7 of the Best Bars for a Good Time in Gay Columbus, Ohio

When you think of gay bastions, Columbus, Ohio is probably not the first city that comes to mind. So when Experience Columbus invited me to visit their city and see what it was all about, I’ll admit I wasn’t exactly expecting much. Even some of the people I know (who have not visited Columbus) asked why I would want to go to that city. I always said, “I guess I’ll find out.” The city definitely proved itself by a long shot. It’s boasts a pretty awesome arts environment, great restaurants and awesome food, and, believe it or not, a lively and exciting gay scene. Gay Columbus will definitely surprise you!

Gay Columbus

Columbus is the 15th largest city in the nation and it’s not surprising it has a sizable LGBT population. What is rather unexpected is the city plays home to over 20 gay bars, clubs, stores, and restaurants. There’s even a gay thrift shop that raises money for AIDS healthcare and offers free HIV testing. Diversity plays an important role in this city’s history as many different ethnic neighborhoods give the city its identity; from the refugee communities from Ethiopia and other places to the German and Italian communities. As a result, the city is open and accepting of all walks of life. At no point did Alfred and I feel unsafe as we explored the city and even showed one another affection in public with no issue at all. There were even signs in most shops, restaurants, and stores stating they were a judgement-free zone and supportive of the LGBT community.

7 of the Best Bars for a Good Time in Gay Columbus, Ohio- Read More- My Normal Gay Life Blog
CarinaChen / Pixabay
Up and Coming Gay Columbus 

Since Columbus, Ohio has the third highest per-capita LGBT population, the city is very open-minded and is one of the up-and-coming gay cities of America according to NewNowNext. It’s Gay Pride event is one of the largest in the country, drawing in over 200,000 attendees each year. Nevertheless, Columbus doesn’t have a huge reputation for being a gay destination and it’s mostly because people write it off so quickly. People just don’t know all that Columbus has to offer. While it is certainly no New York City of San Francisco, it’s a city on the rise and an affordable destination with a bright and flamboyant gay community.

There’s something for everyone in this city but here are six gay bars I recommend when you visit Columbus!

Gay Columbus: Union Cafe (782 N High Street)

Located in the Short North, otherwise known as Columbus’s main arts district and gayborhood, Union Cafe is one of the most popular gay establishments in Columbus. It is the place to see and be seen. While this bar definitely knows how to serve up a good drink and fun party at night, it’s a restaurant by daylight.  So you can grab dinner and then hang out in a casual atmosphere for drinks later. Fair warning: It can get really packed so be prepared. Union also serves a pretty great brunch on Sundays and has karaoke night on Mondays!

Gay Columbus: Level (700 N High Street)

Located a couple blocks from Union, this cocktail lounge is a bit upscale and also serves food. It’s sort of the same deal as Union where it is a bit more subdued during the day and more of a party scene at night. Level also offers Sunday Broadway and Disney musicals night…which is popular with many of the LGBT folk!

Gay Columbus: Boscoes (1224 S High Street)

Head to Boscoe’s for a drag performance and a nice cocktail. Located at the opposite end of High Street, this bar is laid back and great for hanging out with friends. Boscoe’s hosts various themed nights and are known for bringing in famous drag queens. The bar also puts on a sort of male review show which you won’t want to miss!

7 of the Best Bars for a Good Time in Gay Columbus, Ohio- Read More - My Normal Gay Life Blog
Loving the skyline!
Gay Columbus: Toolbox Saloon (744 Frebis Avenue)

Toolbox Saloon, located in the German Village area of Columbus, is quite the risqué bar. The biggest draw of this bar is the male strippers. Who doesn’t like naked men, right? Aside from this, they host themed nights including an Undies Night and put on all kind of shows including drag!

Gay Columbus: A.W.O.L. (49 Parsons Avenue)

This bar caters to mostly men and is the place to go if you’re into leather, rubber and other fetishes. A.W.O.L. hosts various nights including skin, bear events, karaoke, among others. The crowd skews older but everyone is welcome!

Gay Columbus : Club Diversity (863 S High Street) 

Located close to Boscoe’s, this piano bar serves up some mighty fine martinis with a touch of karaoke too! The crowd is definitely gay but you’ll find it’s more of a lovely mixture most nights. If you identify as lesbian, this bar swings more in that direction.

Gay Columbus: Axis (775 N High Street)

Columbus’s main night club is across the street from Union Cafe. The club is just like any club you might go to with the beats turned way up, alcohol flowing, and tons of dancing. Axis brings in international DJs and adult performers sometimes. The club hosts nights including 18+ college nights, jocks in the showers, and male-reviews. Don’t miss out on the drag performers too!

Check out another off-the beaten track cityProvidence, Rhode Island!  

Small town, America is great…Ptown is the gayest small town around! 

What are the gayest destinations in the US? Learn more here! 


What do you think? Willing to give Columbus a try? 
Comment below!

J Harvey

Pin Me, Please! 

7 of the Best Bars for a Good Time in Gay Columbus, Ohio- Read More - My Normal Gay Life Blog

J. Harvey

J Harvey is a travel writer based in North Carolina. With two masters degrees, he decided to forget working a normal 9-5 job and instead create a travel blog focusing on travel for a more inclusive community. He hopes to increase LGBT representation within the travel industry while inspiring others to travel in whatever capacity.

mynormalgaylifegmail-com has 105 posts and counting.See all posts by mynormalgaylifegmail-com

23 thoughts on “7 of the Best Bars for a Good Time in Gay Columbus, Ohio

  • October 1, 2017 at 5:17 am
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    Next week I will go Columbus for my business trip. as an adult boy bars are my favorite place. When I traveled any country first I visited in there bars. your article helps me much to find the best bars. Thanks for sharing this blog.

    Reply
    • October 4, 2017 at 7:00 pm
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      I’m so glad you found this article helpful! Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  • Pingback: 6 Tips To Maximize Your Providence PrideFest Experience -MNGL

  • September 20, 2017 at 8:34 am
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    Columbus seems like a great place for the LGBT community! I am surpised by the number of awesome pubs offering a great night life. Looks like you guys had super fun!

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    • September 20, 2017 at 2:19 pm
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      That’s something we were rather taken aback by as well. We just didn’t expect it but were pleasantly surprised!

      Reply
  • September 19, 2017 at 4:43 pm
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    I never knew that Columbus has that huge population of LGBT and it is a gay friendly place. Nice picture and you guys look super happy. Stay Blessed.

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    • September 19, 2017 at 9:39 pm
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      Thanks so much! Yep! Columbus has a pretty great community!

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    • September 20, 2017 at 2:33 pm
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      Aw, thank you! We def were having a great time! Yeah, Columbus is a city with many faces!

      Reply
  • September 19, 2017 at 2:53 am
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    I love that Columbus is so diverse and inclusive – sounds like a wonderful city! I love that it promotes acceptance of everyone, and that the city is a judgment free zone. The multiculturalism present here sounds amazing! I had no idea that Columbus has the third highest per-capita LGBT population, I would love to attend the Gay Pride Event, even though I’m straight myself. Thanks for listing the most popular spots – these sound like great bars!

    Reply
    • September 20, 2017 at 2:36 pm
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      Oh yeah, I was surprised by all the info I learned too! But the city is really cool and their Pride event is supposed to be ahmazing! Pride is all about inclusiveness so fly your flag proudly!

      Reply
    • September 20, 2017 at 2:51 pm
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      I agree 100% but that’s the world we live in. Doesn’t stop us from flying our flag. 🙂

      Reply
    • September 20, 2017 at 2:55 pm
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      Yep! The bars in this city are pretty awesome! Such a great scene to explore!

      Reply
  • September 17, 2017 at 6:52 am
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    Good list! Great to know that Ohio is an exceptionally friendly place for LGBTs. Looks like you guys had pleasant and happy memories of there.

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    • September 20, 2017 at 2:57 pm
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      The memories are definitely fun and the city is a great off-the-beaten path place to holiday!

      Reply
  • September 16, 2017 at 4:00 pm
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    Definitely sounds like you were spoilt for choice here. Have you ever travelled anywhere where you really did feel uncomfortable? Such a shame that you even have to think about it.

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  • September 16, 2017 at 3:26 pm
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    Hi J,

    Way cool.

    I am happy to see Columbus is so progressive.

    I just knew the place as a party town for so many years, beyond anything else. My sister and bro-in-law spent 2 years out there when he got his masters at Ohio State. Ditto for my best friend who got his masters at OSU too.

    Partying, and of course, it is one of the prominent football towns in the USA with the Buckeyes being so good year in and year out.

    Columbus has it going on for folks of all lifestyles. Love it….because this is what I am used to, growing up in NJ and spending so much time in NYC.

    Ryan

    PS….following you on Twitter.

    Reply
    • September 20, 2017 at 3:01 pm
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      hey! Thanks for the follow and reading the article! Columbus is a city that I didn’t expect much from but it sure did deliver. I’d definitely head back for another visit. I hear it’s the most happening city in Ohio!

      Reply
  • September 16, 2017 at 10:06 am
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    Columbus looks like a cool city with heaps of bars. I’ve never been there and would be interested in visiting. What a cool spot.

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    • September 20, 2017 at 3:07 pm
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      It’s a great place! If you go, you should def explore the bar scene. This city has so much to offer!

      Reply
  • September 16, 2017 at 6:30 am
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    It awesome that there is a gay thrift store!! And that it donates to charity for AIDS is even more impressive. It sounds like there are plenty of bars for a great night out too

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    • September 20, 2017 at 3:10 pm
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      Yeah, the thrift store was such a cool thing. I love stuff like that and never heard of anything like it.

      Reply

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