Courtesy, Joe Allen
Who needs a significant other when you have a town this sexy and this romantic? In fact, some of us have been going steady with the City for decades now (and we’re very happy together, thank you!). But for the lucky ones with actual, human partners, NYC can become the setting for your Valentine’s Day memories.
The City’s iconic scenery—that skyline! the Brooklyn Bridge! Times Square!—is right out of a classic Hollywood fable, a romantic backdrop so unforgettable it’s no wonder people flock here to celebrate their love. But don’t fret: this isn’t one of those articles that tells you to exchange heart-shaped boxes of chocolates before hopping on a horse-drawn carriage. LGBTQ+ people have redefined what relationships mean, so we’re here to help you redefine what Valentine’s Day means. Read on for four suggestions.
Gay folks love culture. It’s true. Museums are our happy place, and we can spend all day holding hands and strolling their hallowed halls. For Valentine’s Day, start at one of the greatest museums in the world, The Met Fifth Avenue. Get an early jump on this day date: the museum opens at 10am, and you’ll find the crowds sparser in the morning. So bundle up, grab a coffee and meet your beloved at one of the City’s most romantic locations—those famed steps. After a few hours of exploring the expansive galleries, you’ll be ready for a hearty late breakfast. Fortunately, you’re less than a 10-minute walk from the Lexington Candy Shop, a century-old luncheonette serving diner-style breakfast dishes all day long.
After fueling up, head downtown on the 6 train to the Morgan Library and Museum. This understated institution, whose intimate rooms hold a collection of rare books and manuscripts, is an art-lover’s gem. Through mid-May, the library is showcasing the works of heralded gay American playwright Tennessee Williams and chronicles of downtown NYC gay life by photographer Peter Hujar, but be sure to take in the rest of the wonders on view as well.
With each new generation, the LGBTQ+ community becomes more seamlessly integrated with mainstream society. This social progress has an unforeseen consequence: queer bars no longer serve the same purpose, and some are struggling to survive. So this Valentine’s Day, we’re going back to our roots.
Head to Fonda, our favorite Mexican hot spot in Chelsea (there are other locations in the East Village and Park Slope), helmed by gay chef Roberto Santibañez. Afterward, stroll down Eighth Avenue to the West Village for a queer pub crawl that hits the fixtures of gay nightlife. Begin (where it all began) at The Stonewall Inn, and finish at the iconic Marie’s Crisis, where you can drink around a piano and belt out Broadway standards.
These days, you don’t have to visit Manhattan to see what’s hot in New York City. Brooklyn is like its own city and is, in some ways, the new Manhattan. So don your skinny jeans, get on your bicycle (or rent one at Zukkies Bicycle Shop, in East Williamsburg) and begin a circuit of some of the borough’s hipper neighborhoods.
The first target is Bushwick, for dinner at Roberta’s. This local favorite has a cinder-block facade only a mother could love, but the pizza is delicious. Since there will likely be a wait for your table, you might spend some time exploring the street art of the Bushwick Collective, a series of colorful murals on neighborhood walls, or browsing Molasses Books, where you can barter used books for cheap wine.
After dinner, finish your night with your mind in the gutter. We mean the Gutter, an eight-lane Williamsburg bowling alley that serves cheap beer. For more fun and games you’ve also got Barcade—a vintage arcade space with beer on tap—just a short bike ride away.
For this date, we’re going old-school with dinner and a Broadway show—one of the City’s timeless, romantic combinations. So dress your best and start with a yellow cab ride to Keens Steakhouse, a beloved steak cathedral that’s been around since the late 1800s. It features a selection of 200 scotches and the world’s largest collection of long-stemmed smoking pipes, which hang from the ceiling.
Keep your eye on the clock, though, as you don’t want to be late for your show. We suggest Dear Evan Hansen, the recent Tony Award winner for Best Musical, or this season’s highly praised The Band’s Visit. Begin winding up your classic New York date night with dessert at Joe Allen, a Broadway institution that serves up a to-die-for slice of banana cream pie. And when you’re done, take a leisurely late-night stroll to Broadway for a romantic goodnight kiss in the center of Times Square. It doesn’t get more romantic than that!