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When it comes to enjoying a bit of urban Northeast culture with your fall foliage, Philadelphia is the nearer neighbor with plenty on offer – and a red-carpet welcome for LGBT visitors.
Philadelphia is very proud of its gay community and is not afraid to let you know. As a matter of fact, the city has invested millions of dollars to promote the city of brotherly love (and sisterly affection) as a welcoming destination for LGBT travelers. And it's working.
According to research by Community Marketing, which specializes in gay tourism, Philadelphia now ranks as one of the Top 10 destinations in the U.S. for LGBT travelers.
''The more gays and lesbians learn about Philly, the more they want to come and experience everything we have to offer,'' says Bruce Yelk, director of public relations for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation. Yelk and fellow tourism officials are hoping they can maintain that momentum with the launch of a campaign that focuses on promoting the city's vast visual-arts offerings. This new ''With Art'' effort coincides with the recent opening of the Barnes Foundation's Philadelphia campus.
In May, Barnes moved its famed collections of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings and African sculpture into a new and architecturally stunning building on the grand Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Its next-door neighbor is the recently refreshed Rodin Museum, home to the largest collection of the artist's work in the U.S.
Just a short distance up the parkway is the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the third-largest art museum in the country. Behind the PMA is a one-acre public garden that houses an ever-changing selection of sculpture. A general admission ticket for the iconic museum is good for two consecutive days and also includes admission to the Rodin Museum as well as PMA's Perelman Building.
Other major arts attractions include the city's public murals, located at more than 3,000 locations around the city, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the nation's oldest museum and arts-teaching institution.
This fall, Philadelphia will also host a series of public light displays, including illuminating the Benjamin Franklin Parkway with 24 robotic searchlights controlled by interactive mobile technology.
The only question left is plane, train or automobile – or bus? Those living by Dulles might find cheaper fares to New York than those trying to get there from BWI or Ronald Reagan National Airport. Add in airport parking, however, and the price goes up. Amtrak, courting LGBT travelers, is incredibly convenient all along the D.C. to Philadelphia to New York City route, but it can get pricy, particularly if the Acela Express enters the equation. For a real bargain, the burgeoning number of buses plying the corridor offer options. Those in the know recommend the gay-owned DC2NY and Bolt Bus as the nicest rides to New York. But for buses between D.C. and Philly, riders will need to go with other lines, such as Mega Bus or New Century.