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3 Must-See LGBT Neighborhoods on the East Coast
N. Santos / Visit Philadelphia
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  • States:
    New York

Year-round, the East Coast of the United States attracts gay, lesbian and transgender travelers to its entertaining and historic neighborhoods.

Bigger cities like New York and Philadelphia are busy centers of urban life, with fun destinations for LGBT travelers to explore day and night. Mellower Fort Lauderdale is an easy-going city where travelers can make new friends and absorb local culture. Here’s a snapshot of three vibrant, gay-friendly districts dotting the Atlantic coast.

Greenwich Village — New York City, New York

New York’s Greenwich Village and West Village, which basically function as a single downtown neighborhood, offer a LGBT traveler a variety of places to see and things to do. In 2016, the Village, as it’s commonly referred to, gained historic status when Stonewall Inn and Christopher Park became the newest U.S. National Monument and the first landmark to commemorate the LGBT civil-rights movement in the United States. Travelers can visit the monument and learn more about the birthplace of the modern LGBT rights movement in the U.S.

Take a stroll through this neighborhood’s charming, narrow streets where eclectic personalities have thrived for the past century. Piano bars like Marie’s Crisis and the Duplex, dance and drag clubs like The Monster and Pieces, vintage taverns like Julius, and lesbian bars Henrietta Hudson and Cubby Hole are all part of what makes this area fun every night of the week.

New York’s Greenwich Village is famous for its entertainment options, such as the piano bar Duplex.

New York’s Greenwich Village is famous for its entertainment options, such as the piano bar Duplex.
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Wilton Manors, Florida

Known for its many canals, Fort Lauderdale, Florida is nicknamed the “Venice of America.” Its next-door neighbor to the north, and just east of the sunny Atlantic beaches, is more than a gay-friendly neighborhood: Wilton Manors is a tiny town that functions as the area’s main LGBT hub. Along Wilton Avenue it’s impossible to miss the corridor of rainbow flags adorning shops, restaurants and other LGBT-owned businesses. Tourists and locals can socialize at casual bar Georgie’s Alibi, sip martinis or champagne at upscale Infinity Lounge or Naked Grape Wine & Tapas, or enjoy brunch on the patio at Rosie’s Bar & Grill.

For travelers seeking culture and education, Wilton Manors is also home to the small but well-curated World AIDS Museum, featuring the chronology of AIDS in the main gallery as well as two small art galleries. Afterward, visit the active community Pride Center at Equality Park, and the impressive Stonewall National Museum & Archives, only about three kilometers away in neighboring Fort Lauderdale, which hosts year-round LGBT art and history exhibits drawn from its amazing collections.

The Gayborhood — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

One of the first things you may notice about The Gayborhood — the name Philadelphia gave its gay neighborhood — are the rainbows adorning its street signs. The flags are part of the legacy of this longtime LGBT area, just a short walk from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, where some of the first gay civil-rights protests took place in the 1960s.

These days, the Gayborhood, which is also sometimes referred to as Midtown Village, is a hub of LGBT activity. There’s no shortage of bars and clubs, including the two-story U Bar, flirty hangouts Tabu and Woody’s, piano bar Tavern on Camac and dance club/drag venue ICandy, in this area of Philly. Between meals at delicious restaurants like Green Eggs Café and Valanni, browse wares at Giovanni’s Room, a LGBT bookstore that’s also an AIDS-fundraising thrift store.

Rainbow-colored flags line the streets of Philadelphia’s Gayborhood with pride.

Rainbow-colored flags line the streets of Philadelphia’s Gayborhood with pride.
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Adam Miller / Flickr