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Gay Friendly San Antonio

Saddle up, cowboy! San Antonio is one of the largest and fastest-growing cities in the United States, making it home to numerous social, cultural and business travel opportunities - even for the gay traveler. The rich history of the area and the diverse population of people who call it home make San Antonio a location with much to be enjoyed. Whether you take a touristy (but beautiful) stroll along the River Walk, partake of the active nightlife of the Downtown area, set your boutique-shopping heart a-flutter in the Mid-Town gay district or embrace the drama of the theater at St. Mary's Strip, you will easily find that the open air of Texas lends itself well to an open exploration of all that gay-friendly San Antonio has to offer.

San Antonio is home to the second largest population in Texas, with over 1 million residents in the city proper and nearly twice that in the surrounding metropolitan area - thus offering a rather significant gay population as well. However, this is not a city where people are on top of one another (ok - we know some of you would actually prefer that). Texas is known for its wide-open spaces and San Antonio offers a unique combination of open skyline and busy cityscape. In tandem with this shared personality is the fact that San Antonio has all of the activities offered by other large cities but it offers them with that unique Texas style which hints at the roughened edges of cowboy history.

The area was developed with a frontier mentality; the city's founders were those who pushed forth away from the confines of the East and battled their way in to new lands. Some of this spirit remains in San Antonio today. However, today's San Antonio has taken the frontier mentality of the old days and uses it now to push the boundaries of social and cultural change. Despite prevalent jokes about the closed-minded nature of Texas, San Antonio is generally an accepting place with a mind for change - and despite being in the land of Bush - San Antonio is a rather gay friendly locale. This openness has helped San Antonio become one of the leading travel destinations in the United States, with over twenty million visitors stopping in annually to enjoy all that this growing location has to offer.

With year-long moderate temperatures and very little annual rainfall, there really is no bad time of the year to make a trip to San Antonio. However, the biggest annual gay event in the city remains June's PrideFest. In contrast to more geographically confined cities, San Antonio's Pride celebrations don't take place only in the streets of the city but also feature numerous events in the open woods located just east of downtown San Antonio (are you thinking Brokeback Mountain?). When the events end, a quick walk can be taken to the downtown nightlife, home of the city's largest gay club (Bonham Exchange).

Although Bonham Exchange is located in downtown San Antonio, the city's gay community is centralized just north of downtown in the Mid-town neighborhood of San Antonio. Main Street is the street to find, and the stores, bars and restaurants located just off of this street, close to San Antonio College, are the best places for gay-friendly exploration of San Antonio. Theatre options and art galleries abound in this culturally diverse city, and there is hardly a lack of activity of all kinds, so whether you make San Antonio a specific travel destination or you simply happen to find yourself there on business, be sure to take advantage of all that the city's starry skies can illuminate for you!


Where to Stay - Gay Friendly Hotels in San Antonio

San Antonio is a Texas city filled with lots of open space, so there are numerous different neighborhoods in the city and surrounding area where you may find accommodations. However, as there are with all cities, San Antonio has neighborhoods in which gay-friendly hotels are concentrated. For those interested in the complete travel experience, there are gay-friendly accommodations along the River Walk. Otherwise, the downtown and Mid-town neighborhoods are your best bet for setting yourself up in gay paradise.

For travelers who want to take full advantage of being on vacation, the River Walk is San Antonio's number one claim to fame, and the accommodations in this area are designed to impress the number of travelers who make their way through the city each year. The Westin Riverwalk is a favorite location among the city's gay tourists, not only because it is gay-friendly but also because the hotel is known for treating its guests to superior service, beginning with offering complimentary specialty chocolates at check-in to having an array of themed suites which meet the style preferences of different travelers. Other gay-friendly accommodations along the River Walk include the Riverwalk Vista and the Hotel Valencia featuring a beautiful courtyard with a fire pit and waterfalls.

For those travelers who are interested in enjoying accommodations right in the midst of downtown San Antonio without being right in the middle of the River Walk tourism, try the Emily Morgan Hotel or the Painted Lady Inn which are both located within walking distance from the River Walk. The Emily Morgan is the more modern of the two, while The Painted Lady Inn has a historic feel. At the latter, you'll find that guestrooms and mini-suites with names like the Andy Warhol, the Oscar Wilde and the Liberace, are just the tip of the iceberg in a place which has gay-friendly service of the most glamorous variety that San Antonio has to offer.

The Painted Lady Inn has a bed-and-breakfast feel to it, but if you're interested in a true San Antonio B&B, try the Arbor House Suites. The eleven rooms of this quaint B&B are set up cottage style to offer guests a hint of the southern charm which makes San Antonio a Texas city, but with all of the modern amenities required by those travelers who have no interest in going without. Each San Antonio hotel offers something a little bit different for the traveler which is characteristic of the fact that this is a city which appreciates diversity.


What to See? What to Do? Gay Friendly San Antonio

San Antonio is a city which combines a forward-thinking approach to life with a true appreciation of the culturally diverse and thoroughly rich history of the area. As such, many of the attractions in the city offer a modern take on a period of the history of the area. In some cases, this means the restoration of historic sites to provide educational opportunities for increased knowledge about the area by the city's tourists. In other cases, it means an appreciation of art and drama to offer new perspectives on historic events and areas throughout the city. All of this is offered in such a way as to welcome the influx of tourists who head to the area each year. So, it is no surprise that the two biggest tourist draws in the area (The Alamo and The River Walk) are historically important and also filled with shopping and dining opportunities.

The Alamo is a historic site which dates back to before San Antonio was even part of the United States. Originally a Spanish mission and then a military fort, this area was the site of important battles in the development of the area. San Antonio has often embraced change when other areas of Texas have not, a trait which is exhibited in the fact that this site has historically been owned and operated primarily by women, even in times of history when women business owners were uncommon. Today, the site is the city's number one tourist attraction.

Close behind the Alamo in terms of tourist traffic is the River Walk, an underground network of sidewalks which wind along the San Antonio River and are embraced by the storefronts of boutique shopping and cafe dining. This section of the city has a very European air to it and is enjoyed by travelers of all ages with its colorful combination of street performances and charming people-watching opportunities. The area is also home to a number of San Antonio's annual events, including the city's annual holiday parade, canoe races, and a portion of the famous Battle of the Flowers event which takes place each spring.

The River Walk is located near downtown San Antonio which is home to a number of the other attractions which the city has to offer. Just north of downtown is the MidTown section, where the gay and lesbian community has exhibited its talents for turning historic areas into places worth experiencing today. Both of these neighborhoods offer terrific shopping and dining in combination with access to a variety of attractions. Many of the cities museums and art galleries are located in this area, as are a number of popular theatre venues. The museums of San Antonio highlight the attraction between history and modern art, with a must-see location being the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center which is home to film festivals and other events throughout the year.

San Antonio is rife with opportunities for exploration. There is history around every corner and activities happening all year long. Gay rodeo brings out all of the area's cowboys, the theatre season brings Broadway to the growing city and the every day attractions give visitors a chance to experience the blending of past and present in an open environment.


Dining in Gay Friendly San Antonio

There is one type of food which everyone who visits San Antonio should be sure to find while they are there: Tex Mex. This unique blending of southern flavors with foods straight out of Mexico is guaranteed to put some spice in your step. Acenar is the restaurant most commonly associated with San Antonio's Tex Mex flavor. It is conveniently located on the River Walk so that travelers can find it easy to stop in and experience southwestern flavor. Other Southwest-themed restaurants popular in the area include Casa Rio, Boudro's and Zuni Grill, the latter of which has the additional treat of complimenting its food with drinks like the pink cactus margarita.

When you've gotten your fill of Southwestern food and are ready to please your palette with some other offerings, the River Walk is still the number one place to linger. The area is home to restaurant after restaurant and the competition requires that every restaurant offer good food, so there aren't too many places where you can go wrong. Try Paesano's for upscale Italian, or Landry's Seafood house for Cajun-style fish dishes.

The River Walk offers quality food but it can come at a high price. If you're dining on a budget, try moving away from the River Walk to decrease price. You don't even have to go too far. For example, check out Madhatters Tea a gay-owned sandwich shop which is located within walking distance from the River Walk in the King William Historic District. Another gay-owned sandwich place is W D Deli which is located on Broadway Street where a number of other affordable restaurants can be found.

On or off the River Walk, the flavors of the entire country blend together in unique Southwestern Style all throughout the San Antonio restaurant scene. Enjoy the area to the fullest by stepping out of your comfort zone and trying flavors which you haven't yet experienced. With very few bad restaurant choices in this city, you're sure to find something that's right for you.

For a complete list of our favorite gay friendly restaurants in San Antonio, click on the "Restaurants Tab" on the City Directory found on the left side of this page.

Bonham Exchange

411 Bonham - San Antonio, TX - 210-227-2600

Bonham Exchange is an Institution in the gay community of San Antonio. A hot dance scene with drag shows, and sexy go-go Gods. If you're looking for sexy gay boys - and hours of dancing - Bonham Exchange is the place to hit in San Antonio.
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Heat

1500 Main Avenue - San Antonio, TX - 210-227-2600

San Antonio's Gay nightlife heats up every night at HEAT! Strip Off Contests, Martini Nights, and Trashy Trannie nights! Great dancing - and videos as well. San Antonio's sexiest gay boys are right here at HEAT!
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Gotham Downtown Club

223 3rd Street - San Antonio, TX - 210-527-1707

No attitude here! Gotham Downtown Club is a sister club to Cobalt, Sparx and Eagle Gulch.
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Pegasus Nightclub

1402 N. Main Ave - San Antonio, TX - 210-299-4222

Located on the Main Avenue drag, Pegasus is a popular gay bar in San Antonio offering a friendly neighborhood feel. Pool tables, a patio bar - and some of the best fajita tacos you'll find in San Antonio.
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Reader Reviews
Bars / Nightlife

Bonham Exchange


I love this place. the crowd is really friendly and the drink are good too. some of the best bartenders in texas are here.
By: Eddie on October 14, 2011

Pegasus Nightclub


I don't like it as much as Bnham exchange. Some stuck up guys here
By: Eddie on October 14, 2011

Heat


Don't get me wrong, for SA nightlife I like Heat, but the place needs an injection of fresh air. Same crowd, same music, same scene every week.
By: JBS on February 20, 2012

Annex


The Annex is what it is and makes no excuses for itself. It is a small neighbor friendly gay bar with generally a more mature crowd. There is no pretention here; you are allowed to be what you are. It... more
By: Ken on November 18, 2012
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