Philadelphia is incredible for many reasons: the culture and history, the food, the Eagles and much, much more. However, what many don’t know is that Philly is also home to a vibrant queer community full of bars, restaurants, and some of the best parties in the city. Center City’s Midtown Village is home to Philly’s Gayborhood (look for the rainbow street signs), but there’s no shortage of LGBTQ+ friendly goings on all across the city.
For all of the #DirtyComputers traveling to Philly this summer and beyond, this list has everything you’ll need to know and every place you need to be!
P.S. Many of these hot spots are near Hilton hotels; book a Long Weekend in Philly and you’ll have plenty of time to see the town–while you save up to 50% on your Sunday night stay!
Bars & Restaurants
Located on 12th Street between Walnut and Locust Streets, Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar is truly a place for everybody. Born from a need to have a sports bar that catered to the unique patrons of the Gayborhood, Tabu has become the true heart of the neighborhood. Sports fans can congregate in the first floor bar and watch the game, while party people can head to the upstairs bar and performance space for drag shows, performance art, burlesque, dance parties and so much more. With a variety of events, a delicious bar menu (including several options for tater tots), and affordable drinks, Tabu will quickly become your favorite spot for any night of the week.
Italian restaurant by day and electrifying club by night, Cibo Ristorante Italiano covers all bases. Stop by for dinner to enjoy an expansive menu of authentic Italian cuisines, or sample some of their ½ priced offerings during their happy hour. Dinners are always accompanied by live performances by Cibo’s staff, performing anything from live jazz music to Broadway standards. If you aren’t hungry, stop by after 10:30 p.m. when the restaurant transforms into Club Mousai, a club with a “NYC-Miami vibe.”
Boxers PHL is not your average sports bar. Philly’s edition of the national chain hosts everything from the televised sports games on their several flat screen TVs to Ru Paul’s Drag Race watch parties. Guests can expect anything from Quizzo Mondays (Philly’s favorite trivia game) and Texas Hold’em Tuesdays, to Cream, Boxer’s weekly dance party for Black & Latino LGBT. If you’re staying in Philly for a while, consider joining one of their many sports leagues, ranging from bowling to women’s touch football. The pizza menu is also to die for, as are the boys serving it.
Started by Frank Block in 1933 at the end of prohibition, Franky Bradley’s has become a premier hidden gem in the Philly gayborhood. Located at 13th and Chancellor Street, Franky Bradley’s can be a bit tricky to find but is definitely worth the effort. Aside from having some of the city’s best bar food (the Franky Fries are one of our favorites), Franky Bradley’s is known for fun, sexy and innovative performances. From Franky’s Foxes, the bar’s in-house monthly drag show, to quirky, nerd-themed burlesque shows, there is no shortage of upscale entertainment at the bar’s upstairs.
No trip to the Philly Gayborhood is complete without a visit to Tavern on Camac, the oldest gay piano bar in the country. This three-story establishment has something to offer for everyone. Start your journey on the basement floor with the Tavern restaurant which is employed by friendly staff and a delicious menu that changes seasonally. Next, spend some time on the second floor piano bar with a rotating schedule of pianists and performers (if you tip nicely, you can even sing at the piano). End at the Ascend Nightclub on the third floor, home of the weekly Gaybill drag show hosted by Philly’s own Cleo Phatra, dance parties hosted by DJ Brando Calrissian and Showtune Sundays.
Parties & Events
Celebrate National Coming Out Day here in Philly with OutFest, the world’s largest National Coming Out Day festival. Typically held on the first Sunday of October (this year’s falls on October 7, 2018), the massive block party spans over 10 blocks (pretty much the entire Gayborhood) and features everything from live music and performances to bar crawls. The event boasts over 150 vendor booths, food and drink stations and other special offerings from the local bars and restaurants.
PrideDay Philly is not your average parade. Attracting over 25,000 people to the Philadelphia area every year, the PrideDay LGBT Parade and Festival is one of the biggest events in the Philly Gayborhood. Starting at the heart of the neighborhood on Locust Street (between 12th and 13th Streets), the parade marches through the Gayborhood, Old City and ends with a huge party at Penn’s Landing. Can’t make the parade? No problem! The Friday before the parade is the Pride Kickoff party, where much like Outfest, the neighborhood transforms into an outdoor festival full of live music, food and drinks and more.
Fade and Juice are new, monthly events for LGBTQ women of color (Fade typically occurs in the Fall/Winter while Juice is a summer outdoor party). Completely organized by queer women of color organization Her Philly Moves, Fade and Juice fill the void of clubs/events/venues that cater to queer femmes and LGBTQ women of color in the Gayborhood/center city scene. Both are lively dance parties with rotating DJs, live performances and drink specials. Her Philly Moves also keeps a calendar of other queer girl goings on on their website
Who doesn’t love brunch? How about brunch with a side of drag? Every Saturday morning, Punch Line Philly in Fishtown hosts an all ages Drag Diva Brunch, hosted by Ru Paul’s Drag Race alum Mimi Imfurst.
Created by the COLOURS Organization, Philadelphia’s only LGBTQ health organization mostly serviced by and for people of color, Philadelphia Black Pride is the largest Pride celebration for LGBTQ people of color in Pennsylvania. The Philly Black Pride/Penn Relays Festival is an annual event happening in late April with a wide range of programs across the city that draws close to 5,000 people every year.
Back2Basics is one of queer Philly’s most beloved monthly dance parties, thrown every 2nd Saturday at locations throughout the city. Started by Stimulus Productions, an organization focused on lesbian focused queer events, Back2Basics is a fun night of good vibes, heavy bass and beautiful people.
Located on 13th and Spruce Streets, the William Way LGBT Community Center has been serving the queer Philly community for 43 years and counting. The Center hosts events, serves as a community organizer, rents its space to members of the community and occasionally functions as an art gallery. Constantly searching for new and inventive ways to engage and uplift LGBTQ Philadelphians, the William Way Community Center has solidified itself as a beloved queer Philly landmark.
The Sankofa House has become a hub of culture, diversity and community in the queer community here. Located in West Philly, the House engages the area with everything from house parties to book drives. They also host fundraisers and rent office space to community members. Trust us, you haven’t truly lived the queer Philly experience until you’ve been to one of their house parties.
For many LGBTQ Philadelphians, The Attic Youth Center was the first real safe space for them to truly just be themselves. Founded in 1993, The Attic has grown to one of the country’s largest organizations solely dedicated to serving LGBTQ youth. The Attic offers services like after-school programs, internship programs and mental health counseling and its reach doesn’t end there. Through The Byron Institute, The Attic offers intensive training programs for organizations looking to better serve queer youth in their own spaces.
Looking for something new while also donating to a good cause? Look no further than the Philly AIDS Thrift, located at 5th and Bainbridge Streets. Since 2005, the Thrift has been reselling gently used donations of everything from clothes and shoes to furniture and board games. Whether you’re looking to donate some old stuff or find some new treasures, Philly AIDS Thrift is the place to go. All proceeds from the store go to various charities focused on AIDS research and other support.
Now owned by Philly AIDS Thrift, Giovanni’s Room is the oldest LGBTQ and Feminist bookstore in the country. Founded in 1973, the store has doubled a whopping three times in its time on 12th and Pine Streets. With its maps, city guides and friendly, knowledgeable staff, Giovanni’s Room is a great first destination for queer visitors to the city. Aside from having the largest collection of LGBTQ literature, the store has served the community as the center of the modern LGBTQ civil rights movement, helping people with everything from refuge to gaining legal rights.