New York, The Big Apple, is home to the most famous skyline in the world; it’s an epicenter of art and culture, a culinary capital and heaven on earth for shopaholics. One thing’s for sure, you’ll never tire of exploring arguably the best city in the world (if most of the “best of” lists are anything to go by). You’ll find a dizzying array of museums, more cuisines than you can shake a stick at and nightlife for every taste as you navigate the five boroughs.
What to do
There are just so many sights to see in New York that you should set aside more than a weekend if you’re planning on visiting all of them. Let’s start with the iconic ones, there’s the Statue of Liberty (just take the Staten Island Ferry for a free view), the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, Strawberry Fields and the Boathouse in Central Park, Washington Square Park, Rockefeller Center, The Chrysler Building, the 9/11 Memorial, Radio City Music Hall… The list goes on. Once you’ve hit the tourist attractions (maybe easiest with a New York CityPASS), try to soak up some of the culture on offer. Take in a show on Broadway, watch the Yankees play at Yankee Stadium or the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, and enjoy a casual stroll along the High Line, an abandoned rail line above Manhattan’s west side.
Don’t miss the opportunity to visit some of the city’s world-class museums! The Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met) has a permanent collection which contains over two million works ranging from pieces from ancient Egypt to paintings and sculptures by the European masters to African, Asian, Byzantine, Indian, and Islamic art, as well as of course modern art. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) is one of the most influential museums of modern art in the world and worth visiting if you like any form of contemporary art and they regularly show queer art exhibitions. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the cylindrical Guggenheim museum is worth visiting just for the architecture but it also hosts some Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern and contemporary art. Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village is home to the first public artwork commissioned to honor the LGBT movement. ‘Gay Liberation’ by Pop Art sculptor George Segal is a series of bronze figures commemorating the Stonewall Riots.
New York is full of gay history and the city has spawned a huge number of gay icons who have shaped American culture. The Stonewall Inn, Harvey Milk School, and the Lesbian Herstory Archives are among the many sites which hold great significance to the LGBTQ community. If you’d like to take an in-depth look at New York’s gay history check out Oscar Wilde Tours. They provide everything from comprehensive tours of ‘gayborhoods’ like Chelsea to walking tours of the West Village, where the gay liberation movement took off, to even a tour of the homoerotic art in the Metropolitan Museum.
Where to Eat, Drink and Party
If you fancy checking out some independent bars and bistros, and perusing some hot new music venues and clubs head south of Midtown in Manhattan or over the river to Brooklyn. The Lower East Side, the Village (Greenwich Village), Soho, Little Italy, Chelsea and the Meatpacking districts are teeming with outstanding international eateries, gourmet food-trucks, artisanal coffee shops, experimental theater, improv comedy, indie cinema, poetry readings, jazz clubs and an assortment of bars—from the dive to the chic cocktail ones. Williamsburg in Brooklyn, although pretty much as gentrified as you can get these days, is the original home of the hipster.
The Village has no shortage of LGTBQ options for a fun night out. The Stonewall Inn was a gay bar in the Village and the site of the Stonewall riots which prompted the gay rights movement in 1969. Although the bar closed a few months after the riots, another gay bar using the same name opened in the western half of the original location (53 Christopher Street) in the early 1990s, and it was renovated and designated a National Historic Landmark by President Obama.
In Brooklyn Park Slope, the lesbian-owned establishment, Ginger’s Bar has a beautiful back garden, pool table, jukebox, and special events like bingo and karaoke. Metropolitan is a casual, cool, divey gay bar that has a mixed and inclusive atmosphere. DJs, an outdoor patio, drag queens and special events attract hot hipsters but the place doesn’t try too hard and has a friendly vibe.
Gay Pride events occur throughout the month of June across the five boroughs, culminating with the NYC Pride March at the end of June.
Where to Stay
If you’re in need of a bit of luxury, book a few nights in the Gansevoort Meatpacking, a luxury, 4-star hotel in the Village. It has breathtaking 360-degree panoramic views of New York City and sunsets over the Hudson River, and all of its 186 rooms have deep soaking tubs, free WiFi, premium bedding and flatscreen TVs with satellite channels. It also has a restaurant, a rooftop bar and lounge with landscaped terrace, a 24-hour health club, a nightclub, oh, and a 45-foot heated outdoor rooftop pool with underwater lights!
Located in SoHo just north of Tribeca, the Arlo SoHo hotel is a boutique hotel which offers 325 beautifully designed micro guest rooms – some of which have outdoor terraces. The rooms boast chic, modern furniture, free WiFi and mini fridges. There’s a central courtyard and rooftop with a bar offering stunning views of the Hudson River and beyond. If that wasn’t all there’s an equally stylish liquor bar with a rotating cocktail list, a 24-hour Bodega, and Harold’s Meat + Three restaurant.
New York is an expensive city, so if you’d prefer to spend your hard earned cash on ball games, Broadway shows and dining out, you might want to stay at the Days Hotel Broadway located on New York City’s Upper West Side, two and a half blocks from Central Park and within easy reach of popular attractions. The 3-star hotel offers free WiFi, flatscreen TVs, and fitness facilities.
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