A warm and sunny climate year-round, dry desert air, and a modest cost of living: Phoenix and surrounding areas have a lot going for them. What you may not know is that Arizona's major metropolis and America's sixth most populous city has a reputation within the gay community as being among the nation's most sexually open cities.
Located in central Arizona about 150 miles south of Flagstaff and 150 miles north of Tucson, Phoenix is situated on a broad, flat desert basin amid scattered barren rocky mountain peaks. The city's small downtown contains a few dozen high-rises. Surrounding them is a large metropolitan area that's expanded outward rather than upward. This sprawling city has largely encompassed the surrounding communities of Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe, Glendale, and Sun City.
The local arts scene includes performances at Phoenix Symphony Hall, with concerts by the Phoenix Symphony and the Phoenix Youth Symphony. The Arizona Opera and Ballet Arizona also perform here. The Orpheum Theatre is home to the Phoenix Metropolitan Opera. The Arizona Theatre Company is is the state's preeminent professional theater. Exposed Gallery is a venue for exhibitions by gay and gay-friendly artists. The Phoenix Art Museum has exhibitions from around the world and across time, from ancient to modern, the masters to the rising stars.
Sky Harbour is Arizona's international airport located a short distance from the center of Phoenix. To get to the city centre you have a choice of several differen shuttle services, public transit, car rental or taxi. Check the airport website for transportation details.
Amtrak trains no longer come through Phoenix, but Amtrak Thruway has a bus route between the airport and Flagstaff for connections with daily Southwest Chief trains to/from Los Angeles and Chicago.
Greyhound intercity buses arrive and depart from the 24th Street station, located near the airport.
A car is necessary for getting around easily, but public transportation is provided by Valley Metro with buses throughout the greater metropolitan area. Valley Metro's 20-mile light rail METRO system serves north-central Phoenix, downtown, and eastward through Tempe and Mesa. Buy $2 single fare or $4 all-day tickets, and multi-day passes at station vending machines (exact change required).
Media and resources
For locations and website links to city businesses and resources, see our gay Phoenix map & listings pages.
Bars and clubs
Gay clubs in Phoenix are somewhat spread out. The scene offers a wide range of options for cowboys, leathermen and bears, full-nude male strip bars, Latino nightclubs, cocktail lounges, drag shows galore, and laid-back neighborhood bars and cafe/restaurants for both men and women.
Anvil (2303 E Indian School Rd), men's leather and fetish bar, underwear or shirtless nights, wet boxers and hot bods contests, beer busts, pool tables, special leather and bear theme events, Dirty Daddy Dancers.
Apollo's (5749 7th St), neighborhood favorite, nightly themes, karaoke, TV sports, bingo, comedy nights, free Wi-Fi and "Greek God" male strippers.
Bar 1 (3702 N 16th St), small nightly neighborhood gay video bar, pleasant/ comfortable early hangout, jukebox, palm-shaded patio, fireplace, pinball, darts and pool games, large patio.
Bar on Central (718 N Central), variety and cabaret show nights throughout the week, great martinis, dance parties, go-go dancers. The former Amsterdam.
BS West (7125 5th Ave, Scottsdale), popular dance club; full schedule of weekly events includes karaoke, drag shows, male strippers, plus beer busts, BBQs and special events.
Bunkhouse Saloon (4428 N 7th Ave), mostly men, pool, darts, outdoor patio, fire pit, poker nights, karaoke, Underwear Nights. Weekend burgers with $1 draft beers. Daily from 8am, (Sun 10am).
Cash Inn Country (2140 E McDowell Rd), mostly women, darts, pool, line and 2-stepping dancing, poker, karaoke, free internet access, flat screen TV videos, large comfortable patio.
Charlie's (727 W Camelback Rd), long-time popular Western-themed bar, mostly men, wet and strip shows, drag shows, 2-Step and Line dancing lessons, volleyball games. Friday/Saturday afterhours until 4am.
Cruisin' 7th (3702 N 7th Street), karaoke, Leather nights and Friday/Saturday drag revues, Leathermen and Dirty Daddy Dancers; Sunday and Monday Girls Night Out.
Dick's Cabaret (3432 E Illini St), no alcohol, naked male strippers in constant rotation, private "VIP" sessions. "Love it one night, hate another -- depends who's on stage, but always a real slice of Americana."
Karamba (1724 E McDowell Rd), hot men dance to Latin beats on weekends, weekday and Sunday drag shows, karaoke, good mix and easy vibe, weekend tacos, quesadillas and burritos.
Kobalt (3110 N Central Ave), boasting one of region's best mixes of people, nightly events rotations, very popular happy hours, karaoke, drag shows, cheap strong drinks.
Mi Patio (3347 N 7th Av), good and affordable Mexican food; tacos, burritos, fajitas, tostadas, enchiladas, chimis, Huevos Rancheros, excellent service.
NuTowne Saloon (5002 E Van Buren), men's cruise/locals' bar, pool table/games, beer busts and BBQs, bar food/burgers, karaoke, video movies, WiFi, patio.
Oz (1804 W Bethany Home Rd), small neighborhood gay pub, pool tables, outdoor smokers' patio, underwear auctions, Texas hold'em poker, darts, bingo, karaoke, Friday/Saturday go-go boys.
Plazma (1560 E Osborn), neighborhood video sports bar, games on TV, pool tables, karaoke, Saturday male review shows.
Rainbow Cactus Saloon (15615 N Cave Creek Rd), welcoming neighborhood gay bar, Friday karaoke, Saturday and Sunday shows, free darts and happy hours all day Sundays and Mondays.
The Rock (4129 N 7th Ave), neighborhood gay bar/saloon, mostly men, jukebox, live music, patio, karoake, games, drag cabaret shows, Bearracuda bears' dance parties.
Roscoe's on 7th (4531 N 7th St), video sports bar and grill, softball team, pool games, most popular for happy hours and on weekends; burgers, wraps, sandwiches, quesadillas.
The Twisted Peacock (3108 E McDowell Rd), gay mixed bar variety, boys' nights, girls' nights, goth nights, DJ sets, comedy, karaoke, Sunday Beer Bust kegs. Was Ice Pics Video Bar.
Zoan (4301 N 7th Ave), video bar, karaoke nights, Saturday dancing, pizza, GLBT men/women mix, special theme nights, live music, Mr Zoan contests.
Zorfs (1028 E Indian School Rd), neighborhood hangout bar, big pet-friendly patio, DJs.
Chute (1440 E. Indian School Rd), bears and leather men, friendly atmosphere for all. Saturday Leather Night; gymnasium, steam shower, two leather sling rooms, relaxation areas, nice after-hours crowd. Off Chute Too (4115 N. 7th Avenue), their store, with cute undies, t-shirts, magazines, and kinky stuff.
Flex (1517 S Black Canyon Hwy), always open, pool, jacuzzi, steam room, gym, lockers, and private rooms. Mondays Buddy Nights 4pm to midnight, Tuesday/Thursday half-price rooms 4pm to midnight, and Wednesday noon to midnight. Also early-bird specials.
Where to stay
The Arizona Royal Villa (4312 12th St; 602-266-6883), private retreat for gay men, clothing-optional grounds and pool, overnight or day guests. In central Phoenix, near shopping, restaurants and light rail.
Arizona Sunburst Inn (6245 N 12th Pl; 602-274-1474), gay oasis in the Valley of the Sun; mostly men, clothing optional sunbathing, swimming and spa, massage therapy. Stay 7 nights and last night free. Wi-Fi internet, expanded Continental breakfast.
Clarendon (401 W Clarendon Ave; 602-252-7363), general public boutique hotel in Midtown, pool, cabanas and rooftop bar, free international phone calls, fitness facility, free WiFi, restaurant Gallo Blanco with breakfast all day and special cocktails.
ZenYard Guest House (830 E Maryland Ave; 602-845-0830), gay-friendly urban guest house oasis in the middle of the desert; Bed & Breakfast and mini resort with full breakfast, solar-heated salt water swimming pool and Jacuzzi hot tub, private entrances.
See our city map with all the above businesses and more, at our Phoenix gay map & listings pages.