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!
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.
Gay travel in New York City is certainly limitless…there are so many noteworthy parties, landmarks and neighborhoods to explore.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
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.
New York City Gay Restaurants Favorites
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!
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.
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.
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.
New York City Gay Travel Experiences
NYC Daytime Things to Do
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.
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!
NYC 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.
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 City 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.
New York City Gay Bars
I cover all the NYC gay bar favorites here in the wolfyy 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.
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 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.
Fishbowl – Pop-music dance party on Saturday night 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). More party information is available on the Fishbowl Facebook Page.
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. More info on the MEAT Website.
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.
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.
New York City Gay Saunas
Are you a tourist looking for New York City gay saunas? New York is a little different when it comes to the sauna scene. Check out this post about where to find a gay bathhouse in New York City. 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.
New York City Gay Travel Tips
Navigating the NYC Subway
As of 2020, many stations now allow you to enter the NYC subway system using the contactless feature of your credit or debit card. For Apple Pay users, it’s super convenient to use your mobile phone to purchase your single ride ticket.
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:
- 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.
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.
Make the most of your New York City gay travel adventure.