By No Vacation Required, on October 14, 2014

LGBT destination guide: Seattle

We are unabashed, completely biased fans of Seattle. It is our favorite city and the place we are proud to call home. One of the key reasons we are so fond of the Emerald City is that it is extremely progressive, open, and welcoming to individuals from all walks of life. Especially the LGBT community. 

This post marks the first in a series of LGBT Destination Guides. This and subsequent guides will be filled with LGBT-friendly cities and regions all over the world, and some of the best places to eat, sleep, and play in those spots.. 

One LGBT neighborhood

While Seattle’s LGBT community is very well dispersed and woven into the fabric of the city, the Capitol Hill neighborhood has long held the largest concentration of businesses catering to the queer community.

Capitol Hill is as diverse as the citizens who call it home. From the dance clubs and indie music venues at its south end to Volunteer Park—48-acres of wooded serenity and epic city views—at the north end and all of the restaurants, coffee bars, and fetish-stores in between, Capitol Hill is a must-do for all visitors to the Emerald City.

Two LGBT fun facts

According to 2012 estimates from the Census Bureau, 2.6 percent of Seattle households identify as same-sex couples. That means Seattle has the highest percentage of gay couples in the United States. 

Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park

Seattle has a First Gentlemen, not because the city’s mayor is female, but because the city’s mayor, Ed Murray, is openly gay and legally married. Before being elected to the city’s highest seat, as a State Senator, Murray led the fight for several progressive, equality-focused laws, including a non-discrimination bill, an anti-bullying bill, and the nation’s first civil union legislation passed by a popular vote.

Three LGBT-friendly activities

Three Dollar Bill Cinema hosts several popular events throughout the year. If you are a cinephile you may want to come in October (a perfect month to visit, in our opinion) to join 10,000 others at the Seattle Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. Three Dollar Bill Cinema also hosts Translations: The Seattle Transgender Film Festival, as well as some really fun summer “movies in the park” events in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Another great spot is Le Faux at Julia’s on Broadway, which puts on Seattle’s longest running celebrity impersonation show (read: drag). The nationally acclaimed drag show is often hosted by some of biggest names in drag, including Seattle’s supremely talented Jinkx Monsoon, winner of Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 5.

Finally, we support Gay City, a LGBT resource and referral center. The center is an important part of Seattle’s LGBT community and plays a prominent role informing and elevating the city’s queer constituents. It definitely is worth stopping by to see what events the center is hosting during your visit. You also can just grab a cup of coffee at Kaladi Brothers Coffee in the center’s main floor.

Viewfinder Tip: Seattle’s Pride festivities take place in June and take place downtown and in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Four LGBT-friendly hotels 

Sleeping Bulldog Bed and Breakfast, owned by Seattle natives, is a B&B that offers the easy but upscale vibe that is a hallmark of the Pacific Northwest. The inn is a home away from home (except they bake the cookies and make the bed) with a Jackson Place neighborhood location that makes it a quick walk to the International District and the city’s stadiums.

Another of our favorite hotels is the Ace Hotel. This ultra hip, gay-owned chain’s Seattle location is well situated in city’s restaurant and club neighborhood, Belltown. Clean white rooms and touches of warmth—natural wood accents and thick woolen throws—make for a unique vibe that is minimalist, edgy, and comfortable.

You never can go wrong at the Four Seasons Seattle. It is our favorite upscale hotel in the city, as much for the approachable elegance as for the luxury hotel chain’s embrace of the LGBT community and its commitment to Seattle as a whole. The hotel offers LGBT-friendly wedding packages and curates experiences that directly reflect the Emerald City, including sourcing select amenities from Pike Place Market vendors to showcasing local farmers in the outstanding on-site restaurant, ART.

We also love Hotel Max. From pop art on the walls to a Sub Pop themed-floor celebrating Seattle’s iconic record label, this property is the very definition of upscale cool. All visitors will appreciate that it is just one block from Seattle’s main shopping area and a quick walk to Pike Place Market. 

The Space Needle

Five LGBT-friendly bars and restaurants

We have a number of favorite LGBT-friendly bars and restaurants around the city but five stand out as the best of the best. No. 1 on our list: The Lobby Bar. The swanky Pike/Pine neighborhood lounge bar is more design forward and spacious than many gay bars in the city. This Philippe Starck-esque bar draws big numbers for drag shows, Tuesday trivia nights, and Monday-night RuPaul’s Drag Race viewing parties.

Another of our faves: Poppy. This nationally recognized restaurant is owned by openly-gay local celebrity chef Jerry Traunfeld, who used to be executive chef of The Herbfarm (as well as a former Top Chef: Masters contestant). The Capitol Hill restaurants serves Northwest-inspired Indian food with a menu based on India’s thali, a tray with lots of little bowls of complimentary dishes. Everybody loves cupcakes, and we are no exception.

That’s why we frequent Cupcake Royale. With locations all over the city, it is easy to pop in to the “cupcakery” for a quick treat, regardless of what neighborhood your visiting. From their Legalize Gay Cupcakes t-shirts to rainbow cupcakes, the lesbian-owned bakery is not shy about its support for the LGBT community.

If you’re into sports, check out Madison Pub. This great eatery is located in the south end of the Capitol Hill neighborhood, and is a popular and completely unpretentious gay sports bar. It’s a peanut-shells-and-pool-table kind of bar, and is a great place to have an inexpensive beer, mingle with a mixed crowd, and cheer on the Seattle Sounders or Seattle Seahawks.

Finally, Neighbours Nightclub is Seattle’s longest-running and largest LGBT nightclub. Since 1982, it has been welcoming visitors—regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity—to dance the night away and enjoy performances from some of the world’s biggest entertainers. We love it there. And we think you will, too.

What sites and amenities do you feel makes a destination LGBT-friendly?