Philadelphia and the Countryside - Press Room

Releases: Expanded View

Sep 8 2016

Go Beyond The Gayborhood To Explore Philadelphia's Other Options For Nightlife, The Arts & Drag Shows

A Guide To LGBT-Centric Events & Venues All Over Philadelphia

It’s no secret that Philadelphia is one of the LGBT-friendliest cities in the country, but Philly pride extends past the rainbow flag-adorned Gayborhood. Neighborhoods throughout the city offer endless options for queer folks looking for a gay old time. Groups QOTA (Queers on the Avenue) and OUT in Fishtown welcome partygoers south and north of Center City, respectively, for monthly happy hours, food and fun. LGBT-owned hangouts Menagerie Coffee and The Victoria Freehouse satisfy cravings for caffeine, cocktails and culture in Historic Philadelphia. South Street’s iconic dive bar Bob and Barbara’s Lounge hosts the city’s longest-running drag show.

Here’s a look at some of the places and organizations where LGBT life thrives outside the Gayborhood:

Historic Philadelphia:
Art lovers fill Old City’s historic streets every first Friday of the month, when galleries open their doors for an after-hours peek at their latest exhibits. The occasion brings a festival-like air to the neighborhood, with street performers and vendors and festive sauntering among the bars.

  • FringeArts: Nary a week goes by when something gay isn’t happening at this spiffy performance space across the street from Race Street Pier. One of the newer options: John Jarboe’s cheekily named queer cabaret series, Get Pegged, held on select Fridays during the spring and fall arts seasons. 140 N. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 413-1318,
  • Mazeppa Productions: A favorite among local LGBT theatergoers, Mazeppa stages vibrant musical theater productions in a venue directly behind Historic Philadelphia’s Christ Church. Previous productions have included a colorful—and very gay—adaptation of Xanadu and irreverent puppet comedy Avenue Q.
  • Menagerie Coffee: Bold espresso drinks and a host of locally made treats are on the menu at this stylish, lesbian-owned cafe. The communal table in the back is an ideal spot to get in some laptop time or perhaps strike up a conversation with some fellow java drinkers. 18 S. 3rd Street,
  • The Victoria Freehouse: This gay-owned establishment brings contemporary British pub fare to Historic Philadelphia. On certain nights of the week, the dining room transforms into a stage for LGBT entertainment, including a weekly burlesque show from popular Gayborhood party producer Josh Schonewolf. 10 S. Front Street, (215) 543-6089,

Northern Liberties & Fishtown:
These two north of Old City neighborhoods have emerged as the spot for well-to-do transplants (Northern Liberties) and young creatives (Fishtown). Both offer a welcoming atmosphere to all.

  • Front Street Cafe: There’s a good reason OUT in Fishtown (below) hosted its inaugural event at New American dining spot Front Street Cafe. The attractive brick-and-wood-clad eatery hosts a variety of LGBT-friendly networking events throughout the year. 1253 N. Front Street, (215) 515-3073,
  • Mauckingbird Theatre Company: The focus of this theater troupe out of Northern Liberties is to bring LGBT storylines to stages around Philly. The ensemble performs both original work and all-gay adaptations of classics, such as Pirates of Penzance, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Importance of Being Earnest. (267) 385-6910,
  • OUT in Fishtown: This organization was created to provide Fishtown dwellers more LGBT party options in the neighborhood. Organizers host monthly events at nearby bars and team up with outside organizations to show off Fishtown’s proud rainbow spirit.
  • The Barbary: It’s not a gay bar, per se, but The Barbary has long been a go-to for locals itching for an edgier type of fun that’s hard to find in the Gayborhood. Weekend dance parties get particularly packed, with live bands and local DJs spinning tunes beneath a glittering disco ball. 951 Frankford Avenue

Next to shopping and dining out, the most loved pasttime in this well-kept corridor is people-watching, both at gleaming bistros like Parc and Rouge, along busy Walnut and Chestnut Streets and in lush Rittenhouse Square itself.

  • Barbara Gittings’ marker: A Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission marker honors the late, eminent civil rights activist outside the home Barbara Gittings shared with her photojournalist partner Kay Lahusen. A Philadelphia resident from age 18, Gittings is considered the mother of the LGBT rights movement. She edited the nation’s first lesbian magazine, co-organized the historic Annual Reminders and led charges to promote positive LGBT literature in public libraries and to change the American Psychiatric Association’s classification of homosexuality as a mental illness. 21st & Locust Streets,
  • Little Pete’s: Before it becomes a place of the past (it’s slated for eventual redevelopment), this unassuming 24-hour diner will host countless customers, including plenty of post-Stir partyers (see below) at its counters and booths for burgers, shakes, omelets and other meals that taste best at 3 a.m. Decades ago, the spot—then called Dewey’s—was the site of America’s first successful gay rights sit-in in 1963. 219 S. 17th Street, (215) 545-5508
  • stadler-Kahn: Shoppers descend a nondescript staircase off Sansom Street to enter this wonderland of covetable handmade accessories and unique vintage knickknacks. The underground shelter shop serves as a gallery space for local artists curated by out owner—and artist himself—Alex Stadler. 1724 Sansom Street, (267) 242-7154,
  • Stir: This is Philly’s only official gay bar located outside the Gayborhood—and it’s particularly popular with the lesbian crowd. The slick, compact interior gets particularly packed on Thursdays (a.k.a. Stirsdays) when well drinks and PBRs cost a mere dollar. 1705 Chancellor Street, (215) 732-2700,

East Passyunk Avenue:
South Philly’s restaurant- and bar-chocked corridor has developed such an LGBT presence, it’s earned the moniker the “Gayborhood South.” What this scene lacks in rainbow-clad street signs and buzzing nightclubs, it makes up for in low-key happy hours and charming gay-owned businesses.

  • Metro Men’s Clothing: Within coin-tossing distance of the Singing Fountain, this gay-owned boutique stocks its ground level with seasonal threads and accessories. Body-conscious shoppers head to the basement to browse an impressive collection of undies and sexy swimwear. 1600 E. Passyunk Avenue, (276) 324-5172,
  • Noord: Most nights of the week, out chef Joncarl Lachman can be found chatting with guests in the dining room of his bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) Dutch eatery in the heart of Passyunk. Regulars tote along gutsy reds to pair with hearty fare from the Netherlands with names like bitterballen, uitsmijters and broodjes haring. 1046 Tasker Street, (267) 909-9704,
  • QOTA (Queers on the Avenue): LGBTers head south for this well-attended happy hour, held each month at a different business along Passyunk Avenue. Most QOTA parties offer cocktails, light bites from local eateries—and some of the best mingling in town. (215) 336-1455,
  • The Dolphin Tavern: This hip Broad Street dive is the closest thing to a gay bar South Philly has to offer—but it’s much too cool for such labels. Wednesday through Sunday, there’s an extensive craft beer menu and patrons busting moves on the glowing dance floor, which, on busier nights, is headed by rotating residents DJs. 1539 S. Broad Street, (215) 278-7950,

South Street:
There’s a lot of history on South Street, though visitors would never know it with all the young faces crowding in on weekends to check out its artsy bar scene. The best-known action takes place east of Broad Street—with one very notable nightlife exception.

  • Big Gay Ice Cream: The only non-New York location this rainbow-hued phenom has earned a loyal local following for its signature soft serve topped with dulce de leche, wasabi pea dust and more, available in clever combinations with names like “Salty Pimp” and “Bea Arthur.”
    1351 South Street (267) 886-8024,
  • Bob & Barbara’s Lounge: The beloved dive is home to the city’s longest-running drag show. Regulars know arrive early on Thursday nights for a spot at the bar and a view of host Miss Lisa and her rotating troupe of queens from Philly and beyond. 1509 South Street, (215) 545-4511,
  • L’Etage: Located above Creperie Beau Monde, a block south of South Street, this French-inspired second-story watering hole welcomes a variety of LGBT programming throughout the month, perhaps the most popular of which is the Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret. Every second Thursday, the towering drag queen puts on a concert of old and new cover hits. 624 S. 6th Street, (215) 592-0656,
  • Philly AIDS Thrift: Treasure upon treasure can be found at this expansive and quirky Queen Village thrift store, also about a block south of South Street. Shoppers here don’t just score bargains—they also leave with the satisfaction of having contributed to Philadelphia HIV/AIDS service organizations such as Action Wellness. The shop’s in-store HIV Testing Center offers free testing on weekends. 710 S. 5th Street, (215) 922-3186,

West Philly:
With sprawling Clark Park and tree-lined streets, this university- and residence-filled neighborhood can feel miles away from Center City. Lining colorful Baltimore Avenue are LGBT-friendly businesses, counterculture cafes and ethnic eateries that transform into nightclubs when the sun sets.

  • Dahlak Paradise: At night, this Ethiopian eatery hosts DJs and live bands playing for dancers of all persuasions. When it comes time for a break, the kitchen serves food until late night, and the backroom bar offers affordable cocktails and beer. 4708 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 726-6464,
  • The Bar(n) on Baltimore: There’s a friendly gay vibe at this funky corner watering hole. The bar is stocked with an impressive and inexpensive selection of beer and cocktails. On the entertainment front, there’s a jukebox that’s heavy on the heavy metal and a pool table. 4901 Catharine Street
  • The Gold Standard Café: Although this restaurant and cafe is no longer gay-owned, it continues to serve as a gathering space for the LGBT community. It also offers more than caffeine, serving some of the best people watching on Baltimore Avenue. Customers fill outside seats to enjoy beverages, plus homemade breakfast (and weekend brunch) through dinner. 4800 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 727-8247,

Moving Party:

  • OurNightOut: Delaware Valley Legacy Fund hosts a monthly networking soiree that turns venues across Philadelphia into LGBT hotspots for one night only. Past locations have included The Barnes Foundation, Morgan’s Pier and Loews Philadelphia Hotel, where young professionals show up by the hundreds to mix and mingle over drinks and light bites. Monthly,


VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy.

On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, and, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.

  • E-mail

Related Releases

Apr 7 2011

Backgrounder: Gay-friendly Philly

LGBT Visitors To Philadelphia Get Their History Straight, Their Nightlife Gay, Their Dining Delicious & Their Shopping Tax-Free

Philadelphia, which recently marked the 40th anniversary of its vibrant Gayborhood, continues to come out as one of the nation’s top travel destinations for gay and lesbian visitors. As reflected in its award-winning Philadelphia – Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay® campaign, the region has become the place to learn about America’s past by day and to experience a little of the party life by night. Philadelphia is now tied for the #9 spot on the list of most-visited gay and lesbian destinations on Community Marketing, Inc.’s annual LGBT Tourism Study, and it’s tied for #2 among

Mar 6 2018

What’s In The Neighborhood?

Bella Vista & Queen Village

Once considered working-class suburbs, the tree-lined South Philadelphia neighborhoods of Queen Village and Bella Vista have spent the past decade establishing themselves as some of the city’s most stable and vibrant places to live, work, dine and shop. Small, mostly historic townhouses and a mix of new and well-established businesses make up these side-by-side neighborhoods. Residents both new and old are passionate about maintaining pocket parks and patronizing independent merchants and restaurants. The districts’ busiest byways include the open-air South 9th Street Italian Market and the mini neighborhood of west-to-east-running South Street.

Directly south of Old City and Society

Feb 26 2018

Black-Owned Shops, Restaurants, Day Spas & More Boom In Philadelphia

Visitors To Philly Can Support Independent, Brick-And-Mortar African-American Businesses

Philadelphia is rich in Black culture, heritage and history. The tradition carries on in Philly’s array of Black-owned and -operated shops, restaurants, galleries and bars. Need some serious comics? Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse. A made-to-measure suit with Super Bowl cred? Damari Savile. Unforgettable cultural experience? West Philadelphia’s inimitable arts space, the Tiberino Museum. Have a long list of great people to gift shop for? Options for the perfect something abound. Here’s a traveler-tailored list of some of the city’s standout Black-owned businesses:


  • Black and Nobel – Hakim Hopkins, owner. This independently owned store, almost exactly where Broad Street
Feb 7 2018

What's In The Neighborhood?

Fishtown And The River Wards

Northeast of Center City, Philadelphia’s Fishtown, Kensington and Port Richmond—collectively known as the River Wards—are some of the city’s most rapidly changing neighborhoods. An influx of restaurants, bars, music venues, art galleries and residents are quickly transforming the makeup of these formerly working-class sections along the Delaware River.

Philadelphians have found new and innovative uses for Fishtown ever since William Penn made peace with the Lenape Indians in what’s now Penn Treaty Park. It’s the only place in the city where, in the same evening, someone can buy a custom-made guitar (DiPinto Guitars), drink craft beer while playing

Jan 23 2018

What's In The Neighborhood?


Beyond Philadelphia’s historic Friendship Arch at 10th and Arch Streets lives a thriving Asian neighborhood, settled in the mid-19th century by Cantonese immigrants. Stretching from Vine to Arch Streets between 9th and 12th Streets, Philly’s Chinatown is packed end-to-end with restaurants and stores that represent Hong Kong, Cantonese, Fujianese, Northern Sichuan and Taiwanese cultures, with a sprinkling of Korean, Thai, Malaysian, Burmese, Vietnamese and hipster thrown in for good measure. On any given day or night, Chinatown is active and authentic, popular for steaming platters of hand-stretched noodles, seasonal street festivals, a new food hall (

Dec 21 2017

What’s In The Neighborhood?

Washington Square West

Washington Square West is a historic Center City neighborhood named for a 17th-century park and including the vibrant enclaves of Midtown Village and the Gayborhood. Named “Southeast Square” in 1682, Washington Square originally served as a grazing pasture, potter’s field and gathering spot for early African-Americans—who dubbed the park “Congo Square”—on the edge of the original city of Philadelphia. Today, modern residences surround the park, now home to the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier, a sycamore moon tree and a steady stream of visitors. To Washington Square’s north are the 150 jewelry merchants of Jewelers’ Row.

Dec 20 2017

What's In The Neighborhood?

Avenue Of The Arts

Although technically South Broad Street, the center of Philadelphia’s performing arts district—stretching from City Hall to Lombard Street—has earned the moniker Avenue of the Arts. And for good reason. The energy is contagious as theatergoers, orchestra fans, opera lovers, dance aficionados and the artists and performers themselves spill onto the street to mix with the locals who live, work and dine on the storied thoroughfare.

The Avenue of the Arts is home to the striking Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, the legendary Academy of Music, The Wilma Theater, Merriam Theater, University of the Arts, Arts Bank and other cultural

Dec 5 2017

What's In The Neighborhood?

Fairmount & Spring Garden

Because of their proximity to the renowned arts and cultural institutions along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia’s Fairmount and Spring Garden neighborhoods are often referred to as the “Art Museum area.” But the personalities of these historic, laid-back, diverse communities are distinct in their own right.

Fairmount stands on its own as a destination in Philadelphia. The residential neighborhood is considered a sort of urban suburb, thanks to friendly residents and atmosphere. What’s a visitor to do here? Eat, drink and tour the former prison-turned-museum, Eastern State Penitentiary.

Wedged between the cultural powerhouses of the Parkway and better-known Fairmount, Spring

Oct 30 2017

An Essential Guide To Philadelphia For LGBT Visitors

Must-Dos Include Historic Sites, Popular Neighborhoods, Top Restaurants & Buzzed-About Bars

Philadelphia, the United States’ birthplace, is proud of the roles it has played—and plays still—in the founding, furtherance and celebration of the LGBT civil rights movement. The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection has more nationally significant historic markers than any other city in the nation, with two recent additions: the AIDS Library, formed as a resource during the peak period of the U.S. HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s, and a marker just outside the Pennsylvania Historical Society, home of the collection of John Fryer, a Temple University psychology professor who submitted testimony that aided in declassifying homosexuality as