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New York City Gay Travel

wolfyy’s New York City gay travel guide has advice on the best NYC gay bars, where to stay, top restaurants, things to do and local travel tips.

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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
New York City gay travel
Empire State building

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

best gay bars in Manhattan

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.

gay area of Central Park
zero space 5d experience

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.

Check out the wolfyy gay travel store for essential gay travel items. Whether it’s for a gay pride event, a weekend getaway or everyday work travel, don’t forget these essential travel items. Swimwear, photography, party accessories, travel basics & more.

Gay New York: Where to Stay

First of all, I’d like to note that choosing a hotel or holiday rental in a neighborhood with a fun and upbeat vibe will have a huge impact on your New York City gay travel experience.

Where you stay, with respect to both the neighborhood and quality of accommodation, can absolutely make or break the trip. 

New York City gay travel
New York City gay travel

If you’re looking to be “in the thick of it all,” in some of NYC’s best areas, then follow my recommendations below. I’ll break it down for you by borough.

Also keep in mind that walking to the places you want to see is usually easiest. Remember to check each potential hotel’s 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. 

New York City gay neighborhood

You’ll probably notice that there aren’t too many hotels in Hell’s Kitchen. That’s because the. area is majorly low-rise residential buildings. To stay amongst the gay locals, a Hell’s Kitchen Airbnb rental is your best bet. You might just end jup with some gay neighbors!

things to do in New York City
New York City gay neighborhood
things to do in New York City

Central or west Midtown is always a good bet. Here you can expect classic New York vibes and close proximity to the Hell’s Kitchen gay neighborhood. If you’re  ready to drop some serious cash, unbeatable options include the Mandarin Oriental and the Park Hyatt.

The family-oriented Tribeca neighborhood and the Meatpacking District (high-end straight nightlife) are some other great areas to stay in Manhattan. These neighborhoods however have a relatively less dense gay population, but easily make up for it in style. One of the most beloved gay hotels in New York is The Standard, High Line. In fact, their rooftop bar is beloved by gay locals.

Tribeca streets
Tribeca streets

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.

where to stay in New York City

Consider avoiding accommodations 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. These are the neighborhoods that come to mind when you imagine “Brooklyn.” Gritty and dense, you can sometimes feel like you’re walking on a movie set. With plenty of tucked away bars, you’ll stay plenty busy.

pocket bar nyc

In contrast, calmer vibes can be found in Fort Greene and Park Slope, best for park lovers. As proven by Brooklyn’s frenzied housing market, some of these Fort Greene & Park Slope Airbnb rentals have that “quintessential Brooklyn” vibe. 

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 and safety. 

Where to Stay in Queens

Astoria has the most upbeat and authentic New York feel in Queens. Located just north of Long Island City, Astoria has convenient subway connections into Manhattan.

A primarily residential area, you’re best off with an Airbnb in Astoria. If you love Greek food, definitely check out this hood. It seems like every corner has a greek restaurant these days!

New York City Restaurants

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

Hell's kitchen restaurants

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

Hell's kitchen restaurants
Room service 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. Long waitlist for reservations, so make them early.

Room service restaurant

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 its best to call for a reservation.

Manhattan cocktail lounge
Holey Cream desserts
Manhattan cocktail lounge

Holey Cream one of the best take-out dessert spots in New York. In the middle 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! Walk in for take-away or order your dessert online.

Holey Cream desserts

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 to cool down in summer with locations in both the West Village and Upper West Side in Manhattan.

New York City Gay Travel Experiences

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 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.

Brooklyn bridge view
Brooklyn bridge view
where to stay in Manhattan

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!

Take a Big Bus Tour – If you’re short on time and you want to see as much of the cityscape as possible, Big Bus Tours NY is the way to go. You’ll be able to sit atop an open-air bus and get a bird’s eye view of local life on the city streets below.

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.

where to stay in Manhattan

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 Meadow nyc gay area
sheep's meadow Central Park

Sheep Meadow – A local gay hangout spot in Central park where the LGBT community convenes on the second Sunday of each month in the summer. Usually referred to by locals as “Sheeps Meadow.” Here’s the exact location in Central Park.

gay area of Central Park

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.

New York City gay travel

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.

where to stay in New York City
New York City gay travel
where to stay in New York City

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

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.

best gay bar in New York City
queer bar New York City
best gay bar in New York City

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.

queer bar New York City

Other Bars Picks in NYC

Here are just a couple of my most noteworthy favorites!

As-Is NYC – 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

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.

Manhattan gay club
New York City gay party
Manhattan gay club

NYC Gay Dance Parties

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

Zerospace 5d gay party

Zero Space 5D Club Experience is one of New York’s newest gay parties. It’s a semi-monthly gay circuit party held inside of the ZeroSpace Museum. Eye-popping luminescent sandboxes, a cuddle room and popular DJ’s attract a strong local crowd. Showclix sells tickets for the ZeroSpace 5D Experience.

zero space 5d experience
Zerospace 5d gay party

Holy Mountain and Battle Hymn are two more semi-monthly NYC gay parties hugely popular with locals. LadyFag produces and hosts them in enormous and elaborate venues, typically in Manhattan. Visitors come all the way from neighboring cities to experience these LadyFag mega parties.

New York City gay party

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 Nyc party

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. 

Fishbowl Nyc party
Gay circuit parties New York City

There’s usually no line for Fishbowl, so don’t confuse the entrance with the line for the PHD straight party directly next door. If there is a line, it is usually just for show and doesn’t always mean the club is full. Locals tend to wear button-down shirts here, so avoid tank tops. 

Gay circuit parties New York City

M.E.A.T. NYC – Shirtless circuit party attended primarily by a mostly 30+ crowd. World renowned DJ’s. MEAT is leather & fur-fetish themed with dark rooms in a sectioned off area of the club (one of the only NYC gay parties that has this).

There is always a clothes check available, however they can be chaotic. Check out their website for planned parties and their location (which changes every so often).

Gay Parties with a Lounge Feel

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

New York City gay travel

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 nyc
fly Sundays nyc
New York City gay travel

FLY Sundays at Monarch – Summer rooftop event near Empire State Building with iconic gummy-bear fruit punch cocktails. Locals tend to dress their summer-casual best, with tank tops certainly welcome. 

Arrive earlier in the afternoon to avoid a long entry line. See photos on the FLY Sundays Instagram.

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

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 Airbnb or hotel!

Airbnb is a good bet for lower-end accommodations. Make sure you dive deep into the reviews as things can be a little deceptive if you’re not thorough.

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
New York City gay travel
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.
New York City gay travel
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.
New York City subway station
New York City subway station
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.

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.

Times Square
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.
Times Square

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

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!

nyc skyline
New York City gay travel

Halal food trucks are the cheapest and certainly most delicious food around. $7 will get you a big tray of meat and rice.

New York City gay travel

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.

Considering a beach destination? Check out wolfyy’s Fort Lauderdale Gay Travel Guide.

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