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New York City Gay Travel

New York is a gritty, gay wonderland with endless attractions. This New York City gay travel guide will show you the best NYC gay bars & local neighborhoods, plus tourist traps you should avoid!

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The Gay Travel Experience: New York City

Performing arts, fashion and other creative industries attract droves of gay men and women from around the world. The sheer talent in New York is unmatched…drag queens that studied at Julliard, plentiful Broadway talent and aspiring actors. They can all be found in the most ordinary of places.

New York City gay travel

Gay travel in New York City is certainly limitless…there are so many noteworthy parties, landmarks and neighborhoods to explore.

New York City gay travel
Empire State building at night

You will need 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.

best gay bars in Manhattan

While this New York gay travel guide is quite extensive, it does have all you need for a great time. Given the large amount of content, I will list out the recommendations for easier reading.

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Gay New York: Where to Stay

First of all, accommodations in a neighborhood with a fun and upbeat vibe will have a huge positive impact on your New York City gay travel experience.

world trade center views

If you’re looking to be “in the thick of it all,” then follow my recommendations below. Walking places is usually easiest. Also keep in mind proximity to desired attractions and access to public transport.

Where to Stay in Manhattan

I recommend Hell’s Kitchen (the younger gay area), the West Village (the historic gay area) or the East Village above all, the coziest area of NYC . Each of these neighborhoods are full of cozy restaurants/cafes, as well as gay locals.

gay pride flag in New York city

The Upper West Side, Tribeca (family oriented) and the Meatpacking District (high-end straight nightlife) are other great areas, however they have less of a gay population (relatively).

world trade center views
gay pride flag in New York city

Central Harlem is good for value given it is farther from most attractions. I recommend tourists avoid East Harlem as there is not much to do there. Also, the area can be questionable late at night.

skyline nyc Hudson yards

Consider avoiding accommodation in Midtown East or the Financial District for the reason that these areas are business centers. They tend to become a bit lifeless on weekends/evenings. However, you will likely find cheaper accommodations here.

Where to Stay in Brooklyn

Gay travelers will be happiest in Williamsburg/East Williamsburg. These are the neighborhoods that come to mind when you imagine “Brooklyn.” Gritty and dense, there are many tucked-away bars to try.

pocket bar nyc
Macri Park gay bar
pocket bar nyc

In contrast, calmer vibes can be found in Fort Greene and Park Slope, best for park lovers. Furthermore, tourists should stay away from Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights and East New York since they may not suit the traveler best in terms of comfort/safety.

Where to Stay in Queens

Astoria has more of a local feel. It is located just north of Long Island City. There are many Airbnb’s in this area. If you love Greek food, definitely check out this hood. It seems like every corner has a greek restaurant these days!

Macri Park gay bar

Astoria and Long Island City are great bets in the quieter borough of Queens. A fair amount of gay locals live here in these hoods. Both have fantastic transit access to Manhattan. New buildings are sprouting all over Long Island City, with more new restaurants and shopping.

NYC Restaurants for Gay Travelers

Food options in New York are infinite. Every type of cuisine is within arm’s reach. Here are my select favorites and recommendations.

Room Service – Thai dinner restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen. Stellar ambiance with low prices. One of my absolute favorites for the specialty cocktails.

Intermezzo – Popular weekend spot with a gay drag “Electro Brunch!” Great prices!

Thai restaurant in NYC
Thai restaurant in NYC
Room service restaurant nyc

Totto Ramen – Cozy and inexpensive ramen shop with multiple locations in Hell’s Kitchen. Cash only.

Agave – Wildly popular Mexican brunch in the West Village. Long waitlist for reservations, so make them early.

Pardon my French – French restaurant in the East Village with bottomless brunch.

Room service restaurant nyc

Cafeteria – Brunch popular with gay locals in warmer weather. Mouth-watering custom drinks in West Midtown. Can get busy in summer, so its best to call for a reservation.

Drag Brunch at the Highline Ballroom – Incredibly talented drag queens perform as you enjoy unlimited drinks and an entrée. A bit on the pricier side: $50 for tickets at the door. Produced by Voss Events.

best gay bars New York city
Room service restaurant nyc
best gay bars New York city

Carmines – Family style Italian restaurant great for families or large groups. Also, it is kid-friendly.

Amy’s Bread – Quaint coffee shop with breakfast treats located in Hell’s Kitchen. Popular with gay locals.

The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop – Perfect place in the West Village to cool down in summer.

NYC Experiences for the Gay Traveler

There are tons of attractions for the gay traveler in New York! I will break them down for you in terms of what is best do during each time of day

NYC Daytime Experiences

Christopher Street Pier – Relax in warm weather with a gaggle of gays on this delightful pier. Great views of the World Trade Center. Bring a picnic blanket and food so you can spread out.

Visit The Stonewall – Place of the 1969 riots in Greenwich Village that contributed to the Gay Liberation Movement. Stop in the tavern for a drink and pay some gratitude to the LGBT rights we do have!

Stroll the West Village – A Historic gay neighborhood with a plethora of boutique shops, an afternoon of gay exploration is not complete without a visit.

Things to Do in New York City

Take a free ride on the IKEA Water Taxi or the Staten Island Ferry – Why pay for something you can get for free? Both ferries shuttle back and forth from downtown Manhattan. You may not want to go to Staten Island or IKEA, but the ride is beautiful!

Sheep’s Meadow – A local gay hangout spot in Central park where the LGBT community convenes on the second Sunday of each month in the summer. Check out Facebook groups for more info to plan.

Eat at a Halal food truck – Delicious, cheap and loved by locals, grab a meal to go!

Central Park gay spots

NYC Early Evening Activities

Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge – Here you’ll find a mix of tourists and locals, but it’s a fun time for everyone. On the Brooklyn side, check out Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The Seaport – The Seaport is a great stop for those staying in Downtown Manhattan. A rapidly developing area of Manhattan with scenic views of the Brooklyn Bridge. In the summer there are movie screenings outside.

Central Park gay spots
skyline nyc Hudson yards
skyline nyc Hudson yards

Grab some Beer on Stone Street – A haven for after-work drinks in the Financial District, local New Yorkers  are obsessed with Stone Street. Adorable outdoor picnic tables on a cobblestone street lined with high-end pubs will warm your soul.

New York Gay Nightlife

The party never stops in New York! For all you LGBT partiers, below is a list of standard gay bars and subsequently a list of rotating gay parties and events.

NYC Gay Bars

There are endless gay bars in NYC. In terms of strictly gay bars. Personally, my favorite few bars are REBAR Chelsea on Saturday nights, Rise Bar NYC in Hell’s Kitchen for weeknight drag shows and The Eagle NYC.
nyc gay bar guide
hardware gay bar nyc
nyc gay bar guide

I cover all the NYC gay bar favorites here in the NYC Gay Bar Ultimate Guide, where you can find out which types of guys are at each gay bar, which bars are best on which days, and each one’s overall vibe.

hardware gay bar nyc

Other Bars in NYC

Here are just a couple of my most noteworthy favorites!

As-Is – Chic imported beer bar in Hell’s Kitchen with a rotating selection. Great for couples. Seating can fill up, so head earlier for a table.

The Headless Horseman – Dimly lit and festive tavern in Union Square with delicious bar food.

New York City Gay Travel guide

New York City Gay Parties

New York has various monthly and gay parties, one of which is happening almost every weekend, especially in summer. A few of these parties change location, so be sure to do a check on Facebook. 

All of the following parties are amazing, so any gay traveler in New York will have a blast.

NYC Gay Dance Parties

These venues are better for those looking to primarily spend the night dancing. They are much more upbeat.

Holy Mountain / Battle Hymn – Monthly Saturday (sometimes Sunday night) party. Held in huge venues, these parties produced by LadyFag are extremely popular with locals. Expect several mega-rooms/levels with dark electronic beats and men of all types. Buy tickets in advance and show up before midnight to avoid long lines. Location always changes.

industry bar Manhattan
REBAR Chelsea

Fishbowl – Pop-music dance party with a predominantly younger (21 to 30 year-old) crowd. In the basement of the Midtown Dream Hotel. Usually no line, so don’t confuse the entrance with the line for the PHD straight party directly next door. Locals tend to wear button-down shirts here (avoid tank tops).

M.E.A.T. – Shirtless circuit party attended primarily by 30+ crowd. World renowned DJ’s. Slightly fur-fetish themed. Dark rooms in sectioned off area of the club (one of the only NYC parties that has this). Clothes check available, however they can be chaotic. Location sometimes changes.

Gay circuit parties new York
gay rooftop nyc
Gay circuit parties new York

Sutherland – A no-phones-allowed monthly Saturday night dance party in East Williamsburg. Check your phone at the door or put it in a free lockable pouch. Get it unlocked upon exit.

Lounge-Like Gay Parties

These parties all have a dancing component, but are best for those who prefer more area for chatting and lounging with friends.

Le Bain – Chic lounge-type party with area for dancing. Stunning views from the rooftop. Usually Tuesday or Sunday evenings depending on the season but subject to change. Check with the Standard Hotel at the High Line.

Occupy the Paradisco – Seasonal chic party on Sundays at the Standard Hotel. Stunning views and a preppy crowd. Dates vary – check with the Standard Hotel at the High Line.

best gay bars in brooklyn
phoenix gay bar New York city

PHD at the Dream Hotel Downtown – Rooftop terrace and dancing in a chic hotel space on Sunday afternoons. Dress your best!

FLY Sundays at Monarch – Summer rooftop event near Empire State Building. Arrive early to avoid long lines.

NYC Gay Travel Tips

For budget travelers, I advise against staying in hostels. New York is not much of a hostel city. Many times, a hostel can be more expensive than an Airbnb or hotel! Airbnb is a good bet for lower-end accommodations. Make sure you dive deep into the reviews.
gay rooftop nyc
Don’t wait in any crazy lines for restaurants. Katz’ Deli, Pick-a-Bagel are not worth it and locals avoid these places. Also, do not eat anywhere located in Times square. None of that is authentic.
gay rooftop nyc
gay life in NYC
If visiting One World Trade Center is on your list, purchase the tickets online the morning you plan to go. You will save yourself at least an hour of waiting in line.
gay life in NYC
Don’t forget your identification or Passport. You will need it to get in to just about every bar/party. At large parties, expect to be thoroughly searched. Bars in New York close at 4:00am. Large parties go into the early morning but stop serving alcohol at 4:00.

Navigating the NYC Subway

If you plan on using the subway to get around, I recommend buying a weekly unlimited MetroCard. This can be used on all busses 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.
nyc skyline gay travel
Transit tip: many stations are separated into an “uptown” and a “downtown” side. You can enter the downtown side but often there is no connection to the uptown side and vice versa. Be sure you know what direction you’re headed before swiping! For bus times, download the MTA Bus Time application so you can see how far away your bus is.
nyc skyline gay travel
gay party NYC
gay party NYC
Additionally, the NYC Subway runs 24 hours a day. However, keep in mind weekends are the time for construction and so the subway is much slower on some routes.

Heading to a NYC airport? They can be very stressful, not to mention a little run down. Check out these 5 tips for reducing airport stress.

NYC Money-Saving Tips

New York is expensive, so here is a list of even more quick tips to save you cash as you explore:

nyc skyline gay travel
  • 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 3 to 4 dollars, more or less. Don’t pay any more than that!
  • Halal food trucks are the cheapest and certainly most delicious food around. $7 will get you a big tray of meat and rice.
  • Keep rush hour in mind when you need to go somewhere via car. Between 4:00 pm and 7:30 pm, costs of Uber and Lyft for example can easily be double. It is best to make your way to your destination area before traffic is at its worst.
  • Lastly, make sure to take an Uber Pool from the airport. A standard taxi can easily cost you a whopping $70, so this is totally worth it. It usually takes only 5 to 8 minutes longer by sharing the ride.
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Don’t pass up a visit to the Fire Island Pines if you’re visiting NYC between June and September. Read the Fire Island Pines Gay Travel Guide here!

Make the most of your New York City gay travel adventure.

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