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Best Gay Areas in Chicago

Gay Areas in Chicago

Chicago has two very distinct gay areas, Northhalsted (previously known as Boystown) and Andersonville (affectionately known as MANdersonville).

Gay chicago guide andersonville


Northhalsted (aka Boystown)

When you are looking into gay Chicago,  Boystown will and should be, right at the top of your list.

Boystown was the first officially recognised gay community in the US. It’s streets and crossings are lined with rainbows and it was named the “best gay neighbourhood in the world” by Out Traveler magazine!

It should come as no surprise that Boystown is the place to go for gay bars and clubs during the evening, but also for drinks and dinner during the day. It really feels like a little gay utopia where things have been turned on their head and its homonormative here not heteronormative!

Look out for the plaques that line the streets on decorative pillars that commemorate either an LGBTQ hero or heroine from history or a significant LGBTQ historical event.

Check out some of the gay bars in Boystown further on in this guide.


Andersonville is the second major gay neighbourhood in Chicago and has it own unique charm which is quite different to Boystown.

Andersonville is a small gay neighbourhood, but is one of the highest populated LGBTQ areas of Chicago. Again, this felt like a small gay utopia within the big city.

It boasts many LGBTQ+ owned businesses from trendy cafes, to independent shops and restaurants.

Make sure you check out these shops:

  • Cowboys and Astronauts: a gay lifestyle shop with everything from clothing to styling products, accessories and décor. A really cool place with lovely owners. We really loved their explanation of their store to explain it as a safe space for anyone from the LGBTQ+ community, for example a newly trans person looking for their first shaving product could feel safe to have that open discussion here.
  • Women and Children First Bookstore: lesbian founded and co owned bookstore which has lots of LGBTQ+ material.
  • Strange Cargo Tees and More: This shop was a lot of fun. It had a lot of LGBTQ+ themed merchandise and a lot of funny stuff!