With so many choices for the gay traveler, San Francisco may overwhelm first-time visitors. Its status as a gay mecca is well-deserved, with an array of neighborhoods and bars to suit every taste. Though there are pockets of gay bars and establishments throughout the city, there are a few areas that are solid places to begin exploring.
The most famous gay-friendly part of the city is the Castro District. It is quite accessible by streetcar from downtown on Market Street. The giant rainbow flag above Harvey Milk Plaza on Market and Castro Streets marks this colorful area containing a multitude of options. Twin Peaks, one of the area’s oldest watering holes, is located right on this corner. Across from the Castro Theater is 440 Castro, a popular bar with an eclectic crowd. Further down on 18th Street, classics such as Moby Dicks and Badlands attract locals and visitors alike.
Besides bars and shops, this area of the city also has cultural points of interest such as the GLBT History Museum and the Rainbow Honor Walk, which pays tribute to significant GLBT figures. These and other attractions make the Castro a sightseeing stop during the day. The Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Branch of the San Francisco Public Library maintains a collection centered on GLBT interests.
One other area of the city that is a worthy area to check out is SOMA, or South of Market. Some of the bars and shops in the area cater to those with interests in leather and other fetishes. One such place is Powerhouse, which has weekly underwear nights and leather-themed contests. The Lone Star Saloon, located on Harrison Street, has popular afternoon beer specials on Sundays, and visitors can drink on their large outdoor patio area.
Besides the many weekly activities around the city, San Francisco Pride, which takes place during the last weekend of June, and the Folsom Street Fair held in late September are two major events worth checking out. Whether you are in town for the first time or a frequent visitor looking for something new, San Francisco never runs out of surprises.