Fall is a great time to travel. Does summer seem a distant memory? Here are two travel ideas both close and far. Bottom line: Keep traveling!
Welcome to the neighborhood
Philadelphia Hotel Monaco, a Kimpton Hotel, opened this month in Historic Philadelphia. This is the closest hotel to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. In fact, guests are just steps away from where Betsy Ross could have sewed the rainbow flag. (That is, if you believe the Greater Philadelphia Tourism and Marketing Corporation advertisements for the now-legendary Philadelphia “Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay®” campaign.) Located at Fifth and Market streets, the luxury hotel is in the iconic Lafayette Building built in 1907 and named in honor of war hero, General Marquis de Lafayette.
The well-known LGBT-friendly hotel is super close to the Pennsylvania historical marker commemorating the Annual Reminders, organized from 1964-69. Also in the neighborhood, besides Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, are the National Museum of American Jewish History, the National Constitution Center and the fabulous programs of Historic Philadelphia Inc.
For opening deals, visit www.monaco-philadelphia.com.
Welcome, Converge Orlando
Orlando has organized its first LGBT convention and visitors bureau, called Converge Orlando. It is dedicated to promoting Orlando, Fla., as a year-round destination for LGBT travelers. As part of the organization’s mission, Converge Orlando hosted a press trip to the theme-park-dominated resort destination, which is preparing to bid on the Gay Games 2018.
Orlando is solidly known as a family destination and Gay Days Orlando has become among the biggest — if not the number-one — annual LGBT event in the country.But is it a year-round destination for our community?
Everything always starts with the locals. According to organizers of the press trip, Orlando is home to a large international LGBT population base — many of whom work in the hospitality industry. (Read: Orlando is a gay magnet for those in the service and hospitality industries. Throw in all the creative geniuses needed to entertain straight America — well, Orlando is gayer than you might think year-round.)
After you have had enough of SeaWorld, Epcot and Universal, it’s time to get your gay on in downtown Orlando — where the local gays convene. Hamburger Mary’s is a downtown Orlando staple. Weekends draw a crowd for live entertainment. There is the Parliament House and Revolution Nightclub and many other nightlife options for both lesbians and gay men. It is best to pick up the local LGBT publication for up-to-the-minute listings of weekly events and happenings.
Here are some great insider tips for your next visit to Orlando:
Stay at the Holiday Inn Lake Buena Vista resort, located right on Disney property. It is a value property with all the accessibility of the higher-priced luxury properties. Shuttles take you to Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld and shopping at the outlets. With so much to do outside of the hotel, you need to get out of the room, but you will be very happy when you get back. This hotel, which is often host to LGBT events, is close to all of the nightlife options at Downtown Disney.
There are many hotels to choose from downtown, including the DoubleTree by Hilton Downtown Orlando. Well, who could resist a cookie at check-in? Another great perk about this hotel is its location. The Orlando airport is far from the theme parks — almost a 60-minute ride— but this hotel gets you closer to your Orlando departure.
Jeff Guaracino is the author of “Gay and Lesbian Tourism: The Essential Guide for Marketing.” He is also the vice-chair of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association.