Gay San Francisco
It's not just the Castro
San Francisco is the world's gay Mecca, with the Castro district as the center of the gay world. But even outside the Castro, this is one of the world's most open-minded and friendliest cities, home to dozens of gay bars and clubs.
It's been like that for at least since the 1970s, when Castro Street became a lively gay and lesbian center, culminating in 2004 when the city's mayor married over 4000 gay couples at City Hall. The legality of those weddings was later challenged by California law, but once again San Francisco was placed at the forefront of gay history.
The city's GLBT Historical Society is often called "the queer Smithsonian," holding the country's largest gay archives and rotating exhibits of queer art. Visitors interested in gay culture will want to visit that, but also be present at the San Francisco Gay & Lesbian Film Festival every June, right before the Gay Pride celebrations.
Another major event is the Castro Street Fair in October, although you'll find plenty of gay attractions throughout the year at the bars and clubs listed below.
Great meeting point during the day, this café is also a hangout before late-night clubbing. Some also pass by for an afternoon coffee and cruising, or to use the free wi-fi.
Harvey's is like a gay museum. It's named after the slain gay leader Harvey Milk, and features gay memorabilia on the walls. It's a nice place to feel the spirit of the Castro district, in an easy-going ambience where drinks are served by a friendly staff. It's also a great place for brunch, and serves light meals (burgers, wraps, salads, and sandwiches) throughout the day.
With a balcony overlooking Market St. and the Castro, this is an attractive dance bar for the younger crowd. The music ranges from hip hop to Latin beats depending on the night, often featuring go-go dancers.
A younger crowd fills this bar, especially during happy hour. It's located in the heart of the Castro and one of the most popular gay hangouts in the city.
Twin Peaks Tavern
Close to four decades old, this remains one of the Castro's most famous hangouts, catering to an older crowd. It claims to be the first gay bar in America, and can get quite crowded due to its relatively small size. It serves good cocktails and has a nice classic interior decoration.
The Midnight Sun
Popular during the after-work hours, this video bar is the place for the attractive professional 20- and 30-something guys. You'll see music videos and sitcoms as you drink.
A mature crowd hangs out at this old-time Castro bar, playing pool or pinball. There's a saltwater fish tank, around which the guys drink and hear the retro-80s music.
Lone Star Saloon
This is one of the most famous bear bars in the world. It sells its official bear merchandise upstairs.
Although it's known as a leather bar, other fetishes are found here among the guys of all ages and ethnicities. It's a popular place for a beer at the heated outdoor patio, often the place for a free live grunge band performance.
You can expect good entertainment, including live DJs on any night of the week here. It attracts a mixed crowd that enjoys a drink at the pleasant plant-filled backyard.
Two levels and two bars make up this chic club and lounge known for good cocktails and dance music by top DJs. You'll also find an affluent straight crowd in the mix.
This San Francisco institution has been offering good music for over three decades and is home to two popular gay parties twice a week.
There are various theme nights at this club, including a popular drag party. It's been a popular place since 1966, with upbeat dance sounds.
This mixed club offers some of the best club nights in town, with house music by top DJs.
Live performances, multimedia art events, and guest DJs attract a mixed crowd to this club.
The group behind this sauna has other properties in other cities, and offers modern facilities, including steam room and whirlpool.
This friendly lesbian bar gets young girls of all styles, filling the relatively small space and often playing pool in the back. Surprisingly for one of the world's gayest cities, this is the only truly all-girls bar in San Francisco.
BACKPACKER HOSTEK - PACIFIC TRADEWINDS