Story and photo by Ed Salvato. Above: Philadelphia’s Fright Factory during Halloween.
What better destination to put on your travel to-do list than Philadelphia, whose motto, “The City of Brotherly Love,” appears tailor-made to gay visitors? Bursting with history, charming architecture, a sizzling food scene, and red-hot nightlife, Philly offers loads to see and do to LGBT visitors. Plan a visit to Philadelphia only, or pair it with a trip to other east coast faves like New York or Washington, DC.
While you’ve just missed “There’s No Place Like Home,” the city’s official two-week celebration of the 40th anniversary of Philly’s vibrant “Gayborhood,” you may wish to make your temporary home at the 24-room Independent Hotel Philadelphia, located in a lovingly-restored Greek Revival building (on the National Register of Historic Places) in the pink heart of this centrally-located and eminently walkable area. This friendly, cozy boutique hotel offers oodles of charm and luxurious touches (think feather-soft pillow-top mattresses, hardwood floors, and French windows). Some rooms have fireplaces.
The Alexander Inn, also located in the Gayborhood, is a boutique property with 48 rooms. This long-time gay favorite charms guests with super-attentive and genuinely friendly service, décor inspired by the great cruise ships of the 1930s, and reasonable rates year round. Included in the rate is a range of amenities some other properties charge for like WiFi, breakfast, 24-hour snacks, and eight premium movie channels.
Now, it’s time to toast this milestone in one of its hot bars or clubs. You only turn 40 once. (Well, most people!) For a casual start to your evening hit Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar in the northern section of the Gayborhood, where you’ll find a super-friendly, relaxed atmosphere, locally brewed beers and decent bar food. If sports aren’t your thing, head upstairs to the casual lounge, where there’s often a themed event.
You’re almost guaranteed to meet gay and lesbian softball players at the recently remodeled Westbury, which practices Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection with a friendly welcome; great, cheap inexpensive food and drinks; and the sponsorship of softball teams of all stripes.
Woody’s Bar and Nightlife Complex is a reliably fun option for gay men or women for a drink or for a night of debauched fun (and everything in between). If you can’t quite get enough nightlife at the bars, see and be seen at Voyeur Nightclub [http://www.voyeurnightclub.com/], located within stumbling distance of Woody’s. This multi-level sophisticated hotspot never fails to deliver on great music and attractive guys.
Ladies, Philly’s got you covered, too. Sisters Nightclub, also located near Woody’s, is one of the biggest and most energetic venues for lesbians (and their gay pals) in the Northeast. For more nightlife and wide range of other gay trip-planning information, check, out VisitPhilly.com/gay.
A longer version of this article appears in the recent edition of Frontiers IN LA.