New York City: Your Rainbow Pilgrimage Destination
It's been over forty years since the events of Stonewall, and New York City has become a much more diverse and multi-faceted place, with an air of tolerance and acceptance of the LGBT community that is scarcely comparable anywhere else in the world. You'll need a panoply of choices for your rainbow pilgrimage, so we offer neighborhood guides, great dining suggestions, and exciting nightlife options. Our NYC.com Rainbow Pilgrimage Guide gives you information below about:
• Where to go
• Where to eat
• Where to stay
• Special events
NYC.com’s Recommended Places to Go
In the decades following the Stonewall riots, Greenwich Village
and specifically Christopher Street were the hub of the gay community. You'll definitely want to start your Rainbow Pilgrimage at the intersection of Seventh Avenue and Christopher Street, where a small park commemorates the Stonewall riots of the 1960s. Nearby are a number of well-known establishments, the Duplex
, the Hangar
. But if you're awake during daylight hours, it's worth walking west all the way down Christopher Street. You'll pass well-known establishments such as the Leather Man
emporium; the famous Lucille Lortel
theatre; the PATH train station
with interesting 1930s WPA mural; the Spy Shop
full of clever surveillance gear; and of course innumerable sex shops as you head to the newish Hudson River Park
to sample the eclectic diversity in every color of the rainbow. In years past, the piers on the Hudson meant cruising and illicit activity; now with outdoor mini-cafés, chairs, tables and grass seating, the piers come alive in summertime. You'll see everyone here: black teenage lesbians from the Bronx; gay boys from New Jersey; Greenwich Village residents reading newspapers and Chelsea boys in their Speedos; older couples strolling with their dogs; and even straight people absorbing the atmosphere and energy. There's even a Water Taxi
that can take you to other parts of the city. Where else but in New York can you get a boat from the gayest neighborhood to IKEA
After enjoying the waterfront park, you'll head up to Chelsea
, where low-rent apartment buildings and a diverse, funky character began to attract gay crowds in the early to mid 1980s. While the neighborhood is now in full flower, some of Chelsea's original residents have moved further north to Hell's Kitchen
(just west of the Theater District) due to skyrocketing rents, you'll find the buzzing, vibrant energy to be much different than what you experienced in the Christopher Street area, in particular the stereotypical Chelsea boys, those buff muscled types.
If you've got the energy, make your way north to Chelsea along the Hudson River, or simply take a taxi to your next stop, 10th Avenue between West 15th and 16th Streets, where you will enter the totally fabulous Chelsea Market
. Note the elevated railway above: that's become America's first overhead park! Called the High Line Park
, this former railroad bridge connected various businesses back in the day when much freight was shipped in and out by rail. Although there's nothing especially gay here, you've now entered Chelsea proper, and inside this block-long Market have a peek at the gourmet food stores, bakeries and wine store, which do appeal to a certain sort of sensibility!
After walking through the market to Ninth Avenue, hang a right and go two blocks south, as it's time for the appropriately-named Meatpacking District
, where you're confronted with choices, choices, choices and zillions of beautiful people packed like cattle into über-trendy bars and restaurants. While some meatpacking houses still exist, nowadays you are more likely to find meat of the celebrity variety, twirling around the Bermuda Triangle of SoHo House
, Spice Market
, and the swanky Hotel Gansevoort
. The signature feature of this luxurious hotel is its rooftop, featuring a richly landscaped roof garden and an expansive loft with soaring 20-foot ceilings that offers breathtaking city views in three directions. A 45-foot outdoor heated pool with underwater music anchors the roof's other side; it is unique in New York and reflects the ultra-trendiness that the district prides itself on. Go shopping or just browse at the giant Apple Store
at the corner of West 14th Street. When that's all done, head back to Chelsea Market and cross the street to the funky Maritime Hotel
, which has dazzling nightlife opportunities at its Hiro Ballroom
in the late evenings, as well as eclectic restaurants like La Bottega
to fuel you.
From here you might decide to head a few blocks north to Billy's Bakery
, a beloved Chelsea destination. Or if you want to spare the carbs, head down West 16th Street towards Eighth Avenue (also known as 'Mecca'). On Eighth Avenue proper, begin your walk north, noting all the restaurants, stores and bars. In particular, designer Karim Rashid's own Nooch
stands out, featuring all sorts of noodle dishes and Rashid's bold (dare we say overdesigned?) furnishings. Continue north, noting landmarks like Viceroy Restaurant
, the Joyce
Dance Theater, Ate Ave
, Rainbows & Triangles
as well as a host of new sex stores on after you pass north of West 20th Street. You'll find one of Chelsea's wildest and oldest bars right here, the Rawhide
, as well as other neighborhood favorites on the side streets: G Lounge
, plus XES bar
a bit further north and east. Or there's the famous Splash Bar
a few blocks east. You'll find that in Chelsea many new restaurants have sprung up, and Ninth and Tenth Avenues feature some great dining choices. Explore the area, and do walk past the famous Hotel Chelsea
on 23rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. In fact, have a closer look at all the plaques out front as well as the clever lobby. And don't miss the sizzling nightlife downstairs at Serena
! Don't leave Chelsea without a stop at Malin & Goetz
, whose cosmetics and skin care products constantly get rave reviews by famous stars and all the magazines.
Finally, if you're not exhausted by now, walk or take a taxi up Eighth Avenue to the mid-West 40s, where you'll be overwhelmed by all the new restaurants and bars on Eighth and Ninth Avenues. In fact, it's amazing that you'll find Ethiopian, Indonesian, Thai, American and pizza so near each other! Although the gay bars here previously catered mostly to the theatre crowd (given Broadway's proximity), Barrage
attract a diverse and young crowd.
You might also explore gay life in the East Village
, in particular the innumerable boutiques, vintage stores
, hip restaurants, and trendy bars. There are so many choices, and you'll find a whole different crowd on this side of Manhattan. Don't miss favorite bars Easternbloc
, The Cock
, and The Phoenix
Of course we also offer complete guides to spas, arts & attractions
, and have hundreds more pages of things to do you can read in our comprehensive Visitor Guide
NYC.com’s ABC List of LGBT-Friendly Places to Eat
184 Ninth Ave.
A beloved Chelsea destination, Billy's has terrific cupcakes and all sorts of cakes and cookies to please you in a truly kitschy setting.
119 7th Ave.
Its sleek design, handsome staff and terrific comfort food menu keep Chelsea residents and tourists coming back time and again. Don't miss the great cocktail list!
261 8th Ave.
One of Chelsea's last-remaining affordable restaurants, you'll find a wonderful cross-section of New Yorkers here enjoying the heaping plates of barbecue.
88 9th Ave.
This bar and restaurant at the Maritime Hotel features sumptuous wooden banquettes and a large, curving bar spanning one wall, is a great place to meet. On warm evenings, drinking and dining al fresco in the patio garden can be wonderful.
143 8th Ave.
Nooch has a tremendous visual appeal for its pan-Asian noodle restaurant theme.
9 Ninth Ave.
A French bistro in the heart of Manhattan's meatpacking district, Pastis set the stage for the explosion of bars and restaurants in the vicinity.
29 9th Ave.
Spice Market is Jean-Georges Vongerichten's wildly successful ode to the street food of Southeast Asia. The interior of the restaurant is as exotic as the cuisine.
201 8th Ave.
Funky and adorable place much-adored by Chelsea residents and visitors alike, it's a great place to kick back and enjoy some great comfort food.
160 8th Ave.
The Viceroy has long been known as a favorite destination in Chelsea, always swinging with an eclectic crowd that enjoys the delicious food and exciting cocktails nearly as much as watching the various people who inhabit the place.
We've got lots of other recommendations on recommended places to dine
in our comprehensive Best of LGBT New York
and Best of New York Dining
NYC.com’s Recommended LGBT-Friendly Places to Stay
You probably already know that NYC.com has deeply-discounted hotel rooms
at hundreds of properties backed by our Best Rate Guarantee
. But did you know that NYC.com can get you a great room at a number of LGBT-friendly hotels? In addition to our guides on boutique hotels
, hotels with spas
and pet-friendly hotels
, here's a selection of recommended properties to choose from for your Rainbow Pilgrimage:
363 West 16th Street at Ninth Avenue
The Maritime Hotel is a hip luxury boutique hotel located steps away from some of New York's most chic boutiques and coolest nightclubs. Rooms here resemble luxurious ship cabins, with burnished teak paneling, sea-blue drapes and bed accents, and large porthole windows that face the Hudson River skyline.
The Gem Hotel — Chelsea
300 West 22nd Street at Eighth Avenue
Think of it as a castle for every queen: Located right on sizzling Eighth Avenue near the Chelsea Art District, it's just a few blocks from the Meatpacking District and from Greenwich Village. The hotel is close to bars, restaurants, and a large Whole Foods Market.
222 West 23rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues
Immortalized in song, print and film the Chelsea has been home to many gifted artists in the past one hundred years. Artists who have stayed at the Chelsea range from Mark Twain, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Dylan Thomas, Sid Vicious and Andy Warhol. Each guestroom at the Chelsea is unique and no two are alike in shape or size.
18 Ninth Avenue, just south of West 14th Street
The signature feature of the hotel is its rooftop, featuring a richly landscaped roof garden and an expansive loft with soaring 20-foot ceilings that offers breathtaking city views in three directions. A 45-foot outdoor heated pool with underwater music anchors the roof's other side; it is unique in New York and reflects both this ultra-trendy property and the ultra-trendy Meatpacking District.
848 Washington Street at West 13th Street
The Standard Hotel towers over the historic High Line Park in Manhattan's super-trendy Meatpacking District. All 337 rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows with spectacular views that include the majestic Hudson River, the historic New York City skyline, and/or the charming High Line. All rooms feature State of the Art in-room technology for which The Standard is legendary.
Four Points by Sheraton Manhattan – Chelsea
160 West 25th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues
This 22-story hotel is located in the fashionable Chelsea district of Manhattan, one-half mile from Macy’s and the Empire State Building. It features sophisticated decor, highlighted by burnished woods, abstract metal artworks, and contemporary furnishings.
We got hundreds of other recommendations in our Best of New York
guide to lodging, including hip & cool hotels, how to find a great hotel, and much more.
LGBT Special Events
While NYC.com offers a comprehensive events calendar
full of events all over New York City, a number of annual LGBT events are worth mentioning here that you won't want to miss:
AIDSWalk New York
Since 1996, AIDS Walk New York has raised more than $100 million for HIV programs and services in the tri-state area, and has grown into the largest AIDS fundraising event in the entire world. It's a great event and fun to participate. Takes place every May.
In addition to screenings of LGBT-themed films from around the world, events include panel discussions, workshops and a Best of NewFest screening at Brooklyn Academy of Music's Rose Cinema. Take place every June.
The LGBT Pride Fest & March
Lots of events take place in the days leading up to the huge parade down Fifth Avenue and into Greenwich Village—from the big rally to the Dyke March. The whole shebang ends with the Dance on the Pier, culminating the exciting annual Heritage of Pride
events. Takes place every June.
Folsom Street East
Named after the famous Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco, this annual block party became an instant success in New York, bringing the leather/fetish community together for a great celebration while raising money to support worthy causes. Takes place on West 27th Street, rain or shine. Takes place every June.