New York City is not considered the “Big Apple” for no reason; NYC does it big in every arena, and this includes the nightlife. It can be difficult to begin to know where to start in New York, as you could easily spend your entire New York stay in one neighborhood and find everything you might be looking for. We are here to take the guesswork out and help you wade through what can be, but doesn’t have to be an intimidating city to navigate at night.
NYC is known the world over is one of the top cities for clubbing. Although New York clearly has the best in just about everything, the club scene is particularly revered. Kiss & Fly, located in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, has a truly gorgeous Roman-inspired interior and is self-proclaimed to cater to the “jet-set” crowd. Cielo, also in the Meatpacking District, will come up in most discussions regarding the best clubs in the city, as will the Mediterranean-influenced, four-level Pacha in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. You may also want to leave Manhattan for more blue-collar Brooklyn and check out Suite Nightclub in the Bay Ridge neighborhood.
If you are looking to see some world-class live music, there is no better city than NYC. Clearly New York is known for it’s jazz music, making it a veritable playground for the jazz fanatic. Upscale jazz mainstays include the legendary Village Vanguard, the Blue Note, and the Jazz Standard, but you might want to check out lesser-known, less expensive spots like 55 Bar (open since 1919), the Stone, and Smalls. For rock, hip-hop, and other modern fare, Bowery Ballroom, Santos Party House, and the Mercury Lounge are all excellent choices. Barbes and Zebulon in Brooklyn are both run by French expatriots and tend to feature international, world-inspired, and experimental acts. Then there are of course big-time venues like the Madison Square Garden, Nassau Coliseum, and Hammerstein Ballroom for those wanting to see major national acts in NY.
As you would expect, a city with the kind of deep grit and character as New York has some excellent dive bars; check out Nancy Whiskey Pub in Tribeca, Blarney Cove in the East Village, or head over to Brooklyn and hit up the Tip-Top Bar & Grill in Bed-Stuy. NYC also caters to the upscale set, as you would expect from a city with the highest cost of living in the country. Upscale lounges you might want to consider if your bank account allows include 230 Fifth, Milk and Honey, and the Stone Rose.
New York comedy clubs are some of the best in the world, featuring top-of-the-industry names nightly. Hit up the Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village and you might catch comics of the caliber of Jerry Seinfeld and Dave Chapelle any night of the week, sometimes unannounced. Caroline’s on Times Square might be the most famous NYC comedy staple, having featured pretty much a who’s who of every popular comic in the business. Other comedy hotspots you should consider visiting include Dangerfield’s, Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, and Gotham Comedy Club. As New York is, and has always been home to many of the best comics in the world, it is really a treat to catch some good stand-up in one of New York’s best clubs.
The gay scene in New York, known as one of the most gay-friendly cities in the country, is pretty spread out and has a footing in a variety of NYC neighborhoods. Therapy in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood is a local favorite, as is the non-pretentious bear bar Eastern Bloc. Hit up historic long time NYC gay stalwart Stonewall for a piece of gay history (look up the Stonewall Riots), or if you are looking to catch a game over a cold brew, check out GYM Sports Bar.
As a city that some of the richest, most powerful men in the world call home, New York is of course home to many top-notch gentlemen’s clubs. You can’t talk about New York City strip clubs without mentioning local staple Cheetah’s in Times Square, which pretty much sets the standard for the upscale gentlemen’s club experience in the US. For a more laid-back, less pretentious, but still not divey strip-club, check out Flashdancers. If you want an interesing cultural experience, check out Cordato’s Deli Bar; tucked in the back of a Greenwich St. pizza/sandwich joint, Cordato’s is a strip club/bar with a colorful clientele, seedy (in a good way) speakeasy vibe, and cheap dances and drinks. Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club, New York Dolls, and Penthouse Executive Club are other prominent gentlemen’s clubs you may want to consider visiting during your NYC stay.
NYC has certainly earned it’s title as the “City That Never Sleeps.” With its live-now-sleep-later aesthetic, Gotham City is the perfect breeding grounds for late-night drinks and debauchery. New York has the best or close to the best in every category of nightlife, so no matter what your taste, you really can’t go wrong when it comes to partying while on vacation in NYC.