7 Great Hangouts in “the Gayest Small Town in America.”
The gay press is gaga over Eureka Springs. Gay Traveler hailed our charming ‘burg “among the five best small gay cites.” The Advocate touted us as “the gayest small town in America.” And Out Smart Magazine enthused, “on par with Key West, Provincetown and Palm Springs as a gay vacation paradise.”
Those of us who live, work and play here know this already (but we still like hearing it.) Eureka Springs is an oasis of inclusiveness and diversity. We love who you are — and we love sharing our town with you, your friends, your partners, your spouses, and your families!
Eureka Springs has become a hot LGTBQ destination in the mid-South region, in large part because we have three annual Diversity Weekends — Spring, Summer and Fall. As the locals are fond of saying, “One Pride weekend isn’t enough for us.” People flock here from all over the country to take part in our celebrations. They love to dress up, parade in the streets, eat, drink and dance the night away, and maybe even sleep a little. (Check in with the Out in Eureka Facebook page for news on this year’s Diversity Weekends.)
Our city is so gay-friendly that we have no exclusively gay bars, clubs or hangouts. There’s no need. Every one of our hangouts pride themselves on being welcoming to all. Nevertheless, there are a few establishments that get high marks from LGBTQ locals and visitors alike. Some are gay-owned, some not. Here’s a list of suggestions located in our historic downtown or very close by.
This is the place to get your party on! Boasting the city’s largest dance floor, it’s a major gay destination, especially during Diversity festivals, when the club is known to get wild. If you can’t make it during one of the big weekends, Eureka Live has audacious drag shows year-round — and the dancing never stops.
The entrance to this coolly elegant night spot is up a few steps on the side of a building, which in itself gives the place a hip, speakeasy feel. Great craft cocktails, an impressive beer list and (free) live music on weekends make this place hum.
Look for the cartoon logo featuring a smiling, sunglass-wearing beaver — two teeth gleaming — who’s waving at you. You’re in for a fun, funky, no-frills downtown hang. The simple menu features burgers, sandwiches, wings and the like (available ’til 3 a.m. for late-night cravings). The entertainment ranges from live music acts to karaoke to occasional drag shows.
Set amid a quaint row of shops on Spring Street, this intimate cafe is owned and run by Nick Roberts and Chef Garnet, a gay married couple. The lovely little place serves up gourmet salads (the owners are especially proud of the homemade chicken salad), sandwiches, soups, desserts, coffee et al.
If fine dining is on your travel menu, this restaurant is just the ticket. Situated below the historic New Orleans Hotel downtown, Le Stick Nouveau specializes in multi-course menus that change regularly. The place has a Crescent City ambience, and who doesn’t love the purple lighting beneath the long bar? This is a terrific venue for a group schmooze.
Yes, this homey wine bar is in a house — built, you guessed it, of stone — on Main Street on the southern end of downtown. What a cool, elegant vibe! The dark interior, decorated with comfy furniture, is dimly lit for intimacy. You’ll find a completely different feel out the spacious and bright outdoor deck. Enjoy remarkable wines (the place is known for its carefully curated whites) and beers, as well as trays of meats, cheeses, veggies and fruit.
Another historic downtown institution, Chelsea’s has been presenting eclectic live music — from funk to bluegrass — five nights a week for 25 years. (No cover charge, either!) Acts change every week, and the musicians love to sit in on each other’s sets. Dancing is always encouraged. The place also has an upstairs cafe that turns out excellent pizza and pub fare.