Photo: Outfest © J. FUSCO FOR VISIT PHILADELPHIA
WILLIAM PENN, WHO FOUNDED and named Pennsylvania’s largest city, certainly didn’t realize one day people might consider its meaning — “brotherly love” — an indication of the destination’s appeal for LGBTQ travelers. But today this diverse metropolis is firmly established as one of the most welcoming large cities on the East Coast.
“Philadelphia is the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection,” said Zach Wilcha, executive director, Independence Business Alliance, also known as the Greater Philadelphia LGBT Chamber of Commerce. “We have a thriving Gayborhood, an LGBT-friendly city hall and spirited community that would make any LGBT traveler feel right at home.”
Indeed, Philly offers plenty of reasons for LGBTQ travelers to stay a while, as highlighted in the LGBT travel section on the Visit Philadelphia tourism website. “It’s the perfect place to learn some gay history during the day — like how gay protests started here four years before Stonewall in New York — and then unwind and relax at night with friendly community members,” Wilcha said.
His top advice for first-time visitors: “Come hungry and rested! There’s so much to do here, so much to learn and so many neighborhoods to visit that you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of energy. Refueling will be part of the fun, as our restaurant scene is second to none.” Around the main gay neighborhood, Midtown Village, cuisine ranges from Japanese at the casually sleek Double Knot to classic Italian at Mercato — and, of course, legendary Philly cheesesteaks are easy to find.
Night owls will find myriad offerings for dancing and socializing — including Woody’s, one of the city’s longest-running gay dance clubs, and Voyeur, an after-hours hot spot that attracts DJs from around the country. Top LGBTQ events include qFLIX Philadelphia, showcasing the work of international filmmakers every March, and PrideDay, the lively pride parade and festival in June.
Unique boutique-style properties are among the city’s newest upscale hotel offerings. At the Lokal, for example, guests use automated check-in services and iPads to order services, while the Hotel at Wm. Mulherin’s Sons sits atop a fine-dining venue of the same name. Visitors craving large-scale luxury, meanwhile, can reserve a room at The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia; The Rittenhouse (a member of the Leading Hotels of the World); or the Philadelphia Marriott, among others.