Portland is known for its quirky charm, beautiful landscapes, and progressive politics. It has become a popular destination for LGBTQ+ followers, especially as a domestic trip in America. If you’re coming from a larger US city, like New York or LA, Portland is a great way to get a smaller city feel, while still having a lot of options in culture and nightlife.
Whether you’re looking to explore the city’s vibrant arts scene, indulge in its delicious food and drink, or simply relax and soak up the laid-back vibes, Portland has something for everyone. Here’s your ultimate travel guide to Gay Portland.
LGBTQ+ Laws & Social Acceptance
Portland is an extremely welcoming and accepting place for LGBTQ+ people. There have been anti-discrimination laws in place to protect the LGBTQ+ community for over a decade. Along with the protective laws, it’s also a very socially accepting destination. Many of the stores have rainbow flags, trans live matter signs, and shop items catering towards the LGBTQ+ community.
Ideal Time to Go
The best time to visit Portland depends on what you’re looking for. The summer is typically crowded with more tourists, but the weather allows for outdoor activities and festivals. Fall is another great time to visit, with beautiful foliage and a cooler climate. Winter is typically more rainy and chilly, but is the perfect time to explore the city’s indoor offerings, like museums and galleries. Spring is popular for its cherry blossoms blooming and mild temperatures.
Two things to note: it rains often in Portland, so no matter when you go, bring an umbrella or raincoat with you. Also, keep in mind that hotel rates tend to be highest in the summer months, so plan accordingly.
Best Places to Stay
The Woodlark Hotel is an LGBTQ+-friendly hotel that is chic and stylish. Half of its lobby is a cafe, with coffee, tea, and pastries being sold and a decent size seating area where you can get some work done or just hang out. On the other side of the lobby, there’s a bar that you can grab a drink and unwind at.
The rooms themselves are clean with nice amenities and a cleaning service. It’s also located near a good amount of shops and places to pick up any last minute needs if you forgot something. Furthermore, the staff is kind and helpful, making the Woodlark a nice choice if you’re looking for a Portland hotel.
Overall, the community is very open and inviting. Everyone we spoke to was happy to chat, and those we interviewed were happy to share their story and experience in Portland.
There is a strong queer community throughout the city, and many spaces and events honor and uplift the community.
Things to Do in Gay Portland
There are a plethora of activities and experiences to get into during your Portland stay. It has a vibrant shopping scene of bright and independent stores.
If you’re a book lover, you have to make a stop at Powell’s, the world’s largest independent bookstore. We know everyone talks about this store, but for good reason. It is huge. It has 10 rooms categorized by genres and categories. The Young Adult section alone is 3 long, tall aisles full of books. They also have a rare book room and queer sections in the Young Adult and general Adult genre sections. Books range from fiction to mystery to nonfiction, to poetry, and more.
They have a great mix of used and new books, allowing you to pick up something slightly less costly if you’re looking to save. This is definitely a place you could wander in for hours, getting lost in the shelves.
Amity Artisan Goods
Another great place to shop at is Amity Artisan Goods. This store strives to uplift underserved artists and sells the work of LGBTQ+, BIPOC, Latinx, and AAPI artists. Their shop is bright and inviting, with candles, soaps, tea towels, art prints, ceramics, clothing, tea, jewelry, and more filling the space. They sell independently made products and love to connect with the Portland community.
Mimi’s Fresh Tees
Mimi’s Fresh Tees is the spot to go for a great slogan tee-shirt or some art, candles, or jewlery. This racial justice focused store features artwork and pictures of famous Black artists and activists on the walls and cultivates a warm, inclusive space.
Tender Loving Empire
Tender Loving Empire features handmade products supporting independent artists and musicians. So far, they’ve been able to give over $12.7 million to independent makers. We specifically noted their selection of pronoun pins, anti-racism books, and the trans inclusive sign on the outside of their door. They have a wide selection of other items, including wines and beers, records, magnets, ceramics, and more. Their music section even linked to their own Spotify, with a variety of specially curated playlists.
Wildfang’s flagship store is in Portland, and their mission is clear and strong in its space and employees. They strive to create clothes for every body, including trans, gender non-conforming, and plus size people. Their clothes are fun with a variety of color palettes and styles ranging from suits to overalls. We got to interview the store manager, Jessie Morris, who has a strong passion for the store’s mission and making everyone feel empowered.
Top Places to Eat
The food options in Portland are endless. There’s definitely something for everyone.
The Dame Restaurant holds pop-up chefs in the beginning of the week, which encourages entrepreneur chefs and bakers, and is a great way to eat local. The restaurant itself has art and murals on the walls and a bar area.The Chelo pop-up chef is Luna Contreras, a trans woman who gives Mexican dishes a vegetable focus in this pop-up. The gorditas had mushrooms, kale, oaxaca, frisee, blue masa, and sikil pak. The salad had arugula, beets, chicories, fennel, hazelnut, cotija, and a delectable citrus-miso dressing. There were many other amazing choices, many with the option to be made vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free.
Speed-o Cappuccino is an LGBTQ+ owned food cart in the Lil’ America food court. They were inspired by the popular bikini baristas in Portland, and wanted to create one that was inclusive of all identities and bodies. Their most popular days are on the weekends, with their shakes being a very popular item, and rightfully so. Their peanut butter chocolate milkshake is incredible.
Dolly Olive is an Italian Restaurant with amazing, filling dishes, such as Sicilian Eggplant Parmigiana and their special Dolly Focaccia.
Café Olli is a great, hometown feel breakfast spot, with delicious pastries, coffee, and meals. Their food is locally sourced and their menu can change by the season, but great care is put into it year-round. Their frittata sandwich is delicious and their pastries are perfectly baked.
Tea Chai Té
If you’re a tea lover, Tea Chai Té is definitely the place for you. With an amazing assortment of teas, iced and hot, there’s something for every taste palate. They have a wide variety of loose tea leaves to choose from as well as tea lattes, matcha, and more. Their spacious seating area makes it a great place to unwind with a book, or hang out with friends.
Screen Door is a great option if you’re looking for classic Southern American breakfast food. From their iconic chicken and waffles to their apple crumble pancakes, you won’t be disappointed.
Voodoo Donuts is definitely a popular spot for tourists, but we think it’s worth the visit. The donuts have fun names, like Oh Captain, My Captain (with Cap’n Crunch cereal), and Mango Tango. If you’re exploring Portland and in the mood for a sweet treat, this is a great option. Take note that the line might be long, but it moves pretty quickly.
Best Queer Nightlife
Doc Marie’s is a lesbian bar that opened in 2022. They’re known as a “lesbian bar for everyone.” They have two floors, each with its own bar and seating, and a DJ downstairs. There’s even a queer book corner on the top floor. They host many events, including Queer Prom, Queer Latin Night, and Queeraoke.
The Sports Bra
Another great spot is The Sports Bra. The Sports Bra was founded in 2022 by Jenny Nguyen as a way to cultivate community and center women’s sports. They only play women’s sports on the TV’s, such as soccer, basketball, and gymnastics. Although not solely queer, The Sports Bra creates an inclusive space for everyone to feel safe and heard. They are all ages until 10 PM. Memorabilia, including signed jerseys and flags from the biggest names in women’s sports, adorn the walls. With great food and all women owned or operated breweries filling the beer list, this is a great place to spend time with friends, uplift women empowerment, and have fun in a safe environment.
Major LGBTQ+ Events
Portland has a plethora of LGBTQ+ events. Lil’ America has queer meetups run by PDX Queer Meetup. There’s a Pride Parade in July. Portland also has a Lesbian Choir and a Gay Men’s Chorus. There are local drag shows and so much more to explore.
With a strong sense of community and Pride, Portland is a place to feel uplifted, safe, and empowered in as a queer person.