By Nathan Cathey
In December of 2011 my best friend and I decided we wanted to take a “gaycation” together, and we determined that there would be no better city for this than San Francisco!
San Francisco is the nation’s second-most densely populated city, and it is the 14th most populous city in the United States. It is also one the top tourists destinations in the world because of its landmarks, which include the former prison on Alcatraz Island, the Chinatown District, the infamous cable cars, and most notably, the Golden Gate Bridge. San Francisco is renowned for its fog, steep hills, cooler summers, assorted styles of architecture, as well as its liberal attitudes and being a center for activism. In fact, the city is home to the nation’s largest gay neighborhood, known as The Castro.
My friend Miguel and I decided if we were going to make this a true “gaycation”, we wanted to stay right in the middle of all the action, so we booked a reservation for the Parker Guest House. This comfy bed and breakfast is located just a few blocks over from Market Street, which is where many of the gay clubs and bars are located as well as many restaurants and shops. For us, this option was the perfect choice, the staff was incredibly helpful, knowledgeable, and friendly. We actually are still friends on Facebook with a couple of them. In addition to the traditional breakfast, there is a wine reception every evening, which allowed us the opportunity to mingle with other travelers, make some new friends, and get suggestions on places to check out.
On our first night, after the wine mixer, Miguel and I headed to grab a bite to eat at a pizza and pasta restaurant appropriately named ‘Sausage Factory’. The food, location, service, and prices were all spot on. This restaurant was perfect for starting a long night barhopping. Our first stop was ‘Lookout Bar’, which is located on the second floor of a building overlooking Market Street, so if people watching is your thing, head here; we were entertained for a couple hours just observing everyone walking by as they were heading for their evening out. Next on our list was ‘Q Bar’ located on Castro Street. This bar has great drink prices, and they are strong too! The space is a bit small, but that means it looks crowded even if there aren’t that many people in it! We ended our night at ‘The Café’. We really enjoyed this place because it seemed it is one of the few places in the area that offers a large dance floor. Throughout our night of dancing, we were introduced to a few people and once the club closed, they showed us a great place to grab pizza across the street.
The following day we were able to enjoy a show called Teatro ZinZanni, which our friend was performing in. The show is a mix of circus arts and fine dining with a European cabaret style. The show is currently performing in Costa Mesa, California due to the America’s Cup, but will return to San Francisco shortly. This show is definitely a must-see while visiting the city. After the show, our friend was able to meet us at a bar called ‘Toad Hall’. The best part about this place is the covered outdoor patio; it is the perfect atmosphere to spend time catching up with a friend. Our friend suggested we move on to a bar called ‘Blackbird’, which is known for its specialty cocktails. We ended up trying a few and also playing a game of pool while we were there. There was great crowd as well; more of a “young professionals” feel. Our last bar to experience during our trip in San Francisco came highly recommended by many of the locals, and it is called ‘Badlands’. It definitely was worth visiting; it had a packed dance floor and great music the entire night!
San Francisco was the perfect destination to experience our first “gaycation”, and even though my friend and I were quite new to the ‘gay scene’ at the time, the trip was not overwhelming even though the city is a “mecca” for the LGBT community. We had such a great time, that even though it hasn’t even been a year since our visit, we are already planning our trip to go back!