Philadelphia, the nation’s fourth largest city, feels vibrant, its walls covered in more than 3,500 murals, its narrow streets buzzing with excitement—and traffic. Streets can be packed with nightlife at two in the morning, but it feels rather like a carnival than an annoyance.
Despite the traffic, bicycles abound in lesbian Philadelphia. The Indego system—a bike share like Chicago’s Divvy—only costs $4 per half-hour ride. As long as you accept that the streets only have numbers sometimes, the grid system is easy to follow, and in the corners of the city you’ll find charming squares with sculptures, trees and benches. Staying in a Kimpton Hotel means you get free bike rental, though, as long as you return by sundown. The Hotel Palomar, in the middle of Center City, has a funky rock ‘n’ roll groove to it and personable, helpful staff who might offer you champagne at check-in.
When thinking about lesbian Philadelphia, art is not the first thing that comes to mind. Yet within a half-mile of each other exist the Philadelphia Museum of Art, home of the picturesque rocky steps, its smaller offshoot the Rodin Museum, and the Barnes Foundation. The Rodin Museum is a beautiful small repository of the sculptor’s works, including The Gates of Hell, one of his masterpieces.
The Barnes Foundation, a treasure trove of impressionism, is notable for staying true to its collector’s vision, despite a controversial move from the outskirts of town to the city itself—and for its utter lack of signage. Instead, visitors absorb the art with sly hints Barnes installed by the work, metal objects like keys and ladles indicating fundamental shapes in the painting below. It’s an unusual and ultimately incredibly rewarding way to view these priceless works, and is a must-see experience for an art lover.