LGBTQ Vacation Destinations in New York State

There’s no better place to celebrate Pride year-round than in New York! Not only is it the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ rights movement, it also boasts one of the largest LGBTQ populations in the country. You can experience LGBTQ culture and history all throughout the state by visiting landmark sites central to the movement and showing your Pride at events in every corner of the state — not just in June, but all year round. From natural escapes to beach getaways to the best in culinary and cultural arts, here’s how to turn your Pride celebration into a unique Pride adventure in NY.

Updated: 2/28/23

Masks are encouraged, but optional in most settings per New York State guidelines. Individual businesses or attractions may require mask wearing. Call ahead and check websites and social media to make sure attractions and amenities are open and available.

Choose your destination: New York City | Roxbury | Buffalo and Niagara Falls | Sharon Springs and Cooperstown | Hudson | Albany | Fire Island | Lake Placid | Jamestown | Corning | Watertown

New York City

Statues of two people in Christopher Park holding a rainbow flag

New York City is the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ rights movement and home to world-famous gay-friendly neighborhoods from Greenwich Village to Chelsea to the Lower East Side in Manhattan to Brooklyn’s Park Slope. Head to the Stonewall Inn, the site of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, in Greenwich Village to see where Pride all began. Across the street in Christopher Park stands the Stonewall National Monument (pictured), the first national monument dedicated to LGBTQ history. The Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center is slated to open in Summer 2024 at 51 Christopher Street. The educational resource center will feature exhibits, events, and art installations by LGBTQ+ artists The city will soon also be home to the new American LGBTQ+ Museum.  While in the village, stop in at Julius’, the site of another seminal event in the LGBTQ rights movement and the oldest continually operating gay bar in New York City. If you’re looking for a treat, satisfy your sweet tooth with some soft serve at Big Gay Ice Cream.

Venture over to Brooklyn’s Marsha P. Johnson State Park, named in honor of an LGBTQ civil rights pioneer and Stonewall Uprising figure. The 7-acre waterfront park located in Williamsburg offers visitors one of the most stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. There’s also a play area and green space if you’re looking for a day of recreation and relaxation. On weekends from April-October, the park also plays host to Smorgasburg so make sure you come hungry. The massive open-air food market features dozens of vendors selling lobster rolls, barbecue, bao, empanadas, spaghetti donuts, cookies, churros, and so much more.

Crowds gather in Greenwich Village under an arch of Pride balloons.

If you’re in town for Pride month, there will be celebrations happening in each of the five boroughs all through June. Of course, the landmark NYC Pride March which will take place June 25, 2023 along with the PrideFest street festival (pictured).

While there’s no shortage of hotels and accommodations to choose from in NYC, why not head to Governors Island for a unique glamping experience? Glampers are treated to the best views of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan skyline without the hustle and bustle of the big city. Pride Island, an LGBTQIA+ music festival with big name headliners, returns to Governors Island at Play Lawn on June 25, 2023.

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Roxbury (Catskills)

A Wizard of Oz-themed room complete with a yellow brick road and ruby slippers pillow at The Roxbury in the Catskills

The Catskills are a unique natural wonderland where the arts come alive and the food couldn’t be fresher. It’s also home to the buzzworthy Roxbury Motel and its sister property The Roxbury at Stratton Falls, where owners Gregory Henderson and his partner Joe Massa have redefined the meaning of themed rooms with their over-the-top creations. A yellow brick road cuts through a Wizard of Oz-themed suite (pictured) while a giant pumpkin transforms into a golden carriage that houses an upstairs bathroom in the tower cottage known as “Cinderella’s Gown.”

When you manage to tear yourself away from inspecting every minute detail in your room, take a 30-minute drive to see the world’s largest kaleidoscope (pictured) located at the Emerson Resort & Spa, a contemporary Adirondack-style inn featuring a restaurant with a menu that captures local flavors. The Roxbury Arts Group hosts performances at the Roxbury Arts Center, which can seat 200, and more intimate concerts at the Old School Baptist Church nestled in the Denver Vega Valley.  Travel to nearby Phoenicia where you can enjoy a side of nostalgia with your classic turkey club sandwich or a Catskills Po’Boy at the landmark Phoenicia Diner. Grab an Adirondack chair or snag a picnic table and settle in for an afternoon of food and drink at Woodstock Brewing.

Kaatskill Kaleidoscope at Emerson Place 105

Phoenicia is also home to the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, staging opera performances at Parish Field every August. Enjoy a unique tour of the Catskill Mountains with Rail Explorers. You’ll pedal your way across long-abandoned railroad tracks alongside Esopus Creek on a 2.5 hour journey. Take the Golden Hour Tour for breathtaking views of the mountain ranges as the sun sets.

The Catskills region is also hosting monthly socials and its second Pride celebration in 2023 with venues and vendors to be determined.

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Buffalo and Niagara Falls (Greater Niagara)

A colorful mural that says "Greetings from Buffalo" with the words "New York" written on a red buffalo

Credit: @michaelgarofolo on Instagram

Pride flags hang from homes and businesses year round in New York State’s second-largest city, home to a thriving and vibrant LGBTQ community. The elegant four-diamond rated Mansion on Delaware Avenue will grant easy access to the city’s booming downtown district and Allentown, considered the heart of the city’s LGBTQ community, boasting restaurants, shops, cafes and bars. There are also many LGBTQ-owned businesses to support, from coffee shops to art galleries.

You’ll be just a short walk away from Babeville, a multi-use facility dedicated to the arts founded by LGBTQ icon and Buffalo native Ani DiFranco. The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and social activist saved the 19th century Gothic-style church to create the cherished performance space in Buffalo’s Theater District. Round out your trip with a visit to the Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House, a 2-hour narrated cruise along the Erie Canal, and experience history at the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center. Buffalo’s revitalized and scenic waterfront comes alive year-round with summertime concerts and festivals at Canalside, where you can also sail, shop, kayak, and try your hand at rock climbing at Buffalo RiverWorks. In the winter, you can ice skate and glide across the ice on an ice bike.

Anchor Bar Wings

Of course, no trip to Buffalo is complete without diving into a plate of spicy deep-fried chicken wings at Anchor Bar, the home of the original Buffalo wing (pictured). Also pop into Schwabl’s, which in 2021 was designated the “Home of the Beef on Weck” and highlighted on the show “No Reservations,” hosted by the late Anthony Bourdain.

The city hosts festivities every June during Buffalo Pride Week. Niagara Falls, which is just a 30-minute drive from Buffalo, glows in Pride colors for the start of LGBTQ Pride month on June 1, but you can enjoy the majestic beauty of this natural wonder all year long – either up close and personal on a Maid of the Mist boat tour or during a peaceful hike along a Niagara Falls State Park trail.

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Sharon Springs and Cooperstown (Central New York)

Products on display at Beekman 1802 Mercantile in Sharon Springs, NY.

LGBTQ entrepreneurs and businesspeople have brought life back to the vibrant village of Sharon Springs, a once-booming spa resort town that attracted the likes of Oscar Wilde and members of the Vanderbilt family in the 19th century. Among the town’s most famous residents are Josh Kilmer-Purcell and husband Brent Ridge, stars of The Fabulous Beekman Boys reality show and Amazing Race winners. You can tour their farm and its new art installation of large-scale murals depicting Nigerian Dwarf baby goats or pop by their Main Street shop, Beekman 1802 (pictured) — an LGBTQ staple offering skin care products, artisan goods and demos, along with other exclusive wares. While exploring the pedestrian-friendly Main Street, take a peek inside McGillycuddy’s Naturals and their selection of natural and handcrafted bath products, or treat your taste buds to locally-sourced seasonal dishes at 204 Main Bistro, where the menu is ever-changing.

You can stay at the historic American Hotel, a nine-room inn with a charming porch and patio garden that makes for a perfect breakfast location. The hotel had fallen into disrepair after sitting vacant for three decades and was saved  by couple Doug Plummer and Garth Roberts — the New York City transports who are credited with spearheading Sharon Springs’ renaissance after renovating the establishment. You can also embrace the countryside at the Country Manor Inn and B&B, a renovated mansion built in the early 1800s that sits on four acres of land with breathtaking views of the Mohawk Valley and sprawling Adirondack Mountains.

While in Sharon Springs, take the 30-minute drive over to Cooperstown to learn the history of America’s favorite pastime at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, enjoy summertime performances of Romeo and Juliet and Love & War in a lakeside setting at this year’s Glimmerglass Festival, get a dose of culture at the Fenimore Art Museum, which in addition to its extensive art collection hosts lunch tours, workshops and performances at the Lucy B. Hamilton Amphitheater, and tour the award-winning Ommegang Brewery before finishing up with a pint and a bite at its tap room. The brewery also hosts summer concerts with big name performers.

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Hudson (Hudson Valley)

The Hudson-Athens Lighthouse stands in the middle of the Hudson River

The charming riverfront city of Hudson in Columbia County has built up a reputation for being one of the most LGBTQ-friendly communities in the area and, in fact, plays host to a large Pride festival, which marked its 13th year in 2022 with a parade, pool party, and more. The walkable city is an antique hunter’s dream with treasures from furniture to vintage clothing just waiting to be discovered at one of the more than 40 shops on and around Warren Street. Those with an eye for architecture will be delighted by the century-old buildings spread out through Hudson, from Queen Anne-style mansions to grand Victorians that have been restored to their full glory. The Second Empire-style Hudson-Athens Lighthouse (pictured), built in 1874, is also a sight to behold.

Hudson is also a foodie paradise with many restaurants offering delectable dishes specially-crafted using fresh produce sourced straight from the bountiful Hudson Valley. Indulge at Hudson’s longest-running upscale restaurant, Swoon Kitchenbar, owned by the husband-wife duo also behind Le Perche, a bakery and bar serving up a fresh spin on French classics using local farm goods. Nosh on some Latin-inspired tropical comfort food at the 2022 James Beard-nominated Lil’ Deb’s Oasis, down some Island Creek oysters at copper-accented WM Farmer and Sons, or grab a late-night snack at Backbar specializing in Asian-inspired street food.

For a fun date or time out with friends, grab a pint at Spotty Dog Books and Ale, a bookstore-slash-bar that’s taken up shop at a former firehouse, or sip on some wine while you create your own candles, diffusers, and perfumes at the Poured Candle Bar. Explore the 250-acre estate of Hudson River School painter Frederic Church at the Olana Historic House, and if you’re up for it, walk across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge to check out the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. If you don’t mind a drive, the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, Storm King Art Center, and Woodbury Common outlets are about an hour away from Hudson.

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Albany (Capital-Saratoga)

Progressive Pride flag is raised at the Empire State Plaza in Albany

Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

Albany is where New York’s LGBTQ laws made it onto the books, cementing the Empire State as a leader in advancing gay rights. Tour the Capitol building (pictured) where the debates and votes took place and see the passage of the state’s marriage equality law prominently and proudly displayed in the timeline at the Hall of Governors. Albany is also home to the longest continually operating LGBTQ community center in the United States: the Pride Center of the Capital Region. It has been supporting and celebrating the LGBTQ community since its inception in 1970 and is located in Center Square where cobblestone intersections and historic homes add a dash of old-school charm to the eclectic neighborhood.

Unique shops, galleries, bars, and cafes fill the city’s commercial corridor of Lark Street. Experience arts and culture at The Egg and the Albany Institute of History and Art. Stroll through the 84-acre Washington Park. If you’re looking for a fun night out, stop by OH Bar for some karaoke or a game of pool or darts. Also grab a drink at Waterworks Pub, which bills itself as “Albany’s Original Gay Bar.” Keep the historical theme going with dinner at The Hollow Bar + Kitchen, a restaurant, craft beer bar, and live music venue housed in the historic Brewster Building. Albany is also home to Capital Pride, which will take place on June 11, 2023. Stay in the heart of the city at the Morgan State House Inn or at the Renaissance Albany Hotel overlooking the Capitol building.

While in Albany, make sure to check out the hip suburb of Troy, just a quick 20 minute drive up and across the Hudson River. There you can explore the Central Troy Historic District, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Scope out the city’s hopping brewery scene at Brown’s Brewing Company or Rare Form Brewing Company. Catch a concert at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, which opened in 1875 and is a National Historic Landmark. Foodies will love a trip to the Troy Waterfront Farmers Market, which is open Saturdays year round. New to town is Cafe Euphoria, a trans and gender non-conforming worker-owned and operated restaurant that provides a safe and welcoming space for the LGBTQ+ community. The menu offers largely vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free fare with options ranging from soy chorizo tacos to curry chickpea salad  sandwiches to butternut squash soup. The cafe also features a thrift shop and coworking space.

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Fire Island (Long Island)

Cherry Grove, Fire Island pier

As they have been since before Stonewall, the Pines and Cherry Grove neighborhoods of Fire Island remain among the most welcoming and gay-friendly American towns, providing a restful and relaxing refuge for LGBTQ vacationers for decades.

But before you hop on the ferry to your beach escape, explore the cute little town of Sayville, where the Loughlin Vineyard is tucked away on the historic John E. Roosevelt Meadowcroft Estate. Sayville’s walkable downtown features quaint storefronts from clothing boutiques to antique shops and plenty of restaurants to satisfy any craving — La Tavola for Italian, the Portly Villager or South Shore Dive for pub fare, and The Shed in West Sayville for the perfect brunch.

A 20-minute ferry ride ushers you into the downtowns of both Fire Island hamlets, which are full of restaurants, shops and nightlife. Visit two sites in Cherry Grove that have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places for their role in LGBTQ history: The Carrington House, where Truman Capote wrote Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Cherry Grove Community House and Theater, the oldest continually operating gay summer theater in the United States.

Clear blue skies behind the Fire Island Lighthouse

Fire Island comes alive with Pride in the summer months with its famous weekends that include pool parties hosted by various charities and non profits as well as the Invasion of the Pines, a drag queen parade held every year on the 4th of July since 1976, when a drag queen who was denied service at a restaurant at the more conservative Pines returned by boat with an army of drag queens for what became the very first in “invasion.”

To eat there’s the Pines Bistro and Martini Bar or Top of the Bay in Cherry Grove. Cherry’s On The Bay is a great spot to sip some cocktails by the water, grab dinner or Sunday brunch while enjoying some entertainment from drag shows to bingo nights. Island Breeze and the beachside Sand Castle are also great places to feast. If you’re looking to dance the night away, Sip-n-Twirl and Pavilion are about as iconic as clubs get.

Where to stay: Fire Island is great for a day trip or overnight, but accommodations can be tricky. The Madison Fire Island Pines is a great option as it’s just a short walk to both the beach and the harbor. This chic boutique hotel features a stylish and modern guest house with a pool, hot tub, and rooftop deck offering stunning panoramic views of the Pines. The Fire Island website is a great resource to view all the varying accommodations across the island.

For an outdoor excursion explore The Sunken Forest, climb the historic Fire Island Lighthouse (pictured), and take in the sun and the surf at the Fire Island National Seashore.

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Lake Placid (Adirondacks)

 Mirror Lake Inn

Grab your hiking boots and get ready to escape into the wilds of New York for an outdoor adventure of a lifetime in Lake Placid. Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa (pictured), a finalist in the 2020 Gay Travel Awards and the only Lake Placid hotel with a four diamond rating, has a private beach and a tranquil salt room for deep breathing and relaxing. Adventurous types looking for a rustic retreat will revel in a stay at Adirondak Loj, where accommodations range from a private room with a quilt-laden king-size bed to a six-person bunk room. The Loj sits at the gateway to the 46 High Peaks, so pick a trailhead and get to walking! The Loj’s living room features a stone fireplace that serves as the perfect setting to gather around and recount the day’s hike. Seeking a touch of opulence? Then look no further than the Whiteface Lodge, a striking luxury resort with a rustic timber design offering breathtaking balcony views of the seemingly infinite woods of Adirondack Park.

Explore Lake Placid’s downtown district where quaint shops dot the dog-friendly Main Street and sports history comes alive at the Lake Placid Olympic Center and Museum. Skate on the site of the dramatic “Miracle on Ice” game or take flight on a zipline at the Olympic Jumping Complex. If you work up an appetite, you’ll have plenty of options to grab some chow at waterfront restaurants overlooking Mirror Lake from Southern-style barbecue at Smoke Signals to Italian cuisine at Ere’s Pizza to small plates paired with the perfect craft cocktail at Top of the Park. If you don’t mind venturing beyond Lake Placid, take about a 40-minute drive to Tupper Lake’s 115-acre Wild Center where a network of bridges and platforms will take you up over the treetops for a rare view of the Adirondacks forest. While Lake Placid is great for hiking and fishing in the summer, it’s also perfect for leaf peeping in the fall, and ice skating and skiing in the winter.

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Jamestown (Chautauqua-Allegheny)

Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum

Live, love, and, most importantly, laugh in this town dedicated to honoring the art and history of comedy. Celebrate the town’s native daughter and America’s First Couple of Comedy with a visit to the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum (pictured) to see costumes, props and recreations of iconic “I Love Lucy” sets, including the Ricardos’ New York City apartment. Then keep the fun going with a trip to the National Comedy Center where 50 immersive exhibits take you on a journey from vaudeville to viral memes. A short drive away is the waterfront Lucille Ball Memorial Park (pictured) where you can see the infamous “Scary Lucy” statue and the newer “Lovely Lucy” statue. The park also features a lighthouse, boat launch, playground and pavilion.

Stay at the sprawling nine-acre Chautauqua Harbor Hotel, featuring 135 deluxe rooms and suites, gorgeous views of Chautauqua Lake, a full service restaurant offering three meals a day, and a bar with a more casual vibe serving brick oven pizzas and microbrews. Go off-site for comfort food and seafood at the cozy Landmark Restaurant, or sample some of Southern Tier Brewing Company’s finest ales and ciders at its taproom, the Empty Pint, where you can also snack on some pretzels, tacos, burgers, and other pub staples.

Panama Rocks Scenic Park

There are plenty of opportunities to connect with nature in Jamestown. Take a peaceful hike through the fields, woods, and wetlands of the Audubon Community Nature Center, navigate the towering 60-foot-high corridors of the Panama Rocks (pictured), or take to the water with a historical tour aboard the Chautauqua Belle steamboat. Of course, if you’re visiting in the summer, don’t miss your chance for an enlightening experience at the Chautauqua Institution, which over the course of nine summer weeks hosts various performances, lectures, and recreational activities to fill the body, mind, and spirit. A pleasant scenic drive west will transport you to the Amish Trail, which stretches from Randolph to Gowanda. You’ll be greeted by 100 farm stands and shops selling hand-crafted home goods, homegrown fruits and vegetables, and more.

Jamestown is now also home to its own Pride month celebration, which debuted in 2021 after a pandemic delay.

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Corning (Finger Lakes)

People Strolling around Market Street in front of the clock tower

Corning, which hosts an annual festival for Pride Month, was recently ranked as one of the best small LGBTQ-friendly cities in the country. The Hilton Garden Inn Corning Downtown, Corning Staybridge Suites, or Radisson Hotel will put you right near all the action of the Crystal City. Among Corning’s can’t-miss attractions are the Corning Museum of Glass and The Rockwell Museum. Along the historic, tree-lined streets of the Gaffer District (pictured) you’ll find family-owned galleries, antique shops, clothing boutiques, and gift shops selling everything from hand-blown glass to jewelry.

Also make sure you come hungry cause the Gaffer District has 45 restaurants to choose from. The Cellar offers an ever-evolving menu with vegan and vegetarian options that’s specially crafted using seasonal and locally-sourced ingredients. With 40 wines available by the glass and 500 by the bottle, you can bet you’ll find the perfect drink pairing for your meal. The homey Donna’s Restaurant, which proudly displays an impressive collection of Pyrex dishes, serves diner favorites for breakfast and lunch, but homemade desserts are the stars of this show, including the famed Nutter Butter Peanut Butter Chocolate Ribbon Pie. Grab a slice at the family-owned Aniello’s Pizzeria, which has been cooking up delicious pizzas and meatball subs for over 40 years. You can satisfy your sweet tooth by venturing out on the Gaffer District’s Chocolate Trail (pictured). 

Corning Gaffer District Chocolate Trail

In nearby Elmira, take your vacation to new heights and view the natural wonders of the Finger Lakes with a flight at the Harris Hill Soaring Center aboard a motorless glider with a FAA-certified pilot over the Chemung Valley. If you’re curious to learn more about the history of motorless flight, then a stop at the National Soaring Museum is a must.

While in Elmira, literary buffs can stop by the Octagonal Study where Mark Twain wrote some of his most famous works, and visit his final resting place at Woodlawn Cemetery. Family-friendly activities include a ride on an 1890s carousel at Eldridge Park, a day of go-karting and mini golfing at Harris Hill Amusement Park, or catch a flick at the 19-acre Elmira Drive-In.

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Watertown (Thousand Islands-Seaway)

A group of people get drenched while white water rafting down the Black River in Watertown in the Thousand Islands

Communities along the St. Lawrence River from Cape Vincent to Alexandria Bay also have a Pride weekend on tap with sunset cruises, a boat parade, Cher tribute show, and more. Stay tuned for details on this year’s Pride Month events from Watertown and other communities along the St. Lawrence River.

Kickstart your trip with an action-packed white water rafting trip along the Black River with Black River Outfitters, Adirondack River Outfitters, or Whitewater Challengers (pictured). Escape into the expansive 355-acre Thompson Park, a creation of the famed Olmsted family. The park is home to Zoo New York, an 18-hole golf course, a creative children’s playground, and an outdoor skating area. Watertown’s walkable downtown will satisfy all your shopping needs with a blend of specialty shops, art studios, and the 19th century Paddock Arcade, which holds the title of longest continuously operating indoor mall in the U.S. 

Boldt Castle aerial view

With its proximity to the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario, it seems only natural to treat yourself to a stay by the water. Harbor House Inn, a boutique hotel, and the luxurious 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel, located in Sackets Harbor and Clayton respectively, won’t disappoint. Complete your trip with a tour of the famed Singer and Boldt castles (pictured), take a speedboat ride through the islands at the Antique Boat Museum, or cruise along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail to discover lighthouses, wineries, amusement parks, and more. 

Dining and imbibing options in Watertown include Garland City Beer Works, a local LGBTQIA+-owned brewery where you’ll find IPAs, stouts, sours, and more on tap to pair with some intricately-topped hot dogs or juicy burgers. Shuler’s Restaurant specializes in American comfort food, while Crystal Restaurant has the designation of being the city’s oldest eatery. At Fairground Inn you can tuck in to original wood booths before diving into some classic Italian and American dishes.

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Don’t forget to post photos of your New York adventures on Instagram and Twitter with #iSpyNY and tag us on Facebook!

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