Travels of Adam - Men's Lifestyle & Travel for Hipsters
One of the world's most popular men's lifestyle & hipster travel blogs with stories from around the world - city destinations & cultural experiences. You'll find gay travel stories, nightlife tips, photos and all-too-personal stories from my travel adventures around the world.
Slim, colorful houses, with dozens of peoples on bikes or sitting in a café, contemplating the soft movement of the water in the canals. There are many scenes like this in Amsterdam, and the city is without a doubt one of the best of Europe’s many LGBTQ-friendly destinations. Immortalized in many paintings by the Dutch masters, A’dam – how locals call it – Amsterdam is both classic and modern, a city of culture and some might say of decadence, and the home of some of the friendliest people in the world.
THE WEEKEND GUIDE TO Amsterdam
Things to Do
Amsterdam is particularly famous for its Red Light District with promises of sexual pleasure or for its coffee shops with magic brownies and hallucinogen mushrooms. But beyond this hedonistic atmosphere, Amsterdam is surprisingly diverse and a place where there is always something to do.
Amsterdam has hundreds of canals throughout the city
Indeed, much of the city’s life occurs outdoors. Walk around the Jordaan neighborhood, for example, to discover trendy shops, street art and great coffees (especially for foodies, try the apple tart). Another option is to wander around Westergasfabriek, a former industrial complex now dedicated to art galleries, shops and cafes. The De Pijp neigborhood, and the traditional Albert Cuyp market, invite the visitor to try new exotic foods and to wander around the many old-school pubs and hip restaurants.
And in the north of Amsterdam, the Noord neighborhood is especially hip and cool—the heart of hipster Amsterdam. In the East, the Oost Amsterdam neighborhood is a new thriving district of the city—a great place to discover quality restaurants and many budget hotels, too.
Take a walk through the Jordaan and De Pijp neighborhoods to discover cool antique shops and other quirky buildings
More things to do in Amsterdam….
Join the perpetual flow of bikes by renting one and driving it around the many canals and parks, and both the Vondelpark and the Frankendael Park offer great scenic views, whether for contemplation or to share them in your Instagram.
Of the many small and big museums and galleries, some are definitely a must: Of course, the Van Gogh Museum and the Rembrandt House are in the top list of every Amsterdam travel guide, and the Rijksmuseum is in my opinion the perfect introduction to the Dutch art tradition. For those interested to learn about the saddest and cruelest moments of European history, the Anne Frank museum is a place for reflection about peace, hate, and war politics.
Inside the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam where you’ll find works by the Dutch masters, most notably Rembrandt
Also inspired by the WWII conflict, the Homomonument remembers the LGBTQ people who have lost their lives in campaigns of hate and bigotry. Indeed, many locals and tourists bring flowers to show solidarity with LGBTQ issues. Every August, during Amsterdam Gay Pride, the Homomonument also becomes a place of party, together with the many canals that are used for the parade, with sexy boys, pop music, feathers and decorated boats.
Amsterdam’s Homomonument is a unique site to see—and an important historical marker for LGBTQ travelers
Where to Eat, Drink and Party
Amsterdam’s gay nightlife is pretty well focused on a single street in the city center, Reguliersdwarsstraat, where some of the city’s more popular bars are located. Sex shops and some other gay bars are located in and around the Red Light District, mostly on Warmoesstraat—just follow the rainbow flags. 🏳️🌈
Spijker Bar, in Kerkstraat, is considered
the oldest and friendliest gay bar in A’dam, because it combines good music
with a pool table, pinball, and a fireplace. For cocktails, hit one of the favorites
for local and visitors, the disco-bar PRIK
in Spuistraat, a venue that frequently host top DJs and with many themed
Amsterdam Gay Pride
Also great with DJs and with regular drag shows, The Queen’s Head located in Zeedijk is one of the most welcoming gay bars, and it offers a striking view over the famous Amsterdam canals. For those who want to dance and enjoy the music scene, both the Club NYX and the ChUrch host themed parties, going from electronic nights to fetish themes. (Visit ChUrch on Thursday nights for their most popular and tourist-friendly gay party.)
The Jordaan neighborhood is famous for its food and you can
find practically every culture there: Indian, Italian, Spanish and also
traditional Dutch cuisine are among the many options, both fast food, veggies
and gourmet. Walking distance from the Red Light District, the Chinatown in
Amsterdam is another neighborhood worth to visit, with its many Chinese, Thai
and Vietnamese restaurants, being the perfect place to find steamed veggies,
dumplings and ducks. Chinatown is also famous for the tattoo parlors,
acupuncture and its Buddhist temple.
Fast food is also really popular in Amsterdam, and you can enjoy grease ribs and good burgers and fries almost anywhere in the city center, and both local and visitors frequently visit sport bars for cheap beer and American football. Coco’s Outback (an Australian sport sbar in Thorbeckeplein) and the Saloon Smoking Bull are there to indulge your fast food sins.
One of Amsterdam’s coolest hotels isn’t in the exact city center—but that’s a good thing. In Amsterdam’s Oost neighborhood, the Volkshotel is a trendy, affordable option that’s surprisingly convenient. And even more convenient because there are so many things to do in the hotel itself. From a rooftop bar (with an awesome city skyline view), to a hip club in the basement, and a popular café with local freelancers in the lobby—there’s little reason to leave the Volkshotel. Plus: the rooms are pretty cool, too!
Another great hotel option in Amsterdam—especially for those looking to be close to the city center—is the Room Mate Aitana. The hotel is located a short walk (under 8 minutes) from Centraal Station, and it’s an especially gay-friendly hotel option. The Room Mate hotel collection is famous for their LGBTQ-inclusivity and close partnership with many gay pride events and LGBTQ rights initiatives. Rooms at the Room Mate Aitana Hotel are all uniquely designed, making it an attractive choice for a beautiful weekend in Amsterdam.
At the heart of Puerto Rico is the capital city of San Juan. It’s a lively, colorful city. The most populated part of the island, it’s the business and economic center, but also the historic home to Puerto Rico’s history.
San Juan was initially founded in the 16th century by Spanish colonists. The city, and the island of Puerto Rico, wasn’t incorporated to be part of the United States until after the Spanish-American War. Even without full statehood, it’s an important part of the American identity.
Puerto Rico has a rich culture, history, and heritage. The beautiful, tropical island continues to attract visitors from around the world for its one-of-a-kind wildlife, easy access, and unique history. And it all starts in San Juan.
Cool Things To Do in San Juan, Puerto Rico
On an island of millions of people, San Juan is an exciting and unique destination. There are countless historical and cultural activities to do in San Juan, so no matter how long your visit (whether a weekend city break or a Spring Break holiday), it’s a great city for any type of traveler. Below are my personal recommendations on the best—and the coolest—things to see and do in San Juan.
At the swimming pool at Coqui del Mar
1. Stay at the boutique Coqui del Mar hotel for a truly local experience
Located in the Ocean Park neighborhood of San Juan (just 15 minutes from the airport and 15 minutes to Old San Juan), the Coqui del Mar guest house offers an opportunity to experience San Juan like a local.
The property is just across the street from Ocean Park Beach, and a short walk further to Condado Beach, but as a local, independent property, its real appeal is in the hotel’s amenities.
At Coqui del Mar, you’ll get a taste of a true Boricua (Puerto Rican) experience with a number of cool, on-site activities. The hotel offers Puerto Rican cooking classes, as well as an evening mojito-making class!
Rooms are all apartment-style with fully-equipped kitchens (and a BBQ grill next to the pool for use by the guests). Pick up some groceries at the shop nearby (or at any of the boutiques in Old San Juan), and live like a local at the hotel. Free bike rentals and plenty of space make it the perfect place to base yourself for a San Juan trip.
Coqui del Mar isn’t just a place to sleep in San Juan—it’s also a hub for fun activities and festivals. The two swimming pools (one of which is clothing-optional) provide the perfect entertainment space for guests and visitors.
The hotel hosts several LGBTQ pride events and parties during San Juan Pride from May 30 to June 3, some of which are exclusive to guests. Read more about it here.
In the winter, Coqui del Mar hosts Winter Pride—an LGBTQ pride event in December when it’s still summer in Puerto Rico! With DJs, drag shows, pool parties, and special discounts on activities, it’s a great chance to explore San Juan. Read more about Winter Pride here.
The delicious local dish, mofongo
2. Try the local foods at El Jibarito
In Old San Juan, the super-local El Jibarito restaurant is a casual eatery but it’s always crowded. Popular with locals as much as tourists, it’s a great place to try traditional Puerto Rican foods.
Inside, it can be a bit noisy as people are coming and going—but that’s the appeal! On the menu, you’ll find classic dishes like mofongo, plantains, and even a Christmas special dish available year-round.
It’s an affordable restaurant option in a largely touristic area—and a truly local experience.
Rooftop bar in San Juan
3. Have a night out bar-hopping San Juan’s coolest cocktail bars
Here’s a secret about Puerto Rico: they know how to make a good drink. Okay, that’s probably not a secret. This is the home to Puerto Rican rum after-all! (You can even take a day trip out to the Bacardi rum factory for a tour.)
In a city that’s home to rum, it’s no surprise then that there’d be so many cool cocktail bars. One of San Juan’s coolest bars is a semi-secret one. Travel guides call it a hidden speakeasy, but it’s actually pretty easy to find. Mostly because EVERYONE knows it and loves it. La Factoria (148 Calle San Sebastián) is in the back room of a corner bar. You’ll find it by walking past the main bar when you enter and slipping between the barkeep’s entrance and the bathroom door.
Jungle Bird – a hipster cocktail bar
Another one of San Juan’s coolest bars is JungleBird (254 Calle Canals). Just around the corner from the loud La Placita is this super hipster tiki bar. The fun and funky atmosphere, and elaborate cocktails, make it a comfortable escape from the street chaos. An outdoor patio makes it especially popular with groups of friends. It’s definitely among San Juan’s best cocktail bars.
4. Cure your late-night hunger with street food snacks
San Juan is a lively and fun city—so it’s no surprise that the parties, clubs, and bars are open late. But when hunger strikes, don’t worry! The restaurants and street vendors stay open just as late!
An alcapurria in Santurce
On the weekends, La Placita is always bustling with people drinking and dancing on the streets, and there are plenty of street food vendors to provide snacks. La Alcapurria Quemá (251 Calle Duffaut) serves a lot of local foodie favorites but they’re best known for their alcapurrias—a fritter made of yucca and filled with any assortment of meat. (Try the corned beef one!) It’s sure to preemptively cure any hangover!
5. Enjoy a Gasolina on Condado beach
On an island famous for their rum, it makes sense that it’d be readily available. (Puerto Rico’s legal drinking age is 18, fyi) At every grocery store and most convenience shops and gas stations, you’ll find ready-to-drink, pre-mixed cocktails in a pouch. There are a few different brands, but I really liked Gasolina.
It’s sugary and sweet, but strong! (And isn’t that what matters?!)
You can buy them buy the box or sometimes individually in the shops. My hotel had some available to buy from the front desk. Grab a few and freeze them if you can, and then take them with you to the beach (it’s what the locals do).
You’ll find they’re great to have for a day at the beach because they’re so portable (and stay cold if you freeze ’em). Just remember to throw away your trash!
At Laguna Grande in Fajardo, before the kayak trip
6. Be amazed by the bioluminescent bay during a night kayak trip at Laguna Grande
Puerto Rico has a lot of amazing natural wonders. Aa rainforest covers much of the island near San Juan, but one of the most unique natural wonders is the bioluminescent bay at Laguna Grande in Fajardo. There are actually three different bioluminescent bays to discover this cool natural phenomenon but the Bio Bay in Fajardo is closest to San Juan.
Tours can be booked online (or often—through your hotel), and to be honest, it’s an amazing experience. The kayak experience starts on the shore and you start by going through a mangrove forest down a river to a wide-open lake.
And while a nighttime kayaking tour is special enough as it is, the Bio Bay is incredible for the blue phosphorescent bacteria that glow up as the water moves. I don’t have any pictures from the experience because I was stuck in amazement at how beautiful and peaceful it was (and guides ask you to leave cameras & phones on shore).
It’s truly beautiful and magical and hard to explain. But as you move through the water, your paddles making small movements and currents—the beauty of our world is immediately apparent.
Inside San Juan’s most popular gay club Circo
7. Check out San Juan’s fun gay nightlife
With drag shows, a gay beach (Condadao), bars, parties, club nights, and gay-friendly hotels, San Juan is the perfect place for a gaycation. San Juan’s gay nightlife is a lot of fun, and most of it happens Friday and Saturday nights along Calle Condado in the gay neighborhood.
Circo Bar runs late every weekend and attracts some of the biggest crowds as the night ends, so to truly enjoy San Juan’s nightlife, start elsewhere and end your night at Circo.
Across form Circo, you’ll find VIP—a smaller gay club, and just around the corner is the SX Club—a stripper and go-go club.
8. Go salsa dancing in La Placita
Salsa dancing at La Placita
Santurce is one of the most lively and energetic neighborhoods in San Juan. On weekends, it’s pretty much *the* nightlife spot when the area’s many bars and clubs take over the streets around La Placita square.
It’s a pedestrian-only zone at night with street food, salsa dancing, and cheap drinks. The salsa dancing takes place at Taberna Los Vazquez where the crowds spill out on the street dancing to live music performers. Cheap drinks and friendly encounters make it a great place to make friends and meet new people.
9. Go on a self-made pub crawl in Old San Juan
While you might think to visit Old San Juan during the daytime to take in the touristic sights, it’s also a hotspot at night. With happy hour specials and even a few rooftop bars, there are a lot of nightlife options in Old San Juan.
The Mezzanine serves great cocktails at happy hour
The Mezzanine (156 Calle Sol, 2nd Floor) is set inside a historic building full of past grandeur. High ceilings and mismatched, cozy lounge chairs make up the decor—and while it’s beautiful inside, the real attractions are the cocktails.
One of Old San Juan’s most iconic rooftop bars is at Punto de Vista (307 Calle Fortaleza) on top of a hotel. With great views over the old city, and an even better happy hour, it’s a great place to start the night.
A lot of Old San Juan’s other pubs and bars are street-level on Calle Sol and Calle San Sebastian. La Taberna Lúpolo (151 Calle San Sebastián) serves craft local (and international) beers, and it’s always fun inside. Crowds spill out onto the street, even.
10. Shop local products at the Old San Juan boutiques
Old San Juan is the center of Puerto Rico’s history. The most popular tourist attraction is the Castillo de San Cristóbal which guidebooks tell you to avoid visiting in the height of the daytime sun. So during those peak sunlight times, instead make your way through through Old San Juan’s winding streets to the many boutiques and small crafts shops.
Shopping for local souvenirs—rum, of course!
There are lots of great places to find local arts and crafts. The Poet’s Passage (203 Calle Cruz) is especially popular as it’s a hub for the city’s poets and writers. Alongside their many typographical and word-focused art, it’s a comfortable café great for a leisurely afternoon break. And at night, the café turns into a venue for performances and events.
For artisanal local products, make sure to visit Mundo Taino (#256 Calle San Justo). While some products might be a little expensive inside this artisanal shop, their well-curated products are great to browse and you might just find a unique souvenir among the selection.
Make sure to wander Old San Juan at your leisure to discover lots of other cute cafés and shops. The winding roads are great for a bit of urban exploration—especially because of the colorful buildings and beautiful doorways.
San Juan is a dynamic and unique city—unlike other American destinations, it is distinctly Puerto Rican. That culture and beauty seeps through the many activities and things to do in the capital. While many tourists might just spend a weekend in San Juan, it’s almost better to soak up the culture over an extended period of time.
A few weeks ago I received a postcard in my mailbox. The postcard came from my friend Dani—but it wasn’t just any postcard. It was a thank you letter!
Even though I’m a frequent traveler (and postcard-sender) myself, it’s still pretty rare that I get mail. So, upon seeing a card sitting in my metal mailbox, different sized and much more colorful than the typical white-enveloped letters I get from my banks, it was a welcome surprise.
Nothing beats a personal thank you!
In the age of Instagram, social media, and the gig economy, we don’t send a lot of letters anymore. I’m guilty of it as much as anyone, but I can say that every time I receive a letter in my mailbox, it’s pretty damn special.
The same can be said of “thank you’s.” I don’t know if you’ve noticed like I have, but we don’t always recognize thanks when we need to—certainly not as much as we used to. We live in an increasingly chaotic, busy, stressful world.
In the age of Instagram, social media, and the gig economy, we don’t send a lot of letters anymore.
No one cares about your Instagram – but a thank you note? Love it!
The gig economy, fueled by apps which allow things to come with the touch of a button and little to no personal communication, mean that personality has left a lot of our encounters. Do you tip your Uber drivers? Do you leave feedback or comments, or even end the ride with a “thank you?”
Do you send your Airbnb hosts thank you notes for the comfortable bed, the easy check-in, the self-published map of their favorite places?
Probably not. I know I can be better.
Years ago, after I finished a year-and-a-half of backpacking around the world, I wrote a long article thanking as many of the people as I could remember. Those strangers along the journey. So much of our lives focus on human interactions and personal connections; it’s important to remember to say thank you.
And if you can’t say thank you, then you can write it!
Grab a coffee and take a brief moment away from distractions to write an heartfelt thank you note
How to write a thank you letter
Writing a thank you note or letter shouldn’t be so daunting or so difficult. Yeah, you can reply to an Instagram post, or post a public Facebook status thanking someone for something—but the most meaningful thank you notes come much more personalized.
Handwritten notes are probably the most heartfelt, but who knows where to get a pen anymore?! (Kidding!)
To write an authentic thank you, you’ve got to say more than “thank you.” Explain the emotions you felt in the moment you’re thanking for. Share something deeper than any superficial, stereotypical saying.
Postcards make great thank you cards!
How to send a thank you note
Sending a personalized thank you is relatively easy—especially with the advent of many online apps for sending mail through your phone.
The MyPostcard app offers thousands of customizable designs for postcards, greeting cards, and other stationery. It’s really simple to use and can all be done from your phone.
The best part of using one of these customizable MyPostcard designs is that you can choose your own photos (from your own image gallery, Instagram, or Facebook)—which means when sending a thank you note, you can share a selfie or any other relevant image.
Using your own photos to send a thank you is immediately more personal. And with the option to write a private message which then shows up surprisingly to friend’s home—that’s special.
Get a free credit to send a Thank You Postcard at the link below. Just use the code TRAVELSOFADAM at checkout. More info here.
Money is never a comfortable subject; especially so these days when it just seems so hard to simply save money. Expenses rack up, credit cards start piling up—and the urge to always be doing something is pretty strong. I know, for me, living in New York City where there’s just always something to do (or somewhere new eat), I’ve got this constant sense of FOMO (fear of missing out). I just want to do it all. And I don’t mind spending to do it.
That sentiment jives with recent trends for the tourism industry as well. We crave experiences over objects. But when trying new experiences, we’re often more than happy to shell out the cash to make it happen.
While “living in the moment” is a perfectly acceptable way to enjoy life, it’s still also important to simultaneously prepare for the future. It’s something I’m continually worried about and increasingly focusing on. Because as rough as the world might seem right now, it’s not really ever going to get any easier. Better to prepare now.
How To Financially Prepare for the Future
1. Start planning (and saving) early
It’s never too soon to start thinking about the future—especially your financial future. All those life expenses (graduate school, marriage, home ownership, retirement), they all cost a lot of money. As soon as you’re able, it’s smart to start saving as early as you can. Even if it’s $5/month or a flat amount at the end of the year.
Even the simplest steps you take to save money will be helpful. Open a savings account and put money away as often as you can. Try to pay down your high-interest credit card debt, and when you’ve got a decent income, try to avoid splurging too often. Save what you can.
It’s important to have some savings available for emergencies and unexpected costs. We’ve all seen those GoFundMe accounts for emergencies. Most personal finance experts recommend to have 3-6 months living costs put away in a savings account for emergency situations. You never know when an unexpected bill or problem might come up!
Keeping and adding to an emergency fund isn’t always easy or possible for all of us, of course. When I moved to NYC, I knew things would be tight at first so I tried to save up what I expected three months rent to cost—just to hold me over while I transitioned into a new life, refreshed career, and expensive habits.
Save your coins!
2. Create (and stick to!) a budget
Budgeting can and will help with managing your personal finances. It’s a matter of knowing how and where you spend your income each month. Personally, I find budgeting to be a tricky habit to pick up. Keeping track of all the odds and ends of my life takes time, but there are plenty of finance apps for budgeting out there.
It’s not easy to track a budget, but if you’re able to watch what you spend for a full three months or so, you’ll have a good idea of where you typically spend your money.
Once you know where your money is going, you can then create a budget. When you’ve learned what you spend and where, you can adjust as needed to make sure you build in a savings plan. Stick to it by maintaining regularity with your spending.
My checking account through Bank of America notifies me each month how much I’ve spent in various expense categories. When I see I’ve gone “over-budget” on something (usually bars & restaurants), I can then more closely monitor the next month’s expenses to try and keep it under control.
A budget is simply a guide and it’s not the end-all, be-all, but once you start regularly monitoring your money, it’s a lot easier to prepare for the future. Knowledge is power.
Don’t believe the financial hype to avoid anything and everything that brings you joy. It’s okay to treat yourself every now and then.
3. Manage your expenses
Once you’ve got an established monthly budget for income and expenses, you can start to plan for the future by slightly reducing your costs and adjusting your expenses. You may be surprised how easy it is to buy “little” things that add up. Yeah, the typical example used by personal finance experts is that a $4 coffee every day adds up to a lot in a year.
And while that’s true, cutting out specialty coffees to save money isn’t necessarily the best option. Don’t just become a hermit and avoid spending *any* money just to save a little. It’s still important to live.
It’s helpful to set a savings goal. Make sure you’ve got your emergency savings and then when you’re working toward a bigger expense—such as a vacation, a home, education, or a marriage—you’ve got to keep track and work toward it. Simple math and looking at a calendar will help you plan so you can achieve your financial goals.
4. Know and understand the financial lingo
With a little bit of reading online (or browsing financial books), you can learn a lot about personal finance. It’s important to know and understand certain financial lingo.
Unfortunately we don’t learn a lot about personal finance in our basic education system in the US, but when you understand how the industry works, you can certainly go further than otherwise.
Look for tips and information from personal finance blogs, and learn the financial terminology so you can better prepare your own finances.
5. Talk about money!
Talking about money is never easy—even with your loved ones. But part of preparing for your financial future is to also being willing to openly discuss your individual and shared goals. Keep an open dialogue with friends, family, and partners about money and you’ll all be better off.
One of my biggest pet peeves is the secrecy we all keep around our financial situation—our salaries, our savings, our debt, our expenses. If we were all a bit more honest and open, we’d all better be able to manage our finances in healthier ways.
In relationships, it’s important to discuss money so that you can better plan for a shared future. There are endless options for working to achieve your financial goals—and with honesty and compromise, you can effectively plan for the life you want to live. But you’ve got to talk!
• • •
Money is a part of all of our lives all day, every day. It’s inescapable. And, unfortunately, if you’re like me—you’re probably not quite ready to be saving for a healthy financial future. But a few easy steps like I’ve outlined above can certainly help. I know it’s worked to get me better at saving and preparing. There’s a lot more to do, but these basic first steps will help set you on a safe path to a healthy future.
Many people might think Manhattan is the hub of New York’s foodie culture, but the diversity of Brooklyn has increasingly made it a hotspot for NYC foodies. With independently-owned restaurants, young rising chefs, and something for just about every cuisine, Brooklyn is a great place to eat—breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, and dessert!
The thing about all these Brooklyn restaurants, though, is there is always a new one! This isn’t a list of all of ’em, but rather a list of my favorite restaurants—the ones I’ve returned to multiple times.
It’d be impossible to make a guide to the “best” Brooklyn restaurants because there are just too many! If you’re looking for more Brooklyn foodie recommendations—live and in the moment—make sure you follow me on Instagram @travelsofadam.
Fun & Funky Restaurants in Brooklyn
for Every Cuisine
Cuban Sandwich at Habana Outpost
Cuban Habana Outpost
Located in Fort Greene, Habana Outpost was inspired by a legendary Mexico City hangout where Che Guevara and Fidel Castro allegedly plotted the Cuban Revolution. The restaurant has a takeaway counter on one side of the street, and an indoor space as well as large & spacious patio on the other. With Mexican and Cuban classics, it’s a great casual restaurant. Habana Outpost also serves as a community gathering space for families, artists, and toddlers with special events in their yard.
In Cobble Hill, Gumbo Bros is owned by two college buddies who grew up in the south, and the small restaurant feels homey and comfortable. With New Orleans classics such as gumbo and Po’boys on the menu, and an impressive selection of desserts—it’s a great spot for lunch or a casual dinner.
With a location in Greenpoint, the cozy Mexican restaurant Calexico serves Mexican classics (like fish tacos), but their real gems come through with more innovative and original recipes. Their crispy brussels sprouts with peanut-chile salsa appetizer is especially delicious. For those on a budget, make sure you visit during the Calexico happy hour with excellent deals on their margaritas (including a spicy jalapeño one).
This stylish Dominican eatery in Prospect Heights boasts a menu of traditional Dominican foods (with an excellent lunch special). Named after a city from the Dominican Republic, the decor inside Puerto Viejo looks and feels like you’re in the Caribbean. Foods are flavorful and home-cooked by the family-run business. It’s a sweet and friendly local restaurant with a great drinks menu and classic dishes full of flavor.
While this NYC local restaurant chain (originally from NYC’s Chinatown) has a few locations around the city, their Bedford Ave. location in Williamsburg is a cosy and casual spot great for a quick meal. Vanessa’s Dumpling House specializes in Chinese snacks such as handmade dumplings, buns, sesame pancakes, and noodles. It’s a delicious and inexpensive option—perfect for a snack or light meal!
A Canadian classic in Brooklyn—poutine!
In Bushwick on WycoffAve, UpNorth is a Canadian bar and restaurant. With a high ceiling and Canadian maplewood rafters, inside feels almost like a stylish, trendy lodge you might find up north. The menu predictably features poutine dishes (the restaurant’s founders are from Quebec which is where poutine originates from), but their poutine options are decidedly unique—and there are even vegan dishes on the menu. Craft beers from the USA and Canada, as well as expertly crafted cocktails make it a great date spot or afternoon hangout.
I <3 ramen and this is one of the best places to get it in Brooklyn!
Ramen ICHIRAN NY
This famous fast, casual ramen restaurant from Japan actually has three locations in NYC, but ICHIRAN‘s Brooklyn restaurant is in East Williamsburg on the edge of Bushwick. Famous for their tonkotsu soup made from 100% pork bones, it’s a delicious meal. The restauraunt’s most unique defining feature, however, is the fact that they only have solo dining booths inside. ICHIRAN’s solo dining booths allow you to block out the distractions typical of any busy restaurant to fully enjoy the ramen flavors.
Fried chicken sandwich for Sunday brunch at Peaches in Bed-Stuy
Southern Peaches Hot House
Peaches Hot House is a classic American Restaurant with Southern food influencers. Located in Bed-Stuy among Brooklyn brownstones, Peaches’ handful of locations serve everything from fried chicken & shrimp meals, to lavish brunches and even BBQ classics like pulled pork and mac & cheese.
Classic Neapolitan pizzas at the Atlantic Ave. Sottocsa Italian restaurant
Italian-style pizza Sottocasa
With restaurants in both Brooklyn and Harlem, Sottocasa serves classic Italian-style pizza in a rustic environment. Their Brooklyn location, in the basement of townhouse, is exactly what you’d expect to find in Italy: warm & friendly servers and delicious, wonderfully prepared Neapolitan pizzas made in a wood-fired oven from Napels. Even Sottocasa’s flour and tomatoes come from Italy.
The vegan tacos are EXCELLENT but so are the margaritas!
Vegan Black Flamingo
In trendy Williamsburg, Black Flamingo is unique in that they’re an entirely vegan Mexican restaurant and—wait for it—a nightclub, too. Their Taco Tuesday specials are especially popular but make sure you try things beyond the tacos. The restaurant’s vegan Texas queso, burritos, quesadillas, and of course their margaritas—are equally appetizing.
Pub-food and good drinks are the norm at The Rookery
American The Rookery
A contemporary Brooklyn pub housed in an industrial space with a horseshoe bar, The Rookery is the type of place where you’ll just feel…comfortable (and want to stay for hours). The bar serves both classic and contemporary cocktails (and great mimosas for brunch with British-inspired pub food. They’ve even got fried candy bars. Located in Bushwick, their outdoor beer garden in the front makes for a great weekend hangout.
Yes, that’s a lobster-stuffed corndog at Sea Wold
Seafood Sea Wolf
On the foodie street of Wycoff Ave., Sea Wolf‘s corner location and large patio make it a Bushwick favorite. Primarily a seafood restaurant (with an extensive raw bar), Sea Wolf has a bit of everything both surf and turf—from roast chicken and steaks to fried clams and lobster rolls. Fresh ingredients and great seasonal menus make it worth visiting again and again. (The frozen cocktails help, too.)
This family-owned Greenpoint restaurant sells all your typical Jewish food favorites—from bagels with smoked fish to brisket pastrami & rye sandwiches. As a deli, they also have a small grocery collection of Jewish foods. Frankel’s Delicatessen is designed to be very modern, stylish & hip—with a sleek design (& lots of windows) inside and their name plastered in cool graffiti on the outside. It’s a staple of the neighborhood and their lunches are some of the best in the area.
Delicious Taiwanese food (& beer) in Brooklyn
Taiwanese Win Son
A Taiwanese-American restaurant in East Williamsburg, Win Son is only open during dinner and for weekend brunches. The casual eatery serves street food classics from Taiwan such as scallion pancakes, pork buns, soups & salads. Flavors are rich and powerful; the restaurant has managed to capture the tastes from Asia in affordable and delicious menu options.
In Bushwick in a corner of the House of Yes nightclub, the Queen of Falafel serves a flavorful fusion of middle eastern and mediterranean foods with fresh ingredients. The menu includes authentic Israeli dishes such as sabich, shashuka, labne, za’atar—and of course falafel and shawarma. The countertop restaurant is popular for lunch and take-aways, but there are plenty of seats to enjoy a plate or sandwich inside.
While their flagship store is on St. Mark’s Place in Manhattan, Crif Dogs also has a location in the heart of hipster Brooklyn at Bedford Ave. in Williamsburg. The punk-themed restaurant serves hot dogs with just about every variety of toppings—from chili cheese to bacon-wrapped ones or a New York classic. Burgers, fries, tots, and a root beer float round out the menu. A selection of craft beers make it a cool hangout spot after you’ve finished your dog.
No guide to Brooklyn restaurants would be complete without a mention of Peter Luger Steakhouse. In Williamsburg, the (famously) cash-only restaurant and bar has operated since 1887. With a fabled history, the restaurant is continually listed among the world’s best steakhouses and is still family-operated. Side dishes include their famous raw tomato & onion dish (served with steak sauce) and classics like baked potatoes to go with your USDA Prime steaks.
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There are no shortage of Brooklyn restaurants to recommend and even with eating out regularly, this is just a small sample of my favorite places to eat in the borough. Make sure you stay in touch on Instagram for more Brooklyn life highlights—including plenty of cafés, restaurants, bars, and more favorites.
Of all the Caribbean islands, Puerto Rico is one of the most accepting and LGBTQ-friendly destinations. As an unincorporated territory of the United States, same-sex marriage has been legal since 2015. And with over three million inhabitants, Puerto Rico has plenty of gay and lesbian activities, bars, and attractions for visitors to easily discover. There are even two different pride parades each year on the island!
Most of Puerto Rico’s gay bars and LGBTQ activities happen in San Juan—Puerto Rico’s capital city. Because of its large, urban population and its many gay neighborhoods, it’s one of the best parts to visit for LGBTQ travelers.
Because of Puerto Rico’s Catholic traditions & history, the big cities are probably the safest and most comfortable hotspots for gay travelers and LGBTQ locals alike. But other parts of the island, including Cabo Rojo on the west, and the Vieques island off the eastern coast are also popular LGBTQ destinations.
9 Gay & LGBTQ Things to Do in Puerto Rico
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1. Stay at the LGBT-owned Coqui del Mar
This boutique guest house (which is also 420-friendly) is located in the Ocean Park neighborhood of San Juan, one of the few many gay neighborhoods of San Juan. Because Coqui del Mar is LGBT-0wned, it’s a great place to start a Puerto Rico gay trip.
The Coqui del Mar has studio and fully-furnished holiday apartments with all your necessary hotel amenities, plus some! Free wifi, free parking, free bike rentals, flat-screen TVs, full kitchens, an outdoor BBQ grill available to guests, two swimming pools, and a hot tub! The bright decor of the property and friendly staff on site, plus its location in Ocean Park, make it a great choice for travelers looking for a multi-day stay to really discover San Juan.
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2. Visit during San Juan Pride at Condado
Always the first weekend of June, San Juan’s annual pride festival, San Juan Pride, is a weekend of parties, special events, and shows. San Juan’s gay bars along Calle Condado all put on their own parties and events, but the beach clubs at Condado Beach (including Atlantic Beach Hotel and Oasis Bar) also host afterparties following the parade.
Following Condado Pride in San Juan, the Cabo Rojo Pride festival takes place the second weekend of June. During the Cabo Rojo Pride, the sleepy beachside town turns into a weekend of parties, a nice comedown from Condado’s pride the weekend before!
Parties during San Juan’s Pride usually start the Thursday before the Sunday-parade. This year, there’s even a Naked Gay Weekend event—a clothing optional weekend with pool parties & more—during San Juan Pride (see more below).
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3. Try your luck at Drag Bingo & win sex toys
San Juan’s most popular gay bar is Circo Bar—a raucous gay club on Calle Condado. It’s very popular with tourists, but don’t worry because locals show up, too!
Circo Bar hosts Ru Paul’s Drag Race viewing parties and is especially popular on weekends for their late-night dancing with some of the city’s top DJs, but Thursday nights are also a good night to visit. Every Thursday, Circo Bar hosts Drag Bingo during which you can win sex toys and other fun things. With every drink purchase, you get a bingo board so the earlier you show up and the more drinks you get, the more chances to win you’ve got!
Drag Bingo is hosted in both English and Spanish so it’s great for tourists—and a fun opportunity to hang with locals.
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4. Party Thursday nights at the queer student clubs
The Eleanor Roosevelt district is a little further south than the other San Juan gay neighborhoods of Condado, Santurce, and Ocean Park, but every Thursday night it comes alive with the city’s LGBTQ population. Because of the very cheap drink deals on offer, and the lively street life, it’s especially popular with San Juan’s many university students. The bars of El Cojo, A Pedir De Boca, and La Esquina de Polo are all on the same corner of Avenue Eleanor Roosevelt and Calle 12 de Octubre.
Each of the bars spills out on the streets—especially during good weather—and the cheap drinks make them great spots to start a night out, around 9 or 10pm before heading to other club nights. The bar on the corner, also labeled Flavor’s, is especially popular with lesbians.
These are pretty local gay & lesbian bars, and because you’re a bit further out from the central San Juan neighborhoods, you might not find many tourists in the area. It’s a really social vibe with lots of fun pop and dance hits on the small dance floors; the perfect opportunity to meet locals.
5. Don’t miss Naked Gay Weekend!
Coqui del Mar guesthouse is hosting Puerto Rico’s first Naked Weekend from May 30 to June 3, 2019—the same weekend as San Juan’s annual pride festival. The gay-owned guest house is the best place to stay during San Juan Pride for its clothing-optional pool and planned parties & events taking place at sunset each day during Pride.
There will be a BBQ Pool Party with live DJs and additional gay tour activities planned during the daytime. A welcome mixer, tropical brunch, and other amenities will be on offer during Naked Weekend.
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6. Spend Sunday on the Gay Beach in San Juan
In San Juan, there are two main gay beaches. The most popular is Atlantic Beach in Condado which is especially gay every Sunday after 11am. Groups of friends, LGBTQ families, and tourists flock to the beach every Sunday.
San Juan’s other gay beach is at Ocean Park Beach in front of the Numero Uno Guesthouse. It can be a bit cruisey late on weekend nights, according to Coqui del Mar’s staff. Outside of San Juan, a naturist beach is about 40 minutes west at Cueva las Golondinas.
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7. Enjoy tiki cocktails at Jungle Bird
San Juan’s gay neighborhood of Santurce is one of the most lively and energetic spots in the city. It’s a gay-friendly area with many bars and clubs taking over the streets round La Placita square turning it into a pedestrian-only zone. Street food, salsa dancing, and cheap drinks are the norm here—and it’s very crowded!
But just around the corner from La Placita is the super hipster Jungle Bird tiki bar. The fun and funky atmosphere, and elaborate cocktails, make it a comfortable escape from the street bustle. An outdoor patio makes it especially popular with groups of friends. It’s one of San Juan’s best cocktail bars.
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8. Party at San Juan’s gay bars & clubs every weekend
San Juan’s gay nightlife is a lot of fun, and most of it happens Friday and Saturday nights along Calle Condado in the gay neighborhood. Circo Bar runs late every weekend and attracts some of the biggest crowds as the night ends, so to truly enjoy San Juan’s nightlife, start elsewhere and end your night at Circo.
Across form Circo, you’ll find VIP—a smaller gay club, and just around the .corner is the SX Club. In the basement, SX is a stripper and go-go club that sometimes charges a cover. Bring cash for tips.
Outside of Condado, The Bear Tavern is just off the hipster street of Calle Loiza (where you’ll find many diverse restaurants and bars). Catering to bears, The Bear Tavern hosts drag shows and crowds are often hanging out on their front patio most nights of the week.
For current gay club and gay nightlife listings, check with locals. There aren’t many resources, unfortunately, but I found staying at a gay guesthouse helped point me in the right direction for the best places to party.
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9. Catch an alternative queer night at El Local
One of the coolest nightlife spots in San Juan is the El Local bar in the Santurce neighborhood. It’s one of the most LGBTQ-inclusive spaces with weekly drag shows (including drag kings) and occasional karaoke. It’s a trns-friendly space with cheap drinks in a hipster dive setting. It feels a lot like attending a house party, made even more realistic because or the mismatched furniture and glass cases displaying LGBTQ products for sale.
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Puerto Rico is a great gay destination. It’s been popular with LGBTQ travelers for years, thanks to its proximity to the mainland USA with affordable flights, and a rich Latin culture. The beaches, many gay bars, and friendly locals make it even more welcoming.
This week marks my one-year anniversary of living in New York City. I arrived here in March, when it was still cold (but sunny) outside. I remember my arrival, the $60 taxi ride from the airport to my makeshift accommodation (a friend’s couch). The excitement and the anxiety.
After years of enjoying European culture while living in Berlin, I faced a lot of immediate shock on my return to the USA. Before I moved to New York City, I’d been here countless times. But living in NYC is nothing like visiting. The culture shock of returning back to America was very real; but even more so were the things I’d learn about life in New York.
They say if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. I don’t know if that’s exactly true, but NYC is like nowhere else. Not just in the NYC culture, but in the way this city acts and the way this city looks.
Here’s what I’ve learned since living in NYC.
15 Things I’ve Learned from Living in NYC for 12 Months
NYC is loud
SO LOUD. There are sirens—constantly. Screaming, yelling, the hustle and bustle of city life, I guess. But there is just so. much. noise. You don’t even always know where it’s coming from; it’s just there! Manhattan is the biggest offender, but it’s hard to find quiet places no matter where you are.
There’s always something to do
When I first moved to my Brooklyn apartment and got settled into a semi-regular, day-to-day life, I started looking for things to do and see. Not just those touristy things to do in NYC; but parties, clubs, activities, events, festivals. The first thing that was recommended to me (especially for those of us on a budget), was to sign up for the Skint mailing list.
I instantly regretted it. Every day I get the email with 50+ things to do, often free or cheap. It’s overwhelming. There’s just too much to do in NYC and it never stops. That’s not a bad thing, of course, but sometimes the paradox of too many choices is just…too much. “Too much amazing” doesn’t make it easy to find stuff to do; it makes it harder. So sometimes you’ve just got to gamble and go for it.
Dating fucking sucks
Speaking of gambling, dating in NYC is largely not fun. No matter your gender or sexuality, it seems it’s universal knowledge that dating in NYC is awful. In a city of too many things to do and too many people, how do you limit your choices?!
It seems everyone in NYC is looking for a partner—even when they’re already partnered up. That’s not the case for everyone, but the dating game in NYC is largely numbers based and quickly gets competitive. Of course, it is possible to find love when you’re willing to have an open mind and take those risks for responsibility and commitment. Fingers crossed!
Sex is easy to find
Even when dating in NYC is challenging, sex is surprisingly easy to come by. Hookup culture is intertwined with nightlife and so much of the dating apps culture—so it’s never really hard to find if it’s what you really, really want.
We live in a pretty sex-positive world at the moment (that’s a good thing). So much so, that sex clubs are increasingly popular in NYC—having been written about by many mainstream media publications.
Don’t ride the subways on weekends
I’d heard all the complaints about the MTA before I moved to NYC, and having lived in countless cities with public transportation in the past, I was prepared for the worst. And good thing, too! Because while the NYC subway run by the MTA does work well at moving people around, there are more problems than can be counted!
Besides the old-fashioned system (hopefully contactless pay is coming soon), repairs on the subway are often debilitating for travel—especially on weekends. Between Brooklyn and Manhattan, some subway lines are down for days at a time making travel between the boroughs nearly impossible.
Uber is a necessary evil
Because of the many failings of the MTA transport system, rideshare services and taxis have picked up a lot of the slack. And living in Brooklyn, I find myself using Uber to get around more and more often; sometimes it’s the only connection that doesn’t take an hour or more!
The skyline is always amazing
Something about the NYC skyline is truly striking. No matter where I am, if a 100+ story building pops up in your perspective, it’s hard to avoid looking up. Personally, I just can’t resist taking a photo even when I’ve got a million photos already.
Food is not always necessary
Okay, obviously this is an exaggeration because we do, in fact, require food to survive. But in NYC, there seem to be a few issues which affect the intake of our foods. One: food is sometimes cheap; but not always. Grocery stores can be pricey (compared to other cities). Yes, there are plenty of $1 pizza slices, but that’ll only help you survive for so long.
Pizza at Sottocasa
Two: There’s just not enough time! With all the million things to do in NYC, it’s sometimes just hard to make time to eat. And three: there’s an innate culture to be “thin” in NYC. A recent Reddit thread talked about the pressure to stay fit and how/why it might be such an issue especially in NYC.
Personally, I’ve found myself eating less in NYC than I have before. The gay culture to stay fit has certainly meant I spend more time in the gym and more time watching what I eat. And truthfully, the time/money thing has affected my eating habits. Sometimes there’s just no time to eat lunch, and then from all the evening activities, you might miss dinner until you can grab a food truck taco or a slice of pizza on the way home.
In Brooklyn, at happy hour of course!
Happy hours are a way of life
Everyone in NYC is perpetually busy—and loves to use that as a professional excuse. But that’s just made the everyday “Happy Hour” so important. So many bars and restaurants offer evening deals (sometimes all-day or all-night deals), and that often defines the beginning of any social event.
Partly because traveling on the MTA can take forever, and partly because NYC is just so damn big, it’s hard to travel too far. The #1 dating recommendation I’ve read on every NYC blog is to simply avoid dating people who don’t live in your borough. It’s just too hard to travel between boroughs that might be too far apart.
Keith Haring’s art studio in NYC
Out-of-town roommates are the best roommates
No shade to my current roommates who I love spending time with, but in a city where it’s really difficult to live alone as a 20-something (or 30-something, or 40-something), those brief moments when you might have a full apartment to yourself are really special.
Autumn in Central Park, NYC
Parks & green spaces DO exist—if you know where to find them
NYC is a city of steel & glass; buildings that stretch to the sky. And besides its most famous parks, there are actually bits of green throughout the city. Finding NYC parks aren’t exactly easy, but thankfully this is a very walkable city, so when you’re out and about, it’s possible to spot and enjoy little bits of nature here and there.
New Yorkers are nicer than you think
There’s a common misconception that New Yorkers are unfriendly; it’s the thing most travelers to the city immediately realize is a myth. Because truthfully: New Yorkers are often very nice. Sure, there are jerks among the masses, but in more instances than not, New Yorkers are happy to help strangers, their fellow city-dwellers, the tourists & the foreigners.
NYC is an incredibly diverse city; more so than just about anywhere else. And it’s that diversity has made the people here so special, so unique, so friendly, and so helpful. It’s a beautiful kaleidoscope of people and ideas which has made New Yorkers so open to others. New Yorkers are nicer than you think.
The Vessel at Hudson Yards
Everyone wants something, always
If ever there was a city at the heart of capitalism, it’s New York. Manhattan is home to just about every major enterprise. Money and power fuel so much of the city and the people who live here, that there’s this strong push to always need something more.
There are plenty of creatives in NYC, but in a city as money and image-obsessed as here, it’s hard to not fall into the trap of wanting (or needing) something from someone at some time. NYC is at the center of the business world for so many people.
Listen, I know I’m still in a bit of a honeymoon phase but living in NYC has truly been one of the best decisions of my life. It’s changed me in ways I didn’t even expect. For better or worse, living in NYC has been an incredible experience (and one I don’t plan to quit anytime soon). There’s just so much culture here, so much to experience and see and do and touch and eat and smell.
I’m addicted to it. I’m obsessed with it. NYC is unlike anywhere else and while living in New York City might not be for everyone, it’s honestly still so exciting and interesting. I love NYC.
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Did you enjoy this post? Please also follow me on Instagram for my day-to-day photos & life updates from living in NYC. I try to keep my posts as real and “authentic” as possible, and Instagram is where it’s all at.
A few weekends ago I visited Puerto Rico for the first time since 2007. On my first visit to the American territory, I was captivated with the culture—even if the trip was brief. During this trip, I had the time and opportunity to explore even more of Puerto Rican culture and I spent a lot of time just wandering.
Like any Caribbean island, the culture of Puerto Rico is rich. There’s a color and vibrancy not just in the place, but in the people. In the past few years, Puerto Rico has been hit with a number of different crises, but what I found on my weekend trip from NYC was an island full of life and energy. And plenty of rich, bold colors.
I’ve shared a few of my special Puerto Rico moments & highlights already on Instagram, but I want to provide you with a taste of the island—what it looks like today.
Before I had my first facial, I honestly had no clue what to expect. I’ve seen facials listed on every spa men I’ve ever been to, and while I do care about my skincare regimen, I honestly never wanted to choose the facial when at the spa. What would they say about my skincare routine? Would it hurt? Would it even help?
Well, I let those worries and lack of information keep me from ever even trying a facial. That is until recently, when I was invited by Harrys to try their newest mens grooming product, a Detoxifying Face Mask. They partnered with Heyday Skincare—a surprisingly popular shop & spa with six locations across NYC and LA.
Always curious, but also needlessly anxious—I simply just avoided facials. At home, I use a toner, moisturizer, the occasional face mask, and whatever free samples of skincare products I can find…but truthfully I never really know what I’m doing. Why doesn’t anyone ever teach us these kinds of life skills?!
Thankfully, as soon as I walked into the Heyday Noho location, my worries washed away. The thought of a fresh face and an hour of treatment was comforting. I was struck by how bright and open the small space was. A large banner outside made the shopfront recognizable from afar. And the front desk and waiting room wasn’t crowded.
The check-in process was easy—a handful of questions on an iPad about your current skincare routine and general health (nothing different than visiting any other spa for any other kind of treatment). After that, I was brought back to my treatment room. Semi-private with a curtain for a door, my esthetician offered a glass of water & a place to charge my phone.
Harrys Heyday Detoxifying Face Mask
I laid down on the treatment/massage bed, face up (obviously). Because I was there for a 50-minute facial, there was plenty of time to get to know one another. I asked my esthetician to explain what she was doing as she was doing it which was really helpful. Similarly, she asked more questions about my own skincare routines to get a better understanding of what I do regularly, and what I could improve.
Below: a mini-guide to getting a facial, including tips before and after to make the process as comfortable as possible for anyone looking to treat themselves to a first facial.
What Guys Need to Know Before Getting Their First Facial
In the past year, I’ve found myself increasingly obsessed with health and beauty. Maybe because it seems like the world is falling apart, and so self-care feels like a healthy way to stay sane and still enjoy life. Or maybe it’s because at the heart of NYC is a capitalistic obsession for wealth and beauty. Whichever. But I’m here for it!
Getting a facial is a simple and easy process. Here are some tips for before, during, and after the process!
Don’t exfoliate for several days before your facial. It’s better to save it for the experts.
Be open and honest with your esthetician on your skin goals. The more they know, the more advice they can give.
You can get a facial as frequent as you like, but quarterly (with the change of season) is probably a safe bet. The weather affects your skin and should similarly affect your skincare routine.
Extractions (where estheticians deep clean your pores and remove pimples) are painless, but you may still leave a bit red in the face.
Follow a routine! After your facial, stick with a skincare regimen to maximize the benefits.
After my facial, I felt surprisingly pretty! Taking care of our bodies is important—and a lot of things we often overlook. But remember: our skin is our largest organ—and taking care of it doesn’t have to be scary or difficult. A few simple things each day, and the occasional splurge, and you can feel more confident and actually, physically healthier.
Get a FREE $10 for your first visit to Heyday salons by mentioning my name Adam Groffman / Travels of Adam
Note: my visit to Heyday Skincare was complimentary as part of a press preview.
The Brooklyn Promenade has some of the best views of Manhattan
With over two million people living in the borough, Brooklyn is New York City’s most populated part of the city—but strangely, a lot of visitors and many Manhattanites don’t know much about it. Brooklyn’s big culture and attitude is reflected in its diversity of people, cuisine, and even languages. Many of the distinct Brooklyn neighborhoods are recognized as ethnic enclaves, hubs of a particular culture.
Brooklyn is easily accessible from Manhattan, most famously from the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, though there are subways and other bridges connecting Brooklyn to the other NYC boroughs. Because of its unique location in close proximity to Manhattan, and its many distinct cultures, however, Brooklyn has blossomed as its own formidable destination. And the many cultural changes in the borough have given rise to more open and more inclusive spaces for LGBTQ travelers.
THE WEEKEND GUIDE TO BROOKLYN
Things to Do
Visiting Brooklyn is easy, and while some might be turned off from the borough’s history as a place for trouble, these days most of Brooklyn is accessible and great for tourism. From acclaimed cultural institutions such as the Brooklyn Academy of Music to the Brooklyn Museum and Prospect Park (designed by the same landscape architects who created Manhattan’s Central Park), plus new cultural highlights in the hipster scenes of North Brooklyn, Brooklyn is a gem. In the past year, the Brooklyn Museum has had a number of impressive exhibits including one on David Bowie, and currently one on Frida Kahlo.
In North Brooklyn, don’t miss the neighborhoods of Willamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bushwick. Home to many artists and musicians (and their subsequent studios and cheap-but-cool coffee shops), the area is great for urban exploration. The Bushwick Collective is responsible for much of the colorful street art you’ll find on a 4-block radius around the Jefferson stop on the L train.
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is a great activity, and if you walk from Manhattan to Brooklyn, you can also explore the Brooklyn Bridge Park and DUMBO area—great for finding pop-up art and thrift shops at the Brooklyn Flea Market.
As the hipster hub of NYC (and maybe the world), Brooklyn’s neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Greenpoint are especially popular for foodies. Open only in the summer, the Brooklyn Barge Bar serves cheap eats and cold drinks on a barge floating in the East River. And the nearby Manhattan Avenue is home to a number of great food spots of many different cuisines.
The cozy Mexican restaurant Calexico serves the classics (like fish tacos), but plenty of innovative and exciting dishes such as a crispy brussels sprouts with peanut-chile salsa. And don’t miss the Calexico happy hour for the best deals on their margaritas (including a delicious jalapeño one).
Calexico Restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn
No trip to NYC is complete without some pizza. Grab a slice from Joe’s Pizza on Bedford Ave in Williamsburg—plenty of celebrities order their pies here. Or for something a bit more contemporary, plan a night out at Roberta’s Pizzeria in Bushwick—a trendy pizzeria that also feels a lot like a dive bar, but serves one of Brooklyn’s best pizzas.
In Bushwick, don’t miss the budget-friendly Los Hermanos taqueria—a BYOB (bring your own beer) establishment that’s crowded all day and night. They make their tortillas on-site. For a little bit more romantic dining, the nearby Sea Wolf restaurant serves oysters and other seafood and usually has a DJ on weekends, making it an equally cool place to stop for a drink either before or after eating.
Macri Park – gay bar in Williamsburg
Where to Drink and Party
While a lot of the NYC gay nightlife is over in Manhattan, Brooklyn still has a stronghold on the queer nightlife. Brooklyn’s most popular gay bar is Metropolitan—a dive bar with events all week long and drag shows just about every night (and a great happy hour special). Even when there isn’t a show on, you’re likely to bump into some of your favorite RuPaul queens while at Metro. Just down the street is the equally divey (and more affordable) Macri Park; people shuttle between the two depending upon the crowds at each.
Brooklyn Pride takes place each June along 5th Ave in Park Slope
Nearby, The Rosemont is a newer gay bar that rarely charges a cover fee and feels a lot more casual and comfortable than the scene-y Metro. There’s a spacious patio in the back and often drag shows and other events taking place on the tiny dance floor.
For clubs, Bushwick’s House of Yes is a perennial favorite. They host a monthly queer party called Bad Behavior, but all their parties are always a bit queer and always LGBTQ-welcoming. Expect costumes, glitter, and disco balls no matter when you visit. Same goes for the larger Elsewhere club a few blocks away.
Further out in Brooklyn, the new gay club 3 Dollar Billhosts a variety of techno queer parties and occasional big-ticket events. The club space veers masculine but parties are welcoming and they have a strict no-phone policy while in the club, so it’s the type of place where you can easily make new friends.
Branded Saloon gay bar in Prospect Heights
In south Brooklyn, there’s a monthly queer dance party at Littlefield called Be Cute—a small indie club and event space that also hosts LGBTQ stand-up comedy nights. On the popular street 5th Ave in Park Slope, bars Excelsior and Ginger’s are popular LGBTQ clubs (Excelsior more for men and Ginger’s more for lesbians). Other bars in the area like Commonwealthand Branded Saloon regularly host queer events.
Inside my hotel suite at The Tillary Hotel
Where to Stay
One of the first things I learned about Brooklyn when I first moved to the area (besides the fact that finding Brooklyn sublets can be tricky!), is that this borough is BIG. Each neighborhood has its own distinct vibe and culture, and getting from one end of the borough to another can often be challenging.
Part of that is because every subway route in the NYC MTA system goes to Manhattan except the G train. So if you’re in the south of Brooklyn looking to get up north, sometime the fastest way is to take a train across the river into Manhattan, change to another line, and head back across the river to north Brooklyn. It doesn’t make much sense and so that’s why so many in the borough end up using Uber and Lyft to get around. When you’re looking for a Brooklyn hotel, make sure to do some research and make sure you’re in the neighborhood you want to be nearest to.
The Tillary Hotel lobby
Convenience and location makes The Tillary Hotel (a World Pride partner hotel) a great option for a Brooklyn hotel. It’s located in Downtown Brooklyn, walking distance to some of the best touristic sights in the borough including the Brooklyn Bridge, the Brooklyn Promenade, and the lovely Fort Greene Park. Rooms are spacious and the lobby has an open public space with lots of board games (including an oversized Scrabble board).
Even if you’re not staying at The Tillary Hotel, their second floor bar boasts a large outdoor patio and strong cocktails. From The Tillary, you can easily reach the LGBTQ nightlife in both Park Slope (Excelsior, Ginger’s), the gay bars in Crown Heights & Bed-Stuy, and the bigger gay clubs in Williamsburg. From The Tillary, you’re only a 15-minute subway ride into Manhattan as well. Check The Tillary Hotel rates on Booking.com here.
For another option, the BKLYN House Hotel offers comfortable guest rooms in a sleek, modern setting. Amenities on-site are relatively basic, but it’s in a convenient location to some of Brooklyn’s best nightlife in the north including the coolest bars and restaurants in Bushwick. The hotel is connected to Manhattan along a direct train line. Check BKLYN House Hotel rates on Booking.com here.
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Many visitors to NYC might miss out on Brooklyn entirely during a stay in NYC, but truthfully you could spend weeks in Brooklyn exploring the LGBTQ life here and never have to visit Manhattan! There’s that many cool and hip and queer things to do in Brooklyn, it’s what makes it New York City’s best gay borough.