Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-07-08
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



TRAVEL Enchanting, artistic, gay Philadelphia
by Liz Baudler

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Philadelphia, the nation's fourth largest city, feels vibrant, its walls covered in more than 3,500 murals, its narrow streets buzzing with excitement—and traffic. Streets can be packed with nightlife at two in the morning, but it feels rather like a carnival than an annoyance.

Despite the traffic, bicycles abound. The Indego system—a bike share like Chicago's Divvy—only costs $4 per half-hour ride. As long as you accept that the streets only have numbers sometimes, the grid system is easy to follow, and in the corners of the city you'll find charming squares with sculptures, trees and benches. Staying in a Kimpton Hotel means you get free bike rental, though, as long as you return by sundown. The Hotel Palomar, in the middle of Center City, has a funky rock 'n' roll groove to it and personable, helpful staff who might offer you champagne at check-in.

When thinking about Philadelphia, art is not the first thing that comes to mind. Yet within a half-mile of each other exist the Philadelphia Museum of Art, home of the picturesque rocky steps, its smaller offshoot the Rodin Museum, and the Barnes Foundation. The Rodin Museum is a beautiful small repository of the sculptor's works, including The Gates of Hell, one of his masterpieces.

The Barnes Foundation, a treasure trove of impressionism, is notable for staying true to its collector's vision, despite a controversial move from the outskirts of town to the city itself—and for its utter lack of signage. Instead, visitors absorb the art with sly hints Barnes installed by the work, metal objects like keys and ladles indicating fundamental shapes in the painting below. It's an unusual and ultimately incredibly rewarding way to view these priceless works, and is a must-see experience for an art lover.

Other forms of art also gets some Philly love, with fringe theater earning a dedicated building right by the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. There's homegrown talent in the form of celebrated drag queen Martha Graham Cracker, a wit and singer of operatic talent. Her performance traditionally closes out the Fringe Festival, a three-week affair in September. Brian Sanders brings high-quality skill and a mesmerizing combo of dance and acrobatics to his show "Junk." Held in the upper level of a church and soundtracked by anything from disco to Bowie to Patti Smith, "Junk" portrays gay club culture as the AIDS virus began its decimation. The show is personal for Denehy, a dancer who's been HIV-positive for 30 years.

The gayborhood is just part of the downtown area, but same-sex couples are not an unusual sight in other parts of the city, and many straight couples are drawn to the gayborhood's diversity of restaurants. Each bar has a distinct feel to it. Woody's and Tavern are packed central hubs, while U-Bar is smaller but still energetic, and Knock is laid-back and intimate by comparison.

Philadelphia's food and drink will leave you with enduring memories of deliciousness. I am still dreaming about a salty and sweet tequila cocktail, along with a sake Negroni, that I had at Double Knot, an Asian fusion restaurant in the heart of the gayborhood. The food was savory small plates, from roasted Brussel Sprouts to tuna tartare to swordfish meatballs. A block or two away, 1225Raw designs generous sushi rolls with style. French cuisine has a strong foothold in Philadelphia; Parc, on the edge of Rittenhouse Square, is a favorite local brunch spot, and Bistro La Minette delivers traditional French dishes with class.

More casual options include High Street, a farm-to-table bakery close to the historical city with an amazing kale and mushroom breakfast sandwich, and Federal Donuts. The latter somehow manages to do coffee, fried chicken, and doughnuts with equal flair. Count yourself lucky to experience the sought-after gourmet doughnuts, such as strawberry lavender and churro, particularly fresh out of the oven.

The LGBT-rights movement grew up in Philadelphia: Its mother, Barbara Giddings, lived in the heart of town. Unlike the more well-known historical parts of Philadelphia, the gayborhood's history is not easily seen with the naked eye ( except for perhaps the rainbow crosswalk at 13th and Locust streets ) so make sure to find a knowledgeable tour guide to reveal the secrets in the streets. One notable exception is Giovanni's Room, the first LGBT bookstore in the country. Now combined with Philly Aids and Thrift, the store still houses an entire floor of LGBTQ literature both well-known and obscure.

Of course, Philadelphia, the nation's first capital, is awash in U.S. history. The modern city grew up behind the colonial one, so the cobblestones and and buildings feel mostly preserved. The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, in addition to the modern National Constitution Center will be popular and crowded, but worth a look if history is your passion.

And, standing on the corner of 6th and Chestnut, overlooking the Liberty Bell, is a final piece of LGBT history. There's a plaque where Barbara Gittings and Frank Kameny stood each Independence Day, dressed in conservative suits and carrying signs proclaiming "Gay is Good," an event they called "The Annual Reminder" that began in 1965 and ceased after Stonewall. It's a reminder that Philadelphia has always been a place of independence and creation, no matter who you are. And it's absolutely worth exploring.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

ACTIVITIES Rollin' on the river, courtesy of the Chicago Electric Boat Company 2020-07-08 - Running out of ideas regarding what to do this summer? Well, it turns out there's nothing like going down the river in a ...

Gay News

TRAVEL San Antonio, a spot that defies and embraces Texas 2020-03-14 - San Antonio is one city that encompasses what one may think of Texas—but also extends beyond one's perceptions of the state. Yes, there ...

Gay News

WORLD Travel meeting postponed, Hong Kong ruling, African refugees, Grindr sold 2020-03-10 - The International LGBTQ+ Travel Association—scheduled to take place in Milan, Italy—has been postponed to September/October because of coronavirus concerns, an organizational press release ...

Gay News

Make a pit stop in Indy for a gay ol' time 2020-02-13 - Approximately three hours outside of Chicago, Indianapolis, Indiana has a lot to offer travelers in terms of cuisine, history and nightlife. Start ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Fatal shooting, LGBTQ political news, Bayard Rustin, travel ban 2020-02-05 - In response to the ongoing investigation into the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Ja'Quarius Taylor, from New Orleans, as a possible hate crime, National ...

Gay News

TRAVEL Ireland, Northern Ireland: A land of rainbows 2019-12-13 - Possibly the friendliest country anywhere, Ireland is a lush, green island in the North Atlantic. The Republic of Ireland is divided in ...

Gay News

TRAVEL Louisville: Putting a twist on Southern hospitality 2019-11-27 - The South is renowned for many things—including food and its vaunted hospitality. However, it also has been maligned for, among other things, what ...

Gay News

The Camino Project, an experiment in travel 2019-08-20 - Far removed from the constructs of your typical theater experience, Theatre Y evokes participation, both physical and emotional. The Camino Project is an ...

Gay News

DINING Travelle dinner, National Bao Day, Winestyr Fest, ladies' night 2019-08-20 - —On Wed., Aug. 21, Travelle at The Langham Chef Jeff Vucko will collaborate with Granor Farm Chef ( and Ruffage author ) Abra ...

Gay News

Event promotes LGBTQ tourism in Israel 2019-08-16 - On Aug. 8 at Goddess and the Baker, 225 N. Lasalle St., the Israel Ministry of Tourism hosted a happy hour. The ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.