There are plenty of things to love about New York City. Central Park during fall when red and gold leaves blanket one of the world’s most beautiful open spaces. The many ice rinks that pop up in early November and stay open until after New Year’s. The Broadway Shows. Dining. Shopping. And, the lively and accepting gay scene.
New York City has long been a place where the LGBTI community could live an open and exuberant lifestyle. Walk through Hells Kitchen on any given day and you’ll likely see gay couples holding hands and enjoying the energy of the city. This is how New York been for some time now.
For years, there have been spectacular queer cabarets and clubs in Manhattan. Festivals held throughout the year make it easy to let loose and meet people. Beautiful outdoor spaces are perfect for gay dating couples. And, annually, the Empire State Building celebrates gay Pride by turning its lights into rainbow colors.
The gay travel scene in New York City is alive and it seems to be getting better all the time. With so many options for enjoyment as a solo traveler, or as part of a couple or group, New York easily offers a fun-filled day, weekend, or week. Whether you like eating, parties, dancing, the theater, or just meeting people, New York City has something for you.
To break all of the New York City fabulousness down, the following is a list of some of the top nightclubs, attractions, activities, events, and neighborhoods for LGBTI travel in New York.
Top Things to do in New York City
Where to Go by Neighborhood
Midtown – Hell’s Kitchen is NYC’s gay epicenter. It’s filled with LGBTI-friendly bistros, bars, shops, and clubs.
East Village and Lower East Side – Gritty, sweaty, and grungy. Visit the bars and clubs here.
West Village and Chelsea – Also, the Meatpacking District. High-price hotels intermix with classic bars and upscale nightclubs.
Union Square and the Flatiron District – Includes Gramercy. Some gay restaurants and bars overflowing out of Chelsea, West Village, and East Village.
Brooklyn – An eclectic gay scene, and many pubs, taverns, and beer gardens.
Best Places for Dancing
Monster – Go-go boys and drag queens in a cheeky basement setting.
Industry – A Hell’s Kitchen venue that’s a buzzing bar during by day and thumping nightclub in the evening.
XL Nightclub – Another Hell’s Kitchen favorite filled with hot, muscular, dancing guys.
Best Places to Hang Out
Cock – Sleazy, in a playful way. Used to be a hangout for the gay-punk scene.
Stonewall Inn – Rioting drag queens helped make history at this NYC landmark.
Julius Bar – A pumping gay bar in business for 50 years. The longest-running gay watering hold in NYC.
NYC Events and Attractions
New York City Pride – One of the biggest and most rainbow-filled Pride festivals in the country.
Duplex – Spirited piano bar. Old-school campy cabaret in the West Village.
Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art – The first LGBTI art museum in the world.
Want ideas for daytime activities in New York? Shop at Nasty Pig or other queer boutiques in Chelsea and admire near-naked sunbathers at Pier 45. More nighttime thrills await at Therapy and Flaming Saddles.
In addition to NYC Pride, gay-centric events like NewFest (a queer film festival) and MIX New York Queer Experimental Film Festival take place every year.
A visit to New York City won’t leave you wondering what to do or how to use up your time. It’s likely that every minute of your waking hours will involve some kind of over-the-top or absolutely insane experience, if you want it. New York City is a city with a rich culture and fantastic people. Whether you visit on a Saturday or Sunday, or during the week, you’ll find plenty of ways to paint the town red, orange, blue, purple, or whatever shade you like best.