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January 2010 Email this to a friend


By Staff reports

Nobiz, Philadelphia

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NOTE: This is an archive article. For an updated and expanded Philadelphia article click DailyXtraTravel

If you think Philadelphia is all about history, think again. The forward-thinking city has the world's largest urban park, a great collection of public art, some of the country's most interesting architecture, and an unexpectedly varied restaurant scene.
Philadelphia's gay life is in the Center City area. Within a few blocks of Camac Street (once the heart of the red-light district) is a cluster of establishments bedecked with rainbow flags. You can walk to any of them in minutes.

Top experiences
Going to market. Reading Terminal Market (51 N 12th St) has mouth-watering baked goods, fresh flowers and foods from around the world.

Cruising the park. Fairmount Park, the nation's largest landscaped city park, has winding creeks, rustic trails, and some cruisy areas.

Uncovering history. Check out the book Gay and Lesbian Philadelphia by Thom Nickels, available at Giovanni's Room (345 S 12th St), Philly's gay bookstore.

Two comfortable hotels are at the center of the gay neighborhood.

Alexander Inn (304 S 12th; 877-253- 9466) Art-Deco flair, continental breakfast, fitness center, free email.

Uncles Upstairs Inn (1220 Locust; 215-546-6660) centrally located above their popular bar with continental breakfast, business facilities and discreet side entrance onto Camac St.

Bars & Clubs
12th Air Command (254 S 12th St) multi-level lounge, dance club, cafe, with go-go boys and open-air roof deck.

Bike Stop (206 S Quince) sports bar with dance floor. An everybody hangout, mostly men, from leather, fetish and bears to sports fans and drag queens.

Key West (207 S Juniper) mixed men / women multi-level club. Four bars include sports bar, dance club, and sky lounge. Karoake Tuesdays, male strippers Wednesdays through Fridays.

Q (1234 Locust) bar and restaurant with chic and fashionable set, tranquil inside and outdoor garden bars. Sunday bruch packs the place, and dinners will please both meat-lovers and vegetarians.

Shampoo (417 N 8th) warehouse-sized dance club with mixed crowd but gayest on Fridays for 21-plus. Gothic Wednesdays are 21-plus. Seventeen-plus Sunday Hip Hop nights with house dancers. Occasional Saturday teen nights ages 14-18-only.

Sisters (1320 Chancellor) women's club with Sunday brunch buffet that's popular with everyone.

Stir (1705 Chancellor) mostly women's cocktail lounge in Rittenhouse Square, Saturday night dancing, monthly Sunday tea dance.

Tavern on Camac (243 S Camac) every night piano bar sing-alongs, basement restaurant, upstairs Ascend Lounge open nightly with DJ/VJ dancing and Sunday showtunes.

Uncles (1220 Locust, at Camac corner) New Orleans-style bar, open to overlook Locust Street beneath their guesthouse. A relaxed place to see and be seen.

Varga Bar (10th & Spruce St) bar and restaurant with lunch, supper and late night service.

Venture Inn (255 S Camac) neighborhood tavern and restaurant, local institution in a quiet location with a welcoming crowd of regulars.

Voyeur (1221 St James) the former Pure, is a seven-day after-hours dance club with three floors of music from the hottest DJs around.

Westbury Bar and Restaurant (261 S 13th) neighborhood pub and place to eat hearty, a longtime favorite with truly friendly staff.

Woody's (202 S 13th) complex of bars, cafe, disco with guest Dj. House music parties draw a diverse crowd.


Knock Restaurant and Bar (225 S 12th) has classic gay style and ambience, serving lunch 11am to 3pm daily, and Sunday brunch. Tasty dinners 5-10pm (9 on Sunday) and late-night menu too. Generous cocktails daily until 2am; extensive wine list.

Mixto (1141-43 Pine) zesty combination of Cuban, Colombian and Caribbean flavors and styles; breakfast, lunch and dinner, full bar, extensive wine list, wood and brick decor.

Mi Lah Vegetarian (218 S 16th St) world- fusion cuisine, vegetarian/vegan lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.

Positano Coast (212 Walnut St, fl-2), a bit of Amalfi Coast in the Old City. Five course meals, creative variations of classic Italian dishes, a special emphasis on fresh seafood ingredients. Small sampling plates, warm-weather al fresco dining, and comfortable lounge.

Tavern on Camac (243 S Camac) modern intimate cozy restaurant in cool stone-wall basement, serving New American cuisine, and fine wines. Wide selection of starters, and entrees to tempt and satisfy. Central location below one of gay Philly's best-loved piano bars and dance clubs.

Valanni Restaurant and Lounge (1229 Spruce) bright open decor, "Medi-Latin" cuisine, seating indoors and out for dinner and brunch. Happy hours Monday through Friday with half-price tapas and speciality cocktails.

Venture Inn (255 S Camac) local favorite with inexpensive Continental food and special menus for holidays. Relaxed vibe in an attractive setting and live entertainment on occasions.

Westbury Bar and Restaurant (261 S 13th) home cooking with a gourmet touch for Saturday and Sunday brunch (11am to 3pm). All-day burgers, nachos, quesadillas, salads and sandwiches; big selection of beers.

Woody's (202 S 13th) cozy cafe to escape from disco crowd with soups, salads, wraps, burgers and hoagies, plus Sunday brunch until 4pm.

Click HERE for more restaurants in the downtown Gayborhood and the South Street District.

Saunas & adult shops

Adonis Cinema (2026 Sansom) video mini-theater screens old porn favorites and latest releases. DVD retail sales too.

Club Body Center II (1220 Chancellor) steam room, dry sauna, gym and workouts on five floors, over 50 private rooms, plenty of fun, fantasy, and frolic. Also snack bar and TV lounge, sun deck, in-and-out privileges.

Danny's (133 S 13th St) private booths, big magazine and video selection, rubber and leather goodies.

Samson Cinema (120 S 13th St) all- male movie house with maze of nooks to play in, basement bookstore for magazines, videos, adult novelties.

Sansom Street Gym (2020 Sansom) male play space open 24/7, with maze, slings, deluxe rooms, outdoor deck, exotic dancers, special parties.

Shopping & services

12th Street Gym (204 S 12th St) popular with locals, great place to acquire the body beautiful. Full gym facilities, personal trainers, basketball, indoor pool, tanning, one month to three year memberships.

Giovanni's Room (345 S 12th St) world- class gay bookstore, well worth going out of your way for, with queer literature, rare items, music, posters, calendars and posters. Shop mail-order online and get help with hard-to-find out of print books.

Matthew Izzo (1109 Walnut St) fashions for men and women, home furnishings and accessories.

Phag (1225 Walnut St) has disriminating taste in art, trinkets, home and garden decor. Open daily until 8pm (Sunday 6pm), with an online store too.

The Philadelphia Film Society presents the annual Philadelphia Film Festival, as well as three year-round screening series, sneak preview screenings, and other local film events. A Spring Preview takes place April 9-11, 2010 at the Prince Music Theater (1412 Chestnut St).

Spruce Street DVD & Video (252 South 12th St) independently owned video store with thousands of gay titles for rent and sale; general, cult classics to porn.

TLA Video (1520 Locust & 517 S 4th) top-notch distribution, retail and rentals, hip, foreign, cult, music, camp, alternative, and gay movies. Four informative websites, one exclusively for gay men, wide assortments, under $10 specials.

Getting here

From Philadelphia International Airport, a taxi to the city center costs around $30. The SEPTA regional rail service's R1 Airport Line connects you to the downtown 30th Street Station for $7.

If you're arriving by rail, the Amtrak trains pull into the 30th Street station.

Getting around
A travel pass for SEPTA buses, trollys and subways within the city costs $6 a day, or $20.75 per week. Otherwise it costs $2 per single trip, (or $1.45 with discount tokens). See details, purchase locations or buy online at Septa.org.
Cruising Spots

Judy Garland Park (end of Spruce, at 25th St) gay pursuits here and behind nearby railroad tracks, at your own risk.

Getting online

Surfing the internet in Philadelphia is free and easy in many public areas, including Love Park, Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Reading Terminal Market and the Convention Center.

Local media

Philadelphia City Paper, the city's alternative weekly, has a rundown of arts and events. Philadelphia Gay News is an award-winning regional gay newspaper with plenty of listings.

Event planner

Philly Black Pride
Anual events include the Mr & Miss Philadelphia Black Gay Pride Pageant,
Sunday April 18, 2010.

Parade begins at noon at 13th and Locust, ends at Penn's Landing
Sunday June 13, 2010

Celebrating 15 years, this is the largest LGBT film festival on the East Coast with over a hundred films, outdoor screenings, special guests and parties."
July 8-19, 2010

Gay neighborhood block party
Between Locust, Spruce, Camac and 12th and 13th Streets
Sunday, October 10, 2010

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