New York City Gay Travel
wolfyy’s New York City gay guide to where to stay, gay neighborhoods, things to do, restaurants, parties, & more.
The Gay Travel Experience: New York City
New York is one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the world. No matter who you are, being gay in New York City is easy. I’ve been a New York local for more than nine years, so I’ll give you some of the best New York City gay travel advice you can find.
From exploring storybook-like neighborhoods to dancing until sunrise at intense circuit parties, there are limitless ways for gay travelers to explore New York. Fashion, Broadway shows, and unforgettable skyline views are just a few.
Gay, lesbian and transgender populations in New York City are huge, so it’s easy for everyone to find their community.
First-time visitors should plan their trip to New York carefully. This ubiquitously unforgiving city is exciting and inspiring, but can be a bit intimidating for some.
Below, I’ll tell you where to stay for the best gay New York experience, recommend crowd-favorite hotels, restaurants, gay nightlife venues and share useful travel tips.
New York Gay Neighborhoods & Where to Stay
The location of your hotel or apartment rental in New York will have a huge impact on your travel experience. Where you stay, with respect to both the neighborhood and quality of accommodation, can absolutely make or break a trip.
Overall, New York has such an enormous gay population that it’s not necessary to limit yourself to gay-specific hotels, although I will say that some of New York City’s gay hotels all offer stylishly unique experiences that travelers love.
Below I’ll recommend some hotels and other places to stay by borough, in addition to covering the various gay neighborhoods of New York City.
Manhattan Hotels & Where to Stay
A Hell’s Kitchen apartment rental is your best bet if you want to be in the heart of New York’s best gay neighborhood. You won’t find many hotels in Hell’s Kitchen given the area is largely residential. Most of the time, apartments are decently affordable, too.
1 Hotel Central Park is a modern and luxurious option in this area of the city. I love the woody scent in the lobby, as well as the ground-floor coffee shop. Rooms here are super clean and have everything a traveler needs.
Arlo Midtown is one of my personal favorite hotels in New York. It’s not easy to find a hotel as stylish as this at such an affordable price. I’ve recommended Arlo Midtown to many friends and they have all loved the hotel’s gorgeous style and rooftop.
Manhattan’s Meatpacking District is a chic neighborhood just north of the West Village. Along the area’s historic cobblestone roads you’ll find plenty of luxury shops and trendy nightclubs that occupy buildings once used as meatpacking facilities.
Firstly, most gay locals don’t live in these areas. Midtown East is isolated from gay nightlife, the Financial District can feel lifeless in the evening, and Chinatown is both isolated and dirty.
If you want to stay in Manhattan, go with the other areas mentioned above!
Brooklyn Hotels & Where to Stay
Williamsburg is the ideal neighborhood for New York City gay travelers who want to experience that classic “Brooklyn” feel. It’s vibrant and gritty at the same time.
Also, Williamsburg is essentially Brooklyn’s gay neighborhood. However, you’ll find gay locals from here all the way eastward through the middle of Bushwick, following the route of the L subway corridor.
The Williamsburg Hotel has some of the most stylish hotel rooms in New York. The bathrooms are incredible, as are the views from the small private balconies. They have an epic rooftop pool, too!
Calmer vibes can be found in the Fort Greene and Park Slope neighborhoods, best for park lovers or families. Fort Greene & Park Slope apartment rentals have that quintessential “upscale Brooklyn” vibe.
Where to Stay in Queens
Astoria has the most upbeat and authentic New York feel of any neighborhood in Queens. Home of the borough’s best gay nightlife, Astoria is also the Queens gay neighborhood.
Located just north of Long Island City, Astoria has convenient subway access to Manhattan, making for a convenient yet relatively affordable area of New York for travelers.
You’re best off with an apartment rental in Astoria since the neighborhood is mostly residential.
Hotels in Long Island City have become a fantastic in-between option as the neighborhood has sprouted dozens of skyscrapers in recent years. Here you’ll only be one stop away from Manhattan while still being close to Astoria’s gay nightlife.
More Ideas → My Full List of Popular Gay Hotels in New York
New York City Gay-Popular Restaurants
New York City has an astronomical number of restaurants. Every type of cuisine is within arm’s reach, too. Here are my select favorites and recommendations.
Elmo – One of the most iconic New York City gay restaurants. They’ve been around since 2001, serving American comfort cuisine in Chelsea. Elmo is always packed with gay men, who enjoy the company of the restaurant’s gay servers and bartenders.
La Pulpería – Popular for energetic drag brunches with unlimited cocktails in a rustic-feeling Latin-style restaurant.
Totto Ramen – Cozy and inexpensive ramen shop with multiple locations in Hell’s Kitchen and East Midtown. Cash only.
Agave – Wildly popular Mexican brunch in the West Village. There are typically long waiting lists for reservations, so make them early.
GITANO Garden of Love – Showing off some beautiful Tulum vibes, GITANO is one of the best summertime restaurants in New York popular with gay locals. It’s a delicious Mexican spot in SoHo with a ton of cozy couches, large tables, and a wraparound bar.
Cheeseboat Hell’s Kitchen – Unique traditional Georgian restaurant serving hilariously-named cocktails like “Putin’s Tears” with some of the friendliest service I’ve ever experienced in New York City.
Turkuaz Restaurant – Delicious and authentic Turkish cuisine with some of the best service I’ve ever received in New York. Their rear outdoor seating area makes you feel like you’re in the Mediterranean!
UOGASHI – One of the best sushi restaurants I’ve ever been to. Sit at the sushi bar, order the set menu, and watch the chefs work their magic. Most of them were born in Japan!
As-Is NYC – Chic, dimly-lit imported beer bar in Hell’s Kitchen with a rotating selection and mouth-watering bar food. Great for couples. Attracts a crowd during happy hour, but is quieter later in the evening.
Pardon My French – French restaurant in the East Village with a fantastic bottomless brunch.
Cafeteria – Brunch popular with gay locals in warmer weather. Mouth-watering custom drinks in West Midtown. Can get busy in summer, so it’s best to call for a reservation.
Holey Cream – My absolute favorite take-out dessert spot in New York. In the middle of the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, Holey Cream serves creamy ice cream sandwiches using warm donuts. They sound delicious, but taste even better than they sound!
Norma – Authentic Sicilian restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen with super friendly staff, traditional cocktails, and outdoor seating. One of my favorites!
Seamore’s Chelsea – Stylish open-air seafood restaurant in Chelsea with a nautical feel and a brunch menu I love. The specialty cocktails are perfect.
La Pecora Bianca – Fantastic gay-friendly New York Italian restaurant in NoMad. I’ve enjoyed a few group dinners here and always loved the wine selection and service.
Pastis – The five-star service and unbeatable food at Pastis is something you definitely won’t forget. The ambiance is incredible with the feel of a Paris Bistro. Making a reservation is best since this popular restaurant fills quickly.
Amy’s Bread – Quaint coffee shop with breakfast treats located in Hell’s Kitchen. Popular with gay locals.
The Headless Horseman – Dimly lit and festive tavern in Union Square, perfect for an early afternoon drink and delicious bar food.
The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop – Perfect place to cool down in summer with locations in both the Seaport District and Upper West Side in Manhattan.
New York City Gay Travel Experiences
There are tons of things for gay travelers to do in New York, no matter whether it’s day, night, a weekday or weekend. Below are some of my favorite things to do in New York, even as a local.
Explore World-Class Museums
New York has endless options for well-known museums and several are among the top 10 art museums worldwide.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a must for first-timers. It’s also super budget-friendly, with only a $5 suggested donation. The Met has so many exhibits spanning so many periods, it honestly could take days to see everything inside.
The Museum of Modern Art is another top museum in New York. I always enjoy visiting—it’s a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.
Christopher Street Pier
Little Island is one of the city’s newest attractions. A small public park built on pedestals above the Hudson River, there’s plenty of open space to sit in the grass, grab a snack or wander the pathway to the park’s lookout point.
Explore the West Village & Stonewall
A historic New York City gay neighborhood with all sorts of boutique shops, spend an afternoon wandering Manhattan’s quaint West Village. You’ll see rainbow flags everywhere!
New York's Newest Observation Decks
Glitzy new observation decks have recently opened atop some of New York City’s shiny new skyscrapers. Now, the Empire State Building Observatory, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and the World Trace Center aren’t the only places you can get epic skyline views.
Grab tickets for The Edge NYC, the highest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere! Experience the glass floor panel along with breathtaking views of the New York skyline and the Hudson River.
Sunset is the most popular time and tickets around this part of the day sell out fast, so book early.
SUMMIT One Vanderbilt is New York’s newest observatory and it’s truly jaw-dropping. With two expansive all-glass levels and glass-floor ledges that levitate over 1000 feet above street level, the experience here is unforgettable. I had a ton of fun playing in the room filled with silver balloons!
Additional private experiences are available as well, including the Ascent glass-floor elevator ride up to an even higher and more private observatory area.
Shop My Favorites → Luggage, Backpacks & Travel Bags
Sail The New York Harbor
Relax in Sheep Meadow
Fuel Up on Street Food
Grab some lunch to go at a Halal food truck. Food from these trucks is delicious, cheap, and loved by locals. One of the most famous vendors is The Halal Guys. But in all my experience, any street cart that sells Halal food is usually great.
Walk The Brooklyn Bridge
Along the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian path, you’ll find a ton of tourists, but this is still an experience that first-timers always want to do at least once! Walking across is fantastic in the early morning or late afternoon for sunset.
Brooklyn Bridge Park is along the waterfront in the area between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. One of the best outdoor places to visit in New York, there’s a ton to do here.
Walk along the waterfront promenade, grab food or drinks at the Time Out Market or explore some of the area’s upscale shops.
Related → Romantic Things to Do in New York City
Visit Local New York Gay Beaches
Gunnison is also one of the most popular nude beaches in the metro area. You can catch the Seastreak Ferry that will take you there directly from Manhattan
Jacob Riis Beach is the official New York City gay beach and has been a popular summertime LGBTQ hangout since the 1940s. It’s located in southern Queens on the Rockaway Peninsula, which is easily reachable via public transit.
Explore Manhatan's Seaport District
Drinks on Stone Street
Local New Yorkers are obsessed with Stone Street, a haven for after-work drinks in the Financial District. Charming outdoor picnic tables on a cobblestone street lined with high-end pubs will warm your soul.
Get more ideas for things to do in NYC at night from my guest post on GetYourGuide!
New York Gay Bars
With endless bar options full of handsome locals to explore, single gay travelers will have an especially epic time in New York!
I cover all the best local gay bars here in wolfyy’s NYC Gay Bar Ultimate Guide, where you can find out which types of guys are at each gay bar, which days each bar is busiest, and their overall vibe.
Check out wolfyy’s custom Google Maps layer of all 40+ New York City gay bars, which is continually updated and contains essential notes for each bar.
Below, you’ll find recommendations for gay parties and events!
New York Gay Parties
New York City has all different types of gay parties, from massive circuit events to upscale rooftop gatherings. The list below covers them all!
Larger gay parties in New York are hosted monthly or a few times per year, but there’s almost always at least one major gay party happening every weekend. A few of them change location, so double check the party’s social media before heading out.
Horse Meat Disco
Expect more lyrical music than traditional circuit parties, but a similar type of gay crowd.
This is an event where you won’t find anyone talking or looking at their phone while dancing. On the dance floor at WRECKED parties, talking and phone use are not allowed on the dance floor.
This focus on enjoying dancing as well as respect for personal space helps the party live up to being “a staple of tripping, psychedelic dance in the queer underground.”
Expect upbeat electronic music and tons of shirtless men. The vibe is something between a circuit party and a chic urban disco. People wear everything from button-down shirts to ostentatious club-kid outfits.
Battle Hymn is a semi-monthly NYC gay party hugely popular with locals. LadyFag produces and hosts this huge party in elaborate venues, typically in Manhattan. Visitors come all the way from neighboring cities to experience these LadyFag mega parties.
Spilled Milk & Chim3ra
Expect several mega-rooms/levels with dark, electronic beats at each of these parties. Make sure to wear your most eccentric and flashy gay circuit gear.
MEAT NEW YORK
MEAT NYC parties are definitely the most popular semi-regular gay circuit parties in New York. Expect a sweaty, shirtless and mainly 30+ crowd. MEAT is a leather & fur-fetish-themed party with dark rooms (one of the few New York City gay parties that has them).
Wearing mostly jockstraps and sexy underwear, gay men go back and forth from the dance floor to the cruising area, which is in a sectioned-off area of the club.
There is always a clothes check available, too. Make sure to bring cash for this!
Related → Gay Sex Parties in New York City
Alegria is consistently one of the most extravagant gay dance parties in New York.
Alegria Sunrise is the daytime after-hours version of the Alegria party. These parties typically start at 12 PM and continue all day at a glorious rooftop venue with skyline views.
Parties at 3 Dollar Bill
3 Dollar Bill is a hugely popular gay event space in East Williamsburg, branded as New York’s premier queer bar and performance venue.
They’re well-known for hosting large circuit parties (like MEAT NYC mentioned above), and a bunch of other popular gay parties like Ty Tea, Love Prism, and DILF XL.
Renting a van for your group of friends can be super fun and practical if you’re traveling to clubs in Brooklyn from Manhattan or somewhere not very close. I’ve done this a couple of times and had such a blast!
Le Bain is a chic, well-known gay party that every visitor should try. There’s lots of space to lounge as well as a fun area for dancing. Le Bain is hosted on the rooftop terrace of the Standard Hotel at the High Line. The views are absolutely stunning.
The party is usually held on Tuesday or Sunday evenings depending on the season. But always confirm ahead of time since there are some weeks when the Le Bain rooftop space is reserved for private parties.
PHD at the Dream Hotel Downtown
PHD at the Dream Hotel Downtown is another gay party with gorgeous panoramic views of New York’s skyline. This party is the place to be on Sunday afternoon.
There’s plenty of seating along PHD’s indoor-outdoor rooftop terrace space. Inside there is always plenty of dancing along with wildly dressed performers on a small stage. The vibe is upscale, yet rowdy as the afternoon progresses. Dress your best!
FLY Sundays at Monarch
Locals tend to dress their summer-casual best, with tank tops certainly welcome. Arrive earlier in the afternoon to avoid a long entry line—waiting on the hot city street is no fun! See photos on the FLY Sundays Instagram.
More LGBT Parties & Events
Thotyssey is a great resource to check for a daily compiled list of local New York queer events.
Looking to meet other gay travelers to explore New York City with? Join wolfyy’s Gay Travel Facebook Chat and introduce yourself to some new friends!
Gay Cruising in New York
Are you a tourist looking for New York City gay cruising spots or saunas? New York is a little different when it comes to the sauna scene.
You can also find more about sex parties in New York as well as some history about why there are only a few traditional gay bathhouses in NYC.
Attending a sex party in New York is always a fun alternative to cruising at typical bathhouses. Check out my full downloadable list of gay sex parties in New York City.
Travel Tips for New York City
New York is Not a Hostel City
For budget travelers, I advise against staying in hostels. New York is definitely not a hostel city. Many times, the hostels that exist in New York can be even more expensive than an apartment rental or hotel!
VRBO is a good bet for cheaper accommodations. Make sure you dive deep into the reviews as things can be a little deceptive if you’re not thorough.
Long Lines Usually Aren't Worth It
Don’t wait in any crazy lines for restaurants. Places like Katz’s Deli and Pick-a-Bagel are not worth it and locals avoid them. Don’t eat at any standard restaurants in Times Square, either. Most of them are low quality and overpriced.
If visiting One World Trade Center is on your list, purchase tickets online to save yourself at least an hour of waiting in line.
Stay Through a Weekend if Possible
You will need a lot of time to thoroughly explore the Big Apple. Seven days is an ideal length, although four to five is doable. Staying through a weekend is preferable to get a taste of larger gay nightlife activities.
Tips For Bars & Nightlife
Going to a party with a large group of friends? Renting a party van or small party bus is super fun! Check out Carmel, a trustworthy van and limo rental service that operates in New York City.
Don’t forget your personal identification or passport. You will need it to get into just about every bar/party. Many times international tourists forget about this! Sometimes a photo will be accepted, but not always.
Upon entering gay circuit parties and other large events, expect to be thoroughly searched. Bars in New York close at 4 AM. Large parties can go longer into the morning hours but have to stop serving alcohol at 4 AM.
NYC Luggage Storage
Lugging your bags around can be super frustrating in New York City. Before I lived here, finding a place to store my bags for just an afternoon was a sketchy experience.
Thankfully there are now lots of trustworthy places where you can store luggage in New York.
Navigating New York's Subway
If you plan on using the subway to get around, I recommend buying a weekly unlimited MetroCard. This can be used on all buses and subways. Keep in mind that you cannot buy one card for multiple people as it cannot be used consecutively in a short period of time.
Many NYC subway stations are separated into an “uptown” and a “downtown” side. Often, there is no connection between them once you enter one of the sides. Be sure you know what direction you’re headed before paying!
For bus, subway, and local train times, download the MTA TrainTime application. This all-in-one app allows you to see when scheduled busses are coming and is where you can buy tickets for trains like the LIRR and Metro North.
All New York City subway stations now have contactless systems installed. The same goes for buses. Easily swipe your phone or tap your card to purchase your single-ride ticket. It works really well!
New York’s subway system runs 24 hours a day, but that doesn’t mean certain lines stop running. Do your research before relying on the train late at night. Also, keep in mind that construction often takes place on weekends, so some subway routes may be much slower.
Traveling through a NYC airport? They can be very stressful, not to mention a little run down. (Hey, at this point we’re known for it). Check out these tips for reducing airport stress.
Tips to Save Money in New York
New York is expensive, so here is a list of even more quick tips to save you cash as you explore.
First of all, corner deli food is delicious. You definitely get the most volume for your dollar. Fill up with a hero! Breakfast sandwiches in these places are around 5 dollars. Don’t pay any more than that!
Halal food trucks are the cheapest and certainly most delicious food around. $8 will get you a big tray of meat and rice.
Keep rush hours and inclement weather in mind when you plan to travel by car. Costs of Uber and Lyft can skyrocket to unbelievable levels at peak times. I’ve seen rides cost $50 for a short ride within midtown during a thunderstorm! Planning ahead will help you save.
Make sure you see my top recommendations for New York gay hotels!
Don’t pass up a visit to Fire Island if you’re visiting NYC between June and September. Read more in wolfyy’s Fire Island Pines gay guide.
For more inspiration, explore wolfyy’s full collection of gay travel guides.