The 15 Best Gay Bars in NYC for Your Next Night Out

Since the 17th Century (yes, you read that right), New York City has played a major role in the country’s LGBTQIA+ history. From the Stonewall riots of 1969 to hosting the world’s largest pride parade, so much has happened in the five boroughs that has helped those all around the country (and the world) earn basic human rights, no matter their sexuality—and in turn, there are gay bars in nearly every neighborhood if you’re looking for an inclusive space to dance, brunch, gab or experience the history. From celebrated institutions to new haunts, here are 15 of the best gay, lesbian and queer bars in the Big Apple that you’ll definitely want to check out soon.

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1. The Stonewall Inn

  • Best for: cocktails with a side of history
  • Neighborhood: Greenwich Village

Yes, that Stonewall Inn. One of the cornerstones of queer culture and rights since the 1930s, this bar was the location of the Stonewall riots of 1969, which helped act as a catalyst for the gay liberation movement of the 1970s. Trust us, this bar has more history than you can soak up in just a few drinks. You can still stop into the National Historic Landmark “where pride began” for a happy hour deal, a go-go dance party, a comedy show, a drag show and more.

53 Christopher St;

2. The Eagle

  • Best for: DJ sets and dance parties
  • Neighborhood: Chelsea

If you’re looking for a chill night, The Eagle probably isn’t the spot for you. The dimly lit, multi-level leather-and-Levi’s bar—that happens to be a former horse stable—just steps from the High Line and the Vessel actually became a gay bar after the Stonewall riots created a “newfound pride in being gay,” and thus, the new owners took it from a longshoreman’s pub to a queer space in 1970. Today, patrons can enjoy live DJs, jockstrap parties, rooftop sunsets, drag performances and much, much more. Feeling confident? Enter the Mr. Eagle competition for the chance to represent NYC in the May International Mr. Leather Competition in Chicago.

554 W 28th St;

3. Playhouse

  • Best for: dancing and go-go competitions
  • Neighborhood: West Village

Playhouse, named for the downtown theater it was before it was fully redesigned, is an underground (like, literally subterranean) dance club and bar in the heart of the West Village just around the corner from its sister bar, Pieces. Stop by any night of the week for a nightly event ranging from dance parties to drag shows to karaoke to a weekly go-go competition. We recommend stopping by from Thursday to Sunday to boogie or from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. for happy hour.

100A 7th Ave S;

4. The Dickens

  • Best for: bottomless brunch and events
  • Neighborhood: Hell’s Kitchen

NYC’s largest LGBTQIA+ bar, the Dickens is a four-story cocktail bar, restaurant, event space and rooftop in the heart of Midtown. Open seven days a week, they offer a $25 bottomless brunch on weekend afternoons and bottomless dinners Monday through Thursday, in addition to Taco Tuesdays, Drag Race viewing parties, bingo brunches and so much more. Rent it out for a wedding, engagement, birthday or any other event where you’re looking for an elevated vibe and a delicious cocktail.

783 8th Ave;

5. Ginger’s Bar

  • Best for: games of pool and low-key hangs
  • Neighborhood: Park Slope

Ginger’s, the oldest lesbian bar in Brooklyn (and apparently the only one left in the borough), got a facelift in 2022 after being closed during the pandemic and now includes an outdoor patio, a pool table and a refreshed interior. Known for great happy hour deals, karaoke and bingo nights, the Irish-adjacent dive might not outwardly seem like an LGBTQIA+-focused space (crowds of all identities are amongst the regulars), but it’s got a rich decades-long history in the Brooklyn queer community.

363 5th Ave, Brooklyn;

6. Townhouse Bar

  • Best for: upscale vibes and piano music
  • Neighborhood: Upper East Side

For a more upscale night on the town, consider The Townhouse, NYC’s three-bar cocktail lounge (complete with a piano bar) which caters to a slightly more mature crowd and has a formal dress code. Serving Manhattan since 1989, the gentleman’s club has plenty of space for sitting and chatting, or enjoying the live entertainment seven nights a week from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. on weeknights and until 4 a.m. on weekends.

236 E 58th St;

7. Julius’

  • Best for: old-school vibes
  • Neighborhood: Greenwich Village

Known to be New York City’s oldest gay bar, the Greenwich Village institution has been open and operating since 1864. Julius’ was famously the location of the 1966 “Sip-In,” a protest against the New York State Liquor Authority’s regulation that prevented bars and restaurants from serving alcohol to gay customers. Decades later, you can hit the corner bar to hear some vinyl, meet new friends and dance the night away, all while enjoying delectable food that’s served until 11 p.m. on weekdays and 12 a.m. on weekends.

159 W 10th St;

8. Cubbyhole

  • Best for: trivia nights and book swaps
  • Neighborhood: West Village

Cubbyhole has been the Village’s premiere lesbian and gay bar since 1994, known for its jukebox, happy hour specials and bright, eclectic decor (ahem, a ceiling covered in lanterns and other hanging knick knacks). But the “friendly neighborhood bar,” as they call themselves, has far more than just tasty drinks—the space also hosts craft nights, book swaps, bingo, trivia and Taylor Swift dance parties. (Hot tip: When it’s nice out, the sidewalk patio is a great place for celeb spotting.)

281 W 12th St;

9. Rise Bar

  • Best for: drag shows
  • Neighborhood: Hell’s Kitchen

Since opening in 2015, Rise has been a staple of the LGBTQIA+ nightlife scene on 9th Avenue, featuring nightly drag shows throughout the week, plus two drag brunch seatings on Saturdays and Sundays. Stop by for tasty signature cocktails, plus a full kitchen and food menu all week-long—and note that the food and drink menus both rotate seasonally.

859 9th Ave;

10. The Spot

  • Best for: dancing
  • Neighborhood: Hell’s Kitchen

The Spot, opened in July 2021 on 10th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen, just under a mile away from its sister establishment, Rise Bar. Like Rise, it has nightly drag shows, weekend drag brunches and a seasonal signature cocktail menu and food menu with bites like quesadillas, flatbreads, burrito bowls, nachos and more. Plus, on Saturday nights, the Spot has a go-go party! The owners also just opened an LGBTQIA+-friendly high-end wine bar just north called the Red Stache with a lengthy wine menu and food selections curated by culinary experts.

599 10th Ave;

11. Henrietta Hudson

  • Best for: special-interest meet-ups
  • Neighborhood: Greenwich Village

Henrietta Hudson is famously the longest running lesbian bar in the country, and today they “stand proudly as a queer bar built by dykes.” Situated on the corner of Hudson and Morton in the West Village, the bar has thrived for 30+ years as a safe haven for artists, activists and queer locals, and visitors from all over the world. More recently, they were visited by Jenna Lyons and Brynn Whitfield on an episode of the rebooted Real Housewives of New York. Swing by Wednesday through Sunday for a game of pool, book release parties, karaoke, smutty readings, a queer group meet-up, or an international DJ’s set. What’s not to love?

438 Hudson St;

12. Boxers NYC

  • Best for: sporting events
  • Neighborhood: Chelsea & Hell’s Kitchen

With two Manhattan locations, Boxers is a renowned gay sports bar perfect for catching up on games on countless plasma screen TVs, slamming down your favorite pub foods, playing pool or joining a local LGBTQIA+ sports league—from swimming to CrossFit, there’s something for everyone. The best part? They have NYC’s longest-standing 2-for-1 drink happy hour deal seven days a week until 9 p.m. Oh, and the shirtless bartenders aren’t half bad.

Multiple locations;

13. Hardware

  • Best for: events every day of the week
  • Neighborhood: Hell’s Kitchen

Believe it or not, Hardware Bar takes its name from the hardware store it was in a former life. With a long, wide bar in the front and a fully tricked out cabaret space, lounge and stage in the back, Hardware visitors will find seven nights worth of events each week featuring NYC’s best DJs and drag queens. The front of the space features a pair of garage doors they open on nice days, making it a perfect place to spend a sunny boozy Sunday.

697 10th Ave;

14. Phoenix Bar

  • Best for: casual hangs and karaoke nights
  • Neighborhood: East Village

With a jukebox and a relaxed atmosphere, Phoenix Bar is one of only a handful of East Village’s LGBTQIA+ bars—and it’s been serving the community for 24 years. Originally established as The Bar, The Phoenix rose from the ashes (i.e., reopened) after a fire at the original watering hole dive. The quaint room with a pool table is known by locals as a warm, welcoming environment with friendly staff and strong pours. Don’t miss karaoke, trivia, Drag Race viewing parties, dance parties and nightly drink specials.

447 E 13th St;

15. Marie’s Crisis Cafe

  • Best for: theater lovers and Broatway sing-alongs
  • Neighborhood: West Village

This one’s for the theater kids (over 21, of course). The West Village’s historic piano bar draws crowds of folks for the Broadway show tunes “sing-alongs,” which involve the patrons with zero microphones or amplifiers, just a pianist and a group of people who love to sing. And no, you don’t have to have any musical talent, that’s part of the fun! Locals know to check the piano schedule online for when their favorite pianist will be playing.

59 Grove St;

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12 Hidden Bars and Speakeasies in NYC Worth Seeking Out

purewow author

Freelance PureWow Editor

Quinn Fish is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer covering all things New York City, from the tastiest espresso martinis to the best amusement parks to the perfect weekend getaways...