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Pride Journeys: Rochester

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The Frederick Douglass–Susan B. Anthony Memorial Bridge crossing the Genesee River with Downtown Rochester in the background. Photo credit: Visit Rochester

Nestled 90 minutes from Niagara Falls and just off of the southern shore of Lake Ontario in the Finger Lakes region of New York, you’ll find the truly limitless city of Rochester. Known for numerous festivals and events throughout the year, immense history, world class museums, and its inclusive hospitality, New York State’s third largest city has something for everyone. I recently explored the city for myself and my expectations were consistently exceeded. My visit coincided with Rochester’s Pride Fest. The inclusiveness of the city is apparent, and I felt welcome from the start. “Roc Pride,” as it’s known, is one of the largest Pride festivals in the state outside of NYC. Complete with events, music, and a parade, there’s plenty to experience during this week-long celebration.

When you ask how far something is from the city center, locals will say “about 15 minutes or so.” That’s because, well, it’s true. The greater Rochester region has a population of about 1 million people, so getting from place-to-place is quite stress-free. With nonstop flights from Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC) to Charlotte, New York City, Baltimore, Atlanta, Chicago, Toronto, and more, the city is as accessible as ever. For a central location, stay at the East Avenue Inn & Suites. The staff is friendly, the rooms are spacious, and the entire property was recently renovated. Better yet, the location is superb as you can walk to numerous shops and restaurants all within a few short blocks.

East Avenue Inn & Suites in the East End, the heart of Rochester’s Arts and Entertainment District. Photo credit: East Avenue Inn & Suites / Facebook

Upon arriving, the bar for the trip was set high after a visit to The Strong National Museum of Play. This interactive museum has a surprise around every corner, and something for absolutely everyone. Learn about the history of toys, why playtime is so important, and check out the Toy Hall of Fame to see your favorite childhood toys. There’s even a mini Wegman’s where kids can play ‘customer’ or ‘cashier’ at the beloved supermarket chain.

The Strong museum engages kids of all ages with hands-on exhibits and the world’s most comprehensive collection of toys, dolls, games, and video games. Photo credit: The Strong Museum / Facebook

After a full day of travel, it was time for dinner. I visited The Playhouse / Swillburger, which is an arcade/restaurant housed in an old church. The burgers and beer are great, but the tater tots are an absolutely must. Check out what the special is for the day, and enjoy. After eating, take a few steps over into the arcade area to enjoy classic games, like Pac-Man and pinball, or immersive and modern thrills like the Jurassic Park game.

Your time in Rochester wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the home of one of its most famous residents, George Eastman. Now a world-class museum, gallery, theater, and film/photograph archive, the beautiful home and gardens at The George Eastman Museum will tell the Kodak founder’s story from behind the lens. Tour the mansion to get a glimpse of his lavish lifestyle, see the famous elephant in his living room, and learn why he literally cut his house in half. The archives house over one million pieces of film, photographs, and other cinematic artifacts or technologies of importance to the industry. With many rotating exhibitions, there will always be new artwork and exhibits to explore, along with summer events such as their concert series held outdoors on the lawn.

World’s foremost museum of photography and cinema located on the historic estate of George Eastman, the pioneer of popular photography. Photo credit: George Eastman Museum / Facebook

Anywhere I go, I look to try the local beers. One of the oldest and continually operating breweries in America just happens to be in Rochester – The Genesee Brewery. Named after the Genesee River which flows through the city, the Genesee Brew House is located in the heart of the city overlooking a stunning view of High Falls. When it’s nice out, sit on the balcony or the rooftop for full appreciation of the view. Plus, order the pretzel appetizer.

Genesee Brew House features a roof-top deck and beer garden in the heart of Rochester. Photo credit: The Genesee Brewery / Facebook

Rochester has a buzzing art and culture scene. I’ve been to traditional galleries before, and Artisan Works is everything but a traditional gallery. This non-profit creative community space supports local artists by purchasing their art for display in their 40,000 square foot facility, containing over 500,000 unique pieces. Each turn brings you into a new theme, era, style, or collection. Everywhere you look, you’ll see something new and extraordinary. After, head over to the Memorial Art Gallery (the “MAG”) for an art experience spanning across 5,000 years. With pieces from around the world, the 14-acre campus features an outdoor sculpture garden with unique pieces open year-round. The MAG features several LGBT artists in the collection and hosts events as part of Roc Pride.

Argentum: Double-Positive, a light sculpture by Jim Sanborn, is on exhibit outside University of Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery. Photo credit: Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester / Facebook

On my final day, I enjoyed an iced coffee at Equal Grounds Coffee House, located in the trendy South Wedge neighborhood. It was then time to learn some history. I stopped by the Frederick Douglass Statue in Highland Park, before visiting the gravesites of Douglass and Susan B. Anthony at Mount Hope Cemetery. Both activists were friends and worked alongside each other for their movements. The Susan B. Anthony National House & Museum showcases Anthony’s actual home where she lived, organized her community, and was arrested for voting illegally due to being a woman. The home is exceptionally preserved and educational about the incredible work she did.

Up next, the Park Avenue Food Tour by Flower City Food Tours. Pro tip: Don’t eat breakfast on this day! This 3-hour tour brings you to 8 unique locations along Park Avenue ranging from a local staple, Jines, to Baker Street Bakery, and Magnolia’s Deli and Cafe, where President Obama dined in 2013 for lunch while passing through Rochester. (Check out the pictures on the wall from his visit!) This tour was not only delicious, but I learned a lot about the neighborhood and its history. Some of the restaurant owners were even present to greet the group and provide additional information about the food or drink options.

Be sure to stop by Living Roots, an urban winery that makes wines based on the two hometowns of its owners – Rochester, NY, and Adelaide, South Australia. They source grapes from both the Finger Lakes region as well as Adelaide Hills to provide a tasty balance of flavor.

One must-see is Radio Social. This state-of-the-art restaurant, bar, event space, and bowling alley features some of the best food I had on the entire trip. I strongly suggest the Kubaneh ‘Pull Apart’ Bread and the Chicken Kebab Pita. My drink of choice here was the “Up the Bracket” Have some fun with a few games of bowling before taking a few pictures around the totally ‘Instagrammable’ interior.

A state-of-the-art bowling alley, restaurant, bar, music venue, and social club located in Rochester’s historical Stromberg-Carlson warehouse. Photo credit: Radio Social / Facebook

As part of Roc Pride, Rochester Pedal Tours provided a fun way to get from bar-to-bar. Check out the numerous LGBT bars, each with its own flair. Enjoy the great drinks, fun atmosphere, and meet new friends at places like The Avenue Pub and Lux Lounge. For a late-night snack, check out Swan Dive, a new restaurant that mixes a classic diner with a modern and upscale aura.

Rochester is a welcoming destination for all types, and I highly recommend adding it to your travel list. You’ll discover new events and festivals throughout the year, and will experience the seasonal beauty from the region.

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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Pride Journeys: Portland

Pride Journey’s Joey Amato travels to Portland in the Pacific Northwest to discover what the City of Roses has to offer the LGBTQ+ traveler.

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Portland skyline from riverbank.
Portland skyline from riverbank. Photo credit: Tony Webster / Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)

For years, my former boss at South Florida Gay News would rave about Portland, Oregon. He loved the free-spirited nature of the community as well as the abundance of outdoor activities available outside the city. After years of seeing Norm and other friends post breathtaking photos on social media, I thought it was time to give Portland a try.

When I first arrived, I got the feeling that I was in a smaller version of Seattle, but as I spent time in Portland, I quickly discovered that it had a life of its own. I did however speak to some locals and they told me the city has been going through a bit of an identity crisis as of late as they try to compete with Seattle’s economic boom, mostly driven by Amazon and other tech firms. But, why try to be Seattle? Just be Portland.

The entire downtown area is pretty much walkable, with many of the city’s main attractions located within a few miles of each other. What was obvious from the start were the abundance of rainbow flags scattered throughout the city. I think it’s safe to say that Portland may have the highest concentration of rainbow flags per capita than any city I have visited thus far.

Discrimination and Resistance, An Oregon Primer at the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education documents Oregon’s history of discrimination from its territorial days, into statehood, and up through the twentieth century. Photo courtesy Mario Gallucci / Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education

My first stop in Portland was the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education. Being of Jewish decent, I found it fascinating that this particular attraction would be located in Portland. I wasn’t aware of the city’s extensive Jewish community. The museum explores the legacy of the Jewish experience in Oregon and teaches the universal lessons of the Holocaust. The museum features rotating exhibitions that showcase Jewish contributions to world culture, issues of Jewish identity, and the forces of prejudice. They also offer an extensive program of films, lectures, and concerts throughout the year, which cover a wide range of topics relating to Jewish art, culture, and heritage.

Lan Su Chinese Garden
A result of a collaboration between the cities of Portland and Suzhou in China’s Jiangsu province, the Lan Su Chinese Garden was built by artisans from Suzhou and is one the most authentic Chinese gardens outside of China. Photo courtesy Daderot / Wikimedia.

Not too far away is Lan Su Chinese Garden, one of Portland’s greatest treasures and a very interesting site to visit. The garden came about as a result of a collaboration between the cities of Portland and Suzhou, China. Lan Su was built by Chinese artisans from Suzhou and is one the most authentic Chinese gardens outside of China. Once inside the garden’s walls, you’ll feel as if you’ve traveled through time. The garden’s name (蘭蘇園) can be loosely interpreted as Garden of Awakening Orchids. If you have time, visit the Teahouse to enjoy a cup of Chinese oolong paired with an assortment of steamed dumplings or noodles.

The Eagle in Portland
You can check out where the bears roam while wearing your leather chaps at the Eagle on Lombard Street in Portland. Photo courtesy Eagle Portland / Facebook.

Portland has no shortage of gay bars and clubs, but as I was told by a local member of the community, it is surprising there aren’t even more options given the high LGBT population in the region. The main establishments in the area include: Scandal’s, Crush, Local Lounge, Silverado, Eagle, CC Slaughter’s and Stag. I’d research each before you visit so you can determine which venue you’ll enjoy the most.

Hampton Inn and Suites by Hilton Portland-Pearl District
Located close to downtown, the friendly Hampton Inn and Suites by Hilton Portland-Pearl District is a crisp and modern hotel nestled in Portland’s premier Pearl District. Photo courtesy Hilton.

I decided to stay at the Hampton Inn & Suites, located in the Pearl District neighborhood, mostly for its location, but also for the complimentary breakfast and Wi-Fi. The rooms were nicely furnished but the standouts of the hotel are definitely the rooftop patio with panoramic views of the city and Mt. Hood, a fully-equipped fitness center, and indoor pool. The fairly new property is also located within steps of wonderful restaurants, boutiques and art galleries, so I would highly recommend it especially if you have never been to Portland. The Pearl District was formerly a neglected corridor of abandoned warehouses and railways, but in recent years, it has been revitalized and quite trendy.

Part of the Asian Art collection at the Portland Art Musuem
Part of the Asian Art collection at the Portland Art Musuem. Photo courtesy Daderot / Wikimedia.

About a mile walk from the hotel is the Portland Art Museum. Founded in 1892, the museum is one of the oldest art museums in the country and the oldest in the Pacific Northwest. The museum boasts a collection of over 42,000 objects reflecting the history of art from ancient times to today. I loved the galleries featuring Asian and Native American art. If you have a chance, try to find works from Modern Masters including Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pierre Auguste Renoir, and Edgar Degas as well as contemporary pop artist Roy Lichtenstein.

During my stay in the city, the museum presented The Shape of Speed: Streamlined Automobiles and Motorcycles, 1930–1942, a special exhibition which featured rare streamlined automobiles and motorcycles. The concept of streamlining began in the 1930s and extending until the beginning of the World War II. Automotive designers were encouraged by the confluence of aircraft design with the sleek shapes of fast railroad locomotives.

Everybody knows I have a fascination with wine and the outdoors, so why not combine the two? That’s exactly what Evergreen Escapes did with their Columbia Gorge Waterfalls and Wine Tour. The six-hour guided tour will take you outside the city on a scenic drive with multiple stops along the way at some of the area’s most beautiful waterfalls and hidden gems. We began out tour after lunch at the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Surrounded by towering basalt cliffs and other fascinating rock formations, this area really showcases Portland’s natural beauty. There are Instagram moments around every corner. We were able to hike all the way to the base of the falls, and being that it was a weekday tour, the crowds were very minimal.

Evergreen Escape's Columbia Gorge Waterfalls and Wine Tour kicks off with a lunch at the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Evergreen Escape’s Columbia Gorge Waterfalls and Wine Tour kicks off with a lunch at the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Photo courtesy Evergreen Escape.

After visiting 3 of the area’s parks, the tour continues with some wonderful Columbia River Gorge wine tasting. We stopped at two vineyards and sampled nearly a dozen wines along the way. Cathedral Ridge and Wy’East Vineyards both had a unique ambiance and variation of wines. My personal favorite however was the 2015 Dampier Pinot Noir at Cathedral Ridge.

Portland offers a wonderful variety of activities ranging from art and culture to nightlife and adventure, truly something for everyone. I was also told of a gay beach located about 45-minutes outside the city along the Pacific coast. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to visit on this particular trip, but there’s always a next time.

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: Indianapolis

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Indianapolis has always felt like a second home to me. I used to publish a gay magazine there called UNITE a few years ago, so I was frequently visiting the city. This time, I wanted to experience things that I may not have had the chance to see on previous visits.

One event of major interest was the Lambda Legal Indiana Benefit gala which took place at the Indianapolis Public Library, a stunning building located in the heart of the city. The Indiana Benefit was conceived in 1999 by a group of visionary individuals seeking to advance the civil rights of LGBT people and those living with HIV, in Indiana. That vision and dedication to Lambda Legal’s mission and work in Indiana have yielded some of the most important and strategic legal victories our community has experienced in the past decade, including the freedom to marry.

The Indianapolis Public Library’s Central Library. Photo courtesy Lee Mandrell / Visit Indy

In 2017, it was an Indiana case that won a federal court victory affirming that workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation violates federal civil rights law. This year, the benefit honored philanthropists Neil Bagadiong and Kevin Warren, the Indy power couple who was instrumental in the Pence Must Go campaign that was enacted during Mike Pence’s final term as Governor of the state. They also host a weekly pool party for the community at their home during the summer.

Interior of Tini on MassAve
Interior of Tini on MassAve. Photo courtesy Tini / Facebook.

After the benefit, the party continued at Tini on Massachusetts Avenue, a gay-owned martini bar which has become the city’s hotspot for the see-and-be-seen gay crowd. Mass Ave., as it is called by the locals, is a vibrant street lined with restaurants, boutiques and nightlife establishments catering to both a gay and straight audience.

A few blocks away is Forty-Five Degrees, a beautiful gay-owned restaurant and sushi bar, which hosts numerous drag shows and LGBT benefits throughout the year including a fashion show leading up to Indianapolis Pride.

Popular gay-owned sushi restaurant Forty-Five Degrees in Indianapolis. Photo courtesy Forty-Five Degrees

After a night of partying, I headed back to my hotel, the newly renovated Hyatt Regency. The centerpiece of the property is their open-air atrium but also worth visiting is their swanky rooftop restaurant offering unobstructed views of Indianapolis. The rooms at the Hyatt were spacious and comfortable, with some rooms offering separate sleeping and living areas in addition to huge bathrooms.

The exterior of the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis
The exterior of the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis. Photo courtesy Hyatt Regency Indianapolis / Facebook

The next morning, I woke up early to head to The Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields for an LGBTQ photography exhibition of renowned, American photographer George Platt Lynes. The collection of photographs is on loan from the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University. Lynes’ visionary work catapulted him to notoriety as a New York-based commercial fashion and ballet photographer but resulted in his drift from the spotlight when it was revealed that he photographed male nudes as well. Lynes also turned his lens on his social circle—the artistic and literary minds of the mid-20th century—who accepted him as a gay man during a period of harsh anti-LGBT laws in America. The provocative photographs, include nude works, are a must see and are on exhibition through February.

The original LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana
The original LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana is located inside the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields. It was created in 1970 as the first sculptural form of the artist’s famous LOVE painting and has been on continuous exhibition at the Indianapolis Museum of Art since it was acquired in 1975. Photo courtesy Indianapolis Museum of Art Newfields / Visit Indy

If you’re in the mood for a quick bite, I would suggest visiting Broad Ripple, a cute neighborhood north of downtown consisting of cafes, lively brewpubs, vintage clothing stores and a live music venue called The Vogue. Broad Ripple Park is located along the White River and is part of the Monon Rail Trail, popular with joggers and cyclists.

Broad Ripple, on the city’s near Northside, is home to passionate residents who pride themselves on the eclectic mix of art, shopping, and nightlife that the neighborhood is known for. Photo courtesy Cliff Ritchey / Visit Indy

After lunch head to the Indianapolis City Market for a guided tour of the Catacombs, a Roman-looking expanse of brick arches located beneath the market. The Catacombs qualify as both a ruin and a redevelopment opportunity. They’re what remains of Tomlinson Hall, an imposing building whose main hall seated 3,500 people. Dietrich Bohlen designed the hall in 1886 to complement his earlier work at City Market. Tomlinson Hall burned in January 1958, but the Catacombs contain scores of brick barrel-vaulted arches that remain from what was the basement of Tomlinson Hall.

The Market East neighborhood, on the east edge of downtown Indy, is home City Market where residents gather to eat, shop, and play.
The Market East neighborhood, on the east edge of downtown Indy, is home City Market where residents gather to eat, shop, and play. Photo courtesy Scott Crone / Visit Indy.

If you have time after visiting City Market, head to the Indianapolis Zoo for a once-in-a-lifetime experience creating art with a rhinoceros. Before meeting the rhino, guests are asked to select a color scheme for their painting and as the zookeeper tells you about the beautiful animals, the rhino begins to create a unique masterpiece with its horn over the course of about 10-15 minutes. This unforgettable experience is also available with penguins, walrus and dolphins.

Elephants at the Indianapolis Zoo with downtown skyline in the background.
Elephants at the Indianapolis Zoo with downtown skyline in the background. Photo courtesy Jon Glesing / Indianapolis ZOo.

What many people don’t know about the zoo is that is one of the leading zoos in animal conservation in the country, awarding the prestigious Indianapolis Prize. Through a monetary award of $250,000, the Prize recognizes the accomplishments of one heroic individual who has made significant strides to save a species from extinction. The Indianapolis Prize was created by the Indianapolis Zoological Society as part of its mission to empower people and communities, locally and globally, to advance the cause of animal conservation. Past Indianapolis Prize Winners include Dr. George Archibald, the co-founder of the International Crane Foundation, George Schaller, Ph.D., known as one of the founding fathers of wildlife conservation, and Iain Douglas Hamilton, Ph.D., founder of Save the Elephants.

Prince Edward Island Mussels in a lobster tomato saffron broth with garlic and chorizo
Tony’s of Indianapolis serves up Prince Edward Island Mussels in a lobster tomato saffron broth with garlic and chorizo were plump and delicious. Photo courtesy Tony’s of Indianapolis / Facebook.

For dinner, I headed to Tony’s, a new restaurant located across the street from the Hyatt Regency which will make you feel as if you are dining in an upscale New York steakhouse. Instead of ordering an entrée, I decided to opt for two appetizers instead, since I was attending the Taylor Swift concert at Lucas Oil Stadium later that evening. The Calamari with pepperoncini, cherry tomatoes, and garlic aioli were light and flavorful and the Prince Edward Island Mussels in a lobster tomato saffron broth with garlic and chorizo were plump and delicious. At first glance, the prices looked a bit steep, but once the selections arrived, I realized I could have invited a few friends to share the over-sized portions. I was even greeted by Tony himself during my visit.

In recent years a few of Indy’s LGBT nightlife venues have shuttered but the city still offers a nice variety of establishments including Greg’s, English Ivy’s and Metro Nightclub. Greg’s offers a dance room and patio with decently priced drinks and friendly crowd, while English Ivy’s features a full menu and separate bar area for mingling.

Indianapolis is home to many LGBT organizations, most notably, Indiana Youth Group (IYG) a drop-in center for youth ages 12-20 that identify as LGBTQ+. Youth who are allies to LGBTQ+ folks are also welcome to the facility which provides services, activities, affinity programs, referrals, and serves as a safe space for the community. The city also boasts a division of PFLAG and the Indy Rainbow Chamber, a bi-partisan group for LGBTQ business owners, employees and allies.

A little secret about Indianapolis that I find extremely intriguing is the city’s Masonic influence. Indy was designed by the same city planner as Washington D.C. and features many architectural structures worth visiting included the Scottish Rite Cathedral, Indiana Freemasons’ Hall, a giant obelisk fountain and the Indiana War Memorial. I highly recommend taking a free tour of the Scottish Rite Cathedral led by a Freemason himself who will tell you stories about the secret society and its influence in Indianapolis.

Chef/Owner Jonathan Brooks always keeps a waffle dish on his menu.
Chef/Owner Jonathan Brooks always keeps a waffle dish on his menu. Milktooth has been named on Conde Nast Traveler’s list of “World’s Best Restaurants.” Photo courtesy Mallory Talty / Visit Indy

Before leaving Indy, go to brunch at Milktooth, a wonderful restaurant in the Fountain Square neighborhood, which was recently named to Conde Nast Traveler’s “World’s Best Restaurant” list. The restaurant was opened in 2014 by Jonathan Brooks, and features locally sourced produce to create its delectable creations.

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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20mar6:00 PM8:00 PMSteak Night6:00 PM - 8:00 PM BT2 AustinCategories:Food,NightlifeAges:21+

20mar6:30 PM8:00 PMWorkout! Wednesday w/ Erica Nix6:30 PM - 8:00 PM TransformCategories:FitnessAges:All Ages

20mar7:00 PM9:00 PMThe Q Austin × Core Group7:00 PM - 9:00 PM The Q AustinCategories:LGBTQ+Ages:All Ages

20mar7:00 PM10:00 PMTexas Hold'em TournamentHosted by ADA Hold'em7:00 PM - 10:00 PM Detour Neighborhood Bar DomainCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

20mar(mar 20)9:30 PM21(mar 21)2:00 AMPlanet Fabulous KaraokeHosted by Murrah Noble9:30 PM - 2:00 AM (21) The Iron BearCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

20mar(mar 20)10:00 PM21(mar 21)2:00 AMLIVE KaraokeHosted by Evelyn Syde10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (21) Sellers UndergroundCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

21mar7:00 PM9:00 PMDrag BingoHost by Vegas Van Cartier7:00 PM - 9:00 PM BT2 AustinCategories:DragAges:21+

21mar(mar 21)8:30 PM22(mar 22)12:00 AMTexas Hold'em TournamentHosted by Wild West Casino Games8:30 PM - 12:00 AM (22) BT2 AustinCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

21mar(mar 21)10:00 PM22(mar 22)2:00 AMCountry Nightft. DJ Michael Bond10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (22) Oilcan Harry'sCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

21mar(mar 21)10:00 PM22(mar 22)2:00 AMDown & Dirty Thursday ft. DJ ProtégéAll-Male Amateur StripOff ft. Bobby Cook & Sabel Scities10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (22) Rain on 4thCategories:NightlifeAges:18+

21mar(mar 21)11:00 PM22(mar 22)2:00 AMDivas on 4thHosted by Nadine Hughes11:00 PM - 2:00 AM (22) Sellers UndergroundCategories:Drag,NightlifeAges:21+

22mar7:00 PM10:30 PMTexas Hold'em TournamentHosted by ADA Hold'em7:00 PM - 10:30 PM Oilcan Harry'sCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

22mar10:00 PM2:00 AMFriday Night ft. DJ KAHLU10:00 PM - 2:00 AM Oilcan Harry'sCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

22mar(mar 22)10:00 PM23(mar 23)2:00 AMFriday Night ft. DJ Protégé10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (23) Rain on 4thCategories:NightlifeAges:18+

23mar9:30 AM11:00 AMBig Boi Yoga9:30 AM - 11:00 AM TransformCategories:FitnessAges:All Ages

23mar11:00 AM12:00 PMAustin Prime Timer Koffee Klatsch11:00 AM - 12:00 PM BookPeopleCategories:LGBTQ+Ages:All Ages

23mar(mar 23)10:00 PM24(mar 24)2:00 AMSaturday Night ft. DJ Dallas Downs10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (24) Rain on 4thCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

23mar(mar 23)10:00 PM24(mar 24)2:00 AMBody BeautifulHosted by Vegas Van Cartier & Rachel Mykels10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (24) Sellers UndergroundCategories:Drag,NightlifeAges:21+

23mar(mar 23)10:00 PM24(mar 24)2:00 AMSaturday Night ft. DJ Eriq Stylez10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (24) Oilcan Harry'sCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

24mar2:00 PM9:00 PMSunday Beer BustFt. DJ Todd2:00 PM - 9:00 PM The Iron BearCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

24mar3:00 PM9:00 PMSunday Funday ft. DJ KAHLU3:00 PM - 9:00 PM Rain on 4thCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

24mar4:30 PM8:00 PMTexas Hold'em TournamentHosted by ADA Hold'em4:30 PM - 8:00 PM Sellers UndergroundCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

24mar5:00 PM7:00 PMDrag BingoHost by Vegas Van Cartier5:00 PM - 7:00 PM BT2 AustinCategories:DragAges:21+

24mar7:00 PM10:00 PMDirty Bird Drag Queen BingoHost by Lady Grackle Birdbreath7:00 PM - 10:00 PM Highland LoungeCategories:DragAges:21+

24mar(mar 24)9:00 PM25(mar 25)2:00 AM#TheWrapUp ft. DJ Dallas Downs9:00 PM - 2:00 AM (25) Rain on 4thCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

24mar(mar 24)9:30 PM25(mar 25)2:00 AMPlanet Fabulous KaraokeHosted by Murrah Noble9:30 PM - 2:00 AM (25) The Iron BearCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

24mar(mar 24)10:00 PM25(mar 25)2:00 AMLate Night KaraokeHosted by Colleen DeForrest10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (25) Highland LoungeCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

24mar(mar 24)10:00 PM25(mar 25)2:00 AMSuper Sunday Diva Show10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (25) Oilcan Harry'sCategories:DragAges:18+

24mar(mar 24)10:00 PM25(mar 25)2:00 AMLatin Night ft. DJ PM10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (25) BT2 AustinCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

24mar(mar 24)10:00 PM25(mar 25)2:00 AMKreamHosted by Cupcake10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (25) Sellers UndergroundCategories:Drag,NightlifeAges:21+

25mar7:00 PM9:00 PMCupcake Bar Trivia7:00 PM - 9:00 PM Rain on 4thCategories:Drag,NightlifeAges:21+

25mar(mar 25)10:00 PM26(mar 26)2:00 AMMartinis & KaraokeHosted by Danny Pintauro10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (26) Rain on 4thCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

25mar(mar 25)10:00 PM26(mar 26)2:00 AMGame Night10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (26) Oilcan Harry'sCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

26mar6:00 PM7:00 PMBeginner Yoga with Kirk6:00 PM - 7:00 PM TransformCategories:FitnessAges:All Ages

26mar7:00 PM10:00 PMOpen Mic NightHosted by Sheena Simmons7:00 PM - 10:00 PM Sellers UndergroundCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

26mar7:15 PM8:45 PMBig Boi Yoga7:15 PM - 8:45 PM TransformCategories:FitnessAges:All Ages

26mar8:00 PM11:00 PMTexas Hold'em TournamentHosted by Wild West Casino Games8:00 PM - 11:00 PM The Iron BearCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

26mar(mar 26)9:00 PM27(mar 27)12:00 AMDrag Class: Semester 7Hosted by Sabel Scities9:00 PM - 12:00 AM (27) Rain on 4thCategories:DragAges:18+

26mar(mar 26)10:30 PM27(mar 27)2:00 AMDinner & A MovieHosted by Jeremy & Nadine Hughes10:30 PM - 2:00 AM (27) Sellers UndergroundCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

26mar(mar 26)11:00 PM27(mar 27)1:00 AMDrag Battle Royal11:00 PM - 1:00 AM (27) BT2 AustinCategories:DragAges:21+

27mar6:00 PM8:00 PMSteak Night6:00 PM - 8:00 PM BT2 AustinCategories:Food,NightlifeAges:21+

27mar6:30 PM8:00 PMWorkout! Wednesday w/ Erica Nix6:30 PM - 8:00 PM TransformCategories:FitnessAges:All Ages

27mar7:00 PM10:00 PMTexas Hold'em TournamentHosted by ADA Hold'em7:00 PM - 10:00 PM Detour Neighborhood Bar DomainCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

27mar7:00 PM9:00 PMThe Q Austin × Core Group7:00 PM - 9:00 PM The Q AustinCategories:LGBTQ+Ages:All Ages

27mar(mar 27)9:30 PM28(mar 28)2:00 AMPlanet Fabulous KaraokeHosted by Murrah Noble9:30 PM - 2:00 AM (28) The Iron BearCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

27mar(mar 27)10:00 PM28(mar 28)2:00 AMLIVE KaraokeHosted by Evelyn Syde10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (28) Sellers UndergroundCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

28mar7:00 PM9:00 PMDrag BingoHost by Vegas Van Cartier7:00 PM - 9:00 PM BT2 AustinCategories:DragAges:21+

28mar(mar 28)8:30 PM29(mar 29)12:00 AMTexas Hold'em TournamentHosted by Wild West Casino Games8:30 PM - 12:00 AM (29) BT2 AustinCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

28mar(mar 28)10:00 PM29(mar 29)2:00 AMDown & Dirty Thursday ft. DJ ProtégéAll-Male Amateur StripOff ft. Bobby Cook & Sabel Scities10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (29) Rain on 4thCategories:NightlifeAges:18+

28mar(mar 28)10:00 PM29(mar 29)2:00 AMCountry Nightft. DJ Michael Bond10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (29) Oilcan Harry'sCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

28mar(mar 28)11:00 PM29(mar 29)2:00 AMDivas on 4thHosted by Nadine Hughes11:00 PM - 2:00 AM (29) Sellers UndergroundCategories:Drag,NightlifeAges:21+

29mar7:00 PM10:30 PMTexas Hold'em TournamentHosted by ADA Hold'em7:00 PM - 10:30 PM Oilcan Harry'sCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

29mar(mar 29)10:00 PM30(mar 30)2:00 AMFriday Night ft. DJ Protégé10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (30) Rain on 4thCategories:NightlifeAges:18+

29mar10:00 PM2:00 AMFriday Night ft. DJ KAHLU10:00 PM - 2:00 AM Oilcan Harry'sCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

30mar9:30 AM11:00 AMBig Boi Yoga9:30 AM - 11:00 AM TransformCategories:FitnessAges:All Ages

30mar11:00 AM12:00 PMAustin Prime Timer Koffee Klatsch11:00 AM - 12:00 PM BookPeopleCategories:LGBTQ+Ages:All Ages

30mar(mar 30)10:00 PM31(mar 31)2:00 AMSaturday Night ft. DJ Dallas Downs10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (31) Rain on 4thCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

30mar(mar 30)10:00 PM31(mar 31)2:00 AMBody BeautifulHosted by Vegas Van Cartier & Rachel Mykels10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (31) Sellers UndergroundCategories:Drag,NightlifeAges:21+

30mar(mar 30)10:00 PM31(mar 31)2:00 AMSaturday Night ft. DJ Eriq Stylez10:00 PM - 2:00 AM (31) Oilcan Harry'sCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

31mar2:00 PM9:00 PMSunday Beer BustFt. DJ Todd2:00 PM - 9:00 PM The Iron BearCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

31mar3:00 PM9:00 PMSunday Funday ft. DJ KAHLU3:00 PM - 9:00 PM Rain on 4thCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

31mar4:30 PM8:00 PMTexas Hold'em TournamentHosted by ADA Hold'em4:30 PM - 8:00 PM Sellers UndergroundCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

31mar5:00 PM7:00 PMDrag BingoHost by Vegas Van Cartier5:00 PM - 7:00 PM BT2 AustinCategories:DragAges:21+

31mar7:00 PM10:00 PMDirty Bird Drag Queen BingoHost by Lady Grackle Birdbreath7:00 PM - 10:00 PM Highland LoungeCategories:DragAges:21+

31mar01apr#TheWrapUp ft. DJ Dallas Downs9:00 PM - (april 1) 2:00 AM Rain on 4thCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

31mar01aprPlanet Fabulous KaraokeHosted by Murrah Noble9:30 PM - (april 1) 2:00 AM The Iron BearCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

31mar01aprKreamHosted by Cupcake10:00 PM - (april 1) 2:00 AM Sellers UndergroundCategories:Drag,NightlifeAges:21+

31mar01aprLatin Night ft. DJ PM10:00 PM - (april 1) 2:00 AM BT2 AustinCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

31mar01aprSuper Sunday Diva Show10:00 PM - (april 1) 2:00 AM Oilcan Harry'sCategories:DragAges:18+

31mar01aprLate Night KaraokeHosted by Colleen DeForrest10:00 PM - (april 1) 2:00 AM Highland LoungeCategories:NightlifeAges:21+

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