes, boutiques, and pubs relatively near the University of Arizona. Popular for dancing on weekends, IBT's also has some popular weekly parties, such as Karaoke on the Patio parties on Sundays, Wednesday drag shows, and occasional guest DJs. The crowd is a mix of women and men, with plenty of college students and professionals. Although it's the only gay bar on 4th Avenue, several of the other taverns and clubs along here have a bit of a GLBT following, and this entire neighborhood is worth checking out for pre-clubbing dinner or shopping.