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Guide To Philadelphia's Gayborhood

Philadelphia was founded on the principles of freedom and equality, and that is evidenced by the city's rich gay culture. In fact, Philadelphia was the site of some of the nation's first gay rights protests in the 1960's. The city even coined the phrase, "Get your history straight and your nightlife gay" to attract LGBT tourists.

Philadelphia's "Gayborhood" is located near Washington Square, from Chestnut to Pine Streets between 11th and Broad Street. Gay life and nightlife are centered in this area due to a large concentration of gay- and lesbian-friendly businesses, restaurants and bars. In 2007, the city of Philadelphia officially recognized the area, adding 36 gay pride rainbow flag symbols and street signs throughout the Gayborhood.

KYW's Melony Roy sat down with Bruce Yelk, of Nightlife Gay blog and the creator of Mr. Gay Philadelphia and the Pink Pub Crawl, to discuss the history and the happenings of the Gayborhood.

Listen to Melony Roy's interview with Bruce Yelk...

Bars & Lounges:

202 S 13th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

A trip to the gayborhood would not be complete without a stop at Woody's—just look for the red door. Woody's has been a neighborhood landmark since the 1980s, as well as a Mecca for gay men and their friends. You can find a mix of gay culture in all ages, shapes, and types any night of the week.

Sisters Restaurant & Nightclub
1320 Chancellor St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Sisters offers three bars over three floors with a variety of entertainment including karaoke, DJs, live bands and theme parties. The music ranges from pop and hip-hop to country and house. Dinner is served from 5 – 10 p.m., with a bar menu until midnight and a Sunday breakfast buffet.

Tavern on Camac
243 South Camac Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Tavern on Camac is one of the oldest gay and lesbian establishments in the country. Open daily from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., Tavern boasts three floors of entertainment, including a new American restaurant, a piano bar with live music, an open mic spot and dance floor. The tavern's varied ambiance makes it a perfect date spot or place to meet a friendly Philadelphian.

254 S. 12th St. (Between Locust & Spruce)
Philadelphia, PA 19107

ICandy offers a unique nightlife experience and three floors spilling over with gay men on every night of the week. Frat House Fridays and Skin Saturdays generate a large crowd on the weekends. There is also happy hour Monday through Friday from 5 – 7 p.m. and a Sunday brunch.

The Bike Stop
206 South Quince Street
Philadelphia, PA

For 28 years, The Bike Stop has been the home of the leather gay and lesbians. Four floors offer something for everyone. On The Bike Stop (the first floor) is the main bar; the Short Stop (2nd floor) is Philly's oldest gay sports bar, complete with big screen TVs and 50-cent pool games. The Pit Stop (the 3rd floor), also known as the "dark side," is a low-light bar scene where fetish attire is welcomed, and the Top of the Stop (the 4th floor) is only open for special events, parties, DJs or Kinky Karnivals. The Pit stop is only open Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

1220 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Uncle's is the gay bar where everybody knows your name. This cash-only dive caters to a slightly older crowd. They do not serve food, and the beer selection is limited since they don't have a tap. The low-key and intimate atmosphere is accentuated by the 80's hits, jazz standards, and 60's love ballads emanating from the juke box.

Tabu Sports Bar
200 South 12th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Straight and gay sports fans unite at Tabu Sports Bar and Lounge. The friendly staff serves a variety of craft beers like Golden Monkey, Blue Moon, Sunset Wheat, Brooklyn Pumpkin Ale and Stella. Along with game day specials, sports fans can enjoy Taco Tuesdays, Wednesday Night Wings, and Sunday Funday (with 90 oz. beer towers!). There is also a cocktail menu for each major sports team, and happy hour is held seven days a week.

225 South 12th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Knock is an upscale gay bar and restaurant. The oblong wooden bar attracts a more professional crowd. Knock serves up lunch, dinner and brunch on Sundays. It's a great place for drinks and atmosphere both inside and out. Knock is owned by Former Woody's owner and founder, Bill Wood.

The Westbury
261 South 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

The Westbury is a low-key yet fun spot with a wide beer selection. You can either sit at the large oval bar or in a cozy booth, where you're free to watch the game on one of the many flat screens or listen to a variety of tunes from the digital juke box.

Venture Inn
255 South Camac Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

If you venture down a small back alley, you'll find the Venture Inn, an award-winning gay bar and restaurant. The bartenders are friendly, and the drinks are reasonably priced with daily specials. It's a small dive bar where you can play tabletop bowling or pinball and camp out for the night while drinking cheap PRB and Miller Light.

Shopping & Style:

Giovanni's Room
325 South 12th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Founded in 1973, Giovanni's Room is the oldest gay and lesbian bookstore in the United States. The expert staff is extremely knowledgeable about the 7000 titles on the store's shelves and over 46,000 within its database. A full range of gay and lesbian literature is housed in two buildings—one is a trinity from the 1820s, and the other is a mom-and-pop shop and house from the 1880s.

Matthew Izzo
111 S 12th Street
Philadelphia PA 19107

Matthew Izzo is a designer, boutique owner and NYC transplant. His hip boutique offers everything from funky jewelry and both women's and men's apparel to furniture and home goods. Store Hours are Monday – Saturday from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Sunday 12 – 5 p.m.

12th Street Gym
204 South 12th Street
Philadelphia PA 19107

12th Street Gym has been in business for over 25 years. There are seven separate rooms filled with equipment, including a super cardio theater. Over 60 group classes--including yoga, spinning and Pilates--are offered, along with a pool, sauna, steam room and a tanning salon.


Charlie Salon
203 South 12th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Salon K
1216 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 545-1880
No website

André Richards
1218 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Cut Hair Salon
204 South 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Salon Ricochet
104 South 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 545-3970

1324 Locust Street
Lower Level
Philadelphia, PA 19107


Alexander Inn
301 South 12th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

The Alexander Inn is a historical building originally built in 1901. It was later gutted, renovated and reopened as the Alexander Inn in 1932 and is now a seven story boutique hotel with 48 deco-style rooms.

The Independent Hotel
1234 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

The Independent Hotel is a small boutique hotel with 24 bedrooms situated inside a fully restored Georgian revival building. Guests are greeted by a 30 foot mural hanging in the lobby. The Independent is conveniently located to restaurants and major sites.


Using Public Transportation

The Gayborhood is located in the heart of Center City; just four blocks south of City Hall, it's very convenient to get to using public transportation. If you are within Philadelphia, SEPTA trains and buses stop close to or within the Gayborhood. If you're coming from South Jersey, PATCO stops at 12th, 13th and Locust Streets. And if you are in the Pennsylvania suburbs, both Market Street East and Suburban Stations are only a few short blocks away.

By Car

The Gayborhood is easily accessible from all of the area interstates:
Take I-676 (the Vine Street Expressway) and exit at the Broad Street exit. Follow 15th Street (the street the exit actually puts you on) directly to City Hall on your left (about 6 blocks down between JFK Boulevard and Chestnut Street), a grand stone building with a bright yellow clock in the clock tower. Follow the traffic around City Hall and make a right at the second traffic light onto Market Street. At the second traffic light, make a right onto 12th Street (just past the Loews Hotel). Follow 12th Street (marked on map above as #4) three traffic lights to Walnut Street and you are on there!


Off-street parking is available throughout the Gayborhood:
- At the corner of 12th & Walnut
- On 12th Street across from the 12th Street Gym
- On 11th Street between Pine & Spruce Streets
- On Juniper Street across from Sisters and Key West
- At the corner of 13th and Locust across from Bump, 2-4 Club and Woody's
If you find a spot on the street, take it! Just be careful on 13th Street--parking there is restricted after 9 p.m.

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