This spring, OUT sent the fabulous and fashionable 'South Bronx Luxe'-creator Jerome LaMaar on a mission to explore his hometown and give us his recommendations for the best way to experience the neighborhood while showing a little pride. Just a quick train ride away on Amtrak's(r) Acela Express(r) train, there is so much to explore in New York City, especially in the South Bronx. Read on below to find Jerome LaMaar's guide to visiting the Bronx as an Out Traveler.
Traveling fuels my creativity, but recently I found myself spending more time in my hometown of the Bronx. The Bronx is quickly transforming into one of the hottest neighborhoods in New York City. Full of galleries, restaurants and great outdoor spaces, there is so much to discover.
As an Out traveler, I aim to show the world how cool and gay-friendly the Bronx actually is. It is so important to educate people about the beauty the Bronx has to offer.
On a recent trip to Philadelphia, as I bolted to the 30th Street Station to head back to NYC, this feeling resurfaced in me. I swiftly printed my tickets from the kiosk and boarded the Acela train to Penn Station. With legroom so spacious that I managed to lay back and rest after grabbing some snacks from the Cafe car, I had a great opportunity to reflect on my experience in Philly and think through how my staycation in the Bronx can be just as fab as my weekend getaway.
After all, I did coin the term South Bronx Luxe for a reason. Here's how to find it.
WHAT TO EAT
Mottley Kitchen is a gem. The freshly made seasonal menu somehow fits perfectly in the neighborhood. It's not only a great place to meet forward-thinking locals, but the food is epic. I recommend the refreshing Green Goddess Grain Bowl and the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Depending on the time of day, you might experience great pop-ups by local chefs, baristas, and photographers.
Milk Burger is great family-run business. I recently discovered the masterful art of building a great cheeseburger from scratch. If you fancy clean, freshly prepared burgers than you will enjoy the iconic Milk Burger. You can also order a pretty epic veggie burger that hits the spot.
WHAT TO DO
The New York Botanical Gardens, is one of the reasons why the borough is so green. With a series of creative floral shows and tours you get to rediscover the beauty of nature. People often forget that they are in the Bronx when they visit.
The Bronx is known for its influence of culture. The Bronx Museum is becoming one of the most respected museums in New York, as it has highlighted some of the most influential young artists of our time. Walk the galleries and become familiar with the curated art.
HOW TO CELEBRATE PRIDE ALL YEAR
The Bronx Documentary Center is a hub for respected LGBTQ photographers, editors and filmmakers from around the world to showcase their work. It's a great location to learn in a creative setting.
1Bronx Festival takes place all year and highlights LGTBQ film screenings, Salsa night, meet and greets, the Big Gay Brunch, even a Christmas in July. Bronx Pride Strong and the Bronx gay pride is even stronger!
WHERE TO SHOP
Located in the South Bronx, Famous Nobodys + Nobody's Pizza is a casual clothing store that contains great hats, tees and sweatshirts. It also allows you to customize the item with your own initials or trademark. What's great about this location is the pizza shop next to it, which is full of Basquiat photography, and colorful painted walls. Everything from the cocktails and milkshakes taste amazing and has made this spot a Bronx favorite.
Bay Plaza Mall is one of the best places to shop. The mall is now home to the first ever Uniqlo and Saks stores in the Bronx. There are hundreds of stores to fuel your shopping needs so I advise you to start early and end your experience at the movie theater with reclining chairs.
WHERE TO STAY
Opera House is a small boutique hotel located in the heart of the Bronx. It's clean, convenient, affordable, and grants you access to the local mom & pop businesses in the area.
Wherever you travel this Pride season, travel smart and don't be afraid to try new experiences. You may even discover a new sense of freedom just a ticket away.
For more travel tips from Jerome LaMaar, check out his guide to Philadelphia. Visit Amtrak.com to book your next trip to New York City, or any one of Amtrak's more than 500 destinations across the United States and Canada.