Great Lakes Pride: LGBTQ-Friendly Shops and Stops Across Michigan

During Pride month and beyond, support Michigan’s LGBTQ-owned businesses and entrepreneurs across the state – from the U.P. to Detroit to the west side.

A couple walking in downtown Saugatuck
Saugatuck | Photo Courtesy of Craig Watson

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Not only during Pride month but all year round, we are proud of Michigan’s long history of standing up for and supporting LGBTQ-owned and operated businesses across the state. Now, it’s your turn. Show your pride and support for LGBTQ-owned businesses across Michigan by stopping in, shopping, and spreading the word.

Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula

A Pride parade in Traverse City
Up North Pride in Traverse City | Photo Courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Start your Pride-filled journey in the north among some of Michigan's most scenic landscapes. Each stop promises fabulously unique experiences – from shopping to dining to a relaxing stay in nature.

Red Spire Brunch House in Traverse City, owned by couple and restaurateurs Chad Hall and Joshua Anderson, serves locally-flavored dishes with warm hospitality. Shop after breakfast, brunch or lunch in the Mercato within the Grand Traverse Commons. Link your trip to Traverse City Pride, hosted by Up North Pride, in late September. The organization and Pride celebration is rooted in activism and advocacy, and produces community-focused 2SLGBTQIA+ programs and events year-round.

Book a stay on the sleepy shores of rural Bear Lake at Motel Bear Lake. This retro-modern motel and community lounge, owned by Marta Turnbull, the co-founder of Up North Pride, hosts seasonal Pride events and a safe and supportive year-round getaway for the LGBTQ+ community and allies. Motel Bear Lake hosts weekly yoga on Saturday mornings and make sure to take a selfie by their growing mural wall created by Michigan-based queer and female artists.

Head north across the Mackinac Bridge to Pride Fest in historic downtown Marquette. The community-focused festival celebrates the Upper Peninsula’s LGBTQ+ community at large on the shoreline of Lake Superior at Ellwood Mattson Lower Harbor Park. While in town, explore the eclectic treasures at Bodega, a vibrant LGBTQ and women-owned restaurant focused on community, art, music, drinks and food created from fresh and local ingredients.

You can also find rich rural respite at Milkweed Inn, a tranquil inn nestled in the deep woods of the Hiawatha National Forest in Nahma Township. Owner Chef Iliana (Lane) Regan serves farm-to-table cuisine from the land around the inn. Rooms here book quick so aim to plan upwards of a year in advance to snag a coveted spot at Milkweed Inn.

West Michigan

A couple on a patio dining area outside a boathouse in Saugatuck
Saugatuck | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan

Drink and shop your way through West Michigan while supporting queer-owned businesses along the way. In Grand Rapids, Woosah Outfitters inspires adventure and reconnecting to nature with its handcrafted goods and outdoor apparel created by owner Rae Lang. Soak in sunshine while sipping coffee at Outside Coffee on the plant- and flower-filled patio adjacent to Woosah’s retail shop.

You can also visit their Saugatuck Douglas location too. Consistently named one of Michigan’s most welcoming cities for LGBTQ travelers, the arts-and-culture-steeped city of Saugatuck is home to 140 gay-owned and gay-friendly shops and restaurants. Favorites include Isabel's Market & Eatery, J Paul’s Dining Room at The Kirby Hotel, The Dunes Resort and Campit Outdoor Resort.

Head south to Holland to visit Cakabakery, a local bakery known for its custom and delicious cakes, cupcakes and other sweet treats. Cakabakery’s creative flavors and beautiful designs come to life for special occasions too with custom orders—or you can stop in to satisfy your sweet tooth with a stop at the pastry case. 

Southeast and Southwest Michigan

A bartender making a cocktail at Dabney & Co.
Dabney & Co. in Kalamazoo | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan

In Detroit, get your caffeine and baked goods kick at Avalon Café and Bakery with locations in Woodward in downtown Detroit, Detroit Rivertown, Royal Oak and Ann Arbor. If sweets are more your thing, stroll the charming downtown streets of Northville with an ice cream in hand from BROWNDOG Creamery. Their local flavors (like Faygo-themed ice cream) and artisanal flavors are crafted with care and creativity.

Over in the culinary and entertainment hot spot of Ann Arbor, a new LGBTQ+ bar located in the heart of downtown will open its doors later this year. Uplift will serve as a community-centric space where everyone is welcome, and a safe space to find conversation, cocktails, a events like karaoke, drag brunches and dance parties. For years, queer club enthusiasts have also attended the Necto Nightclub weekly Pride nights every Friday, and LGBTQ+ Night every Thursday at North Star Lounge, featuring open mics, drag shows and live music.

If you find yourself on Michigan’s southwest side, stop in at Dabney & Co. in Kalamazoo. Jazz, soul, hip-hop, funk, and R&B music meets hand-crafted cocktails at this local black-owned and LGBTQ-friendly bar. Make sure to order their house fan favorite: the mint julep. If Pride events are your thing, head to town in early June for Kalamazoo Pride, hosted annually by local non-profit OutFront Kalamazoo.

Central Michigan

Display table of eclectic merchandise at Thrift Witch store
Thrift Witch in Lansing's Old Town | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan

Get your shopping fix in Central Michigan in Lansing and Mount Pleasant, where two unique LGBTQ-owned shops that couldn’t be more different are connected by their support for the gay, lesbian, trans community and beyond. Thrift Witch in Lansing houses an eclectic collection of vintage treasures and unique thrifted. The spellbinding shopping experience showcases a mix of oddities, original dark art, pop-culture collectibles, creepy antiques and new and vintage clothing and accessories out of their Old Town Lansing location. Before or after shopping, hit up  Strange Matter Coffee a woman and queer-owned coffee shop known for their strong and thoughtfully-brewed coffee and delicious donuts.

Northward in Mt. Pleasant, a charming town nestled amidst scenic beauty, B's Music Shop stands as a haven for music lovers. The LGBTQ-owned store boasts a diverse selection of instruments, sheet music, and audio equipment—no matter if you’re an inspiring musician or long-time artist.

Find more ways to celebrate Pride moth and ways to support local year-round with these LGBTQ+ getaways in Pure Michigan.

About the Author: Erica Zazo is a Chicago-based freelance writer who loves to write about adventure travel in her home state of Michigan and beyond. Follow her adventures on Instagram.