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The High Line
Photograph: Shutterstock

The top LGBT-friendly date spots in NYC

Get off Tindr, Grindr, Scruff (and so on) and engage in some IRL romance (or just a hot make-out session) at these haunts

By Ethan LaCroix
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It's actually pretty hard to find an unfriendly gay date spot in NYC. But if you're looking for a thoroughly queer date, these New York bars, performance venues and cultural institutions should do the trick, whether you're seeking a casual afternoon stroll, romantic bar or a rowdy hookup spot packed with sexy dark corners.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to date ideas in NYC

LGBT-friendly date spots

Barracuda Lounge

Bars Lounges Chelsea

Chelsea's status as the city's It gayborhood is long over, but this no-attitude lounge stands strong with its cozy couches, awesome late-night drag shows and friendly bartenders. Grindr-addicts beware: Your cell phone probably won't work in here, so you'll have to actually talk to the people around you. Drinks here can be a bit on the pricey side, but a generous two-for-one daily happy hour until 9pm each day will help you pre-game.

Branded Saloon

Bars Dive bars Prospect Heights

Cowboy culture may make a comeback at this Prospect Heights bar from Deb Bicknese, Gerard Kouwenhoven and Alex Savoie. Antique trappings—like a foot-powered player piano and a tiger-oak bar from a Montana saloon—add an authentic touch. To wet the ol’ whistle, look for 12 mostly local microbrews, along with a healthy selection of whiskeys and seasonal cocktails. The bar is also one of the neighborhood’s few late-night dining options, with a small menu of chuck wagon-inspired bites like fried-green-tomato sandwiches. Recurring events run the gamut from drag-queen–hosted trivia to kitsch karaoke.

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Cubbyhole
Photograph: Lindsay Maclean Taylor

Cubbyhole

Bars Dive bars West Village

Cubbyhole is one of the Village’s more festive and hetero-friendly gay-and-lesbian bars. Chinese paper lanterns, tissue-paper fish and holiday decorations hang from the ceiling. Barstools are upholstered with glossy vinyl bearing pictures of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig. Eclectic? You bet. Best of all, drafts of Bass, Guinness, Miller Light and Stella are cheap.

54 Below

Music Music venues Midtown West

A jeweled anklet on the leg of Times Square's Theater District, the city’s best supper club has an evocative speakeasy atmosphere, tasty food and a theatrical bent. The sound, lights and sight lines are excellent, and the schedule is rivaled by no other cabaret room in the city. Major Broadway talents dominate the venue—Patti LuPone does regular sets there—but there is also room for up-and-coming songwriters and performers.

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The High Line
Photograph: Shutterstock

The High Line

Attractions Parks and gardens Chelsea

There’s something uniquely New York about this aerie. Built on an abandoned railway track, the space is ingenious in its use of reclaimed industrial detritus, a necessity in footage-starved Manhattan. But what we like best is how the pathway takes you above the city while keeping you rooted in urban life: Where else can you walk through a field of wildflowers or sprawl on a lush lawn as cabs zoom along the street beneath you? Unsurprisingly, it's one of the city's most popular sites for locals and tourists alike, but it rarely feels overcrowded. Weekdays and evenings are perfect for strolls of the romantic or contemplative varieties.

Hudson River Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Chelsea

This strip of waterfront park stretches from Battery Park to 59th Street, allowing you to walk, bike or skate while taking in stunning views of the Hudson River and New Jersey. (Yeah, that's right: New Jersey.) Benches and lawns offer plenty of places to stop, relax and take advantage of some of the city's best people-watching. 

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Joe's Pub at the Public Theater

Music Music venues Noho

Probably the city’s premier small spot for sit-down audiences, Joe’s Pub (named for Joseph Papp, the founder of its parent, the Public Theater) brings in impeccable talent of all genres and origins. While some well-established names play here (Gilberto Gil, Ute Lemper), Joe’s also lends its stage to up-and-comers (Christina Courtin, a new-to-America Amy Winehouse). A small but solid menu and deep bar selections seal the deal—just keep an eye on the drink prices.

The Lobby Bar at the Ace Hotel New York

Bars Hotel bars Downtown

Ken Friedman and April Bloomfield, who operate the Ace’s sceney Breslin restaurant, also have a hand in running this massive lobby bar. Among the many great beers, don’t miss the proprietary Breslin Aberdeen by Sixpoint Craft Ales, a pleasingly acidic, hand-pumped, cask-conditioned ale. We also fell hard for the Breslin Bloody Mary, which gives horseradish-spiked organic tomato juice and vodka a crowning garnish of pickled vegetables and smoked okra. Bloomfield’s bar snacks make ideal companions to the drinks.

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The Morgan Library & Museum

Museums History Murray Hill

This Madison Avenue institution began as the private library of financier J. Pierpont Morgan and is his artistic gift to the city. Building on the collection Morgan amassed in his lifetime, the museum houses first-rate works on paper, including drawings by Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Picasso; three Gutenberg Bibles; a copy of Frankenstein annotated by Mary Shelley; manuscripts by Dickens, Poe, Twain, Steinbeck and Wilde; sheet music handwritten by Beethoven and Mozart; and an original edition of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol that’s displayed every yuletide.

New-York Historical Society

Museums History Upper West Side

New York’s oldest museum, founded in 1804, was one of America’s first cultural and educational institutions. Instead of the niche perspective on NYC’s past that some of our favorite attractions offer, the Historical Society gives a comprehensive look at the New York of yesteryear. Exhibits are wide-ranging, covering all aspects of city life, and the museum’s permanent holdings—many of which are on view in the open-storage galleries on the fourth floor—offer a glimpse into quotidian urban living, with items such as vintage toys, furniture and clothing on display.

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