Gay Vacations in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Love statue in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Andrew Gunners/Digital Vision/Getty)

Philadelphia Highlights

  • Take the subway from the airport. Taxis from the airport to the city cost around $26, but the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) runs the Airport Rail Line R1, which leaves the airport every 30 minutes from 6:00 a.m. to midnight. The trip to Center City takes about 20 minutes and costs $5.50.
  • Don't bother renting a car. Especially if you’re staying in or near Center City, parking is tough. Philly is an incredibly walkable city anyway.
  • Look for free entries for museums and attractions. Most of Philly’s tourist sites have free entry times and days—check with your hotel when you arrive. On the first Friday of every month in the Old City, there's free admission to galleries along with free music and food.

The City of Brotherly Love has come a long way from its unrefined cheese steak and Rocky Balboa image of yesteryear. It’s one of the most sophisticated cities on the East Coast, but it miraculously retains the air of a big, friendly neighborhood. It’s also one of the most historically fascinating and gay-welcoming cities in North America.

History buffs will go hog wild over Philadelphia's important attractions. The Liberty Bell Pavilion, the National Constitution Center, Congress Hall, the Norman Rockwell Museum, the Maritime Museum, the Army-Navy Museum, and the National Museum of American Jewish History are all found in the impressive Independence National Historical Park. Independence Hall, birthplace of the U.S. Constitution, is right across the street. The ghosts of Ben Franklin, Betsy Ross, William Penn, and, yes, George Washington seem to be everywhere. The city is also home to the country’s first post office, first bank, first mint, first newspaper, first hospital, first stock exchange, and first school for African-American students. On top of that, it has a ton of LGBT firsts: Independence Hall saw gay and lesbian protesters years before Stonewall, and the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation was the first in the nation to air gay travel ads on national television. Even if you're not into history, you can’t help but get swept up in the excitement of it all over Philly.

Philadelphia is swarming with other attractions: the wide Benjamin Franklin Parkway is bookended by the stately, neoclassical Philadelphia Museum of Art and the ornate, French-inspired City Hall. The 8,900-acre Fairmount Park is filled with Georgian country mansions and 100 miles of trails, many unchanged since Revolutionary times. The largest Auguste Rodin collection outside of Paris—including “The Thinker”—is at the Rodin Museum. And take a tour of gay poet Walt Whitman’s home, right across the Delaware River in Camden, New Jersey.

The happening and well-developed LGBT scene (including a hot lesbian scene) mainly revolves around the gayborhood of Center City, marked by rainbow street signs between Pine and Chestnut Street and 11th and 13th Street. The area has gorgeous narrow streets and brick buildings that look as though they've been untouched for centuries. Another up-and-coming queer area is the appropriately-named Queen’s Village, with cool cafes and restaurants. The city knows how to throw a good party too, and has a whole smorgasbord of queer events throughout the year. The weeklong Equality Forum in late April features a series of workshops, parties, and other events focusing on gay rights and queer issues. Also in late April is the four-day Philadelphia Black Pride celebration, and in June tens of thousands of people show up for the general pride festival. The circuit party Blue Ball rocks the city in early May, and there’s a hefty LGBT film festival in July. And although the New Year's Day Mummer's Parade isn't gay, mainly straight men prance around in feathers, sequins, and spandex for the carnival-like festivities. Philly is also the quintessential spot to celebrate the Fourth of July.

Published: 17 Jul 2008 | Last Updated: 17 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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