On Our Gaydar: Milford
We’ve been hearing a lot of about how gay-friendly Milford, Pa., is, so we decided to see for ourselves. At about two and a half hours from Philly near the Poconos, and an hour or more from New York City, the Pike County town is just right for a weekend getaway. And get away we did. Though we heard great things about Hotel Fauchere, a very gay-friendly destination with lively bar and gourmet restaurant on the small town’s main drag, we instead headed for the woods – literally.
Down a former logging trail (watch out for ice that has accumulated during the heavy winter snow falls – it still has not entirely melted) is Half-Moon Cottage, a lovely little home nestled under some of the tallest trees we’ve seen in awhile. The A-frame cottage sits on a bubbling brook that leads to gorgeous waterfalls within hiking distance. It also features a full, modern kitchen with great amenities, enormous windows, a spiral staircase leading to a bedroom loft that overlooks the brook, as well as a wood-burning fireplace and Jacuzzi with a skylight.
The bathroom – and its Jacuzzi – is a class act (not a tacky honeymoon haunt) with beautiful reclaimed stone and wood, and very contemporary fixtures. This was literally the perfect place to escape city life for two nights. The cottage even welcomes dogs, so I brought my Brussels Griffon along. The cottage – and its private community – was quiet save the rushing water and whispering trees just outside the door where my pup could be off leash for the first time in a long time.
When you’re not relaxing by the fire or on the back porch (with a table and chairs for outdoor dining), there are a few sites worth checking out in town. For nature lovers, the walk to the falls is a must-do along Malibu Trail. But for folks who may like to reunite with civilization once and awhile, there are some nice alternatives only a few minutes away by car (yes, you must have a car to get to and around Milford).
Milford’s downtown is quaint in the way that New England can be quaint thanks to family-owned shops, pizza parlors and a greasy spoon that serves breakfast all day long. There are quite a few small shops – all independently owned – that attract tourists from both Philly and New York.
Historic Forest Hall Antiques takes over the second and third floors of the gray stone Forest Hall Building. Since the 1960s, it has been buying and selling antique furniture and accessories – including paintings, porcelain, pewter and vintage apparel.
Another antiques outpost – we loved this place – is Old Lumberyard Antiques with more than 40 dealers in a sprawling 10,000-square-foot building. It’s a collector’s paradise, whether you’re into old typewriters, toys, glassware, tea towels, furniture or art. We lucked out and found two black-and-white photos for just $14. The prices were more than right and the inventory was so much fun to browse.
The Blue Stone Gallery is one of the nicer art destinations in town. While we could have passed on the New Age music and handmade frocks, we were genuinely impressed with some of the work being exhibited by collage artists and painters. The owner even showed us some of his pottery and outdoor sculpture.
The Highlands Photographic Guild – made up of local artists and others from New York City – also operates its own gallery, usually manned by one of the artists who is very excited to discuss his work. As with any co-op, the art’s quality can fluctuate. But we enjoyed the series of old movie theatres and the many notecards available from the photographers – a nice touch if the larger works break your budget.
Don’t miss Gotta Get It Consignment. The funky little shop – next to a friendly coffee shop loaded with books for perusing – hasn’t been open long, but has a creative assortment of finds ranging from furniture and art to clothing and accessories. We picked up vintage French bistro plates for a song. The owner also sometimes displays his original art.
Hotel Fauchere boasts one of the better restaurants in town: The Delmonico Room. This farm-to-table fine dining destination is more upscale than you might expect with a menu inspired by American culinary traditions (think: Lobster Newburg and Delmonico steak).
The hotel’s Bar Louis also serves up light bites during happy hour and late-night dining. There’s a great photograph by Christopher Makos of Andy Warhol kissing John Lennon over the bar, which serves up some delightful cocktails in a casual, yet contemporary (and very gay-friendly) setting.
It’s worth grabbing dessert at the Patisserie Fauchere just next door. The gay-owned bakery makes a mean fruit tart with organic blackberries. The cafe is also a great spot to curl up with a book you pick up from Main Street Books (they do their own book binding!) on a rainy day, provided you keep the free-trade coffee coming.
If you opt to cook up your own grub, pick up fresher-than-fresh ingredients at Fretta’s, Milford’s own version of DiBruno Bros. The Italian grocer – which originated in Brooklyn – even makes its own sausage on-site.
To get the most out of Milford, don’t expect too much. This isn’t Provincetown or any other especially gay mecca, but it is very friendly. The prices are reasonable if you consider the Poconos are nearby. And the vibe is casual.
You’ll be at home in jeans and a Jeff cap at the antique shops and galleries – and pretty much anywhere in town, which doesn’t have much of a nightlife – but you may want to spruce up for dinner at the hotel.
But overall in Milford, as long as you have a car and some time to escape, the trip is worthwhile. You’ll feel far away from city life without ever being completely out of the loop.