The Best Non-Pride Things to Do When You're in NYC for Pride 2019

Photo by Tammy Shell
Jun 13, 2019

WorldPride and Stonewall50 are major attractions for LGBTQ+ visitors to New York, but beyond the events, exhibits, and parties aimed squarely at the community, there’s plenty more to do. This is, after all, New York: one of the biggest, busiest, and most culturally rich cities on Earth. It never sleeps, it rarely slows down—and no matter what you’re looking for here, you're in luck. From a walk in the park (so many parks) to a glamorous night on the town, there’s no wrong way to spend your time (or—hey, did we mention this is New York?—your money).

The Coney Island Mermaid Parade

3000 participants. Infinite glitter, body paint, and bling. This—along with mermaid tails, mythical sea creatures, pirates, and the occasional wench—is the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, which winds through the streets of iconic Coney Island on June 22. And though the event is family-friendly, be warned: There’ll be scantily clad merpeople of every gender. Look out, too, for this year’s King Neptune and Queen Mermaid, the Mardi Gras-inspired monarchs of the parade: folk singer Arlo Guthrie and his sister Nora, who grew up nearby with their father Woody.

Participants can register in advance ($15) or day of ($20)—yes, you can join in, as long you’re in costume. Otherwise, the parade is absolutely free—and fantastic—to watch. Competitive types can vie for prizes to be awarded for the best costumes.

Governor’s Island

Photo by Julienne Schaer / NYC & Company

Located 800 yards from Manhattan and even closer to Brooklyn, Governor’s Island is a 172-acre escape in the middle of New York Harbor. From either borough, the ferry costs $3 and takes less than 10 minutes to reach the island, where you'll find countless ways to spend the day. Feeling active? Rent bikes or borrow kayaks, or maybe try the rock-climbing wall. Taking the kids? There’s a superb playground, a 75-foot slide at the utterly appropriately named Slide Hill, and even a mini zip line for your braver minis. Speaking of: The mini golf course is an calmer place to while away the afternoon. Not calm enough? Take a nap or relax with a book at Hammock Grove.

The island is also home to unique performing arts festivals like the June 23 Porch Stomp, a community-led folk festival—jams, workshops and, well, tiny porch concerts—at the historic Nolan Park. Eats and drinks can be found at two waterfront restaurants and at the Liggett Terrace Food Court. Or pack your own picnic, but be aware that you’ll need to purchase anything alcoholic on the island.

Free Shakespeare In The Park

Photo by Joseph Moran

Some of New York City’s best theater can be yours for free, and it comes in one of the city’s most breathtaking settings. We’re talking, of course, about Shakespeare in the Park. Joseph Papp, the Public Theater’s founder, wanted to create a space for theater that’d be accessible to all people; SITP’s annual summer seasons at the open-air, 1,800-seat Delacorte Theater in the middle of Central Park brings that vision to life. During Pride month, the frothy comedy Much Ado About Nothing will run nightly.

You do need tickets to get into a Shakespeare in the Park show, but they’re entirely free. They just require luck and a little planning. First, the old-fashioned way: Head to the Delacorte Theater on the day of the show and stand in line. To give yourself the best chance, get there before 8:00 AM. There’s an in-person lottery at The Public Theater’s Lafayette Street  location, and a digital lottery through bargain Broadway site Today Tix. The only caveat: To receive tickets, you also need a Public Theater Patron ID, which you can create on the theater’s website.

Photo by Michael Seto

2019 SummerStage

Nothing signals the arrival of summer in New York like the start of a SummerStage season. This year’s features an impressive 100 musical and dance performances by everyone from triple-platinum rapper Young M.A. to the Metropolitan Opera to the all-male ballet troupe Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. Even better, SummerStage is a women-run festival devoted to diversity and inclusion and has pledged a 50/50 gender balance in this season's performances—most of which are free, though there’s a handful of benefit concerts sprinkled in. Check the schedule for details.


Hugh Jackman | Photo courtesy Geisler-Fotopress GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Hugh Jackman: The Show

Most of us know Hugh Jackman as one of the most versatile performers of our age, as inspiring playing a superhero on the big screen as dancing on a Broadway stage. But Jackman’s also one of Broadway’s fiercest straight allies, both in his fundraising for Broadway Care/Equity Fights AIDS and professional choices like The Boy From Oz, in which he plays Liza Minnelli’s gay husband. Now, Jackman’s bringing his globetrotting tour The Man. The Music. The Show. to NYC for WorldPride weekend. It’s a tour de force that includes singing and dancing from several of his shows and movies, including Les Misérables and The Boy From Oz, plus occasional guest appearances by costars like Keala Settle of The Greatest Showman. Whether or not you’re a Jackman fan when you walk in, the pure talent, the range and energy and unceasing quality of his performances will make you one by the time you walk out.

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