People always seem to want to be somewhere else. Vacations or getaways usually mean somewhere at least 50 miles or more away from home. But when you live in one of America’s top tourist destinations (and getting better all the time), it’s time to play tourist within your own daily commute.
At the (same-sex) wedding of a friend at The Prime Rib this month, the dinner conversation among the guests was about how exciting it was to play tourist in Philadelphia. From the suburban New Jersey gay power couple to the New Hope boys to the Center City urban professionals, the conversation swirled around topics from the Barnes Foundation to Rittenhouse Square to “When was the last time we partied until 2 a.m. and home was our hotel a few blocks away?”’ Here are my top ways to play tourist close to where you live (no airfare required).
Book a hotel!
Nothing says travel more than room service, housekeeping, bellmen and a new view outside a new window. Check right in and book a package!
Try the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package™. No reason not to stay in a hotel. Come on. The weekend is just a short 48 hours. Make the most of it with a two-night stay for any two consecutive nights of the week at 20 hotels and get free hotel parking (up to a $100 value at Center City hotels). Pick Monday, Hump Day or even Friday. Being a tourist in your own hometown means you can check in even before you check out of work.
Revisit an old favorite in a great location. The Radisson Blu Warwick hotel, near Rittenhouse Square, has undergone a dramatic renovation — fom old-school Philly to modern European fun. Finally, a hip renovation with a great European brand name has arrived in Philly. The Radison Blu Warwick has several hotel packages to choose from, but among my favorite aspects of the hotel is the live music at the Prime Rib restaurant downstairs. It’s a deal.
Do something new!
We love the Philadelphia Museum of Art but now it is even more fabulous. More than 80 fully accessorized ensembles by American-born, Paris-based designer Patrick Kelly are on display at the museum. “Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love” shows how Kelly, who created looks for such celebrities as Grace Jones and Bette Davis, challenged racial and cultural boundaries to become the fashion darling of the New York City and Paris club scenes.
Check out the newest museum in “America’s Most Historic Square Mile,” the National Museum of American Jewish History. Located near the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, check out “Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming American.” (Insider’s tip: You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy the museum but Barbra Streisand did open the museum, if that helps!) This newest exhibit traces how America’s favorite pastime helped Jewish and other immigrant groups embrace the culture and lifestyle of their new homeland.
Do something gay!
The 11th Annual Boys of Summer Party is now a full weekend of events and it returns to Philadelphia on Aug. 1-3. This year, 40 “lifeguards” will be on hand to watch over the crowd at the beach-themed party. The pool party is Aug. 1 at North Shore Beach Club, or catch the music of DJ Carl Michaels at the Aug. 2 daytime block party on Camac Street, or the Boys of Summer Main Event that night at Voyeur Nightclub.
“The Book of Mormon” is a religious satire musical that tells the story of two young Mormon missionaries sent to a remote village in northern Uganda, where a brutal warlord is threatening the local population. Naïve and optimistic, the two missionaries try to share the Book of Mormon, one of their scriptures — which only one of them has read — but have trouble connecting with the locals, who are more worried about war, famine, poverty and AIDS than about religion. (Get a drink before and after at one of the great places on Walnut Street or The Bike Stop). n
Jeff Guaracino is the author of “Gay and Lesbian Tourism: The Essential Guide for Marketing.”