Mexico City is one of the nation’s most gay-friendly destinations and the first major city in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage. // © 2015 Latinflyer.com
Feature image (above): Each year, Mexico City hosts an LGBT pride parade and festival in June. // © 2015 Latinflyer.com
Puerto Vallarta may be the highest-profile destination in Mexico for gay vacationers from the U.S., but the bustling metropolis of Mexico City, the nation’s capital, is also a rewarding place for LGBT travelers.
Mexico City may not have a beach, but it has a lot to offer LGBT globetrotters who appreciate big-city sophistication, including nightlife, shopping, dining and culture. It’s no surprise that Mexico City is one of the nation’s most gay-friendly destinations; after all, it was the first major city in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage (back in 2009, before Argentina did on a nationwide scale).
Additionally, the Mexico City Secretary of Tourism maintains a highly visible LGBT travel section on its main website; the information may not be completely up to date, but the free, downloadable LGBT Guide Mexico City is still a great source of information for travel agents selling gay travel, with a neighborhood-by-neighborhood breakdown of the most popular areas to explore.
The starting point for most LGBT travelers is Zona Rosa, a lively neighborhood just off the Paseo de la Reforma boulevard. The largest concentration of gay bars is on Calle Amberes, a street where it’s nothing out of the ordinary to see same-sex couples strolling hand-in-hand. The sidewalks and bars here are especially crowded on weekends, and it’s also a good neighborhood to shop for skimpy swimsuits and sexy underwear for both men and women.
Centro Historico, the historic downtown area centered around the gigantic Zocalo city square, is home to a variety of LGBT nightlife as well, especially along Republica de Cuba street. Hot spots here include La Purisima, a two-story dance club with purposely over-the-top, religious-themed decor and two dance floors, one of which usually plays retro music. Across the street is Marrakech Salon, another dance club with equally Bohemian style. As an interesting complement to these two hip clubs, smaller bars nearby play more traditional Mexican music on some nights, attracting everything from young club-goers to cowboys.
Upscale neighborhood Polanco is also home to a few noteworthy nightclubs — Envy and Guilt — while the popular Roma district is home to Tom’s Leather Bar.
With so much nightlife spread across so many neighborhoods, it may seem daunting to stay on top of what’s happening. Visitors will do well to pick up a copy of “Chilango” upon arrival in Mexico City; the magazine — something like a Spanish-language version of “Time Out” — features listings about the latest LGBT nightlife and entertainment, including bars, dance clubs, stage plays and special events.
Speaking of special events, Mexico City hosts a vibrant LGBT pride parade and festival every year on the last Saturday in June. Thousands of participants meet near the Angel de la Independencia, an iconic sculpture near Zona Rosa, to begin a march down the broad Paseo de la Reforma, ending at the Zocalo for a festival with live music.
Destination weddings are another possibility for selling Mexico City to LGBT clients; company Matrimonios LGBT helps connect couples (and travel agents) with local wedding service providers.
When it comes to accommodations, it’s easy to find LGBT-friendly hotels in Mexico City, and there are multiple options in the most popular neighborhoods for gay travelers. In Zona Rosa, Room Mate Valentina is just steps from the gay bars on Calle Amberes. For a full-service hotel with lots of amenities, consider Galleria Plaza or, for a special splurge, St. Regis Mexico City.
In Centro Historico, Downtown Mexico hotel — part of the trendy Grupo Habita family — is a stylish choice, while the posh Hilton Mexico City Reforma is one of the best full-service options within walking distance of the LGBT bars (and offers great views of the city from its upper floors). Regardless of which accommodations a visitor chooses, chances are they won’t be more than a few minutes away from interesting diversions.