Without a doubt the destination makes any traveller dream! "The big apple", "Gotham", "The city that never sleeps, "the city so beautiful that it is twice named" (we all know Frank Sinatra’s song)... New York is in our imagination and everyone is familiar with it! For sure, it is represented everywhere: on TV or in movies cinema. The LGBT community is thriving, cosmopolitan and perfectly integrated. The Gay Pride is celebrated by all and throughout the city. From the Stonewall bar, remembering the first gay uprising in the Village, to the latest clubs where new trends emerge... everything is there! So, yes, it is an exhausting city that never seems to stop, quite expensive (especially for accommodation) and ultra consumerist, but there is much to do, see and the atmosphere is really friendly. New York, New York!!!! Here all our tips...
When to go?
Spring and autumn are the best seasons. The winter is often very harsh with snow and the summer suffocating because of the heat. However the last week of June has the Pride Week that climaxes with one the most important LGBT marches in the world. A unique event where all generations, from teenagers to Stonewall veterans, different communities, groups... and a thousands of anonymous participants flying the colours rainbow who celebrate with enthusiasm and complicity their pride to be gay or simply gay-friendly. The city is a huge festival and even the Empire State Building is lit up with rainbow lighting at night. Other gay-friendly prides take place: the Queens Gay Pride and Brooklyn Pride at the beginning of June or Black Pride mid-August. Apart from these LGBT events and climate considerations, remember that there is always something happening NYC!
What to see
There is plenty to do and see! From the top of the Empire State Building, there is a great view awaiting you. To the south, the historic heart of the city around the Financial District, Wall Street and the new « One World Trade Center » tower culminating at 541 metres which redraws the skyline of Manhattan. At its feet, the memorial built on the site of old Twin Towers and the 9/11 museum which is now part not to be missed in the city. Far ahead, on the right side, you can see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, while to the left is the emblematic Brooklyn Bridge which you can cross on foot. Looking towards the north, Central Park spreads over the distance and you can see the art deco Chrysler Building on the right side.
On th museums front, The museum, there are incredible collections at the MoMa (Museum of Modern Art) and the Met (Metropolitan Museum Of Art). The Guggenheim and its original architecture can host interesting temporary exhibitions and the Natural History Museum will amaze you with its collection of dinosaurs. There is also the Leslie and Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art which is the first LGBT museum and gathering more than 22,000 works of over 3,000 artists. Very interesting!
But to visit NYC, it is best to walk around its neighbourhoods. Of course the West Village and its emblematic Christopher Street, the always Bohemian Greenwich Village, but also SoHo, Little Italy, Chinatow, the East Village... Further north, in the theater district, Times Square and its giant screens is part of must-go sights of the city. A few steps away, the districts of Hell's Kitchen and Midtown West, host many gay establishments. Apart from Manhattan, you will need to take a walk in Brooklyn which is very pleasant and why not visit the Queens or Bronx that have changed quite a bit.
What to do.
Shopping for sure, with sales all year round and brands that you will not find anywhere else. A boat cruise for incredible views of the entire Manhattan peninsula with Circle Line. More economical
(it is free!) and cool although less complete: take a return trip aboard the ferry to Staten Island. A musical in one of the many theaters. A last minute counter is located on Times Square. It opens
from 3.00pm, and then there is a lot of people but good opportunities.
Visitors can eat on the go for little money at any time but NY is the American city where you will find good restaurants. All world cuisines (Italian, French, American, latino...) are represented!
We loved oyster bars and the brunches, which are an institution here. Our favourite is the seafood market at the Chelsea Market where ultra fresh sushis and lobsters are served at reasonable prices.
And of course a break in the many cafés between two visits: iced coffee and muffins (free Wi-fi; -)! The summer heat is quickly forgotten.
Since the city never sleeps, you may opt for one- nightlife only - week in NY without getting bored. New Yorkers go out on weekends but also on weekdays and are full of energy. Bars have happy hours from 6.00pm for the end office work days and do not close before 2.00 or 4:00 in the morning. Creativity is honoured and the establishments are constantly renewed. No limit, everything is done to find the new trends! Themed evenings and concerts of all kinds, you will be spoilt for choice. The Time-out site is a good help. Among permanent features: friendliness - you will easily be approached - loud music (often very loud!). You will shout instead of talking... but you get used to it quickly! Finally, in Manhattan, there is no real worries with safety, so do not hesitate to go out, take the metro or a taxi (which is never very expensive). Don’t forget to take your ID because it will be systematically checked, even if you are obviously more than 21!
Where to stay.
Staying in NY is particularly expensive... Chelsea Mews is the oldest gay guesthouse of the city. In the same area, there are the
Chelsea Pines Inn and Colonial House Inn which are also gay. And Jonathan
and Clément have welcomed guests for over 30 years at the Bubba Et Bean in the Upper East Side. Our favourite is the Ace Hotel near Times Square with incredible views of the Empire State Building. Well decorated rooms and a lounge reception. Creative and really
nice! There are also rooms at locals’ appartments, which is often very friendly and more economical: ebab has some rooms and guests are gay, airnbnb has a larger offer but guests are not necessarily gay.
How to organize yourself.
A stay in New York is very easy to organise by oneself: a plane ticket on a search engine, one or two hotels (if you want to change neighbourhoods). Then you will travel by public transport (a little with taxis as well). It is not a very cheap destination, especially for accommodation, but really, a city where you will quickly want to return!