For instance, one of my characters is trucking along in NYC before flying back to his hometown. Seeing as I've never been to NYC, I needed to do the briefest of all research.
I randomly picked a bar in Brooklyn from NY Mag and used their slideshow and the coinciding subway stop info to pretty much steal it for my story. See the slideshow, and read my description. The character, who is a semi-closeted gay, is fixin' to whoop some ass and got a lead that the person whose ass he needs to whoop might be at this gay bar.
The Eagle was on the corner of a 3-story brick building off Seventh Avenue, an easy walk from the F train’s
Seventh Avenuestop. It had a black painted front with a black awning and a little neon sign at a right angle to the building which simply said “Eagle Bar” in red. In the olden days, when the building was new, it could have been a neighborhood grocery, a pharmacy, or soda fountain. It was hard to tell. The ceiling was painted black and track lighting dimmed for ambience. The bar was just a bar, nothing particularly notable. There was a small stage area where, perhaps, someone playing a guitar could fit, but Ted had never seen any performers there. Apparently, there was an “Open Mic” night on Mondays.
Opposite the bar was a collection of small tables and an area with old, as in antique-appearing old, couches with a coffee table in their center. There were brightly-colored photos of famous people such as Marilyn Monroe on the walls. In the back were the bathrooms and the exit into the small alleyway and the non-primary entrances to the apartments upstairs via fire escapes. It was the "neighborhood" gay and lesbian bar, if you will.