Grand Rapids is home to many locally owned and operated LGBTQIA+ businesses.

The city is now a destination to live and work for people of all ages and identities as more inclusive businesses open within walking distance of the urban core. You’ll notice many bars, restaurants, and businesses around town showing support by flying a pride flag in their storefronts during the month of June and beyond. It’s a welcome feeling of acceptance for the community here and for visitors too.

You’ll find welcoming and comfortable destinations across the city. Downtown is home to the Apartment Lounge, Michigan’s oldest gay bar, and Rumors Night Club, a dance bar with DJs, karaoke, and drag shows. You can also check out the Uptown neighborhood for trendy shopping, the West Side’s Bridge Street Entertainment District, Michigan Street for Maggie’s Bar, or Southtown for diverse dining
options.

Here are just a few of the city’s LGBTQIA+ owned and operated businesses that you should check out next time you're in town:

Drinks & Entertainment

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Side view of the exterior of Apartment Lounge at 33 Sheldon in Grand Rapids, MI

The Apartment Lounge is the oldest gay bar in Michigan. Enjoy the welcoming atmosphere and then step outside to admire the Rainbow Road mural.

Photo by Brian Craig for Experience GR

The Apartment Lounge

As Michigan’s oldest gay bar, The Apartment Lounge has a long history of making community members feel welcome and safe. The Apartment serves up a chill vibe along with rotating drink specials throughout the week. You are always met with a smiling face and served hot, fresh popcorn to accompany your beverage of choice. It’s commonly referred to as the place where friends meet, and this bar will not disappoint if you’re looking to mix and mingle.

The Apartment also has an outdoor covered patio overlooking Joey Salamon’s Rainbow Road street mural and Veteran’s Memorial Park in downtown Grand Rapids. Food trucks often visit the bar, offering patrons an opportunity to dine alfresco or take their food inside to accompany a drink. There is plenty of seating on the patio, and staff will meet you outside for table service. The Apartment also hosts weekly drink specials – like up to half off on Thirsty Thursdays and extended happy hours (from 2-9pm!) on Fridays and Saturdays. Check out The Apartment Lounge on Facebook for the most up to date information on specials and events.

Exterior of the Basalt restaurant

Basalt has a creative Tex-Mex menu that utilizes locally sourced ingredients.

Photo by Paul Jendrasiak for Experience GR

Basalt

Basalt brings an interesting twist to Tex-Mex brunch vibes in West Michigan with a menu ranging from handcrafted tacos and quesadillas to queso mac and cheese to breakfast and lunch sandwiches that will leave you drooling for more. Basalt’s food focuses on depth of flavor found in Tex-Mex cuisine while using locally sourced ingredients. Owner Steven Martinez is a native Texan (and member of the LGBTQIA+ community), so the flavors are authentic and the spirit is inclusive.

You can dine indoors, but they also have a quaint patio nestled quietly along Wealthy Street with plenty of sights to take in while enjoying brunch or lunch. You can also catch them at most Fulton Street Farmers Markets on Saturdays in the summertime.

Basalt is located in GR’s fun and funky Uptown neighborhood, less than 200 yards from the Grand Rapids Pride Center.

Patrons at the bar of General Wood Shop.

General Wood Shop is an elevated dive bar, with tasty cocktails and small plates.

Photo by Courtesy of General Wood Shop

General Wood Shop

General Wood Shop is a cocktail lounge that caters to the LGBTQIA+ community and its allies with sassy drink names, splashes of glitz and glam, stunning small-plate and tapas food dishes, and a comfortable ambiance. Have the bartender whip up a signature cocktail or mock cock for you, or opt for a beer, cider or seltzer.

Housed in a refurbished historic building – and named after a business that occupied the space in the 1940s and ‘50s – General Wood Shop feels somewhat like an elevated dive bar. It hosts a variety of events, from weekly lesbian and trans nights to drag performances and Oscar viewing parties.

General Wood Shop is located in the Bridge Street Entertainment District, just a 10-minute walk or free DASH bus ride from the heart of downtown GR.

Good Judy's Market & Juice Bar.

Replenish at Good Judy's Market & Juice Bar with nutritious smoothies, juices, bowls and more.

Photo by Addison Causley for Experience GR

Good Judy’s Market & Juice Bar

Grand Rapids’ most fabulous juice bar and better-for-you snack shop is located in Uptown GR, a few steps from the Wealthy Theatre. Its name references the equally fabulous LGBTQ icon Judy Garland, signaling that Good Judy’s Market & Juice Bar is a safe and inclusive space for the queer community and its allies.

Good Judy’s prioritizes real, plant-based foods to promote good health. Its superfood smoothies and cold-pressed juices are made with as many local and organic ingredients as possible. Cold-pressed technology preserves the nutrients and enzymes that can be eliminated or damaged through conventional juicing, so Good Judy’s juices are full of nutrition (and flavor), and they’re easier to digest, as well.

You’ll also find a selection of healthy bowls and salads on the menu, plus to-go energy bites, a rotating selection of locally crafted kombucha, gut-healthy iced teas, cold-brew coffee cans, gift items and more. You can enjoy your goodies in the bright-and-comfy café or take them to go, and you may well encounter founders/partners Dean Jeffery and Connor Bowen during your visit!

Maggie's - Exterior

Maggie's is a full-service bar and a local favorite in the LGBTQIA+ community.

Photo by Eric Zuniga-Jensen for Experience GR

Maggie’s Bar

Maggie’s Bar is another LGBTQIA+-owned hotspot for the queer community and anyone else who loves good drinks, good food and good times. Nestled along Michigan Street near the Medical Mile, Maggie’s has more of a pub feel with a long bar top lined with comfy red leather barstools and plenty of table seating for groups. They have a full selection of spirits, beer, wine, seltzers, and more. The bar is packed with regulars during happy hour and gets quite busy on weekend nights.

Maggie’s is the only gay bar in Grand Rapids to have a full food menu and it serves up some impressive eats. The kitchen prides itself on using locally sourced goods and meat from Grand Butchers – a butcher shop next door. The menu offers a variety of options, including appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, nachos, and salads. The nachos are served on a massive platter and are more than enough to feed a few people. And the burger is a handmade patty served with chips or hand-cut French fries.

The bar also has a full-service covered patio with heaters that can be enclosed in cooler months, and a dedicated parking lot. Maggie’s hosts various events throughout the year, including viewing parties for Ru Paul’s Drag Race, pop-up drag performances, and more. Check out Maggie’s Bar on Facebook for the most up to date information on specials and events.

Rumors Night Club

As the only gay nightclub in Grand Rapids to offer dancing, Rumors Night Club is a great stop to consider later in the evening. The bar offers a variety of entertainment including drag shows, karaoke, cabaret, rotating DJs, and a dance floor that’s always kicking.

With multiple levels, there is something for everyone at Rumors – space to chill and chat or dance the night away on the well-lit dance floor. Show up early for a more relaxed vibe, and if you’re looking to dance, try later in the evening or weekends for a full-on club scene. Check out Rumors Night Club on Facebook for the most up to date information on specials and events at this downtown GR fun spot.

Exterior of entrance to SteelCat Bar.

Steel Cat Bar is home to Michigan's first and only frost rail bar- guaranteeing an icy cold drink!

Photo by Brian Craig for Experience GR

Steel Cat Bar

Steel Cat Bar sits along the Bridge Street corridor, conveniently located on the hustling and bustling West Side. Steel Cat has a unique ice-topped bar that keeps your drinks frosty cold. There are even toy dump trucks and front-end loaders on the ice rail if you feel the need to connect to your inner child.

Steel Cat is owned by a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, and while not officially categorized as a gay bar, it is a comfortable, safe space for the community and allies.

The weekly Bloody Mary/Mimosa bar (Saturdays and Sundays from 9am-2pm) is one of the city’s most popular.

Coffee, Shopping & Salons

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The 12th House

Step inside The 12th House, and you’ll find a local gift shop full of fun and colorful T-shirts, magnets, enamel pins and other handmade gifts from local artists. The shop has an abundance of pride merch all year round, but really steps up their game in June. They also offer a variety of gift boxes packed full of locally sourced goodies, tarot card readings, reiki sessions, henna tattoos, and intuitive astrology readings.

The 12th House is located on Jefferson Ave. in downtown Grand Rapids, between Char restaurant and Brooklyn Bodega Bagels and Deli.

Black Cat Bodega

Self-described queer BIPOC witch Lorin Baum opened the Black Cat Bodega to provide a safe space for witches to gather and shop for well-curated gifts, vintage décor and metaphysical supplies. The shop’s unique dark vibe soon attracted a much broader audience than Lorin originally intended – in fact, the Black Cat earned second place in a recent local magazine’s reader’s poll of the region’s best gift shops.

Shop the Black Cat for items you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in town, primarily from women, minority and LGBTQIA artisans. You can also attend a wide variety of workshops and classes in the shop’s beautifully decorated lower level. Experts provide practical, hands-on guidance in everything from astrology and angelic healing to perfume-making and watercolor painting. Black Cat Club members enjoy priority access to workshops, support groups and special events along with a host of other special perks.  

Located just 10 minutes north of downtown Grand Rapids in the flourishing Creston neighborhood, the Black Cat Bodega isn’t just a shop, it’s an experience.

The Cakabakery 

The Cakabakery offers creative and uniquely delicious baked goods for occasions ranging from weddings and large events to a single cupcake or cookie on the go. Owner and chef Jason T. Kakabaker – a onetime contestant in the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars – prides himself on using only fresh and local ingredients. and His shop offers an impressive selection of cookies, tarts, cupcakes, cakes, and more with options for vegan and gluten-free connoisseurs as well.

The Cakabakery is located less than a mile and a half east of downtown GR on Fulton St.

Fox Naturals Store

Fox Naturals offers a selection of high quality products that are formulated with natural botanicals.

Photo by Alina Albin for Experience GR

Fox Naturals

Fox Naturals is a botanical skin care and perfume apothecary in Uptown. It offers high-quality, natural body care solutions that not only smell wonderful but also let the natural properties of simple ingredients shine through. This locally owned shop works to assist customers in transitioning out of big-box retailer products (full of harsh irritants, synthetic ingredients, and chemicals) and into a healthier, holistic alternative.

Fox Naturals is owned, operated, and created by Patrick Stoffel. He and his staff make most of the products themselves from a variety of natural products. Insider tip: share your scent preferences with the staff and they will lead you to a product you'll be sure to love.

Happy Cat Cafe yoga photo by Lemon Moon Photography

In addition to their regular visits, Happy Cat Café also offers events like their Yoga with Cats.

Photo by Lemon Moon Photography, Courtesy of Happy Cat Café

Happy Cat Café 

The Happy Cat Café is a one of-a-kind establishment in downtown GR. Whether you are looking for coffee or cuddle time with a kitty – they’ve got you covered. Just envision a café, but with cats too. Reservations are recommended, so planning your visit is key (unless you’re just after a coffee or latte). Walk-ins are welcome to visit the kitties if the rooms are not at capacity. 

You’ll have a blast spending time with the cats while sipping our specialty coffees. And it’s not just coffee and tea they serve either – you’ll have your choice of several Red Bull mocktails or sparkling citrus beverages with glitter. The shop also has a cute selection of cat toys, treats, stickers, t-shirts and more. 

Happy Cat Café offers specials throughout the week including family night and college night, so check their website for details before stopping by.

Lilith’s Lair

If you’re looking for an inclusive salon to refresh or change your look while you’re visiting Grand Rapids, consider the amazing stylists at Lilith’s Lair. This LGBTQ+-owned salon in downtown Grand Rapids can cut, shape, color, tint, blend and otherwise fabulize your hair in a space that feels welcoming and comfortable.

Opened in 2022, Lilith’s Lair also offers makeup, lash and nail services, and will soon add skincare treatments, massage therapy and tattooing to its repertoire. The shop hosts two special events each year: an all-ages drag show in June and an 18+ drag & pole show in October, in addition to hosting a booth at the annual Grand Rapids Pride Festival.

Every Lilith’s Lair artist is either part of the LGBTQIA+ community or an ally, and they are all dedicated to helping people express their true selves and feel confident doing it. 

Lotus Brew Coffee/Dry Bar

Lotus Brew Coffee/Dry Bar is a locally owned LGBTQIA+ library and café. They offer a variety of local organic coffee, teas, & mocktails with the addition of the dry/nonalcoholic bar, and they focus on locally sourced, organic, and fairtrade products. Every effort is made to be accessible and affordable.

Lotus Brew has a huge library of LGBTQIA+/banned books available to read that are free and open to the public, and the café also has an impressive selection of board games to enjoy with friends.

After great success in a previous location, Lotus Brew is moving to an expanded space in GR’s Uptown neighborhood. Until then, they’re hosting specialty coffee popups around town. Visit their Facebook page for details.

People sitting outside of a coffee cart

Outside Coffee Co. has a unique outdoor space that accommodates all seasons!

Photo by Paul Jendraisak for Experience GR

Outside Coffee Co.

This year-round outdoor coffee experience is one of a kind, offering a variety of specialty coffees day and night with unique seating options. Outside Coffee Co. remains open in the winter with geo domes and heaters for guests to gather around.

Guests order beverages from a camper that is permanently on-site and can choose from many items on the menu that are vegan and gluten-free. The dog-friendly cafe is essentially an outside extension of Woosah Outfitters, a rustic-chic boutique offering nature-inspired prints, apparel and gifts. Kelly McPhee Lang owns Outside Coffee Company, and her partner Rae Lang owns Woosah.

Shopping at a Grand Rapids boutique store - looking for gifts.

Find unique gifts, goods and other home items at Rebel.

Photo by Mod Bettie for Experience GR

Rebel

Rebel offers a variety of unique gifts, paper goods, plants, and home accessories that you will not likely find elsewhere. The collection of sassy gifts and cards, as well as other one-of-a-kind wares, are hand- selected by the owners and are exactly the gift you need for any occasion. Prepare to be blown away by the variety and attention to detail this shop offers.

Rebel is owned and operated by Dan Boyles and Chip Minor. You’ll see them staffing the store on most days, so be sure to say hi when you stop in. Or visit their candy shop Sticky Fingers to satisfy your sweet tooth! Both shops are in Uptown GR.

Windsor Cottage

Windsor Cottage prides itself on its home furnishings, interior design, and, above all else, customer service. The store has been in business for more than 32 years and provides a variety of services at both its Cherry Street and Thornapple locations. Windsor Cottage is owned and operated by Rick Santamaria, a member of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Artisan Rae Lang of Woosah

Inspired by nature and the outdoors, Woosah offers many different types of art and apparel, all designed by founder and owner Rae Lang.

Photo by Experience Grand Rapids

Woosah Outfitters 

A naturally inspired art and apparel brand, featuring the artwork of founder and owner, Rae Lang, Woosah is not to be missed. The designs and drive behind Woosah revolve around woodcuts and the outdoors. Each design and product is handcrafted in Grand Rapids with limited edition runs.

All apparel at Woosah is unisex and is intended for anyone of any gender to wear and enjoy it.

Other Local Businesses

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Beauty Beyond Drag Productions 

Beauty Beyond Drag is a drag entertainment production company serving West Michigan and surrounding areas. Their team of queens spread the art of drag to all communities while raising awareness for local organizations. You’ll find these queens performing at various shows and events around Grand Rapids all year long. They will also be performing at Grand Rapids Pride Festival and at several other pride events throughout the month of June. Follow them on social media for more information on upcoming performances.

Drag Queen Performing At Drag Brunch In Grand Rapids, MI

Michigan Drag Brunch tours different venues and offers performances all around the state.

Photo by Eric Zuniga for Experience GR

Michigan Drag Brunch 

Michigan’s original reoccurring drag brunch show touring at rotating venues statewide, is known as Michigan Drag Brunch. Grab your brunch squad and  “Sunday-Funday” like a queen. Tickets are sold in advance as venues vary, and they do sell out quickly, so make a plan with friends ahead of time. 

The show usually includes a brunch special, a beverage, and about an hour and a half of live entertainment that is guaranteed to knock your socks off. Don’t forget dollar bills to tip the queens – they will even come dance on your table if you like. Check out their website for upcoming performances. 

Transfigure Printing Co.

Transfigure Print Co. is a Michigan-based LGBTQIA+ inclusive screen-printing company that has been trans and queer owned since 2017. Their mission is to provide inclusive garments and raise money for the LGBTQIA+ community – more than $70,000 in total to date. A true, one-of-a-kind shop, many of their garments are designed in-house, but they also pride themselves on printing the work of many different artists. The majority of their products are screen printed by hand by Owner Bailey Sell and their team.

Check out some of their designs and prints at the Transfigure online store at transfigureprintco.com/shop, where you’ll find T-shirts, prints, patches and more. Also, consider them for your next print project if you’re looking to keep funds local and within the LGBTQIA+ community.

A Quick Trip

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Grand Rapids is the perfect spot to stay if you’re also interested in exploring Lake Michigan – including Saugatuck/Douglas, which is home to one of America’s top LGBTQIA+ resorts: The Dunes. This Midwest destination for the LGBTQIA+ community boasts a poolside bar, on-site accommodations for overnight stays, live music and DJs, drag shows, and more. Saugatuck is also home to Oval Beach, ranked one of America’s top 5 beaches by MTV, and many LGBTQIA+-friendly shops and restaurants. It’s just under an hour drive from downtown Grand Rapids.

 

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but rather a guide to a few of Grand Rapids’ prominent LGBTQIA+ owned and operated businesses and cultural destinations. You’ll have a gay old time at all of them!