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As a forerunner for LGBT rights and the birthplace of the rainbow flag, it goes without question that San Francisco is a welcome haven for the LGBTQ+ community. No matter who you are, who you love, what you enjoy doing and how you’d like to party, you are sure to find a crowd with similar tastes and attitudes in this fabulous Californian city!

San Francisco publicly shouts about all things queer and encourages you to come and celebrate who you are; it’s okay to embrace every part of you and feel safe to do so! Not only is San Francisco an LGBTQ+ mecca, it is also home to iconic architecture, gorgeous beaches, hiking and bike trails, a rich history to explore and an explosive arts scene. A holiday to this incredible city will always be a good shout!

Click here to see LGBT rights in California, data sourced from Equaldex.

Activities, Festivals and Nightlife Highlights

Identifying as LGBTQ+ doesn’t mean you only want to visit venues or participate in activities that cater to the LGBTQ+ crowd. There are plenty of fun experiences to enjoy and places to visit in San Francisco that are welcoming to everybody, read more about the city here. Below, however, we’ll highlight just some of the specifically LGBTQ+ friendly places of interest as well as festivals and venues (many of which are centred around Castro) we feel like you’d enjoy.

Places of interest;

  • San Francisco LGBT Center is a non-profit organisation and the hear to the LGBTQ community in San Francisco. Supporting those that may need a helping hand or meeting to discuss the next movement in equal rights, this unmistakable purple palace is a must-visit.
  • If you're looking for a bit of breathing space in the city, Dolores Park will do. Whilst not officially a gay jaunt, this urban park is now locally referred to as ‘the fruit shelf’ and is a popular meeting point for those looking for lush views across the city and to meet other likeminded individuals.
  • Feeling peckish? Head to the iconic Hot Cookie shop in Castro where you’ll find a range of booked goods including their notorious Penis and Venus Cookies and a wall displaying customers posing in Hot Cookie underwear – what more could you need?
  • If you’re feeling saucy and looking for that extra spice, make sure to visit Does Your Mother Know. The Castro’s largest adult gift store will supply men and women with everything you need to introduce something different into the bedroom.  
  • Baker Beach offers gorgeous views of the Golden Gate Bridge whilst acting as an unofficial gay hangout. When the sun shines you’ll find large crowds gathered here, some clothed, some not. Be mindful that should you wish to undress here, it’s not technically allowed.

Festivals;

  • Frameline (June). One of the world’s biggest queer film festivals featuring work from emerging LGBTQ+ artists, directors and producers.
  • Fresh Meat Festival (June). A world-class trans and queer performance festival where inclusivity is at the heart. This celebrated festival is bold in its approach to showcasing the beauty of the human body; identity need not matter here.  
  • San Francisco Pride (June). A two-day pride extravaganza on the streets of San Fran! Will one of the largest main LGBTQ+ parades in the US, this event will leave you smiling for days!
  • Folsom Street Fair (September). This is the world’s biggest leather festival. Drawing fetish enthusiasts from all over the world, this huge event is one not to be missed!

Nightlife;

  • AsiaSF.  Presenting nightly cabaret shows whilst serving a mouth-watering menu, this bar/restaurant showcases and celebrates a truly diverse of transgender servers and performers.
  • The Café. Sounds small, but it isn’t. This staple of the Castro nightlife is an epic gay nightclub offering three bars and a huge dancefloor as well as a range of themed events running each week.
  • 440 Castro. If you’re looking for a watering hole catering to the bear-leather vibe then this is the place to head to!
  • Lookout Bar. A venue to head to during the day or the night. Perfect for people watching or enjoying the weekly Saturday drag brunch. There’s good reason this venue is often voted as Castro’s best gay bar!
  • Q Bar. Camp and fun, this fashionable dance bar is a favourite amongst the younger members of the community. Lesbian night on Tuesdays should be high on your planning list.
  • DNA Lounge. This late-night, all age, all sexualities nightclub has become the definition of wild. Head here for a fun night of partying, dancing or even eating from the venue’s late-night restaurant and café!

View a selection of our favourite places to stay below

Have you thought about linking your trip to San Francisco with Los Angeles or Mexico?

Intercontinental San Francisco 

This upscale boutique hotel offers it's guests exemplary hospitality along with chic surroundings and modern conveniences. Enjoy sensational views of the city from your room along with an indoor swimming pool, limo services to take you into town, 24-hour room service and an in-house restaurant and bar. This well-appointed hotel, located in the SoMa district of the city is a treat for anybody looking to base themselves in heart of what's happening. 

Hilton San Francisco Union Square

Located round the corner from Union Square, this Hilton hangout is a truly sensational hotel and will make for a very comfortable stay on any holiday to San Francisco. Sip on drinks at the city's highest skybar, enjoy a swim in the hotel's outdoor pool and whirlpool or grab a bite at one of two on-site restaurants. 

Hotel Zelos San Francisco

Designed to leave you feeling inspired and re-energised, this modern hotel is sophisticated and luxurious in its approach to looking after its guests with well-appointed rooms and a stunning location in the heart of downtown San Francisco. Enjoy a bite to eat or a cocktail at the hotel's award-winning restaurant and bar Dirty Habit. 

W San Francisco

Dubbed as the city's most exciting hotel, the W San Francisco ought to be a firm favourite when it comes to choosing somewhere to stay on your trip. Pay a visit to Trace or Living Room Bar, the hotel's on-site restaurant and bar facilities for an elevated lunch or cocktail experience. With large bathtubs, robes and everything else you need for a comfortable stay, the W San Francisco is one of the best places to recharge before heading out to explore the city!

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