Gay New York · City Guide
Planning a trip to New York? Our gay New York city guide gives you all the top tips for exploring the Big Apple.
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Often hailed as the most exciting city in the world, New York is a place you have to see at least once in a lifetime. It’s home to one of the world’s biggest and best gay scenes. You’ll find endless iconic locations. So many movies are set in New York – it feels like you’ve already been before you even arrive.
New York is the most densely populated city in America. If New York was an independent country, it would be among the top ten richest countries in the world. It’s a cultural, media and financial powerhouse and beautiful people flock to its streets in search of that Big Apple dream.
New York boasts a world-class gay scene. LGBT+ Americans have long seen New York as a safe haven. Before social attitudes became more liberal, New York was the place to be if you were gay. It’s still home to one of the world’s largest LGBT+ communities.
The New York gay scene used to be centered around Greenwich Village, along with New York’s bohemian scene. The biggest gay scene in New York today can be found in Hell’s Kitchen. Some of our favorite Hell’s Kitchen gay bars include Therapy, Industry and Flaming Saddles. All are popular with tourists. If you’re planning a big gay night out in New York, Hell’s Kitchen is the place to be. We have a full guide to Hell’s Kitchen’s gay scene here.
The East Village is also home to a big gay scene. One of the best gay bars in the East Village is Club Cumming. It’s named after the actor Alan Cumming, in case you were wondering! Right next to the East Village you’ll find Greenwich Village, which is home to New York’s most famous gay bar: The Stonewall Inn. The Stonewall is, of course, the birthplace of the gay liberation movement.
New York doesn’t really have gay-specific hotels, as Berlin or Palm Springs does. As one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world, gay travelers can expect to feel welcome in all New York hotels.
One of the best areas of New York for hotels is Greenwich Village/Chelsea. Here you’ll find some of our most booked New York hotels. The Standard High Line is especially popular for gay travelers. It hosts a notable party during Pride and has a great rooftop bar. It’s also a short fifteen-minute walk from the iconic Stonewall Inn.
The James New York is also one of our most booked hotels. It’s located in SoHo close to Brooklyn Bridge. Both Greenwich Village and Chelsea are within easy walking distance. A stylish and reliable choice for your stay in New York. A lot of tourists will stay in Times Square, but we wouldn’t recommend it unless you are dazzled by the bright lights.
New York has a legendary gay cultural scene. All gay travelers in New York should visit the Leslie-Lohan Museum. It’s located in SoHo and it’s one of the only museums of LGBT+ history and culture on earth. You’ll see famous artworks by major LGBT+ artists, such as Andy Warhol. You’ll also see queer curiosities from unknown New Yorkers. One of the most exciting Museums in New York is the Museum of Sex. It is, quite simply, a museum dedicated to sex.
The iconic Metropolitan Museum of Art is also a must visit – it’s home to some of the most famous art in the world as well as where the legendary Met Gala is held each year.
New York’s theater scene is arguably the best in the world. Naturally, many theater practitioners are LGBT+. The Duplex is an iconic theater in Greenwich Village. Some major gay icons have performed here, including Barbra Streisand and Joan Rivers. Check out our full New York gay culture guide here. Be sure to expand your mind in between all the partying and eating. Read our full guide to New York’s LGBT+ landmarks.
Things To Do In New York
The list really is endless, so we thought we’d bullet point the top choices.
- See the Statue of Liberty
- Visit Ground Zero and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum
- Watch a Broadway Show
- Walk in Central Park
- Shop on Fifth Avenue
- Check out the gay bars of Hell’s Kitchen
- Grab coffee in Chelsea
- Visit the top of the Rock for great views over New York
- Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Pop over the river into Williamsburg in Brooklyn (Read More: Brooklyn Gay Guide)
Visit Central Park in New York
No visit to New York is complete without a visit to the iconic Central Park. Located between the Upper West and Upper East Sides of Manhattan, it’s the perfect place for a romantic stroll amongst the tree-lined paths. It’s the most visited park in the whole of the USA with tens of millions of visitors each year.
New York’s gay bathhouse and sauna scene was legendary, but that was a long time ago. At the height of the HIV pandemic, the bathhouses were shut down. Although some gay bathhouses reopened, they never quite recovered. New York’s gay bathhouses and saunas aren’t a patch on what you’ll find in Berlin or London. That being said, we do have a guide to the remaining gay bathhouses in the Big Apple.
Getting to New York
You can fly into New York City via John F. Kennedy International Airport or LaGuardia Airport. Some travellers will fly into Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey and transfer from there.
You can take the Subway from JFK Airport to Manhattan. It costs around $10 and takes just over an hour. It’s slightly quicker to take the commuter train. You can also get a taxi for around $60-70. A private transfer is likely to be the quickest option.
FAQs about New York
Getting around New York
New York is a busy, densely populated city. People tend to walk fast. Naturally, New York has a world-class public transport system. Grand Central Station is the world’s biggest and busiest train station.
The easiest and most economical way to get around New York is the Subway. New York is huge so you’ll definitely need public transport to get around. The Subway runs 24 hours a day and it’s relatively cheap. Considerably cheaper than the London Tube, for example.
It’s easy to get around New York by bus. That being said, New York is a very busy city so buses can get caught in traffic. You can also get a ticket for the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus service – which can be a great way to see New York.
New York’s taxis are world-famous. They’re yellow and you’ve seen them in a thousand movies. Imagine you’re Carrie Bradshaw as you run into the street crying “Taxi.”
Is New York Safe?
New York was infested with crime in the 70s and 80s. It was known as the Rotten Apple due to its appalling homicide and mugging rates. Things began to change in the 90s and New York is now one of the safest cities in America.
When To Visit New York
April-June is considered to be the best time to visit New York. September-November is also a popular time. October can be a more expensive month to visit. New York is not a seasonal city – it’s the city that never sleeps. The time you visit really depends on what kind of New York experience you’re looking for. There isn’t really a bad time to visit the Big Apple. Christmas is also popular – make sure you check out the ice rink at the legendary Rockefeller Center.
New York banned smoking in public places and developed a reputation for being an anti-smoking city. That it may well be. If you are a smoker, you can still smoke quite easily. You just have to pop outside and smoke on the street. You cannot smoke indoors or on bar or cafe terraces. People won’t give you evils for smoking in New York unless you blow smoke directly on them!
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