Conveniently located one block away from world-class shopping and dining in Union Square.
Featured Gay Hotels in San Francisco
A Greystone Hotel located in the Embarcadero/Financial District.
San Francisco's Hidden Gem
Gay San Francisco
Oh, San Francisco. If you’re gay, chances are you’ve either been to San Francisco or plan to sometime in your life. It is Gay Mecca after all. Honestly, do we really even need to have a gay guide for San Francisco? You’re bound to have a friend or five in the City, right? In case you’re unaware though, San Francisco has long been known as being a hotbed of homosexual haunts. It is steeped a rich, chocolate, mahogany color with gay history, bars, theaters, and activism. Recent population demographics indicate that more than 15% of the population of San Francisco is gay. That’s about 1 in every 6 people! The City is stereotypically known to be the gay capital of America, if not beyond. It’s also a commonly heard statistic that there are more dogs than children in the City by the Bay, which we just love. There are also more drag queens per square foot than anywhere else except wherever they happen to be filming RuPaul’s Drag Race. Ok, we made that last one up, but you get the idea, right?
There are literally hundreds of gay-themed things to do in SF year round. The Castro neighborhood is ground zero of SF’s gay epicenter. Here you’ll find bars and restaurants of every variety, suiting all sorts of patrons. There’s also the iconic Castro Theatre which features gay cinema and sing-a-long musical nights among other entertaining things. You can also get a glimpse of famous gay activist and former-city-supervisor-turned-gay-martyr, Harvey Milk’s old camera store, Castro Camera; now it’s a Human Rights Campaign store.
Don’t be afraid to get out of the Castro and explore the rest of the city too—Northern Californians, and Bay Area residents in particular, are notoriously liberal and accepting of the LGBT community, so you shouldn’t have any worries being yourself around town. There are plenty of interesting museums in Golden Gate Park to check out, Chinatown is a tourist destination in and of itself, and there are dozens of parades and festivals throughout the year for you to explore.
San Francisco Gay Scene
Somewhere around 1 in every 6 people in SF is gay. There are few cities in the world with a more accepting attitude towards gay people or with a larger percentage of the population who is part of the LGBT community. The main intersection in the Castro is 18th Street and Castro Street. From here the Castro District extends in all directions for many blocks. This dynamic San Francisco neighborhood is adorned with rainbow flags to help show support of the gay and lesbian residents while being a symbol for the community. It’s also a great area for gay history—they even have one of the world’s only museums on the subject! One of the interesting things about San Francisco’s famous liberalism is that it means it is not illegal to be nude in the city. Do not be surprised to see naked people sipping coffee in street-side cafes in the Castro or practicing nude tai chi in Golden Gate Park; although nudity isn’t all that common outside the Castro. There's also the famous nude beach, Baker Beach, on the northwest part of the peninsula just south of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Do expect to see rainbow flags blazoning proudly all over town, public displays of affection from gay couples, and no one batting an eye about it—except maybe tourists. The gay-loving vibe really gets fever-pitched around Pride, which attracts hundreds of thousands of people from all over. There are other gay-themed festivals and events throughout the year too such as The Folsom Street Fair, the Fringe Festival, and the Castro Street Fair.
If you’re a foodie then San Francisco is the place for you. San Francisco is home to many gay-friendly restaurants, cafes, and other eateries.
Bi-Rite is a cool oasis on a hot day. Every day spent at Dolores Park is best coupled with a trip to Bi-Rite where unconventional flavors are made fresh. Salted caramel and lavender are among local favorites. Their ice cream cookie sandwiches are sweet, sweet sin. Expect a long line that’s totally worth the wait!
Sweet Maple is a nice place for a nice breakfast or lunch (or brunch!). Their service is friendly and fast—exactly what you need if you have a busy day ahead. Best French toast and bacon in town!!!
“Life is like ab ox of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get!” Same with Harvey’s! A hefty bar menu stuffed with Brunch items, burgers, salads, Chamtinis, Bloody Mary’s and more. The same applies to the atmosphere. Sassy waiters with big personalities. Sometimes, straight waiters who all the gays want to turn. Or perhaps, Comedy night with brash comedians making you laugh and trivia night hosted by a local dragqueen.
San Francisco has it all, from gay and lesbian bars to gay disco diva dance clubs. There is something for everyone in this fabulous city so let loose and enjoy yourself in any of these gay bars and clubs.
Honey Soundsystem is known for throwing their parties on Sundays. Filled with an eclectic mix of people, the music is always good and the people are friendly. Holiday weekends are the most packed nights.
Diva's is pretty much the only all if not predominately trans club in San Francisco. One floor is a pub, one is a dance floor, and the top is a lounge with a pool table and pinball machines. There are different events on different nights so check their website to stay up to date!
Badlands is usually where most people end up at the end of the night if they've been partying in the Castro. They play great music, drinks are cheap, and the dance floor is poppin'!
The Edge Bar
It seems like there's always something going on at the Edge Bar SF. They have weekly events, one of which is their Musical Mondays. At 7:00pm, they play a huge lineup of fun musicals that you can really tap your feet to. No matter what the day, The Edge Bar is the place for SF nightlife!
Tips and Tricks
The weather in San Fran is notoriously colder than the rest of California so pack accordingly. In summer, it’s typically foggy and cool. Winters are rainy and brisk, but the fact that Frisco sits on a peninsula surrounded by water stabilizes the climate from being excessively hot or freezing cold, generally.
SF is very compact, being only 49 square miles, and the public transportation system is likely the best in California. Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) trains can take you around the bay area if you’d like to check out other nearby cities like Berkeley and Oakland. The Municipal Railway (MUNI) trains will take you around the peninsula of SF though, and they’re entirely affordable and convenient. You’re also gonna want to hop on the only mobile National Monument in the world and ride a cable car down one of the famously steep streets. Go for it, don’t be bashful: bust out The Trolley Song, and no one will likely even bat an eye—this is San Francisco, the gayest city in America!