48 hours in New York City with Riyadh Khalaf

The Big Apple is synonymous with the idea of freedom, creativity and the ability to be whoever you want to be. It’s no surprise then that New York City is an ideal destination for LGBTQ+ travellers who want to have fun in a city that welcomes them with open arms.

I travelled to NYC and neighbouring New Jersey city Newark with my boyfriend for a whirlwind 48 hour trip where we crammed in some of the best that these two locations have to offer.


This gorgeous sprawling park seems to be a never ending labyrinth of ponds, cycle trails, picnic spots, hidden bars and busking gems. It’s also one of the city’s most famous locations used in Hollywood films like Home Alone, Ransom, Maid In Manhattan, Wall Street and Elf to name a few.

Josh and I decided to rent a row boat from the Loeb Boathouse. Of course I was left the task of actually rowing the thing but I would do anything for my darling boyfriend. The romance of being on the water in the iconic park felt incredibly special. The moment was made all the better when we stumbled upon a surprise proposal which was taking place on the bank of the lake!



Every LGBTQ+ traveller in NYC should make it a priority to visit the famous Stonewall Inn while on their visit. The bar is the location where the devastating Stonewall Riots took place in 1969. The riots led to an upsurge in the Queer community to fight for liberation and then hold their first Pride march the following year.

The bar is impossible to miss adorned with countless rainbow flags and the super recognizable “Stonewall Inn” neon red sign in the front window.

Inside, it doesn’t feel any different to a LGBTQ+ bar in the UK with people laughing, drinking and generally having a gay ole time, but then you notice the walls covered in historic newspaper cuttings and riot paraphernalia, reminding visitors of the events of that infamous night.



Lips is a famous drag restaurant, bar and performance space. We’re talking drag queen bar ladies, drag queen door ladies, drag queen waitresses and drag queen performers. The atmosphere was electric and one of the most fabulously camp nights of my life!

As with all trips abroad, ask a local where the best spots are. This was on the top of most people’s lists as a place an out-of-towner needs to experience; and they weren’t wrong!

Of course as the obvious tourists in the corner, the queens on stage decided to poke fun at us but we LOVED every minute of it.

If you’re a nervous or shy retiring type, then maybe try a more tame venue.



Newark Pride was a surprise for us. If I’m honest, I expected the event to be bigger but what we were greeted with was an intimate crowd of passionate marchers that weren’t more than 400 in size.

Compared to gigantic pride celebrations like that of London and Manchester, Pride in Newark felt incredibly intimate and poignant. The local LGBTQ+ community may not be huge but they were beaming with Pride, colour, bravery and conviction. It felt like a real honour to step into their space and celebrate this moment alongside them.

Overall, our New York and Newark experience was one we will never forget. Yes it was brief but it was full of the magic the Big Apple has become so famous for. As a gay couple we are always aware of the places that allow us to express our love in an unfiltered way and this trip didn’t disappoint. Not only did we feel comfortable to be intimate but it was celebrated by gay and straight people alike.

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