America’s largest city is a country unto itself. Sure, it may have become more sanitized and gentrified in the past few years as sky high rents continue to push even well-heeled professionals into the outskirts of the city. But New York City will always be one of the premier destinations for LGBT travelers looking for a monumental experience that demands all the energy, attention, and creativity that you can muster. It’s nothing less than exhilarating.
Among New York City's five boroughs, Manhattan is still where most of the LGBT scene is located, despite the rising rents that continue to push young queers into outer boroughs. Popular areas include the West Village (centered on Christopher Street and home to famous Stonewall bar which is now a National Monument), the scruffy East Village, Chelsea (the gay neighborhood du jour in the '80s and ‘90s but whose bar scene has all but disappeared), Harlem (which is becoming more gay-welcoming and more gentrified) and Hell’s Kitchen, the new epicenter of queer activity and nightlife. Brooklyn is the second-gayest borough and seems to be getting queerer every year—particularly in young, artsy Williamsburg. In Queens, the Greek-flavored ‘hood of Astoria is an up-and-coming gay area, as is the multi-ethnic enclave of Jackson Heights, home to a slew of gay bars. But basically, you’ll find LGBT life alive and well everywhere in New York—even in the uber-straight Bronx.
A gay trip to New York can be anything you want to make it: Check out the LGBT theater scene, take a tour of gay art galleries in Chelsea, explore the queer ethnic scene in Queens, delve into the leather bars, listen to queer poetry slams, watch gay rugby matches and dine in fine lesbian restaurants! No need to bite off more than you can chew—there is plenty of the Big Apple to feed you for multiple trips throughout your lifetime.
DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Times Square is the only all-suite hotel on Broadway, in the heart of Times Square, steps from Broadway theaters, Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, Hard Rock Cafe, and much more.
Set in the dynamic center of Midtown Manhattan, Fifty Hotel & Suites by Affinia is in close proximity to Rockefeller Center, Fifth Avenue shopping, and corporate headquarters.
Located in Upper East Side, this eco-friendly aparthotel is within a 10-minute walk of Bloomingdale's and Central Park. Barney's and Rockefeller Center are also within 1 mi (2 km). Roosevelt Island Tramway Manhattan Station is 6 minutes by foot and 68 St. - Hunter College Station is 7 minutes.
Located in Midtown, this luxury hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Flatiron Building, Empire State Building, and New York University. Macy's and Chrysler Building are also within 1 mi (2 km). 23 St. Station (Park Av.) is only a 3-minute walk and 23 St. Station (5th Av.) is 7 minutes.
This luxury New York hotel boasts a prime location on the city's East Side adjacent to Grand Central Station. Times Square, Broadway theaters, Central Park, Bryant Park, and Fifth Avenue's world-class shopping are within walking distance.
Located in Midtown, this hotel is steps from Town Hall and Times Square. Broadway and New York Public Library are also within 10 minutes. Times Sq. - 42 St. Station and 42 St. - Bryant Pk. Station are within a 5-minute walk.
This newly built, 31-story hotel is within 3 blocks of Madison Square Garden, Macy's Herald Square and the Empire State Building. Broadway theaters and Times Square are 7 blocks away.
Located in Upper West Side, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Beacon Theater and Central Park. Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall are also within 1 mi (2 km). 72nd St. Station (Broadway) is only a 4-minute walk and 79 St. Station is 5 minutes.
1. Choose your lodging based on your interests.
If you want to experience the best in queer nightlife, choose Hell’s Kitchen. If you're into theater, stay in Times Square. If you’re into the city’s vibrant African-American community, stay in Harlem. If you prefer the grungy, artsy scene, choose the Lower East Side.
2. Prepare to wait in line.
It’s a good thing there are Ubers, taxis and NYC’s magnificent subway system to zip you around the boroughs in no time because once you arrive at your destination
you will probably have to stand in a line. Whether it’s for a Broadway show, a museum exhibition or an ice cream cone, New Yorkers wait and wait and wait for everything and so will you.
3. Add on Fire Island.
During the season on Fire Island (roughly May to September), you can feel like a real New Yorker by joining in on the lively beach scene here. Of the two main LGBT enclaves on the island, The Pines is more male and exclusive; Cherry Grove is more lesbian and democratic. There are a handful of lodging options on the island, including The Grove Hotel and the Belvedere Guest House in Cherry Grove. Just book early!
Just about every American city has a Pride weekend worth checking out, but none is quite so exhilarating as NYC Pride (nycpride.org) . Pride Week boasts a ton of community and nightlife events happening all over town, but it’s the thrilling Pride Parade, which winds down Fifth Avenue and through the Village, that reminds us all of why New York is the world’s great gay mecca.
Village Halloween Parade (halloween-nyc.com). New Yorkers love their uninhibited side and they’re going to show it off in front of thousands cold weather be damned. This long-running parade marches through the village every Halloween and brings in the costumed by the tens of thousands. The parade itself is a sight to behold, but so is just about everybody else.
If you’re lamenting the mainstreaming of queer cinema, look no further than Mix NYC (mixnyc.org), an experimental LGBT film festival which has been going strong since the 80s and has served as a launching pad for emerging talent such as Todd Haynes, Miranda July and Christine Vachon.
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