A City of Tolerance
LGBTQ+ Friendly and Historically Significant
By Eming Piansay
Philadelphia is referred to by some as the heart of the American Revolution. It is also where the Declaration of Independence was signed and subsequently the founding of the United States of America. Nicknamed ‘The City of Brotherly Love,’ Philadelphia draws from its long history of peace and religious tolerance chartered by William Penn, a Quaker who originally founded Pennsylvania.
Philadelphia continued to walk the talk by hosting one of the first protests for gay rights in 1965. Today, Philadelphia hosts the annual Philly Pride 365 as a continued reminder of the area’s dedication to its founding philosophy.
Local Expert Tip
“Philadelphia offers visitors a walkable city experience. In fact, it was just named America’s most walkable city by USA Today experts and readers! Downtown at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, attendees can easily get around on foot to explore all the city has to offer.
“This includes venues for any size group that are uniquely Philadelphia, like historic Reading Terminal Market, just steps away from the convention center, the National Constitution Center with an unmatched view of Independence Hall, or South, a Black-owned jazz club and event space serving up elevated comfort food.”
– Maria Grasso, senior vice president convention division, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau
5 Reasons Meeting Profs Love Philadelphia
The Liberty Bell. Found at the Liberty Bell Center in Independence National Historical Park, this physical symbol of freedom was used by abolitionists to call to an end to slavery in America. Independence National Park also contains an open-air museum, and the President’s House Site that features the dichotomy between freedom and slavery in America.
Beyond the Bell Tours. Beyond the Bell Tours features a Badass Women’s History Walking Tour that features the stories of Hannah Callowhill Penn, Barbara Gittings, Ona Judge and LGBTQ leaders.
National Constitution Center. If you’re a big-time history buff, the 160,000-square-foot National Constitution Center has your name all over it. The Kimmel Theater within the Center contains a 350-seat, star-shaped venue that features Freedom Rising, a multimedia, live-action and video projection on a 360-degree screen. Visitors can also stand along 42 life-sized bronze statues of the country’s Founding Fathers.
African American Museum in Philadelphia. Built in 1976, the African American Museum in Philadelphia was the first facility built by a U.S. city to maintain and display the history of African Americans. The museum hosts the Jack T. Franklin Collection that consists of over 500,000 negatives and photographs depicting Philadelphia’s African American community, as well as the events of 1960s Civil Rights Movement. In the past, the museum has hosted exhibits on Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow and Black Healthcare Studies.
Lincoln Financial Field and Wells Fargo Center. Sports fans visiting Philly have a lot of options to pick from depending on the season. Basketball fans have the option of checking out the 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center and seeing 2023 season MVP Joel Embiid shoot 3s, while football fans can head to Wells Fargo Center to check out the 2017 Super Bowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles.
5 Fantastic Places to Meet in Pennsylvania
Lancaster County Convention Center is located downtown and offers big-city energy within a small-town environment. It is a STAR-certified facility that offers state-of-the-art technology, as well as wireless internet and an indoor pool with spa rooms.
90,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; 27 meeting rooms; and 416 new rooms and suites.
Wind Creek Bethlehem is in Lehigh Valley, a bustling area that is only 60 minutes away from Philadelphia. Wind Creek Bethlehem has team-building activities at Angry Jack’s Axe Throwing, a spa on-site, and free live entertainment every weekend, not to mention the upscale lounges. It is 5 miles away from the Lehigh Valley International Airport.
60,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; 552 guest rooms; 3,000 spaces in a self-park garage; and an additional 1,400 parking spaces.
Mount Airy Casino is Pennsylvania’s first AAA Four Diamond casino and resort. Whether the casino slots are your happy place, or the spa is, Mount Airy Casino has something for everyone. Visitors can hit some links on the Poconos, an Audubon international-certified golf course.
20,000 sq. ft.; 284 guest rooms; 29 suites; and 12 meeting rooms.
Pennsylvania Convention Center offers attendees a Pennsylvania-based art collection and a view of Philadelphia’s City Hall. From the glass entrance on North Broad Street attendees can take in the museums on Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The Convention Center has direct access to public transportation and is near more than 14,000 hotel rooms.
1 million sq. ft. of meeting space; 679,000 sq. ft. of exhibit hall space; and 82 meeting rooms.
Element Philadelphia is in downtown Philadelphia near Love Park and the Liberty Bell. Attendees have access to a state-of-the-art Motion Fitness Center. Planners have access to a VIP meeting space, free Wi-Fi, and A/V technology.
38,637 sq. ft. of event space; 45,000 sq. ft. of meeting venue space; 31 event rooms, and 460 guest rooms.
Hit the Off-Road with an ATV
Find yourself staying in the Pocono Mountains? Options for off-sites abound. Beyond the excitement at the tables at Mount Airy Casino Resort, you’ll have the opportunity to tour 200 wooded acres via Pocono ATVs at Memorytown USA! One tour can accommodate a group of up to 24 people and trained tour guides will lead the way.
The Need for Speed
For those who have always dreamed about being the next Speed Racer, Stock Car Racing Experience at Pocomo Raceway has provided northeast Pennsylvania with adrenaline rushes for 23 years. NASCAR-style stock cars allow guests to fly down the racetrack at speeds approaching 160 mph. Attendees will also be able to rent Polaris Slingshots to tour the backroads.
If you’d like to do a team-building exercise, the facility also offers Pro Kart racing on a ¾ mile course that includes live timing and scoring. For those who want to use their own wheels, guests can bring their sports car to the 2.5-mile Super Speedway for a track experience.
If gas-powered vehicles aren’t your thing, you may want to consider offering your guests a tour via horseback at Mountain Creek Riding Stable. The location is great for first-time riders and experience is not necessary to participate.
The facility offers public and private group trail rides that last 45 to 50 minutes. For more leisure adventure, guests can hop on a public on-site wagon ride with capacity of 12 average adults.
Lehigh Valley Activations
River Cave Adventure
If your audience dreams about living out Indiana Jones fantasies, Lost River Caverns may be a fit. Operating since 1930, Lost River Caverns and Gilman’s “at the cave” offers tours and a deep insight into the process of jewelry making. The adventure features guided walking expeditions that last 45 minutes and traverse 1,200 feet of well-lit paved walkways through nature’s underground wonderland. Reservations are required and guests should bring a sweater or jacket since the caverns are at a constant 52 degrees Fahrenheit.
From Steel Production to Concert Venue
Arts, culture and steel. If you didn’t think there was a cross-section of the three, think again. The SteelStacks is a ten-acre campus focused on arts, culture, events and education. It is also the second-largest manufacturer of steel in the nation. The location hosts more than 1,000 concerts and festivals yearly.
For about a century, the Bethlehem Steel Plant employed tens of thousands of people who produced steel to build the nation’s skyscrapers. After its closure, the city partnered with the nonprofit ArtsQuest and transformed the site into its current incarnation.
Explore the History of the Industrial World
If you’ve ever been curious about the history of America’s Industrial empire, the National Museum of Industrial History showcases the work of innovators, works and entrepreneurs to educate the public on the past. Guests to the museum can check out the permanent exhibitions that include Machinery Hall’s massive 115-ton Corliss steam engine, along with a gallery focusing on the creation of steel and iron and the life of steelworkers back in the day.
The third gallery showcase focuses on the production of silk. The original ‘White House’ loom also resides here. It was used for the restoration projects between President Hoover and President Clinton.
History on Wheels
For car enthusiasts in the group, America on Wheels is a museum of education, entertainment and events. From now until October 15, the museum will exhibit Celebrating 70 Years of Corvette to coincide with the museum’s 15th year of operation. Group tours are available and consist of 10 or more people and should be scheduled 3-4 weeks in advance. Scavenger hunts are also available on the tour.