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Pride Journeys: Kansas City

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Union Station in Kansas City with they skyline of downtown in the background. Photo credit: Linanster / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The only things I knew about Kansas City prior to visiting, were the tales of legendary BBQ and the Chiefs. I went with an open mind and little expectations. The city has been generating a lot of positive buzz as of late, so I thought I’d see what all the talk was about. I found the city to be on the cusp of a breakthrough so to speak. A sleeping dragon ready for its day in the sun. The next “It City” – Nashville being the current “It City” and where I reside.

For starters, Kansas City airport is literally the smallest international airport I’ve ever been to. But that will all change in the next few years as it undergoes a major transformation. Icelandair just began flying direct routes to its capital city of Reykjavik and other routes are being added regularly.

The 21c Museum Hotel served as my home for the weekend. The small chain is known for embracing the LGBT community and is located in cities that aren’t always known for being LGBT-friendly destinations (Des Moines, Lexington, Fayetteville, among others), so staying here is always a safe and comfortable option. This particular property is located in the historic Savoy Hotel in downtown Kansas City. The hotel opened this summer and is led by a welcoming, knowledgeable, and quite attractive staff. The one downside of the property is the fitness center, which is has serious acoustic problems. Furthermore, the free weights are located in a dark corner of the gym, a problem that can easily be fixed but is a bit uncomfortable currently.

The historic Savoy Hotel and Grill building has been transformed into 21c Kansas City — museum, boutique hotel, and chef-driven restaurant, nestled between the Power & Light district and River Market in downtown Kansas City. Photo credit: 21c Museum Hotel Kansas City / Facebook

Having arrived a bit later in the day, I decided to stay on property for dinner. The hotel’s restaurant, The Savoy, doesn’t serve your standard hotel fare. I began my meal with a delicious steak tartare, followed by the fish of the day, which was cooked to perfection. The most exciting part of the meal however, was the Baked Alaska. I have not seen that item on a menu outside of a cruise ship and even though I tend to skip dessert, I felt the need to give it a try. I’m glad I did. It was absolutely delicious. I even convinced the table adjacent to me to order some. The only thing it was missing was the tableside flambé.

Once the oldest restaurant west of the Mississippi, The Savoy at 21c new contemporary and light-filled dining room is adjacent to the historic bar and lounge. Photo credit: 21c Museum Hotel Kansas City / Facebook

The next morning, I began my tour of Kansas City with a brief visit to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. As I was approaching the building, I thought to myself how similar it looked to the Sydney Opera House, and sure enough, it was designed by the same architect. The Kauffman Center is one of the most technically advanced performing arts centers in the nation, with each of its two major concert halls designed to be acoustically perfect. The halls share a common area which the designer hoped would serve as a space where people attend different shows can comingle.

The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, an architectural icon and home for the performing arts in Kansas City. Photo credit: Hayden Gascoigne / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

A short drive away is the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, which houses more than 35,000 works of art. The building itself is quite impressive and architecturally, it reminded me of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Recently, the Nelson opened the American Indian galleries, which are the largest collection devoted to this category of art in the world. Another wonderful component of the museum is the outdoor Sculpture Park which contains more than 30 sculptures. Watch out for the sprinklers though. My guide and I received a complimentary shower while walking through the park, but it was welcomed given the intense heat of the summer.

The Nelson-Atkins is a comprehensive art museum with works of art dating from ancient to contemporary. Photo credit: Americasroof / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

All of this culture got me hungry, so I heard about a fairly new establishment that served up great BBQ called Char Bar. The majority of the meal didn’t blow me away; I found it on par with BBQ I can find locally in Nashville, but the one standout, and something that Kansas City is known for are burnt ends. I almost didn’t order them, but my dining companion convinced me to order a side potion. I still salivate when I think of them. Burnt ends may be the best BBQ item I’ve ever had…ever. Yes, they are that good. If you ever visit Kansas City, burnt ends are a must!

Char Bar serves up Kansas City-style BBQ in a southern-inspired smokehouse that serves as playground where carnivores, herbivores and locavores can co-mingle peacefully. Photo credit: Char Bar / Facebook

Spend some time in the Crossroads Arts District, consisting of fine art galleries, cute clothing boutiques and old historic buildings before heading out to Bistro 303, the gay bar where Kansas City’s LGBT community “begins” their evening. I don’t party as much as I used to, so I decided to begin and end my evening at 303. The laid-back establishment offers a nice cross-section of the city’s community and serves inexpensive, but well-poured cocktails. Within minutes of sitting at the bar, I was involved in a friendly conversation with some of the locals, who told me about Missie B’s, the popular drag bar in the city. Apparently, it’s the place everyone goes to after Bistro 303. I’ll have to find out for myself next time I visit.

Bistro 303 is a gay little bistro and bar featuring a French-bistro-inspired menu, accompanied by craft cocktails and relaxing wine in a fun and comfortable atmosphere. Photo credit: Bistro 303

If partying isn’t your cup of whiskey, wake up early the next morning and head to River Market for breakfast. In operation since 1857, the market is the largest farmers’ market in the region and consists of over 140 vendors. It was nice to grab a cup of coffee and freshly baked muffin and watch the bustling crowd begin their day.

Kansas City is home to the National World War I Museum and Memorial. The moving memorial provides a first-hand look into the war. I would suggest jumping on a guided tour of the museum as the volunteers are extremely knowledgeable about not only the war, but the museum itself. Soon after the war ended, Kansas City leaders formed the Liberty Memorial Association to create the memorial in honor of the men and women who had served in the war. If you have the chance, journey to the top of the 217-foot tower for unobstructed views of the city but be prepared to wait in line for a while.

Aerial photo of the National WWI Museum and Memorial with the Kansas City skyline. Photo credit: National WWI Museum / Wikimedia

Those looking for a unique experience should head to SD Strong Distilling. Located in Parkville, Missouri, it is the world’s only known distillery in a cave. I was lucky enough to get a tour and tasting of the distillery located 65-feet underground.

For dinner, head over to Café Trio, an upscale, gay-owned restaurant which offers killer martini’s, a tasty menu and live entertainment on their grand piano. Begin your meal with the Trio Caprese consisting of fresh heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella, basil oil, cracked pepper and sea salt. It is the perfect appetizer to share with a partner. Follow that with the Diver Scallops with a charred corn risotto and lobster jus. I love a good scallop dish and Café Trio didn’t disappoint.

Scallops are a favorite at gay-owned Cafe Trio. Photo credit: Café Trio / Facebook

Overall, Kansas City was a pleasant surprise even though I didn’t have a chance to catch a Chiefs game. If you’re looking for relaxed, friendly, inexpensive city to visit, I would definitely add KC to your list.

Pride Journeys is an LGBT travel website dedicated to sharing travel reviews and news of interest to the LGBT community. For more info, visit www.PrideJourneys.com.

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Pride Journeys: Phoenix/Tempe

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Daytime Camelback from Mummy Mountain. Photo credit: Visit Phoenix/D Squared Productions

The last time I was in the Phoenix area was 2005, so when I was offered a chance to visit the city again, I jumped at the opportunity, especially since this trip would coincide with Phoenix Pride. The temperature in the spring and fall is quite tolerable and enjoyable so I would plan your vacation during those seasons, unless you are an avid heat seeker.

I really didn’t recognize any part of the city, so jumping on a pedal cab for a quick tour of downtown was the best way to orient myself. I met up with my friend Josh Rimer aka Mr. Gay Canada, and we were on our way!

Our wonderful tour guide Billy was a hoot. He knew everything about every nook and cranny of the city from the history of buildings to the meaning of some of city’s most iconic murals. He knew we were in town for gay pride, so he included some information about the city’s LGBT history and culture.

Before checking in to our hotel, we stopped for lunch at The Churchill, a locally owned community-driven gathering spot in the heart of the Roosevelt Row neighborhood. Ten small businesses surround an open-air courtyard intended for dining, drinking and socializing. The space hosts a variety of speakers, art events, and fitness classes throughout the year.

If you’re craving a bit of luxury, check in to the magnificent Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. It’s one of the most LGBT-friendly resorts in the region and is set against the picturesque McDowell Mountain range. The sprawling Southwestern-style complex features 750 guest rooms, six heated pools, and a 44,000 square-foot Well & Being Spa.

The longest running AAA Five Diamond resort in Arizona, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess has also received accolades for its outstanding culinary program, exceptional guest service, unparalleled meeting facilities and the exquisite Well & Being Spa. Photo credit: Fairmont Scottsdale Princess / AccorHotels

Spa culture is big in Scottsdale, with many properties offering unique treatments highlighting their natural surroundings. The Phoenician offers a wonderful Body & Soul treatment that is not to be missed.

Speaking of spas, we ventured off the beaten path to explore another renowned spa resort called CIVANA. Traveling can be fun, but also stressful, so I chose a relaxing treatment combining 10 different aromatherapy blends. While at CIVANA, take part in a sound bath class, where an instructor creates vibrations using singing bowls made from various healing crystals. All you need to do is relax while the sounds melt your worries away.

Nestled in the Sonoran Desert, just outside Scottsdale, CIVANA is a destination wellness resort that offers a holistic experience to a wider audience of wellness travelers. Photo courtesy: CIVANA

For the adventurous type, try aerial yoga. This is not your run of the mill yoga. In fact, it wasn’t relaxing at all. It was more like a Cirque du Soleil training camp. I tried my hardest to keep myself balanced while suspended in mid air by nothing but cloth. Of course, my fearless instructor made me go upside down and swing from side to side while a flimsy sheet was supposed to support me. After I got over my fear, I enjoyed the class. The entire experience was fun but more of an upper body workout than a yoga class.

While in Phoenix, visit the Desert Botanical Garden, a collection of more than 50,000 arid plants gathered from deserts from around the globe. We recommend visiting when the garden first opens to avoid the scorching heat. The Garden also offers evening tours, which although we didn’t get to experience, we heard were a great way to view the property.

Desert Discovery Trail at Desert Botanical Garden. Photo credit: Visit Phoenix/Adam Rodriguez

Not too far away is the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) which displays a collection of 6,800 instruments from 200 countries and territories. Most of the displays are enhanced by audio and video technologies that allow guests to see the instruments, hear their sounds, and observe them being played. During our visit, the MIM featured a special exhibit on Arizona native and rock legend Alice Cooper.

Musical Instrument Museum Orientation Gallery. Photo credit: Visit Phoenix

All this touring got us thirsty, so it was time for some cocktails. Since we landed in Phoenix, all we kept hearing about was a place called The UnderTow. But after I said I needed to research it, people told me not to, and just go. Guests enter The UnderTow through Sip Coffee & Beer Garage, which happens to be a converted Jiffy Lube. The downstairs area – where mechanics worked on vehicles – has been transformed into a subterranean tiki bar complete with sound and visual effects that made guests feel as if they were stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Not to be outdone by the décor, the bartenders know how to make one hell of a cocktail.  

You enter UnderTow by descending the thatched roof staircase in the center of Sip Coffee and Beer Garage. Photo credit: UnderTow

After drinks, it was time to celebrate gay pride. Phoenix Pride is one of the first festivals to kick off pride season and attracts over 40,000 revelers during the two-day festival and parade. This year’s festival featured headlining performances from Ada Vox, Kim Petras and JoJo.

Phoenix Pride at Steele Indian School Park. Photo credit: James Stewart

The bars came alive after Pride, as in most cities. We didn’t get to experience many that night due to immense crowds, but we did visit Stacy’s @ Melrose, and got to meet Stacy himself. Next time around, I would love to swing by Charlie’s and Kobalt to get a feel for the local LGBT community.

The next day it was time to explore Tempe and the first item on the agenda was a pop-up art experience called The Scene. The Instagramable paradise featured 11 uniquely designed rooms ranging from a disco room, to a bathtub surround by rubber ducks and a glow-in-the-dark slinky room. The owners of the exhibition are from Tempe and plan to bring the exhibition on tour. If it comes to your city, make sure to check it out. It’s a fun place for both kids and adults to explore and work on your selfie taking skills.

While downtown Phoenix has a corporate feel, downtown Tempe definitely has a collegiate vibe, due mostly to the presence of Arizona State University. College students are seen parading around the city on bikes and scooters past rows of rainbow flags and a giant rainbow chair in the heart of downtown which the city installed to celebrate gay pride. The city doesn’t have any gay bars or clubs, but locals are quick to let you know that every bar in Tempe is welcoming to the LGBT community.

In the center of the city is A Mountain…as in the letter A, which is prominently displayed on the side of the mountain. To get the best view of the city, hike to the top in the early morning. For the perfect sunset view, try an evening hike. Bring lots of water as the hike looks deceivingly easy from the street level, but as you begin to ascend, grows extremely challenging especially as you begin to navigate the sharp rock formations towards the top of the mountain.

Hayden Butte, partially located on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus, known locally as ‘A Mountain” for the 60-foot tall gold painted letter ‘A’ near the top. Photo credit: Tjnelso1 / Wikimedia

For dinner, head to Culinary Dropout, a trendy gastro-pub in downtown popular among the college crowd, which specializes in craft cocktails and delicious, reasonably priced cuisine. Start off the meal with an order of Soft Pretzels with Provolone Fondue and Prosciutto Deviled Eggs. I would also recommend trying the Ma…the Meatloaf and Rainbow Trout, which is served with green beans, toasted almonds and caramelized shallots. The staff at Culinary Dropout is also very easy on the eyes so I think you’ll enjoy this place.

After dinner, check in to the Moxy, a Marriott branded hotel designed with the millennial traveler in mind. Instead of a stuffy reception desk, guests at the Moxy are greeted by a reception area that also doubles as a bar. The hotel lobby contains an oversized Jenga game, pool table, foos ball table and 2 arcade pinball machines in addition to many cool seating areas where guests can gather. Tempe was the first city in the United States to open a Moxy and it has become a favorite among visitors.  

Welcome Zone & MOXY The Counter at Moxy Phoenix Tempe/ASU Area. Photo credit: Moxy Phoenix Tempe/ASU Area

There is so much to do in both Phoenix and Tempe, I recommend a minimum of a week to explore the cities and maybe even take a day trip to Mesa or Sedona. Whichever season you decide to travel in, you will have a blast.

Enjoy the Journey!

Pride Journeys is an LGBT travel website dedicated to sharing travel reviews and news of interest to the LGBT community. For more info, visit www.PrideJourneys.com.

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Pride Journeys: Cape Cod & Provincetown

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Commercial Street in Provincetown
Commercial Street in Provincetown. Photo credit: Harvey Barrison / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

By now, most of you know I march to the beat of my own drummer, so when I decided to visit a summer time destination in the winter, people weren’t surprised. Cape Cod is known for attracting throngs of LGBTQ beach and party goers to its northmost tip, Provincetown. Having never been to P-Town, the locals found it surprising that I would visit during the winter, when the towns population is a fraction of what it is during the summer.

My first stop on my Cape Cod journey was the town of Hyannis, located about mid-way up the cape. On the suggestion of a friend of mine, I booked a stay at the Sea Street Inn, a lovely 5-bedroom bed and breakfast located just blocks from the ocean and minutes away from the historic Kennedy Compound.

Sea Street Inn in Hyannis on Cape Cod
Sea Street Inn in Hyannis on Cape Cod. Photo credit: Sea Street Inn

The Sea Street Inn is not your typical B&B. Upon arrival, I was greeted by the proprietor Adrian and offered a lobster roll as a ‘welcome to the Cape’ gift. The property was designed by Adrian and his wife Xenia in 2018 and features a beautiful art gallery, sitting area and dining solarium where guests can enjoy breakfast or their morning coffee. Adrian is a classically trained French chef who studied under Jean-Georges Vongerichten, so the Sea Street Inn offers a dinner menu that rivals any 4-star restaurant. I had the opportunity to sample some of the best food in recent memory including a delectable smoked trout and brie dish in addition to a crab BLT.

A short drive from the Sea Street Inn is the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum, a multimedia exhibit designed to highlight the days JFK spent on Cape Cod relaxing with family, entertaining world leaders and sailing on the ocean, one of his favorite hobbies.

The entry to the JFK Museum in Hyannis on Cape Cod.
The entry to the JFK Museum in Hyannis on Cape Cod. Photo credit: Joey Amato/Pride Journeys

The Museum’s exhibits feature videos and photographs spanning the years 1934 to 1963. In addition to photography, an orientation video narrated by Walter Cronkite depicts the President’s experiences on the Cape.

I decided to take an afternoon adventure to Nantucket on the high-speed ferry, which whisks you to the oasis in about an hour. Even in the winter, Nantucket is gorgeous. With limited time to explore the island, I wasted no time and headed straight to the Whaling Museum to view their Festival of Trees exhibition which transforms the museum into a festive winter wonderland for the entire month of December. The highlight of the museum is the Whale Hunt Gallery which explores all aspects of the demanding and dangerous trade of 18th century whaling. Although I am against this trade, it was an important part of the area’s history. The centerpiece of the gallery is the skeleton of a 46-foot male sperm whale, which died on Siasconset beach on January 1, 1998.

The centerpiece of the Whale Hunt Gallery in the Nantucket Historical Association's Whaling Museum is the skeleton of a 46-foot male sperm whale.
The centerpiece of the Whale Hunt Gallery in the Nantucket Historical Association’s Whaling Museum is the skeleton of a 46-foot male sperm whale. Photo credit: Nantucket Historical Association

Nantucket is filled with wonderful boutiques and family-owned restaurants. I asked around and almost everyone on the island recommended I try the Lola Burger at LoLa 41. It was probably the most expensive hamburger I have ever ordered at $22, but the perfectly cooked burger was served with Cabot Cheddar Cheese, a red onion compote, and foie sauce. One of my favorite things to do is pair a burger with a nice glass of Pinot Noir. It was the perfect way to end my journey before heading back to the mainland.

About halfway between Hyannis and P-Town is the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, a small museum which also serves as a nature education center which is worth visiting if you have some time to spare on your way up the cape. The museum offer guests a variety of programs, classes, lectures, panel discussions, and interactive exhibits that reveal the many facets of Cape Cod’s natural wonders.

Driving into Provincetown for the first time was magical. I felt like I was exploring a small island town filled with narrow cobblestone streets, dozens of art galleries, quaint restaurants and of course LGBTQ establishments. The more time I spent in P-Town, the more I began to realize why people are in love with this destination. You feel like you’re in a gay oasis a million miles away from the rest of society and free to do whatever you want, without judgement. Even the straight community that visits the town is accepting of LGBTQ people and everyone is extremely welcoming and friendly.

One of my first stops in P-Town was the Provincetown Art Association & Museum, a collective gallery exhibiting the works of local artists, many of whom identify as LGBTQ. One half of the space is dedicated to museum caliber works while the other half serves as a gallery space where people have the opportunity to purchase local art.

The gallery at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum
The gallery at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum. Photo credit: Provincetown Art Association and Museum / Facebook

There are many lodging options in P-Town, but I decided to stay at Land’s End Inn for its location at the tip of the peninsula. My room, which was called the Library Room, offered unobstructed views of both the sunrise and sunset and is located just a few minutes from Herring Cove Beach. Antique lovers will be in heaven at Land’s End Inn. Its décor is more traditional than I usually enjoy but lends nicely to the property’s rich history. In addition to complimentary breakfast, the Inn also offers a daily wine reception where you can mingle with other hotel guests.

Winter at Land's End Inn in Provincetown on Cape Cod
Winter at Land’s End Inn in Provincetown on Cape Cod. Photo credit: Land’s End Inn / Facebook

Surprisingly, 2018 was the first time Provincetown held a gay pride festival. I guess when the town is gay all the time, people didn’t find the need for one. This year’s festival is scheduled for May 30 through June 2. Last year’s festival featured a rainbow laser installation, a disco dance party and a pride sashay/stroll.

Bear Week will take place this July and is an annual gathering of…bears. It’s one of the largest and busiest theme weeks in Provincetown, attracting tens of thousands of men and hosting dozens of parties and shows. Another fun event is P-Town’s annual Carnival, which will take place August 15-25 and celebrates the towns LGBTQ culture.

The Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown
The Pilgrim Monument has the best views in Provincetown

To get the best view of the town, climb to the top of Pilgrim Monument which was constructed to honor the Pilgrims’ first landing in Provincetown. President Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone in 1907 and the 252-foot tower was completed in 1910.

The only thing I didn’t like about Provincetown was the cost of food. An inexpensive dinner can easily run about $30. I tried finding a few less expensive places to dine and stumbled upon Canteen. Try their homemade clam chowder, you won’t be disappointed. If you want something sweet, head to Purple Feather Café and indulge in one of their special desserts or famous white hot chocolate.

The Canteen on Commercial Street is open seven days a week, serving up hearty and healthy breakfast, lunch and dinners.
The Canteen on Commercial Street is open seven days a week, serving up hearty and healthy breakfast, lunch and dinners. Photo credit: The Canteen / Facebook

During my stay, the gay bars were a bit slow, but this is something that I expected. Visiting in the winter helped me navigate the town easier than during the summer months and when I return, I’ll feel like a local. If you aren’t into crowds but still want to get a feel for the town, I would recommend visiting during shoulder season…May or October. Otherwise, be prepared for one non-stop party if you decide to visit this summer. I know I’ll be back!

Enjoy the Journey!

Pride Journeys is an LGBT travel website dedicated to sharing travel reviews and news of interest to the LGBT community. For more info, visit www.PrideJourneys.com.

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Pride Journeys: Milwaukee

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I am always up for a big adventure, so I thought visiting Milwaukee right before winter would be a good idea. Little did I know, winter comes early in Wisconsin. I was greeted with a small snow storm and below freezing temperatures, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. It was my first time visiting the city and I had lots to see.

The Miller Brewery in Milwaukee (MillerCoors)

Luckily, one of my lifelong friends, Steven Binko, is a Milwaukee resident so I had a permanent tour guide for the duration of my visit. Our first stop was the famous Miller Brewery Tour, where we learned about the ghost of Frederick Miller who haunts the historic Miller caves. Throughout the tour we were forcefully fed samples of Miller beer products. They weren’t stingy on the free samples either. As much as I don’t like snow, it was really cool to see a bit of snow atop the iconic Miller Brewing sign.

The Milwaukee Public Market
The Milwaukee Public Market (Dori/Wikimedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 US])

From there, head to the Milwaukee Public Market, located in city’s Historic Third Ward neighborhood. The two-story market isn’t as massive as Seattle’s Pike Place Market, but it features a nice selection of local fare. I sampled a cup of delicious tomato soup and coupled it with a serving of half a dozen fresh oysters from their oyster bar. The market also sells many regional products including artisan cheeses and creamy frozen custard.

Grab a cup of hot cocoa from Colectivo and explore the Historic Third Ward, which recently underwent a drastic revitalization and now boasts trendy boutiques, art galleries and specialty stores.

Not too far away is the iconic Milwaukee Art Museum, considered Wisconsin’s premier arts institution as well as Milwaukee’s lakefront masterpiece. The museum houses more than 30,000 pieces in its permanent collection which includes works by Monet, Warhol and Picasso, in addition to one of the largest Georgia O’Keeffe collections in the world. The museum’s breathtaking moveable brise soleil “wings” soar against the backdrop of Lake Michigan, spanning the width of a Boeing 747 when extended.

View of Milwaukee Museum from south-west approach
View of Milwaukee Art Museum from south-west approach (PeterSesar/Wikimedia [CC BY-SA 4.0])

Milwaukee has a really great gay scene. It is always voted as one of the best gay cities to visit, so I decided to head out on the town for my first night in the MKE. My first stop was DIX, a trendy bar with some really cute bartenders and strong drinks. Not too far away is This Is It, the oldest gay bar in the city. The narrow space is warm and welcoming, although I heard the current owners are looking to expand. Walker’s Pint is the place for ladies to gather, while Kruz is the ‘daddy’ bar with really cool lighting and a nice patio space. If you’re looking to dance, head to LVL, but be advised there is a cover charge most nights.

Start your next morning by visiting the Harley-Davidson Museum. This spectacular one-of-a-kind museum celebrates the rich history of Harley-Davidson and has become the mecca for Harley riders throughout the world. More than 350 motorcycles are displayed, along with exhibits devoted to engines, racing, customized bikes and the company’s influence on American pop culture. As someone who has never ridden a motorcycle, I still found this museum interesting and one of the most Instagram-able places in the city.

Harley-Davidson Museum
Harley-Davidson Museum

Just a short drive from the Harley-Davidson Museum is the Pabst Mansion, constructed by Captain Frederick Pabst, founder of Pabst Brewing, in 1890. The Gilded Age mansion is located on Grand Avenue, just outside of downtown and was designed by George Bowman Ferry and Alfred Charles Clas. The mansion was nearly torn down to make way for a parking lot but after a three-year crusade for its preservation, it was spared demolition and went on to become an award-winning house museum. The Mansion was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 21, 1975. 

Pabst Mansion
Pabst Mansion (Sailko/Wikimedia [CC BY 3.0])

If you have some time left, swing by the Milwaukee Public Museum’s butterfly exhibition. The two-story glass-enclosed garden was designed to provide the butterflies with a tropical environment despite Wisconsin’s frigid winter season. Hundreds of butterflies surround you as you walk through the exhibition. At one point, a butterfly landed on my head and made me the subject of many photos.

If you’re hungry, head to Balzac for a delicious assortment of tapas and flatbreads. Some standout items include Lamb Chops with hummus, garam masala aioli and paprika oil, Tuna Tartare with wasabi vinaigrette, fried wonton, sesame seeds and lime faulk salt as well as the Pork & Peach flatbread consisting of pork belly, red potato, manchego and garlic confit dressed with a balsamic peach glaze.

For drinks, I recommend SafeHouse, a downtown speakeasy that is quite fun from the moment you walk in the door. First-time visitors are asked for the password…and yes, most don’t know it. I had to hula-hoop for thirty seconds in order to gain entry. What I didn’t know is that everyone was watching me from inside the bar. It was quite embarrassing once I found out I had an audience, but once I was granted entry, the bar itself is incredible; filled with secret passageways and hidden items throughout.

While in town, try to swing by the Fiserv Forum and catch a Milwaukee Bucks basketball game. The new state-of-the-art arena is worth the price of admission. I got a private tour of the facility and was blown away by the amenities, especially the lounges located throughout the venue. The arena is also proud to have all-gender restrooms for their guests.

If you happen to be in town on a Sunday, Hamburger Mary’s hosts a fabulous buffet brunch complete with bottomless mimosas, and a cast of divine divas. The food was surprisingly good. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a brunch buffet, but there was a nice selection of both breakfast and lunch items to choose from.

One of the coolest activities this visit was taking part in a Milwaukee Food & City Tour. Privately owned by a husband and wife duo, the business idea was inspired while on a walking tour in SoHo 11 years ago. Today, they now run a total of 21 bus, walking, and neighborhood-themed tours that cover everything from Bloody Mary’s to pizza to tapas. For this visit, we participated in the holiday themed Ethnic Bakery Tour. Our guide was a hoot and knew a lot about the city as well as history of the businesses. Each of the six bakeries were privately owned (no chain establishments), so it was really nice to get a look at the hidden gems only the locals know about.

When I asked our tour guide Robert his favorite part of the job, he explained how he really enjoys incorporating Milwaukee history and comedy into the adventures. His knowledge of the city and its activities really put into perspective how much the downtown offers and how far the city has come in a short amount of time.

At one point, we drove by the Henry Maier Festival Park along the lakefront and briefly learned about the inane number of cultural festivals Milwaukee hosts – two in particular that draw people from all over the world.

Summerfest is an annual music festival that lasts for almost two weeks and hosts over 1000 performances on 11 stages. Last year, they had artists from every genre of music ranging from Kesha to Steven Tyler. Then there’s PrideFest which is one of the largest LGBTQ festivals in the Midwest welcoming nearly 50,000 visitors annually.

Potawatomi Hotel & Casino
Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, located right in downtown Milwaukee, is Wisconsin’s number one tourist destination. (Forest County Potawatomi Community, Wisconsin)

This Summer in Milwaukee is going to be jam packed with events so book your room early at the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino, located just outside of downtown, before it sells out. While there, try your luck at some slots if you’re so inclined.

Enjoy the Journey!

Pride Journeys is an LGBT travel website dedicated to sharing travel reviews and news of interest to the LGBT community. For more info, visit www.PrideJourneys.com.

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17jul7:30 PM9:30 PMLGBTQ Spanish Conversation Night7:30 PM - 9:30 PM Easy Tiger at the LincCategories:LGBTQ+Ages:All Ages

17jul7:30 PM9:30 PMFeaturedaGLIFF presents SAUVAGE/WILDTexas Premiere Co-Presented by Alliance Française Ciné-club7:30 PM - 9:30 PM Alamo Drafthouse South LamarCategories:FilmAges:18+

17jul8:00 PM10:00 PMCupcake's Bar TriviaHosted by Cupcake8:00 PM - 10:00 PM Trudy's Tex-Mex Texas StarCategories:DragAges:All Ages

17jul(jul 17)9:00 PM18(jul 18)2:00 AMWerqHosted by Diamond Dior & Scarlett Kiss 9:00 PM - 2:00 AM (18) Sellers UndergroundCategories:DragAges:21+

17jul(jul 17)9:30 PM18(jul 18)2:00 AMPlanet Fabulous KaraokeHosted by Murrah Noble9:30 PM - 2:00 AM (18) The Iron BearCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

17jul(jul 17)10:00 PM18(jul 18)2:00 AMLet's Get Soaking WetHosted by Jame Perry 10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (18) Oilcan Harry'sCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

18jul10:00 AM9:00 PMThird Thursday10:00 AM - 9:00 PM Blanton Museum of ArtCategories:VisualAges:All Ages

18jul6:30 PM8:00 PMSummer Book Club featuring Nathan Manske6:30 PM - 8:00 PM St. James' Episcopal ChurchCategories:LiteratureAges:All Ages

18jul7:00 PM9:00 PMDrag BingoHost by Vegas Van Cartier7:00 PM - 9:00 PM BT2 AustinCategories:DragAges:21+

18jul8:00 PM10:00 PMGeeks Who Drink8:00 PM - 10:00 PM The Iron BearCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

18jul8:00 PM10:00 PMThe Queer Quiz Show: Hot AF8:00 PM - 10:00 PM Sellers UndergroundCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

18jul8:00 PM10:00 PMSwimming While Drowning8:00 PM - 10:00 PM Emma S Barrientos Mexican American Cultural CenterCategories:TheatreAges:All Ages

18jul8:00 PM10:00 PMHomo Arigato: FLAMING CREATURESPresented as part of the CONTRAST Film Festival8:00 PM - 10:00 PM AFS CinemaCategories:FilmAges:18+

18jul(jul 18)8:30 PM19(jul 19)12:00 AMTexas Hold'em TournamentHosted by Wild West Casino Games8:30 PM - 12:00 AM (19) BT2 AustinCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

18jul(jul 18)10:00 PM19(jul 19)2:00 AMDown & Dirty Thursday ft. DJ ProtégéAll-Male Amateur StripOff ft. Bobby Cook & Sabel Scities10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (19) Rain on 4thCategories:NightlifeAges:18+

19jul6:00 PM7:30 PMAdult Swim: Jeffrey Gibson6:00 PM - 7:30 PM Blanton Museum of ArtCategories:VisualAges:21+

19jul7:00 PM9:00 PMFriday Social TennisHosted by Austin Tennis Club7:00 PM - 9:00 PM South Austin Tennis CenterCategories:TennisAges:All Ages

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