Night of 1,000 Stevie’s. Courtesy, Jeremy Rocklin
No place serves as a better backdrop for springtime love than New York City. With the boroughs abuzz over Stonewall’s upcoming 50th anniversary and , this is the season to jump-start your own history with the perfect first date. Check out four great LGBTQ+ date itineraries to let romance bloom in NYC.
New York Botanical Garden. Photo: Tagger Yancey IV
Cultivate new love—and your inner florist—with a daytime excursion to one of the City’s most fragrant and colorful displays, the at the . This year it’s inspired by Singapore, where the orchid is the national flower. Among the thousands of gorgeous orchids on view, you’ll see tributes to the country’s famed floral “Supertrees”—tall structures that combine natural and man-made elements. After soaking up the flora, head next door to see fauna at the ; the Congo Gorilla Forest and new Dinosaur Safari are among the highlights.
Central Park. Photo: Brittany Petronella
Hop the subway down to to check out the beautiful budding trees at —just steps away from , where New York City’s first Pride March in 1970 culminated in a “gay-in” with thousands of LGBTQ+ folk and their supporters. Grab a late lunch at the and make sure to ask for a table on the patio overlooking The Lake; afterward, up the romantic ante by renting a rowboat for a leisurely paddle on the water.
"Portrait of a Young Woman" (ca. 1575), by Giovanni Battista Moroni. Courtesy, The Frick Collection
No city on the planet can match NYC for its sheer diversity of art museums and galleries, a number of which have queer-themed exhibitions on display. At the this spring is the playful , which explores the development of the camp aesthetic in fashion, using Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay “Notes on ‘Camp’” as the show’s framework. Just down Fifth Avenue, you can pop into the fantastic for a quick gander at the Renaissance hotties in .
"New Chicago Athletic Club" (1937), by Antonio Berni. Courtesy, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Inter-American Fund, 1942. © 2018 Fundación Antonio Berni and Luis Emilio De Rosa, Argentina
At , explores the sweeping cultural contributions of impresario Lincoln Kirstein, co-founder of the New York City Ballet and a key figure in NYC’s cultural queer underground during the 1930s and ’40s. Wrap up your artsy date with dinner at the museum’s Michelin-starred restaurant, where you can share your impressions over contemporary cuisine.
Courtesy, The Jackie Factory
New York City is nirvana for music lovers. Hundreds of venues cater to fans of every style of music, artists popular with the LGBTQ+ community appear nightly in concert and scores of queer-friendly annual events like pepper the scene. For a great music-themed date, start off with dinner at the legendary , the swank Upper East Side restaurant and cabaret that features performers like Megan Mullally, appearing in May as part of her duo Nancy and Beth.
Then dash downtown to try to catch a late set at , which regularly hosts queer (and queer-beloved) artists like Justin Sayre, Justin Vivian Bond and Jay Brannan. Cap off the night by releasing your inner crooner at , the West Village sing-along piano bar that’s an NYC gay institution.
Eugene Gordon, ACT UP activists at Pride March, 1988. Courtesy, New-York Historical Society Library
June marks Stonewall’s 50th anniversary and the coming of , so you might want to dedicate your date to celebrating New York City’s pivotal role in queer history. Start at the New-York Historical Society, the City’s oldest museum, which this spring hosts . The program comprises two LGBTQ-themed exhibits as well as Say It Loud, Out and Proud: Fifty Years of Pride, a graphic installation of images and iconography from the first half-century of NYC Pride marches. Move next to NYU’s to see how Stonewall impacted the generation of artists that followed, in the groundbreaking exhibition , a co-production with Soho’s Take a stroll through romantic , a site loaded with Pride history: Bette Midler and Barry Manilow took the stage here during the 1973 NYC Pride celebration, and the Dyke March, an annual event since 1993, uses the park as its end point.
Stonewall Inn. Photo: Brittany Petronella
On the west side of the park, (where a big rainbow flag flies from June to November) serves up delicious “vegan comfort food” options. After dinner, head into the West Village for drinks, first stopping at , where a protest by gays predated the Stonewall Uprising by three years. Scenes from 1970 movie The Boys in the Band were shot here too. Wrap up your Pride-filled date at the place where the fight for LGBTQ+ rights kicked into overdrive: the iconic .