Whether you’re a local looking for a new place to hang or a visitor who wants to live your best NYC LGBTQ life for a weekend, a week, or the whole month, here are the most LGBT-friendly neighborhoods (or gayborhoods “gay neighborhoods”) in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Along with Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea boasts the highest density of same-sex couples in New York. Eighth Avenue in Chelsea presents a long line of gay-friendly businesses, with rainbow flags out all year round. Chelsea is known for its chic residents and top-of-the-line art galleries, available to visit during the day. Check our sister site, CityGuide NY, for a list of good ones. Walk the High Line Park and people watch on this converted rail line high above the city streets. Fashion in the area includes the impeccable edit at Jeffrey, located in the Meatpacking District, and Hamptons-worthy sweaters at Parke & Ronen. Vintage shopping stops include Screaming Mimis and Housing Works on West 17th Street, where 10% of sales go to HIV/AIDS research. Chelsea Market, the indoor shopping and dining complex, houses the wine bar Corkbuzz. Corkbuzz’s wine list is curated by one of the few female master sommeliers in the world, Laura Maniec. At night, check out gay bars like The Eagle (lots of leather!) and the appealingly divey Barracuda. For comedy, go for Gotham Comedy Club, which stages shows like “Homo Comicus” and features other LGBT comedians, or regularly check our event calendar, which regualry adds stand-up shows. Read CityGuide’s Neighborhood Guide to Chelsea for more.
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Hell’s Kitchen, a neighborhood filled to the brim with dining and entertainment options, is home to many LGBT-owned businesses and queer residents. This neighborhood also ties with Chelsea as the most gay-friendly area in Manhattan, with the highest concentration of same-sex couples in the city. Hell’s Kitchen merges with the Theatre District, home to Broadway shows from The Lion King to Kinky Boots, as well as several Off-Broadway shows. From musicals to prestige dramas to the foul-mouthed puppets of Avenue Q, a unique entertainment experience is never far away. LGBT-friendly nightlife in Hell’s Kitchen include Flaming Saddles Saloon, drag shows at Therapy, and frozen cosmos at Barrage. Walk down Ninth Avenue, and it won’t be long before you find a bar celebrating Pride. This dining-dense area has endless restaurants, but we recommend Blue Seafood Bar, The Marshal, and Guantanamera. Read our Neighborhood Guide to the Theatre District for more.
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The West Village is where it all started. Off Seventh Avenue and Christopher Street is The Stonewall Inn, the site of the 1969 riots that sparked the modern LGBT movement 50 years ago. (How Much Do You “Really” Know about Stonewall History?) Christopher Street has become an essential destination for all queer visitors to the area. The Stonewall Inn still stands today and hosts Drag Bingo and Big Gay Happy Hour. It’s also the site of the annual Pride Rally during Pride Week, which will occurs in late June. Along Christopher Street are other hotspots like the cabaret bar Duplex two doors down, as well as Marie’s Crisis. This karaoke bar is known for its hard-core Broadway showtune catalog and is a must for all fans of musicals. The LGBT Center (also known as “The Center”) has its home on West 13th Street in the Village. This essential community organization hosts arts events and provides services like counseling and HIV resources. An adorable neighborhood full of historical row houses and cobblestone streets, the West Village makes for a perfect, meandering walk in June (oh, and be sure to take a pic on Gay Street!). For more on the West Village and Greenwich Village, read our Neighborhood Guide of Greenwich Village.
Artists and free-thinkers of all stripes have flocked to The East Village for decades. This neighborhood’s counter-culture reputation has in part given way to corporate interests, but bastions of the local arts like St. Mark’s Church on Second Avenue remain proudly, furnishing the community with poetry readings, theater, and other arts programming (it’s where queer poets Allen Ginsberg and Eileen Myles got their start). The cabaret-style Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater and Performance Space New York, located in public school building, regularly stage performances with LGBT themes. The East Village is also home to the first iteration of Big Gay Ice Cream. This proud little ice cream parlor, which has expanded to several different locations, serves the famous Salty Pimp cone and specialty Cheeto-flavored ice cream. Gay bars in the area include the legendary Boiler Room, Nowhere (which hosts bear nights), and Bedlam in Alphabet City. Read our Neighborhood Guide to the East Village for more.
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Across the water from the East Village, Williamsburg is the most popular neighborhood for visitors to Brooklyn. Vintage shops, great restaurants, and nightlife for the young and rowdy can all be found in Williamsburg. During the day, visit the new Domino Park on the East River, then shop designer vintage at Amarcord, Rabbits, and 10 ft Single by Stella Dallas. Other major companies like Apple have storefronts in Williamsburg, while the hit jewelry store Catbird and the boutique SWORDS-SMITH sell indie fashion you’ll want to try on for hours. Cute restaurants and bars abound, as well as plenty of al fresco dining. Local gay bars include Metropolitan (great backyard, btw).
Park Slope is located in central Brooklyn, west of beautiful Prospect Park. Widely known as one of the most LGBT-friendly neighborhoods in Brooklyn, many queer couples find homes on these streets of lovely brownstones and strollers (i.e. there are lots of kids here). At last year’s Brooklyn Pride, the Twilight Pride Parade proceeded down 5th Avenue in Park Slope. There was also a 5K run in Prospect Park in celebration of Pride Week. Shopping in the area includes vintage gear at Beacon’s Closet and Something Else on Fifth, as well as indie femme fashion at Bird. Find adorable paper goods and gifts at Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store and unicorns horns galore at Brooklyn Owl. The lesbian bar Ginger’s on 5th Avenue offers televised sports and backyard seating. If you’re looking for somewhere to eat in Park Slope, check out our Park Slope restaurant guide.
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Last modified: August 12, 2019