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The Perfect Getaway for Your Next Gaycation is Phoenix

by | Dec 14, 2022

Regardless of when you visit Phoenix you will find many things to do and see. The weather is great so you can count on up to 330 days of sunshine a year, meaning you can experience the rich diversity the Sonoran Desert has to offer.

A giant cactus growing in the Sonora Desert near Phoenix, Arizona.

Speaking of diversity, Phoenix is also one of the most vibrant LGBTQ+ positive cities in America. Here you can safely walk around the city and know while feeling safe and secure. The city has a bustling LGBTQ+ community. You can walk hand in hand with your partner without the fear of hate. It truly is a warm and welcoming destination for queer travelers.

A mural on the side of a building welcome people to Phoenix, Arizona.

The city is rated one of the gayest friendly cities in the USA, despite being overlooked by larger cities such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

A butte in the Sonoran Desert with the skyline of Phoenix, Arizona in the background.

And the city is perfect for a luxurious getaway if you’re looking for your next gaycation. There are plenty of luxurious resorts throughout Phoenix, many of which provide spectacular spas offering botanical treatments you can only get in Arizona.

People climbing up the Hole in the Rock butte in Papago Park in Phoenix, Arizona.

HomoCulture wants you to make the best of your visit to Phoenix. In this article we’re going to give you best tips and recommendations for planning the perfect trip to Phoenix.

Step Back In Time and Roam The Same Place Dinosaurs Did In Papago Park

If you want to a truly unique Arizona experience, you need to head to Papago Park. The nature park is free making it a must see on your trip. Papago Park looks like you stepped back in time with mounds and ancient fauna and flora. Although we can guarantee you won’t see any living dinosaurs, the park has a lake that resembles an oasis where you are sure to feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

A butte in Papago Park near Phoenix, Arizona.

The huge mound you’ll see, called a butte, resembles pride rock from the Lion King. Now, we did say we guarantee you won’t see any living dinosaurs, but it doesn’t mean you won’t find any of their remains. One traveler insists he found dinosaur dung.

A view of Phoenix, Arizona through the Hole in the Rock.

Head over to Hole in the Rock, the iconic butte of Papago Park. You can park right at the base of the butte and in less than 10 minutes be standing in the hole of the rock, which offers stunning views of greater Phoenix and camelback mountain. It’s also one of the best spots to get a selfie in Phoenix.

A hole in the sandstone butt, Hole in the Rock, near Phoenix, Arizona.

Learn more about Papago park. 

See Desert Specific Plants Under The Beautiful Orange and Blue Desert Sky at the Phoenix Desert Botanical Gardens

There are a wide variety of plants that grow in the desert. Plants usually thrive in areas where the soil is moist, there’s sufficient rainfall and temperate climate. But, in the desert plants have needed to adapt to their surrounding meaning that when you visit the desert botanical gardens you will see life at its best.

A pathway lined with indigenous vegetation at the Phoenix Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, Arizona.

You can experience the beauty of the desert by exploring five different trails. Throughout the trails you will see more than 50,000 desert plants. Each trail has its own unique theme.

A variety of indigenous cactus growing in a garden at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, Arizona.

The themes are conservation, desert living, plants and people of the Sonoran Desert, and desert wildflowers. The goal of the themes is to illustrate a specific topic about the Sonoran Desert and present it to you in its best light.

A large succulent at the Phoenix Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, Arizona.

If you want to truly experience the Sonoran Desert the botanical gardens is a must see.

Learn more about the Phoenix Desert Botanical Gardens. 

See 60 Years of Arts and Support at the Phoenix Art Museum

The Phoenix Art Museum has been providing the region with access to visual arts and education programs for more than six decades. The museum is the largest art museum in the Southwestern United States.

A large sculpture of a First Nations man at the Phoenix Art Museum.

When you visit you can visit the multiple permanent galleries the museum has to offer. In the permanent galleria you will see 19,000 works of American, Asian, European, Latin American, Western American, modern and contemporary art, and fashion design.

Three dimensional art at the Phoenix Art Museum.

The museum also displays stunning photography exhibitions made possible by its partnership with the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona. The experiences at the museum will enlighten and inform you as you lay eyes on breathtaking artwork, view entertaining films, follow guided tours, and lectures. There is something for people of all ages.

Do you dare to experience the transformative power of art?

See all the Phoenix Art Museum has to offer.

Be Out, Loud, And Proud in the Iconic Melrose Gayborhood

The Melrose Gayborhood is a mile long of fabulousness. It has tons of vibrance and cultural significance. The most popular bars along this street are the Thunderbird Lounge, Stacy’s and Pat O’s Bunk House Saloon.

Melrose Avenue is the gayborhood in Phoenix, Arizona.

Throughout the Melrose District you’ll find coffee shops, restaurants, cafés, antique shops, furniture stores, boutique shopping, and more.

Copper Star Coffee on Melrose Avenue in Phoenix, Arizona.

The possibility of having a good night in this neck of the woods in Phoenix is pretty much guaranteed. To check out more and plan your trip in this gayborhood, in America’s friendliest LGBTQ+ neighborhood checkout the complete Melrose Gayborhood guide.

A small business along Melrose Avenue in Phoenix, Arizona.

Discover Local Drag Performers at Crusin’ 7th’s Drag Show!

Get your dollar bills out! Robin Banks is undeniably Melrose’s most well-known and hilarious drag queen. She was brought into this world as a result of a one-night-stand between a carnival barker and a Lucille Ball impersonator.

A drag queen performing on stage at Cruisin' 7th gay bar in Phoenix, Arizona.

She is a native to Phoenix Arizona and is well known for her quick wit, stars tongue and comedic timing. She performs every Saturday at Cruisin’ 7th. Robin Banks hosts the show and regularly welcomes other drag performers from greater Phoenix to perform. It’s a great night of drag showcasing new and up-and-coming performers.

A drag performer dances in the crowd at Cruisin' 7th gay bar in Phoenix, Arizona.

The dive bar is a favorite with locals and tourists alike. They offer delicious drinks and fantastic shows. If you love drag you will definitely improve your vacation by going here on a Saturday night and seeing Robin Banks perform live.

The exterior of Cruinin' 7th gay bar in Phoenix, Arizona.

Checkout the venue before popping in at the Cruisin 7th website. 

Enjoy a Leisurely Morning in Old Town Scottsdale

There’s a local debate about what this area of Phoenix is called – downtown Scottsdale or Old Town Scottsdale. But people unanimously agree that the views of the old buildings give this part of Phoenix a rustic feel. You can visit this area of the city and browse various boutique shops and purchase souvenirs that are uniquely Phoenix.

A water fountain surrounded by statues of horses in Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona.

If you are looking to make a high-end purchase Old Town Scottsdale is also a place you will love. Apart from the boutiques you will see there are many artisans, high-end fashion retailers, and boutique jewelry and furniture stores.

Woven jackets hang on display outside a fashion store in Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona.

You can plan a day of shopping and finish your visit to this area of the city by visiting the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arts.

Handmade stops and other small items on display inside a store in Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona.

An Art Exhibit with a Full Bar? Why Would You Want to Miss It?

Wonderspaces is an ever-changing art show located in Phoenix. No other place in the city is quite like it. The art exhibits are interactive and beautifully designed to grab and hold your attention. You can see anything from spheres in Space to light shows and exhibits that make you the main center of attraction. And, the best part is you can relax and enjoy a cocktail, enhancing your experience.

A three dimensional face on display at Wonderspaces art show in Phoenix, Arizona.

Its’ also the perfect space to grab unique and original selfies, or group photos with your friends, with the creative art installations. It makes for excellent social fodder to fill your feeds.

Lights shining off a pile of disco balls at Wonderspaces art show in Phoenix, Arizona.

Grab your tickets and plan your trip at Wonderspace’s website.

Colored tape on a wall, part of an interactive art exhibit at Wonderspaces in Phoenix, Arizona.

When You’re Hungry and Want a Delicious Meal, Here’s Where You Should Eat in Phoenix

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But when you’re on vacation it may be the meal you put the least focus on. Partly because you want to get up and going without spending a lot of time eating in the morning. But the main reason is probably because you don’t know where to grab the best bites of the day.

The exterior of The Churchill, a community gathering place in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Churchill is the best breakfast restaurant in Arizona. Nestled in the heart of the Roosevelt Row Arts district is the community driven gathering place. The design is unique and looks like shipping containers, but that’s not the only appeal.

The Churchill is an open-air market in the Rosevelt area of Phoenix, Arizona.

The Churchill is home to over ten small businesses with roots in the Phoenix area. You’ll dine in a communal courtyard with locals and other travelers giving you the opportunity to mingle with potential new best friends. And, if you’re lucky you can attend at aa time when there’s an activity or even hear some banging beats being spun by the hottest local DJs.

The exterior of The Churchill, a community gathering place in Phoenix, Arizona.

You can check out the Churchill and see the events schedule on the Churchill website. 

Lunch is the Best Meal of the Day and an Opportunity to Dine in Style

Lunch is often the most fun meal when on vacation. Often you will find yourself out and about when hunger strikes. So, lunch can expose you to many new types of cuisine and even lead to new experiences that will leave you impressed.

Here are the top lunch experiences available to you in Phoenix.

Phoenix Coqui, a Puerto Rican restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona.

We’re going to start off with a favorite because it is gay owned and operated. The food is authentic and ah-mazing. The Phoenix Coqui started a Puerto Rican food truck operation that has been serving the greater Phoenix area since 2017. Their success has been so incredible that during the pandemic they opened their first brick-and-mortar location just blocks away. Here you can get a taste of “la Isla” that is Puerto Rico.

A traditional Puerto Rican lunch at the Phoenix Coqui in Phoenix, Arizona.

If you are looking for something a more modern, or if you’re done exploring Old Town Scottsdale, check out Cafe Zuzu. The ambience is great and has modern touches. The dishes will take you to another planet and the creativity and love the chef cooks with is seen in every dish they serve. Enjoy a colorful cocktail with your perfectly prepared meal in a space that screams comfort and class. Café Zuzu also gives back to the LGBTQ+ community, through financial contributions to Phoenix Pride. They have a robust set of policies that prohibit discrimination, and they mandate diversity training for all managers.

A modern lunch dish at Café Zuzu in Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona.

If you want to enjoy the Arizona sun while enjoying a cocktail and tasting an array of Hawaiian and Japanese infusion style light bites you should stop at Lylo. Lylo is located inside the Rise Uptown hotel. Here you can catch sun by the pool and enjoy deliciously crafted cocktails all day long. Every weekend you can hear banging tunes from local DJs in an environment that is focused on fun and loving life.

The outdoor tiki bar, Lylo, at the Rise Uptown hotel in Phoenix, Arizona.

After a few drinks and finger foods dinner will be on your mind. And boy, do we have just what the doctor ordered to make your tastebuds jump for joy.

Dinner is the Ultimate Vacation Experience, Here’s Where to Eat in Phoenix.

Since Arizona is in the Sonoran Desert there are plenty of Mexican inspired foods that will leave you full of joy. In Spanish there is a saying, “barriga llena, corazon contento.” It means full stomach happy heart. If you want to experience delicious Mexican inspired dishes you need to head over to Barrio Cafe for dinner. The restaurant is lesbian owned and operated. Since 2002 they’ve been preparing award-winning dishes for the Phoenix area that will give you a taste of American Mexican culture and cuisine.

A traditional Mexican dinner at Barrio Cafe in Phoenix, Arizona.

For striking designs and an excellent nightcap, you should go to the Wren & Wolf. Here you will receive a farm-to-table dinner and expertly crafted cocktails. The location of the Wren & Wolf makes it perfect for grabbing food before going out for a night on the town. And, you are guaranteed a unique experience because of the interesting design choices, incorporating flora, fauna, and natural textures, like wood, leather, and rock.

A traditional steak dinner at Wren & Wolf in Phoenix, Arizona.

Southern Rail is an essential stop on your dining checklist of places to eat in Phoenix, especially if you enjoy soul food. Every dish here is American inspired with a southern twang that will leave you satiated and feeling good. It’s the perfect place to grab a bite of hearty soul food. It will keep you fueled and energized for a night of dancing.

A traditional southern fried chicken dinner at Southern Rail restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Perfect Place to Pregame on Your Drinks Before Heading Out For a Night On the City

We all love a good pre-drink, but not all venues provide the experience we want before heading to a club that’s blasting music. A place where we can sit and enjoy drinks and conversations before dancing and listening to music so loud, we won’t even be able to hear our friends!

If you want beautifully crafted cocktails you need to go to The Rose Garden. The experience is modern and classy and has an eclectic cocktail menu. The Rose Garden uses seasonal ingredients offering unique twists on cocktails that will lead your mouth wanting more. From prickly pear juice to habanero infused tequila, you will find the drink you want here. And you can also opt for a large selection of domestic beers or fine wines.

An eclectic decor inside The Rose Garden in Phoenix, Arizona.

Elevate your status at Don Woods Say When, located at the Rise Uptown, with rooftop drinks if you want to catch a glimpse of the city at sunset. The spacious terrace features outdoor fireplaces, and there’s an intimate lounge perfect for conversation with friends before going to the club. The highlight of Don Woods is the highball cocktails and sprites which are the bars specialty.

Handcrafted cocktails at Don Wood's Say When Rooftop Bar at Rise Uptown in Phoenix, Arizona.

Inclusive Experience Awaits at the Rise Uptown

The Rise Uptown is an extremely gay friendly hotel in Phoenix, and it’s located adjacent to gay bars and the Melrose District. The Rise Uptown is an inclusive experience in one of America’s most gay friendly cities.

The Rise Uptown: The Boutique Hotel Experience in The Sonoran Desert You’ve Been Thirsting For

The retro-modern rooms are designed with class. You will have a wonderful experience and wake up every morning with a smile on your face. The colors used to design the rooms are eye-catching and happiness inducing.

A modern-retro guest room at the Rise Uptown in Phoenix, Arizona.

Read more about the Rise Uptown.

Plan Your Trip to Phoenix Today

Visiting a new city can be daunting. You could spend hours online planning your trip and upon arrival find that you made the wrong decision about hotels, travel plans or even dining experiences. Continue planning your ultimate gaycation to Phoenix by checking out the LGBTQ+ itinerary that Visit Phoenix offers. It is designed with you in mind, so your stay is inclusive and fun.

Watch the HomoCulture Tour Highlight Reel From Phoenix

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Brian Webb

Brian Webb


Brian Webb is the founder and editor-in-chief of HomoCulture, a celebrated content creator, and winner of the prestigious Mr. Gay Canada – People’s Choice award.An avid traveler, Brian attends Pride events, festivals, street fairs, and LGBTQ friendly destinations through the HomoCulture Tour. He has developed a passion for discovering and sharing authentic lived experiences, educating about the LGBTQ community, and using both his photography and storytelling to produce inspiring content.Originally from the beautiful Okanagan Valley in the southern interior of British Columbia, Brian now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. His personal interests include travel, photography, physical fitness, mixology, drag shows.

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