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Toronto’s Best Gay Bars and Neighbourhoods

Here is your comprehensive guide to the LGBTQ scene in Toronto. Find the best neighbourhoods, gay bars in Toronto, coffee shops, restaurants and more in Canada’s largest city.

Canada’s largest city is an enticing LGBTQ destination. It’s one of the best cities for gay bars and clubs, lesbian hang-outs, queer haunts, quirky neighbourhoods and for local LGBTQ life. Toronto was the first North American city to legalize same-sex marriage back in 2003, and the diversity that our largest city represents stretches across the aisle.

While Toronto’s Church-Wellesley Gay Village remains the mainstream LGBTQ centre of the city, Toronto is a place that looks good from all angles and you’ll find very different, entirely intriguing scenes in the west and east. If you’re not sure which side of Toronto will be your best side, read on and meet your match.

Toronto sign lit up in the evening at Nathan Phillips Square skating rink
Toronto’s Best Gay Bars and Neighbourhoods

The Village

Best neighbourhood for the centre of the LGBTQ scene in Toronto

Long the venerable epicentre of gay life in Toronto, despite encroaching gentrification, The Gay Village remains ground zero for the top gay bars and clubs in Toronto; filled with LGBTQ-adored eateries, gay-owned cafés, delis and even pet stores. The blocks around the Church and Wellesley intersection pulse with life, particularly on weekend nights. During Toronto Pride, hundreds of thousands of people flock to this area. This is where you’ll encounter the entire spectrum of the LGBTQ population and rainbows galore.

The big bars in this neighbourhood are the popular Woody’s, and across Church Street, check out Crews and Tangos for a drag show. For a more laidback take on the scene, consider the funky bar/café/bookstore Glad Day Bookshop, healthy café Fuel+, friendly, restaurant and tavern Hair of the Dog or a play at the legendary Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

The West Side

Home to some of the top lesbian bars in Toronto

If you like things queer and quirky, all things plaid, with a side of piercings and hipster havens, go west. The bars, cafés, restaurants, galleries and parks of West Queen West, one of Toronto’s coolest neighbourhoods, Dundas West and parts of Bloor West are crammed with artists, asymmetrical haircuts and people who have just hopped off a fixed gear bike.

There’s always a constellation of intriguing art openings, book launches and dance nights on the calendar on this hip side of town. Top spots include art hotel, restaurant, café, events space The Gladstone, lesbian-owned bar The Beaver, and Miss Thing’s, a funky Hawaiian-themed cocktail place. Nearby Trinity Bellwoods Park is the place for summer picnics, fall walks and if you’re lucky, white squirrel sightings!

The Junction and The Junction Triangle

Best LGBTQ area in Toronto for lifestyle-conscious locals

With its cool cafés and vinyl stores, brewpubs, breweries and cocktail lounges, health food markets and vintage and salvage emporiums, and the constantly evolving slew of chic eateries, it’s no wonder that The Junction attracts lifestyle-conscious LGBTQ locals and that it’s beginning to hover on the radar of similarly minded visitors looking to explore Toronto’s gay scene.

You can push that frontier even further, as you explore the up-and-coming Junction Triangle area to the east. Start with weekend brunch at Canadian farm-to-table fare at The Farmhouse Tavern.

Looking for more brunch recommendations? Here are more of the top brunch spots in Toronto.

The East Side

Home to more low-key LGBTQ neighbourhoods and Toronto’s best rooftop bar

If you’ve outgrown the activist art scene and no longer insist on being closeby to an ever-changing array of eclectic club premises (or have just hit 40+), flee the west and follow Queen Street across town to Riverdale and the Toronto neighbourhood of Leslieville (also known as ‘Lesbianville’) and you’ll find yourself on the far less frenetic Queen East.

The pace is slower, the traffic calmer and Subarus can be found proliferating by the block. Top spots to visit include lesbian-loved bar The Farside on Gerrard East, a dim hangout with bar snacks, the exquisite, the newly restored Broadview Hotel (home to Toronto’s best rooftop bar) and Brickworks Ciderhouse (around the corner from The Broadview Hotel) with its often lesbian clientele, its changing taps and its intriguing cider ingredients (including rhubarb, mint, lemongrass and peppercorn).

The Sunny Side

Here you can find Toronto’s best nude beach

Other than the absolute epicentre of the Gay Village, there’s nowhere in the city that’s more of an LGBTQ magnet in the summer than Hanlan’s Point, Toronto’s clothing-optional beach. It’s the place where the city’s gay, lesbian, bi, trans and queer population congregate as soon as summer makes the slightest hint of returning. 

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