The best gay things to do in New York City

Gay New York City dazzles. This is the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement, after all, a city that has long championed diversity and inclusion. It should come as little surprise then that the gay scene in New York City is more magical now than ever before. Whether it be ambling through the historic gaybourhood of Greenwich Village or sipping cocktails in the trendy gay hubs of Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, gay NYC promises a melange of experiences quite unlike anywhere else in the world. Start exploring this gay mecca with these Mr Hudson approved things to do in NYC.

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Time your gay New York City visit over the last Sunday of June to join millions of others in one of the largest Pride parades in the world.

Photo: Jerome Dominici

The best gay things to do in New York City

There’s no better way to get your bearings of gay New York City than with an intimate and informative LGBTQ Historic Walk. Start with an amble down Gay Street on your way to the NYC Aids Memorial and the Stonewall National monument—cornerstones of the gay NYC experience. From here, saddle up with a libation at NYC’s oldest gay bar, Juliu, or satiate your sweet tooth with soft serve at Big Gay Ice Cream. This Mr Hudson-approved gay NYC walking tour includes these highlights (and more.) From here, hop over to the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art—a cornerstone of the NYC gay community and a veritable must-include on any gay New York City guide. This stunning visual art museum in SoHo is the world’s only LGBTQ+ museum dedicated to preserving art that speaks directly to a queer perspective. With over 30,000 pieces, many of which examine the juxtaposition between art and social justice, you’ll want at least an hour to explore the treasure trove of thought-provoking queer artwork.

Leslie-Lohman Museum | Photo: Kristine Eudey

The Center by Travis Mark

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center—more commonly referred to as The Center—is easily recognizable for its billowing rainbow flag waving proudly above its doors. The Center is an important resource for NYC’s LGBTQ+ community and provides support groups, health check-ins, events, and art exhibits. Grab a coffee in the leafy courtyard or peruse the online calendar for upcoming events and volunteer opportunities. You don’t need to be a bookworm to appreciate The Bureau of General Services—Queer Division (BGSQD), an independent, all-volunteer queer cultural center and bookstore. With a mission to “excite and educate a self-confident, sex-positive, and supportive queer community,” the BGSQD is a warm and welcoming space to peruse queer books, publications, and artwork. Regular workshops and events also make the BGSQD a lively spot to meet and mingle with locals and travellers alike.

NYC’s Pride March is a legend for a reason. Time your gay New York City visit over the last Sunday of June to join millions of others in one of the largest Pride parades in the world. Celebrations take place across the boroughs throughout the entire month. Or, visit New York in October for the New York LGBTQ Film Festival. The six-day event features stunning LGBTQ film and media from around the world—one of the most comprehensive cinematic experiences of its kind.

Photo: Roberto Lee Cortes

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Eating and drinking in gay New York City

It’s no secret that gay New York City comes alive after dark. Embrace the ethos of ‘the city that never sleeps’ by barhopping in Greenwich Village—home to some of NYC’s most time-honoured gay bars and nightclubs. You’ve already seen the Stonewall Monument, but now its time to pay tribute to the landmark spot that launched the gay rights movement with a drink at The Stonewall Inn. A cozy, all-inclusive atmosphere and hospitable bar staff round out the experience. From The Stonewall, other iconic Greenwich Village gay bars and nightclubs like the Cubby Hole, Monster and The Duplex are all within easy walking distance. That said, for one of New York’s most stylish gay bars, you’ll need to head over to The Standard East Village. Tucked away inside the chic hotel is NO BAR, a vibrant gay bar where anyone and everyone is welcome—and one of the first queer bars inside a major hotel chain. The brisket nachos are always a good idea, especially when washed down by any of the mezcal cocktails. Looking for more stylish spots to imbibe? From restored historic mainstays to elegant al fresco rooftop gardens, here are our favourite cocktail bars in New York City right now.

Photo: Joe from Pexels

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Brilliantly blending fabulous drag queen shows with a top-notch menu, Lips has been NYC’s go-to drag spot for over two decades

Long revered for his beguiling wit and indelible panache, Oscar Wilde rightfully remains a beloved gay icon today. Celebrate the rise and fall of the creative genius at OSCAR @ The Crown, an immersive nightclub musical. The storyline is set in a future bunker where the only things that remain are “sequins, reality television and the complete works of Oscar Wilde.” While the storyline is interesting, it’s the glittering costumes and jam-packed dance floor that promise a wildly fun night quite unlike any other Off-Off-Broadway show. Continue your glitter-fueled gay New York City tour with a spectacular drag performance. You’ll find shows happening across the city on most nights of the week, but for what is arguably one of the best you’ll want to head straight to Lips. Brilliantly blending fabulous drag queen shows with a top-notch menu, Lips has been NYC’s go-to drag spot for over two decades. Their Sunday Brunch is legendary; you’ll want to snag tickets in advance. Speaking of Sunday Brunch, we would be remiss to talk about everyone’s favourite boozy weekend meal without mentioning MeMe’s Diner. LGBTQ-owned-and-run, this retro diner features quirky twists on traditional comfort food. Think mac and cheese topped with Ruffles potato chips and Tex-Mex eggs served in a Fritos bag. It’s kitschy and colourful—in all the right ways.

Photo: Brooke Lark

Photo: Kevin Lee

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The idyllic summer months are the best time to visit Fire Island when epic gay dance parties and general debauchery promise a seductive New York City escape

Photo: Rodolfo Sanches Carvalho

The best gay New York City day trip

One of the best gay things to do in New York City is to escape the concrete jungle in favor of Fire Island’s sea and sand. “America’s First Gay and Lesbian Town,” Fire Island is a gorgeous coastal retreat that has been enticing harried professionals since the 1930s. Today Fire Island is as beautiful as ever, boasting two queer beaches: The Pines and Cherry Grove. The idyllic summer months are the best time to go when epic gay dance parties and general debauchery promise a seductive New York City escape. Turn your day trip into a gay weekend getaway with a stay at one of these spectacular Fire Island hotels.

Fire Island | Photo: Patrick Tomasso

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