The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community is a tight one. With the exception of just a couple of select bars, most of the bars catering to gay patrons are in the Lavender District right around 20th and K street in Sacramento. While the following bars are well known for being gay specific, they aren’t private clubs and you will sometimes find straight guests partaking in the festivities as well. Get out and explore Sacramento’s gay nightlife scene.

Mercantile Saloon
1928 L St.
Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 447-0792

The Merc, as it is affectionately referred by its regulars, is known for a couple of things outside of being a cool gay bar. It also has cheap, strong drinks, like, really strong drinks. Happy hour specials (4 p.m. to 7 p.m.) include $1 pints and $4 pitchers of select beers. If you are a fan of dive bars that never have cover charges, Mercantile Saloon is your spot. Another thing most can agree on is that Mercantile is a very friendly and laid-back place to have a drink. So if that is your scene, you need look no further.

Badlands Dance Club
2003 K St.
Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 448-8790

Thrown in the mix of the 20th and K scene is Badlands, a huge 4,500-square-foot mecca of dancing and drinking fun. With 30-foot ceilings, a 2nd floor lounge and a great patio, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported away from everything familiar in midtown. Among other nightly specials, Badlands offers Monday power hour Skyy cocktails for $2 from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. and a 3rd Friday drag show at 8 p.m.

2000 K St.
Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 448-7798

With two levels, three dance floors and over a dozen places to grab a drink, this infamous hotspot has a lot to offer the LGBT community. Various popular DJs are scheduled throughout the week, with special events three to four times a month. On Wednesdays, you can get unheard-of deals like domestic drafts and well drinks for a buck. Don’t miss out on Saturday’s happy hour from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. where you can stay all night without paying a cover if you arrive before 8 p.m.

Related: Best Happy Hours Every Week Night In Sacramento

The Depot
2001 K St.
Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 441-6823

For over a decade, The Depot has been providing nighttime entertainment suitable for all colors of the rainbow. With different specials each night of the week, great happy hours and trivia night, everyone can find what they’re looking for. Nightly specials include Two-For Tuesday (two you-call-it drinks for $10 all night) and Fabulous and Gay Friday where you buy one cocktail and get the second for a buck from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. With many TV screens and multiple bars, The Depot offers fun from all angles.

The Bolt
2560 Boxwood St.
Sacramento, CA 95815
(916) 649-8420

You will find happy hour specials seven days a week at The Bolt. Monday through Saturday, it starts at 2 p.m. and goes until 9 p.m. On Sundays, the deals start at 3 p.m. and go until 8 p.m. This is not a basic happy hour where you get a buck off a beer. Some nights you can get anything from free barbecue to drink specials. Other nights you can take advantage of free pizza or free darts. The Bolt is a gay bar that certainly knows how to get the crowd involved in the nightly activities, and as far as local gay bars go, this one is a fan favorite.

Related: Best Cocktail Bars In Sacramento

As a hospitality professional Andy Soto has worked every facet of the industry. He currently leads the team at Spectrum Restaurant Consulting. He started writing a hospitality blog in 2009 and restaurant writing for Sacramento Press in 2010. In 2011 Andy became a Sacramento Restaurant Examiner for His work can be found on