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A weekend in Philadelphia’s gayborhood

traditional philadelphia

For years my friends have been trying to convince me to visit Philadelphia. So many of my college friends either moved out to Philly at one point, or went there for extended summers to create art and write music. It’s always been that place I knew I needed to visit, but seemed so inconsequential. So when I got a last minute invitation to visit with my friend Freddy, I jumped at the chance.

The city has always had a reputation for being a gay hotspot. Famously, last year their pride organization even released a new version of the pride flag that incorporated black and brown stripes to be more inclusive of other races part of the LGBTQ community. That kind of community spirit and openness is indicative of the kind of community that Philly is really trying to foster. And for one wild weekend in the gayborhood, I finally got a small taste.

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Philadelphia, just two hours from NYC on Amtrak, is easily accessible from here, but the city is also home to an international airport (one of American Airlines’ new hubs with flights as far away as Eastern Europe). The “city of brotherly love” seems to embrace love in all its forms and the gayborhood was better than I could’ve ever imagined.

Gay travel in Philadelphia

Philly’s population of about 1.5 million is comparable to many cities, but the gayborhood was significantly bigger than I’ve ever seen. I spotted gay and lesbian couples across town, but most of my weekend was spent in about a 5-block radius in and around the gayborhood (with the occasional excursion a little further for art and food because #culture).

Since 2017, the Philadelphia gayborhood has had a rainbow crosswalk and the streets of the neighborhood are all adorned with rainbow-colored street signs. It’s hard to miss.

At the heart of the area is Woody’s —a gay bar that’s expanded to two levels and multiple bars taking up almost an entire chunk of a single city block. Every friend I had who has ever passed through Philly told me to go to Woody’s, so naturally, my weekend started there.

Both my Friday and Saturday nights started at Woody’s. And while the crowd was mixed, it was a good introduction to the Philadelphia gay scene.

philadelphia rooftop sunset

Sunset over the Philadelphia skyline at the One Liberty Observation Deck

Throughout the weekend, I pretty much hit up as many of the gay bars as I could drink at, visiting some of my favorites repeatedly. Tavern on Camac was a cute, fun bar with a piano lounge on the ground floor and an upstairs dance club that was unpretentious and just a little slutty.

And each night as the bars started to shut down at 2am, the crowds (and myself) made our way to Voyeur Nightclub—a three-level dance club, open until just after 3am. A runway and stage sit at the center of the club, complete with disco balls hanging from the ceiling. Drag shows and themed parties make up the club’s calendar, though all I remember are a bunch of cute boys, pop music, vodka tonics, and losing my shirt in a sweaty dance-off.

gayborhood restaurant philadelphia

Inside Voyeur Nightclub (just before it got crowded)

Daylight in Philly’s gayborhood was a bit more tame, but in the lovely spring weather, there were still plenty of distractions. Located in the center of Philadelphia, the gayborhood is walking distance to a lot of the city’s best tourist attractions, including the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

Nearby in South Philly, along South Street, the Magic Gardens were especially trippy. A funky art gallery built out of a house and yard with colorful and eclectic mosaics set along mirrored pathways in a maze. The work, created by Isaiah Zagar, was weird and wonderful, and the perfect escape from reality.

See some photos from my Philly trip below and make sure to follow me on Instagram for more from my travels.

Note: My weekend visit was hosted by the official tourism organization, VisitPhilly.com, but all opinions here are my own.

Gay Philadelphia Weekend

Gay Philadelphia - Travels of Adam Blog

Springtime in Philadelphia

Philadelphia food - Jim's Cheesesteaks

Of course I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have an authentic Philly cheesesteak – at Jim’s Steaks

Philadelphia skyline

That skyline

Gay Philadelphia Blog

Up on a rooftop park in Philly

Cool Hipster Hotel in Philadelphia

At the Cambria Hotel

Philadelphia - LGBTQ-friendly hotel (gay hotel)

Spacious rooms at the Cambria Downtown Hotel in Philadelphia

gayborhood restaurant philadelphia

Stylish restaurant and bar in the Philadelphia gayborhood, Maison 208

Philadelphia ICA Museum - Queer art exhibit

Inside the Philadelphia ICA museum for a queer art exhibition: TAG, Proposals on Queer Play and the Way Forward http://icaphila.org/exhibitions/8899/tag-proposals-on-queer-play-and-the-ways-forward

Philadelphia ICA Museum - Queer art exhibit

Inside the Philadelphia ICA museum for a queer art exhibition

Philadelphia art gallery

Inside the Philadelphia Magic Gardens

Philadelphia - Travels of Adam

Inside the Philadelphia Magic Gardens

liberty bell philadelphia

The Liberty Bell, smaller than you’d think!

philadelphia - travels of adam

Springtime in Philadelphia

gay bar philadelphia

Out at the gay bar in Philadelphia

Philadelphia Gayborhood

Philadelphia’s gayborhood – way more colorful and vibrant than I expected!

Weekend in Philadelphia - Fishtown

Hanging out in Fishtown – home to Philadelphia’s many murals and street art

  1. Glad you discovered Philadelphia . It gets a bad rap from a lot of people , especially those of us here in New York City , but I love it more than New York . It’s very historical and I didn’t know that much about the gay scene there . I’m not gay but I’ll definitely check it out. The airport is one of the nicer ones. I fly out of there even though JFK is in my backyard . Philadelphia International airport has cheaper flights. I’m glad you got a cheeses teak from Jims, which is where the locals ho not Pat and Genos , which is where the tourists all go. Great post as usual Adam

    • Adam says:

      Thanks Jo Ann! Yeah, I was pleasantly surprised by Philly – can’t wait to return. And you’re right – the flights are often cheaper out of Philly and it seems like a relatively easy place to get to/from.

  2. imlil says:

    Hello Adam
    I liked the Article but what is the secret puting hand in your head all the time when you take pictures ?

  3. Great article – great review – such an amazing city! Truly, the City of Brotherly Love

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