Gay Vacations in San Francisco, California

Sunset over Almo Square in San Francisco, California
Almo Square in San Francisco, California (Gavin Hellier/Photographer's Choice/Getty)

San Francisco Highlights

  • You don’t need a car. BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) trains link the San Francisco and Oakland airports to the city. Most San Franciscans don’t even own cars, and getting around is a cinch with a well-developed public transit system of trams, trolleys, and buses.
  • September is summer in the city. First-timers can be shocked at how cold San Francisco gets in the winter and even in early summer. The nicest weather is in September, the time to hit the area’s beaches and explore the outdoors. But it’s a good idea to pack a jacket any time of year.
  • Weather can be very specific to what part of town you stay in. The Avenues (the westernmost parts of San Francisco) are known to be foggy even if the rest of the city is sunny, while neighborhoods south and east of Twin Peaks can be warmer.

The world's gay and lesbian capital, San Francisco is nearly synonymous with all things queer. It's been a liberal, tolerant haven for all kinds of people for generations, and San Fran's LGBT scene is mature, developed, multi-faceted, and so integrated into the fabric of city life that it's like living in a parallel gay universe. San Francisco has an especially visible and large lesbian scene, with more women-focused establishments than cities twice its size. Beyond the classic gayborhood of the Castro, gays and lesbians can be found in every district of the city, but especially in lesbian-popular Noe Valley and the Mission and around the gay establishments of SoMa (South of Market).

San Francisco is like a movie set—cinematic at every turn—and every part of the city is steeped in history. There's the still hippie-feeling Haight, lively Chinatown, cafe-laden North Beach, and the Union Square shopping district. Also worth seeing are elegant Nob Hill, the picturesque Marina area, and the sweeping views of Twin Peaks. Tourist-choked but still worth-it attractions include Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and above all, the 1,000-plus-acre Golden Gate Park, one of the world's great urban parks. Here you'll find the California Academy of Sciences, the Conservatory of Flowers, and the stunning De Young Museum, as well as miles of groves and trails. And everywhere in this world-class city, you'll find top-tier restaurants, shops, and hotels that pride themselves in their uniqueness.

It seems that San Francisco is always having some sort of street fair or event, but most occur in summer and fall. The main gay events are the pride celebration in late June, along with the huge LGBT film festival; the sexy Folsom Street Fair in late September; the smaller but also raunchy Up Your Alley fair in late July; and the more neighborhood-y Castro Street Fair in early October.

Published: 16 Jul 2008 | Last Updated: 17 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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